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23.12.2011 08:01

Stocks: Thursday’s review

Asian stocks dropped, snapping a two-day rally, as European lenders sought record loans from the central bank and U.S. home sales missed forecasts, damping the earnings outlook for exporters.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) rose 0.6 percent today after the gauge added 0.2 percent yesterday, lifted by gains in energy and consumer shares. U.S. equities fell earlier after the ECB offered 489 billion euros ($645 billion) in 1,134- day loans to banks, the most ever in a single operation and more than economists’ estimates.

The increased funding sought by lenders may indicate institutions are wary of lending to each other amid a heightened risk of government and bank defaults.

Exporters to the U.S. declined after sales of existing homes in the world’s biggest economy missed economists’ estimates. A report by the National Association of Realtors revised down the number of existing home sales in the U.S. by an average of 14 percent since 2007, indicating the depth of the slump that contributed to the last recession.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) fell 0.8 percent before a public holiday tomorrow. South Korea’s Kospi Index lost 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 1.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.2 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2 percent, paring losses of as much as 1.9 percent.

Li & Fung dropped 2.9 percent to HK$14.14 in Hong Kong. Nissan Motor Co., which depends on North America for a third of its sales, lost 0.9 percent to 692 yen in Tokyo. Toshiba Corp., a maker of home appliances, medical equipment and power plants, fell 1 percent to 309 yen.

Advantest Corp., the world’s biggest maker of memory-chip testers, sank 4.5 percent to 740 yen, the lowest since November 1992. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its rating to “underweight” from “neutral,” citing weak orders.

Tokio Marine dropped 1.7 percent to 1,713 yen after it agreed to buy Delphi Financial Group Inc. for $2.7 billion in cash. acquisition comes amid waning demand in Japan, where the population is declining.

Kathmandu Holdings Ltd. plunged 25 percent to NZ$1.64 after the supplier of travel equipment said trading during the Christmas period hasn’t met expectations. The company said first-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization may drop from NZ$23.2 million ($17.8 million) a year ago.

Among stocks that advanced, OneSteel jumped 10 percent to 75 Australian cents, the most on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. The company said it’s not considering a debt or share sale, rejecting speculation it may need to raise capital. Deutsche Bank AG said last month there’s a “significant risk” the steelmaker may have to raise funds due to a likely breach of financial covenants.

European stocks advanced, extending this week’s gains, after U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest since April 2008, indicating the recovery in the world’s largest economy is on track.

U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly dropped last week to the lowest since April 2008, a sign that the U.S. labor market is strengthening. Jobless claims fell by 4,000 to 364,000 in the week ended Dec. 17, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected an increase to 380,000.

Another report showed American consumer confidence rose more than forecast in December, to a six-month high. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 69.9 from 64.1 at the end of November. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for 68 after a preliminary reading of 67.7.

In the U.K., economic growth accelerated more than previously estimated in the third quarter in an increase that the Bank of England says is unlikely to be repeated as the euro- area debt crisis curbs bank lending and dents confidence. Gross domestic product rose 0.6 percent from the previous quarter, faster than the 0.5 percent previously estimated, the Office for National Statistics said today in London.

National benchmark indexes climbed in 15 of the 18 western- European (SXXP) stock markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose 1.3 percent, Germany’s DAX advanced 1.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 gained 1.4 percent.

IAG advanced 3.3 percent to 149.9 pence after agreeing to buy Lufthansa’s BMI unit in the U.K. for 172.5 million pounds ($270.5 million), fending off a counterbid from Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. IAG said the acquisition will boost its operating profit by 100 million euros in 2015. Lufthansa added 1.9 percent to 9.20 euros.

Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, rose 3.2 percent to 29.29 euros. BNP Paribas, France’s biggest, added 3.4 percent to 30.24 euros. A gauge of banks was the best performer among the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600, gaining 2 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, increased 1.9 percent to 1,870 pence as copper climbed on the London Metal Exchange.

Stagecoach, the operator of Britain’s biggest rail-commuter franchise, retreated 3.4 percent to 260.9 pence after the shares were downgraded to “underweight” from “overweight” at JPMorgan by equity analyst David Pitura, who set the six-month target price at 280 pence.

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index higher for a third day, as better- than-estimated jobless claims, consumer confidence and leading indicators bolstered optimism in the world’s largest economy.

Stocks rose today as the number of applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to the lowest since April 2008. Confidence among U.S. consumers rose more than forecast in December, to a six-month high, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan sentiment index, as Americans began wrapping up their holiday spending. The index of U.S. leading indicators climbed more than estimated in November, a sign that the economy will keep growing in 2012.

Nine out of 10 groups (SPXL1) in the S&P 500 rose as gauges of financial and energy shares added at least 1.1 percent. The Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index rallied 1.3 percent amid economic optimism. GE jumped 3 percent to $18.05. Exxon Mobil increased 1.4 percent to $84.29.

The KBW Bank Index gained 2.8 percent. Morgan Stanley added 6.5 percent to $15.88. Citigroup gained 5.9 percent to $27.65. Bank of America advanced 4.6 percent to $5.47. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) rose 3.5 percent to $33.45.

Akamai surged 19 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $31.63. The operator of a server network that lets businesses speed data delivery agreed to buy startup competitor Cotendo for about $268 million in cash. The deal helps Akamai “maintain its leadership position and high margins” by eliminating a competitor, according to a research note from Gray Powell, an analyst at Wells

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. fell 6.3 percent to $57.58. The home furnishings retailer reported third-quarter sales of $2.34 billion, below the average analyst estimate of $2.35 billion in a Bloomberg survey.

American Greetings Corp.  sank 21 percent to $13.39. The second-largest U.S. maker of greeting cards posted third-quarter earnings of 50 cents a share excluding some items, missing Northcoast Research’s estimate of 81 cents a share.

23.12.2011 07:55

Tech on USD/JPY

Market Focus

  • The Bank of Japan decided by a 7-2 majority vote to hold the interest rate at -0.10%
  • Earnings Season in U.S.: Major Reports of the Week
  • U.S. commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 4.7 million barrels from the previous week
  • Australian unemployment rate stable at 5.6% in June
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