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30.03.2012 07:38

Stocks: Thursday’s review


Asian stocks fell for a second day on concern China’s economic slowdown is weighing on company earnings and after orders placed with U.S. factories for durable goods rose less than economists estimated.

Nikkei 225 10,114.79 -67.78 -0.67%

Hang Seng 20,609.39 -276.03 -1.32%

S&P/ASX 200 4,337.9 -5.61 -0.13%

Shanghai Composite 2,252.16 -32.72 -1.43%

PICC Property & Casualty Co. slid 4.1 percent in Hong Kong after China’s biggest non-life insurer reported lower-than- expected net income.

Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s No. 1 carmaker by market value that gets 28 percent of its revenue in North America, fell 1.7 percent.

Speco Co. led gains among South Korean defense-related companies on a report that North Korea has begun to fuel a rocket it plans to launch.

European stocks declined the most in more than three weeks as Standard & Poor’s said Greece may have to restructure its debt again.

European governments are preparing for a one-year increase in the ceiling on rescue aid to 940 billion euros ($1.25 trillion) to keep the debt crisis at bay, according to a draft statement written for finance ministers before they meet in Copenhagen tomorrow. German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week gave her first indication that she is prepared to allow an increase in the firewall.

An indicator of economic confidence in the euro region unexpectedly declined in March. An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17-nation euro area dropped to 94.4 from a revised 94.5 in February, the European Commission said.

National benchmark indexes fell in all of the 18 western European markets, except Iceland. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 1.2 percent, while France’s CAC 40 Index declined 1.4 percent and Germany’s DAX slumped 1.8 percent.

H&M dropped 4.9 percent to 238.1 kronor in Stockholm, the largest decline since September, after reporting first-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates as textile costs and markdowns weighed on profitability.

Roche Holding AG, the biggest maker of cancer drugs, fell 1.8 percent to 157 francs after raising its hostile takeover offer for Illumina Inc. by 15 percent to about $6.7 billion.

International Power Plc rallied 5.6 percent to 405 pence as it received an indicative offer from GDF Suez SA of 6 billion pounds ($9.5 billion) for the 30 percent stake it doesn’t already own.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index trimmed losses in the final two hours of trading ahead of data forecast to show growth in consumer confidence and spending tomorrow, the final day of the best first quarter since 1998.

Benchmark equity indexes slumped earlier as S&P said Greece may have to restructure its debt again. There may be “down the road, I’m not predicting today when, another restructuring of the outstanding debt,” said Moritz Kraemer, head of sovereign ratings at S&P. In the U.S., claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest since April 2008. The economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate from October through December, separate data showed.

Dow   13,145.82     +19.61 +0.15%, Nasdaq      3,095.36       -9.60   -0.31%, S&P 500    1,403.28       -2.26       -0.16%

Gauges of utility and health-care companies in the S&P 500 gained, while financial shares slumped. Alcoa (АА) added 2 percent to $10.03. Caterpillar (САТ) rose 1.7 percent to $106.02. Coca-Cola (КО) advanced 1.6 percent to $73.81.

Red Hat surged 20 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to a 12-year high of $61.43. The company was surprised by demand for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux software from corporations preparing to move more applications to the so-called cloud, where they can be delivered to users over the Internet, Chief Executive Officer Jim Whitehurst said in an interview. Profit for the current fiscal year will be as much as $1.20 a share, the company projected, exceeding estimates.

Illumina Inc. climbed 5.1 percent to $52.40. Roche Holding AG raised its hostile takeover offer for Illumina by 15 percent to about $6.7 billion, yielding to demands for a higher price from shareholders of the U.S. maker of gene-mapping tools.

Best Buy tumbled 7 percent to $24.77. Chief Executive Officer Brian Dunn trimmed discounts after the holiday shopping season, sacrificing sales to maintain profitability. The retailer is closing big-box stores and cutting jobs to reduce costs while boosting online sales and opening smaller locations.

30.03.2012 07:25

Tech on USD/JPY

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