Stocks: Monday's review
Japanese stocks dropped, led by car and tire makers as Mazda Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. said domestic vehicle production fell by more than half in March after a record earthquake and tsunami disrupted supply chains.
Mazda, Japan’s second-biggest car exporter, dropped as much as 2.7 percent. Bridgestone Corp., the world’s largest maker of tires, fell 1.3 percent. Tokyo Electric Power Co. gained 8.4 percent after a Nikkei newspaper report that the government’s plan to compensate victims of the Fukushima nuclear accident doesn’t involve de-listing the utility. Banks, large Tokyo Electric shareholders, also rose.
Trading volume on Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section dropped to its lowest level since Dec. 29 ahead of earnings announcements this week by companies including Canon Inc., Sharp Corp. and Komatsu Ltd.
U.S. stocks fell, breaking a three- day streak of gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as commodity producers led declines. The dollar slipped versus the Swiss franc for a fourth straight day.
The S&P 500 dropped 0.1 percent to 1,335.7 at 2:25 p.m. in New York as gauges of energy and raw-material companies lost at least 0.6 percent. Oil was little changed at $112.29 a barrel in New York, near a 31-month high. Copper futures plunged 2.3 percent, the most in more than six weeks, while gold and silver touched records. The U.S. dollar weakened 0.6 percent against the franc, the most among 16 major currencies. Ten-year Treasury yields fell three basis points to 3.37 percent.
Marathon Oil Corp. lost 2.2 percent to pace losses among commodity producers in the S&P 500, while Kimberly-Clark Corp. retreated 3.2 percent after the maker of Scott toilet paper and Huggies diapers cut the lower end of its 2011 profit forecast, citing higher materials costs. Investors also looked ahead to the Federal Reserve’s statement on interest rates and the economic outlook on April 27.
The S&P 500 has failed to rise above its 2011 high reached on February 18 even as it closed less than 1 percent below that peak on seven days so far in April. The Feb. 18 close of 1,343.01 was the index’s highest since June 2008. The gauge is still up more than 6 percent in 2011 amid higher-than-estimated profits and government programs to stimulate the economy.
Per-share earnings have exceeded estimates at 81 percent of the 124 companies in the S&P 500 that reported first-quarter results since April 11, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Federal Open Market Committee will hold the benchmark interest rate in a range of zero to 0.25 percent on April 27, according to all 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Gross domestic product rose at a 1.9 percent annual pace after increasing at a 3.1 percent rate in the previous three months, according to the median estimate of 66 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before an April 28 Commerce Department report.