Stocks: Wednesday's review
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell for the first time in four days, as machine makers slid after China’s central bank increased interest rates. Toyota Motor Corp. advanced after raising its profit forecast.
Komatsu Ltd., an earthmover maker that gets about 22 percent of its sales from China, slid 1.7 percent.
Kubota Corp., Asia’s largest tractor maker, sank 1.8 percent to 882 yen. Toshiba Machine Co., a machine-tool maker which gets about 35 percent of its revenue from Asia, dropped 4.5 percent. TDK Corp., an electronics maker that counts China as its largest market, fell 0.9 percent to 5,860 yen.
Mitsubishi Estate Co., Japan’s No. 2 developer, slid 1.8 percent after an office brokerage said Tokyo vacancy rates rose in January. Yokogawa Electric Corp., a maker of electronic measuring tools, tumbled 11 percent after saying it will not pay a dividend. Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, jumped 5.2 percent, leading carmakers higher.
European stocks fell after the Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed yesterday near its highest level since 2008.
Sanofi-Aventis SA slipped after saying earnings per share will drop this year. Statoil ASA retreated after it reported lower-than-estimated fourth-quarter profit and said production may fall this year. London Stock Exchange Group Plc soared 3.1 percent after agreeing to buy Toronto Stock Exchange owner TMX Group Inc.
Sanofi retreated 1.5 percent to 50.37 euros. The French drugmaker trying to take over Genzyme Corp. said business earnings per share will drop 5 percent to 10 percent this year.
Trading in shares of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse AG was halted after the companies confirmed Deutsche Boerse is in advanced talks to buy NYSE Euronext in an all-stock transaction that would create the world’s biggest equity exchange.
Syngenta AG advanced 4.4 percent to 320.5 francs. The world’s biggest maker of agricultural chemicals reported annual profit that beat analyst estimates and pledged to return $850 million in cash to shareholders.
Action was largely listless all session. That left the Nasdaq and S&P 500 to muddle along and log modest losses. However, the Dow eked out a slight gain in the final few minutes to score its eighth straight advance.
Stocks traded in choppy fashion for the first part of the session as participants appeared content to let stocks find their own direction, rather than continue to chase the tape. Some opted to take profits when the S&P 500 failed to push through resistance at the neutral line, but selling never became overly intense. That made it possible for the Dow to recover for another gain.
The Dow spent most of the session narrowly in front of its counterparts. Disney (DIS 43.36, +2.18) provided it with support following an upside earnings surprise that took the stock to a record high.
Fellow blue chip Coca-Cola (KO 63.15, +0.28) reported in-line earnings results. Its shares gapped up at the open, but drifted off of that mark throughout the session.
The broader market was generally unenthused by the pair's earnings. Merger and acquisition activity also had little influence on trade. The latest deal-making includes plans of the London Stock Exchange to acquire TMX Group, which is the owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange, for $3.2 billion. On a similar note, Deutsche Borse and NYSE Euronext (NYX 39.17, +5.76) confirmed that they are discussing a potential business combination.
Fed Chairman Bernanke offered no new insight into macro conditions during his testimony to the House Budget Committee. Consistent with the recent FOMC policy statement, he noted that the economic recovery appears to have strengthened in the past few months, although the unemployment rate remains high.