Stocks: Wednesday's review
Asian markets ended the day with solid gains
Asian stocks advanced Wednesday as investors stepped back into beaten-down equity markets, with sentiment helped by a strong rebound on Wall Street after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep rates low through mid-2013.
Wednesday’s bounce-back was fronted by stocks that had led markets lower in the recent past, and included many commodity-related firms and banks.
Among financials, Bank of China Ltd. rose 1% in Hong Kong after shedding more than 7% Tuesday. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. jumped 4.2% in Sydney, while Cathay Financial Holding Co. soared 6.9% in Taipei.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 2%, less than the broader market, after saying the outlook for the current financial year was “challenging.”
Some Japanese banks also saw early-session gains fade, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. adding a modest 0.3%, while Mizuho Financial Group Inc. dropped 1.7%.
Asian markets ended the day with solid gains. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.9%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong popped 2.3% and Japan's Nikkei increased 1.1%.
The performance was mixed among companies with a large exposure to demand overseas. South Korean blue-chip LG Electronics Corp. added 1.8%, paring this month’s losses to just under 23% and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. rose 4%, while Samsung Electronics Co. dropped 0.6%.
European markets shed on average between 3% and 4%.
European stock markets declined amid speculation that France, Europe's second largest economy after Germany, may be first to face a rating cut.
Even though the major rating agencies have reiterated France's AAA rating, "there's growing concern that France could get downgraded," said Tom Schrader, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus. "There's fear that S&P might do something stupid."
French banks led the fall in Europe, including a 14.7% slump for Societe Generale, a 9.5% drop for BNP Paribas and a nearly 12% tumble for Credit Agricole.
Other banks, especially those in Italy and Spain, also suffered heavy losses. and Intesa Sanpaolo dropped 9.4% and 13.7% respectively in Milan. Shares of Banco Santander fell 8.3% in Madrid.
Shares in electricity utility E.On AG sank 11% in Frankfurt after the company cut its forecasts and dividend payout due to Germany’s plan to shut down all its nuclear power stations. The group said up to 11,000 jobs may be lost. Also in the sector, shares of RWE AG dropped 9.7%.
US stock equities closed Wednesday lower.
Despite yesterday's positive reaction of the markets, the statement of the Fed doesn’t calm nervous markets as investors speculated the rebound was unjustified amid concerns that the economy is slowing.
Financial stocks led the sell-off in U.S markets, as investors worried that problems in the European banking sector could spillover into the U.S. banks. European stock markets declined amid speculation that France, Europe's second largest economy after Germany, may be first to face a rating cut.
Then the stocks erased some losses after BofA chief Moynihan said that conditions at the bank and in the country are much better than they were four years ago, when the financial crisis hit. Strong data on US Federal budget didn’t support the markets.
Economy: The US Census Bureau release data on U.S. wholesale inventories. According to the report, the June figure rose by 0.6%, down from average forecast rise of 1.0% and gaining 1.8% in June.
U.S. Energy Department reported that crude oil inventories fell by 5.23M barrels to 349.8M in the week ended Aug. 5, while analysts expected a rise by 1.35M barrels.
US Federal budget declined by $129.4b, slightly better than expected -140.3b. In June the figure lost 40.0B.
Corporate news: Despite the statement of Bank of America’ (BAC) chief, shares of the Dow component plunged 11% on the day. BofA has fallen nearly 50% so far this year.
Shares of Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) dropped about 10%. Shares of Wells Fargo (WFC), UBS (UBS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) were down around 7%.
Shares of the world’s biggest theme-park operator Walt Disney Co. (DIS) sang 9% as it posted a weak third-quarter studio revenue of $1.62 billion, compared with the average analyst estimate of $1.83 billion.