Stocks: Thursday's review
Japanese equities pared declines as Group of Seven finance ministers agreed to meet tomorrow to discuss financial markets and the country’s economy after an earthquake and nuclear accident triggered steep declines in stocks.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed more than 730 points higher than a two-year intraday low on March 15 after it pared a 5 percent loss today. Toyota Motor Corp., which gets 30 percent of revenue in North America, trimmed its loss to 2.7 percent from 5.7 percent as the yen traded below an overnight post-World War II record. Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station, trimmed its decline from 22 percent to 13 percent after saying more than 300 people are working on its damaged reactors and that a new cooling- system power source may be installed as early as this afternoon.
European stocks climbed after a six-day slide made them the cheapest in more than two years and investors speculated that Group of Seven nations will move to calm markets after Japan’s earthquake-induced nuclear crisis.
Allianz SE (ALV) and Axa SA (CS) led a rebound in insurance companies. Heritage Oil Plc (HOIL) jumped 8.2 percent after a report that it turned down a takeover bid from an unidentified Abu Dhabi-based company. SGL Carbon SE (SGL), the world’s largest maker of carbon and graphite products, surged 8.7 percent after forecasting increased profit.
Stocks extended their gains amid speculation Japan will contain its nuclear crisis. More than 300 workers battled to prevent a meltdown and spread of radiation at the crippled Fukushima power station today, an increase from 180 yesterday. Efforts to use water cannons and helicopters to cool the reactor may have had some success, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
U.S. stocks rallied, breaking a three-day losing streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, amid investor speculation that Japan will contain a nuclear crisis and as FedEx Corp. (FDX)’s profit forecast beat estimates.
The iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ) tracking 323 securities rose 4.9 percent, following a 14 percent slump over the previous five days. FedEx, the operator of the world’s biggest cargo airline, which is considered a proxy for economic growth, gained 3.8 percent. Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) advanced 3.7 percent after saying it sees limited impact from Japan’s disaster. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) increased at least 2.2 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG recommended the stocks.
The S&P 500 advanced 1.1 percent to 1,270.43 at 2:40 p.m. in New York. The gauge, which had declined 3.6 percent over the last three days, yesterday traded at 14.7 times reported earnings, the lowest valuation since November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 120.72 points, or 1 percent, to 11,734.02 today.