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06.04.2012 07:18

Stocks: Thursday’s review

Most Asian shares fell, with the regional benchmark index headed for its biggest two-day decline in a month, after Spain struggled to sell bonds, renewing concern Europe won’t be able to contain its debt crisis.

Nikkei 225 9,767.61 -52.38 -0.53%

Hang Seng 20,593 -197.98 -0.95%

S&P/ASX 200 4,319.85 -14.02 -0.32%

Shanghai Composite 2,302.24 +39.45 +1.74%

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and other companies that do business in Europe slid after demand fell at a Spanish government bond auction, sparking concern about the region’s sovereign-debt crisis.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. dropped 2 percent after Premier Wen Jiabao said China needs to break the “monopoly” of a few big lenders.

Soho China Ltd. rose 2.5 percent, leading gains among mainland developers after Credit Agricole SA said China is “almost guaranteed” to ease monetary policy further this month.

European stocks climbed in the final hour of trading, trimming a third week of losses for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as a rebound in commodity companies offset renewed concern about the euro area.

Spain’s 10-year bonds dropped for a third day, pushing the yield on the country’s benchmark debt seven basis points higher to 5.76 percent, after an International Monetary Fund spokesman said the nation is facing “severe” challenges.

Italy’s 10-year yield rose seven basis points to 5.44 percent today, with the spread over bunds widening 12 basis points to 370 basis points. France’s 10-year bonds also slid as borrowing costs increased when the nation sold 8.4 billion euros of debt.

National benchmark indexes fell in nine of the 15 western- European markets trading today. France’s CAC 40 Index (CAC) added 0.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index gained 0.4 percent. Germany’s DAX Index lost 0.1 percent.

Markets in Denmark, Norway and Iceland were closed for a holiday today. All Western-European markets are closed tomorrow for the Good Friday holiday.

Copper climbed in New York for the first time in three days as reports showing an improving labor market and rising consumer confidence added to signs of recovery in the U.S., the world’s second-biggest consumer of the metal.

Glencore, the largest publicly traded commodity supplier, rallied 5.8 percent to 411.8 pence, leading a rebound in commodity stocks. Xstrata Plc jumped 3.5 percent to 1,112 pence, BHP Billiton Ltd. climbed 1.6 percent to 1,907 pence and Vedanta Resources Plc gained 2.1 percent to 1,235 pence.

Banks still retreated. UniCredit, Italy’s biggest lender, slid 3.1 percent to 3.31 euros. Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl lost 4 percent to 35.2 euro cents, Commerzbank AG declined 1.9 percent to 1.9 percent to 1.75 euros and BNP Paribas SA dropped 1 percent to 32.88 euros.

Merck KGaA dropped 1.8 percent to 83.40 euros. The German drugmaker was cut to neutral from outperform at Exane BNP Paribas.

U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its biggest weekly drop of the year, as renewed concern about Europe’s debt crisis overshadowed a drop in jobless claims to a four-year low.

Equities trimmed early losses after Labor Department data showed unemployment claims in the U.S. fell 6,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 31, the fewest since April 2008. The median forecast of 43 economists estimated a decrease to 355,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls also dropped, while those getting extended payments increased.

A report tomorrow may show the economy added more than 200,000 jobs in March for a fourth consecutive month, the longest streak of similar increases since late 1999 to early 2000. While U.S. stock exchanges are closed tomorrow for Good Friday, index futures will trade for 45 minutes following the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

Stocks fell earlier as Spanish bonds declined for a third day today, pushing the spread between yields on 10-year Spanish and German debt to more than 400 basis points for the first time since Dec. 12.

Dow 13,060.14 -14.61 -0.11%, Nasdaq 3,080.50 +12.41 +0.40%, S&P 500 1,398.08 -0.88 -0.06%

The Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index lost 0.4 percent. Alcoa (АА) declined 1.8 percent to $9.63, while General Electric (GE) erased 1.3 percent to $19.49.

Constellation Brands plunged 12 percent to $21.61. The world’s largest wine company said earnings per share for the full year may be $1.93 to $2.03. Analysts projected profit of $2.23, the average of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Polycom Inc., a maker of videoconferencing equipment, slumped 20 percent to $14.56 after saying preliminary first- quarter earnings and revenue fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Cabot Oil & Gas rose 2.2 percent to $31.94 as the price of crude oil rose 1.6 percent.

Consumer discretionary stocks had the biggest gain in the S&P 500, led by Bed Bath & Beyond. The retail-chain operator rose 8.5 percent to $71.85 as the company posted a fourth- quarter profit of $1.48 a share, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.32.

06.04.2012 06:46

Tech on USD/JPY

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