Stocks: Thursday's review
Japanese stocks pared gains after the Bank of Japan said it would keep a credit program and asset- purchase fund unchanged following the nation’s worst earthquake.
Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing chain, fell 0.1 percent, reversing an earlier gain of as much as 0.9 percent. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306), Japan’s largest listed lender, advanced 2.4 percent. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the world’s No. 1 carmaker, gained 0.9 percent. Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear-power plant damaged by the March 11 temblor and tsunami, increased 0.9 percent.
European stocks fell for the first time in five days after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan and as the European Central Bank raised interest rates for the first time in almost three years.
Hochtief AG (HOT) tumbled 7.9 percent after Germany’s biggest builder warned of losses at its Australian unit. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) led auto-industry shares lower. Halfords Group Plc (HFD) sank the most in six months after the U.K. retailer said profit may miss estimates. Banks limited the selloff after Portugal sought a bailout from the European Union.
U.S. stocks fell, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average down from an almost three-year high, as another earthquake shook Japan and a dispute over the federal budget threatened to shut down the American government.
General Electric Co. (GE), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and Alcoa Inc. (AA) lost at least 1.2 percent to lead declines in the Dow. The iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ), an exchange-traded security tracking the nation’s equities, dropped 0.8 percent after retreating as much as 1.7 percent. Gap Inc. (GPS) declined 1.4 percent after the largest U.S. apparel chain reported a 10 percent slump
The S&P 500 rose 6.2 percent in 2011 through yesterday as government stimulus measures, corporate takeovers and higher- than-estimated profits boosted investors’ optimism. The benchmark gauge fell on April 5 as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting spurred speculation central bankers may begin removing record stimulus measures enacted to ensure the economy recovered from recession.
Crude rose above $110 a barrel for the first time in 30 months as a fire burned at Libya’s Sarir field, bolstering concern that unrest in North Africa and the Middle East will spread, curbing shipments.