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23.04.2012 07:22

Stocks: Weekly’s review

Stocks: Weekly’s review

Asian stocks fell for the fourth day this week, as the Group of 20 nations warned Europe’s debt crisis still threatens global growth, and as U.S. economic data signaled the recovery in the world’s largest economy is slowing.

Nikkei 225 9,561.36 -27.02 -0.28%

Hang Seng 20,982.61 -12.40 -0.06%

S&P/ASX 200 4,366.5 +3.77 +0.09%

Shanghai Composite 2,406.86 +28.23 +1.19%

Esprit Holdings Ltd., a clothier that depends on Europe for about 80 percent of its sales, fell 1 percent in Hong Kong.

James Hardie Industries SE, an Australian supplier of building materials that gets more than half of its sales from the U.S., slid 1.1 percent in Sydney.

LG Chem Ltd. sank 9.2 percent in Seoul after the chemical maker’s profit slumped.

JFE Holdings, Inc., the No. 2 Japanese steelmaker, slid 3.3 percent in Tokyo after a report it may increase borrowing for investment.

European stocks rose as German business confidence unexpectedly gained and U.S. companies from General Electric Co. to Schlumberger Ltd. reported earnings that beat estimates, offsetting higher yields on Spanish bonds.

In Germany, a report showed that business confidence unexpectedly rose to a nine-month high in April. The Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, increased to 109.9 from 109.8 in March. Economists had forecast a drop to 109.5, according to the median of 40 economists.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is seeking more than $400 billion in new reserves to increase a lending capacity of about $380 billion and this week won promises of support from Japan to Denmark.

FTSE 100 5,772.15 +27.60 +0.48%, CAC 40 3,188.58 +14.56 +0.46%, DAX 6,750.12 +78.90 +1.18%

A gauge of European banks was among the best performers of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG, Germany’s largest lenders, gained 2 percent to 34.56 euros, and 2 percent to 1.63 euros, respectively.

BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, gained 3.7 percent to 29.60 euros after Bank of America Corp. raised the stock to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from underperform. Societe Generale SA, the country’s second-biggest, also added 3.6 percent to 17.33 euros. It was upgraded to buy from neutral.

William Hill increased 4.4 percent to 278.5 pence, its highest price since May 2008. First-quarter net revenue jumped 12 percent from a year earlier, adding it remains “confident” in its expectations for the full year.

Home Retail Group Plc advanced 4.2 percent to 103.8 pence as U.K. retail sales rose more than forecast last month. Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS) gained 1.6 percent to 361.3 pence.

Waertsilae Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of ship motors and power plants, rose 3.1 percent to 28.90 euros as its service business reached record sales in the first quarter.

A gauge of technology shares was the worst-performing group in the Stoxx 600. Infineon Technologies AG lost 1 percent to 7.60 euros and Alcatel-Lucent retreated 1.7 percent to 1.42 euros. Logitech International SA, the world’s largest maker of computer mice, dropped 1.8 percent to 7.21 Swiss francs.

U.S. stocks rose, snapping a two- day decline for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as profits from companies including Microsoft (MSFT) Corp. and General Electric Co. (GE) beat estimates and German business confidence improved.

A report today showed German business confidence unexpectedly increased for a sixth month in April, adding to evidence that Europe’s largest economy can weather the sovereign-debt crisis.

Seven out of 10 industries in the S&P 500 advanced today as utilities and consumer-staples companies gained the most.

Dow 13,029.26 +65.16 +0.50%, Nasdaq 3,000.45 -7.11 -0.24%, S&P 500 1,378.53 +1.61 +0.12%

Microsoft (MSFT)rose 4.6 percent, the most in three months, to $32.42. The software maker reported fiscal third-quarter profit that topped estimates on better-than-expected sales of Windows and Office software for businesses. Corporate demand for Windows computers made up for tepid interest from consumers opting for tablet machines.

GE rose 1.2 percent to $19.36. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt is increasing the focus on divisions that make gas turbines, jet engines and diesel locomotives while shrinking GE Capital’s balance sheet. He has pledged to boost industrial income this year by 5 percent to 10 percent, excluding the effect of acquisitions, while expanding margins.

Schlumberger Ltd. gained 2.7 percent to $71.70. The world’s largest oilfield-services provider reported first-quarter profit rose 38 percent as customers increased higher margin deep-water drilling around the globe in response to climbing crude prices.

McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) added 0.7 percent to $95.94. The world’s largest restaurant chain reported a 4.8 percent gain in first- quarter profit as new menu items such as Chicken McBites attracted U.S. consumers.

SanDisk, which makes memory chips used in mobile devices, declined 11 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $35.91 after giving a second-quarter sales forecast that fell short of some analysts’ estimates. Chip production at SanDisk and its rivals is outpacing demand, causing prices to fall, Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Mehrotra said on a conference call with analysts yesterday. Some of the company’s customers also ordered fewer chips for mobile phones than SanDisk had predicted, he said.

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