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22.02.2012 08:21

Stocks: Tuesday’s review


Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index retreating from a six-month high, as oil prices at a nine-month high threatened to curb spending and accelerate inflation, tempering optimism after Euro-area finance ministers agreed a bailout package for Greece.

Nikkei 225 9,463.02 -22.07 -0.23%

Hang Seng 21,478.72 +53.93 +0.25%

S&P/ASX 200 4,291.2 +35.10 +0.82%

Shanghai Composite 2,381.43 +17.83 +0.75%

Panasonic Corp., a Japanese electronics company, dropped 1.9 percent to 710 yen in Tokyo after saying it plans to re- enter the European mobile-device market with a smartphone in April.

Mazda Motor Corp., Japan’s least profitable major automaker, slumped 9.9 percent to 145 yen on a report it plans to raise capital.

DeNA Co., a social-networking service provider, rallied 8.2 percent to 2,576 yen. DeNA and South Korea’s web-portal operator Daum Communications Corp. said they have started providing “Daum Mobage,” a South Korean version of DeNA’s social gaming platform, targeting 10 million users within a year.

OneSteel Ltd. surged the most in almost three years in Sydney as Australia’s second-biggest steelmaker said it’s switching focus to iron ore away from its loss-making steel unit. The shares rose 12 percent to 82 Australian cents, the biggest jump since April 2009.

European stocks fell from a six- month high amid speculation a Greek bailout deal won’t be sufficient to solve the nation’s debt crisis.

European finance ministers approved a 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) bailout package for Greece early today by tapping into European Central Bank profits and convincing investors to provide more debt relief to the Mediterranean country. The deal includes a 53.5 percent writedown for investors in the nation’s debt, according to Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker, who chaired the talks. Finance ministers haggled into the night in Brussels over the terms of new loans and a possible contribution by central banks.

The odds that Greece will remain encumbered by debt were illustrated by an analysis by European and International Monetary Fund officials that highlighted what could go wrong with a country unable to grow out of its fiscal woes by devaluing its currency. In a worst-case scenario Greece’s debt might balloon to 160 percent of gross domestic product in 2020, it concluded.

Unless 90 percent of investors sign up to the bond swap, Greece may need to use force to secure the debt relief, entering legal difficulties. Finland and Germany are among the nations whose lawmakers must back the new loans and the International Monetary Fund must also decide how much it is willing to contribute to the package.

National benchmark indexes dropped in all of the western European markets, led by Greece’s ASE, which sank 3.5 percent. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.2 percent and Germany’s DAX slid 0.6 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index declined 0.3 percent.

National Bank of Greece led declines in financial shares, falling 9.5 percent to 2.68 euros, after three days of gains. Intesa Sanpaolo SpA dropped 2.4 percent to 1.53 euros in Milan. Deutsche Bank AG, Germany’s largest lender, fell 2.1 percent to 33.85 euros. Julius Baer Group Ltd. declined 2.5 percent to 36.66 Swiss francs.

TNT Express NV fell 2.9 percent to 9.89 euros after the express-delivery service in takeover talks with United Parcel Service Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss as reorganization costs and losses in emerging markets mounted.

Tullow Oil Plc dropped 3.6 percent to 1,543 pence, the largest decline in a month, after announcing results for an exploration well in Sierra Leone.

U.S. stocks erased gains, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index failed to hold above its highest close since 2008, as approval of Greece’s bailout was offset by economic concern with crude oil jumping to a nine-month high.

European finance ministers approved 130 billion euros ($173 billion) in aid for Greece by tapping into European Central Bank profits and coaxing investors into providing more debt relief to shield the region from a default. The S&P 500 briefly reversed gains as oil jumped after Iran said it stopped selling crude to France and Britain.

Dow 12,965.69 +15.82 +0.12%, Nasdaq 2,948.57 -3.21 -0.11%, S&P 500 1,362.21 +0.98 +0.07%

Wal-Mart (WMT) lost 3.9 percent to $60.07. Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke is working to contain Wal-Mart’s costs and last quarter started pulling the company’s greeters from store lobbies to help with customer-service tasks. The retailer is seeking to keep prices low as its low-income shoppers suffer from persistent unemployment.

Netflix Inc. slumped 3.7 percent to $117.40. Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, will debut a service streaming television shows and movies to current customers that competes with Internet and video rivals.

Weatherford International Ltd. tumbled 14 percent to $15.36. The oilfield-services and equipment provider said it hasn’t repaired material weakness in internal controls related to taxes and may restate results for 2008 through 2011.

Chevron (CVX) gained 1.6 percent to $108.41. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) added 1.1 percent to $86.57.

Macy’s increased 1.2 percent to $36.69. Its profitability shrank less than analysts projected as it was able to sell women’s handbags and accessories with its planned promotions rather than by slashing prices during the holiday season. Planned promotions can be profitable while last-minute efforts to clear excess inventories erode margins.

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