Stocks: Tuesday's review
Japanese stocks rose, sending the Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average to its biggest two-day advance since April 2009, as the country made progress in stabilizing reactors at a crippled nuclear plant.
The Topix lost 7.6 percent this year through March 18, compared with a gain of 3.2 percent by the S&P 500 and a drop of 1.3 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant which was damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11, soared 16 percent.
Toshiba Corp., a nuclear reactor supplier, surged 13 percent.
JX Holdings Inc. rose 12 percent as its refining unit resumed operations.
Nippon Steel Corp., Japan’s largest maker of the alloy, leapt 7.1 percent.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s largest bank by market value, advanced 8.3 percent. The country’s equities markets were closed for a public holiday yesterday.
Advantest Corp., the world’s biggest maker of machines used to test memory chips, surged 9.8 percent to 1,449 yen, advancing the most since March 2009, after the Nikkei newspaper said it will buy Verigy Ltd. for 74 Billion yen ($913 million).
European stocks retreated for the first time in four days as Irish and Greek bonds sank amid concern European Union leaders will struggle to solve the region’s debt crisis.
Banco Espirito Santo SA (BES) led a selloff in Portuguese banks, falling more than 2.5 percent. Parmalat SpA (PLT) sank the most since 2008 amid speculation that Groupe Lactalis’s purchase of a 15 percent stake reduces the chance of rival bids.
Metro AG (MEO) dropped 4.7 percent after the retailer said the outlook for economic growth may be curbed, posing a risk to forecasts.
Parmalat dropped 7.1 percent to 2.29 euros. Lactalis said it will buy out a group of shareholders, removing activist investors from a battle for control of Italy’s biggest dairy company. The French company agreed to acquire 15.3 percent of Parmalat owned by Mackenzie Financial Corp., Skagen AS and Zenit Asset Management AB, boosting its stake to 29 percent.
Swatch Group AG (UHR) advanced 2.2 percent to 395 francs after watch exports in Switzerland rose 17.8 percent in February, according to the Federal Customs Offices. Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s largest jewelry maker, advanced 3.3 percent to 51.8 francs.
Petropavlovsk Plc (POG) advanced 3.1 percent to 1,046 pence. The gold producer in Russia said proven and probable ore reserves increased by 36 percent to 9.1 million ounces of gold following a successful exploration program.
Kuoni Reisen AG fell 4 percent to 418.5 Swiss francs after the travel company said bookings as of March 13 were 7 percent below the year-earlier level in francs and the same as the year- earlier level in local currencies.
After three days of rallying to reclaim pre-Japan earthquake levels, U.S. stocks slipped back into the red on Tuesday. Fatigued investors took a step back and considered lingering problems in Japan and across the Arab world.
Investors refocused their attention on Tuesday on rising oil prices amid increasing political turmoil in North Africa and continuing violence Libya and Yemen.
Oil for April delivery rose $1.67, or 1.6%, to settle at $104 a barrel. May delivery will become the front-month contract after the close of trading, and it's already the most active contract -- rising more than $1.88, or 1.8%, to settle at $104.97 barrel. Earlier, prices topped $105 a barrel.
Economy: The Federal Housing Finance Agency's home price index fell 0.3% in January, following a 1% drop the prior month.
Companies: Late Monday, news reports revealed that Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) had sued Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) in California federal court. In the complaint, Apple asked a judge to block Amazon from using the term "Appstore." Three years ago, Apple was granted a trademark on its own "App Store." Shares of Apple were up 0.6%, while Amazon's stock fell 1.1%.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY, Fortune 500) was a strong gainer on the S&P 500. Shares were up 1% on heavy volume, after the company said an experimental drug extended the survival of previously untreated skin cancer patients.
A 6.6% drop in shares of Walgreens (WAG, Fortune 500) dragged on the S&P 500 -- despite the drugstore chain posting a 10% jump in fiscal second-quarter profit Tuesday morning, driven by prescription sales and a later onset to the cold and flu season.
Shares of Netflix (NFLX) gained 4%, after Credit Suisse boosted its rating on the movie rental company. Netflix was the biggest gainer on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.