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27.01.2012 08:21

Stocks: Thursday’s review

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index set for the highest close in almost three months, after the yen fell and Apple Inc. reported quarterly profit more than doubled, boosting the earnings outlook for Asian exporters.

Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of toys and clothes to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., advanced 3.4 percent in Hong Kong.

Cnooc Ltd. (883) and other energy companies advanced after oil and metal prices climbed.

Franshion Properties China Ltd. (817) led gains among Chinese developers on speculation the mainland will ease lending.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. rose 5.4 percent after a report the company will accept public funds to avoid bankruptcy.

European stocks advanced, climbing 20 percent from the September low and entering a bull market, after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled it may keep interest rates low through 2014 and a report said Greece’s creditors will make a new offer for a debt-swap deal.

U.S. policy makers are “prepared to provide further monetary accommodation if employment is not making sufficient progress towards our assessment of its maximum level, or if inflation shows signs of moving further below its mandate- consistent rate,” Bernanke said yesterday after European markets closed. Bond buying is “an option that’s certainly on the table,” he added. The Fed also extended its pledge to keep interest rates low through at least late 2014.

Orders for U.S durable goods rose 3 percent in December. Orders advanced for a third month boosted by demand for aircraft, autos and business equipment.

In Greece, private creditors will submit a new offer with an average interest rate of 3.75 percent on bonds issued as part of a debt restructure, Kathimerini reported, without saying where it got the information.

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, advanced 3.3 percent to 2,199.5 pence. Rio Tinto Group, the third biggest, rose 4.9 percent to 3,893 pence. Anglo American Plc, the third-largest copper producer, climbed 3.1 percent to 2,737 pence after saying iron-ore output increased 5 percent in the fourth quarter, while copper volumes jumped 10 percent.

European steelmakers rallied. ThyssenKrupp AG gained 4.5 percent to 22.14 euros. ArcelorMittal added 3.8 percent to 16.72 euros. Salzgitter AG advanced 6.8 percent to 48.67 euros.

Nokia climbed 2.7 percent to 4.17 euros after selling more smartphones last quarter than projected. Nokia sold 19.6 million smartphones that can handle tasks such as video calls and showing movies, the Espoo, Finland-based company said today. Analysts had predicted sales of 18.5 million smartphones.

U.S. stocks fell, reversing a rally that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average toward its highest level since 2008 earlier today, as banks tumbled and a report showed that sales of new homes unexpectedly declined.

Equities reversed gains today after a report showed that sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in December for the first time in four months, capping the slowest year on record for builders. Claims for U.S. jobless benefits rose last week, displaying the usual volatility around holidays that has masked an improvement in the labor market. Orders for U.S. durable goods advanced more than forecast in December.

Wells Fargo lost 3.8 percent to $29.05. Fifth Third Bancorp slid 3 percent to $13.08.

AT&T lost 2.5 percent to $29.45, the biggest decline in the Dow. The carrier projected “mid-single-digit or better earnings growth” for 2012. Analysts predicted 11 percent on average. AT&T also reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $6.68 billion because of a pretax charge of about $4 billion for the failed takeover of T-Mobile USA, and expenses for revaluing benefit plans and other assets.

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) rallied 2.1 percent, the biggest gain in the Dow, to $111.31. The largest construction and mining- equipment maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and forecast full-year profit that topped analysts’ estimates as demand rose for shovels and trucks.

Market Focus

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