Stocks: Monday's review
Japanese stocks rose the most in two weeks, reversing earlier declines, as a report of restored oil production in Libya eased concern higher fuel prices will derail the global economic recovery.
The Nikkei rose 3.8% this month, the biggest monthly gain since November. The broader Topix index also gained. Both gauges posted their biggest gain since Feb. 14. Both the Nikkei and the Topix index fell last week the most since August 2010, as markets worldwide sank amid concern instability in the Middle East and North Africa will drive oil prices higher.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s No. 1 carmaker, gained 1.7 percent after the Wall Street Journal said Libya had resumed some oil shipments.
Pioneer Corp., a maker of car- navigation and audio equipment that gets about half of its revenue abroad, jumped 4.5 percent to 439 yen. Fanuc Corp., Japan’s largest maker of factory robots, increased 3.8 percent to 12,680 yen.
Sony Corp., Japan’s biggest electronics exporter, climbed 0.9 percent.
Mizuho Securities Co. surged 12 percent, the largest increase on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, after a report its parent will buy out subsidiaries.
Nippon Sheet Glass Co., a glassmaker, jumped 3.1 percent after Deutsche Bank AG raised its rating on the stock.
Japan’s industrial production increased less than estimated in January. Factory output climbed 2.4 percent from December, when it rose 3.3 percent, the Trade Ministry said in Tokyo today. The median estimate of economists was for a 4 percent gain.
European stocks gained after the biggest weekly drop since July pushed the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index to its cheapest valuation in almost two years.
Syngenta AG jumped 2.6 percent after the Indian government announced tax breaks for investments in fertilizer projects and a rival announced an increase in sales of agricultural chemicals.
Separately, Bayer AG said that sales of fertilizers, pesticides and other crop chemicals rose 18 percent to 1.65 billion euros ($2.28 billion) in the fourth quarter.
Siemens AG climbed 3.6 percent after the company was said to be considering an initial public offering for its Osram lighting business.
Acciona SA surged 3.9 percent to 70.49 euros. The renewable energy developer posted 2010 net income of 167.2 million euros, beating the average estimate from a Bloomberg survey of analysts for a profit of 148 million euros.
Essar Energy Plc surged 3.5 percent to 517 pence as Credit Suisse Group AG initiated coverage of the Indian power plant developer with an outperform rating.
Real estate stocks rose after Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private-equity firm, agreed to buy Centro Properties Group’s U.S. shopping centers for $9.4 billion, two people familiar with the matter said.
Barratt Developments Plc gained 3.4 percent to 107.4 pence. Taylor Wimpey Plc climbed 4.6 percent to 39.5 pence.
HSBC Holdings Plc tumbled 4.7 percent after posting full-year net income that missed analysts’ estimates.
After taking a slight step back last week, stocks still closed out February on an upbeat note, posting their third straight month of gains.
Overall, all three major indexes were up nearly 3% during the month, and have risen more than 5% since the beginning of the year.
Investors are looking ahead to the government's monthly payroll report on Friday, which will reveal how many jobs were created in February.
Economy: A report showing that personal incomes climbed 1% in January got investors in an upbeat mood early in the day, even though most of that increase was due to a 2% payroll tax holiday passed by legislators in late 2010.
Later, investors also welcomed a report on Chicago-area manufacturing showing that sector accelerated at a faster-than-expected pace in February. The Chicago PMI rose to 71.2 from 68.8 in January, although economists had expected a slight decline.
A report on the housing market came in slightly better than expected, showing pending home sales fell 2.8% instead of the deeper 3.2% fall economists had been forecasting.
Companies: Humana (HUM, Fortune 500) shares rose 3.9% after the company announced the Department of Defense awarded the health insurer a major contract, covering military personnel and their families in the South.
UnitedHealth Group (UNH, Fortune 500) had previously held the contract, and its shares were flat Monday.
3M (MMM, Fortune 500) gained 2.1%, after a Barrons article reported the company will launch a "blizzard" of new products and soon see rising sales in international markets. Over the weekend, 3M CEO George Buckley slammed President Obama as "anti-business," calling his policies "Robin Hood-esque."
Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) shares fell more than 2.2%, after UBS downgraded its stock to "neutral."
Auction house Sotheby's (BID) will report after the market close.