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22.03.2012 08:50

Stocks: Wednesday’s review


Asian stocks slid, with the benchmark index heading toward a two-week low, as companies including China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group Holdings Ltd. posted weaker earnings and Australia cut its commodity sales forecast on concern China’s economy is slowing.

Nikkei 225 10,086.49 -55.50 -0.55%

Hang Seng 20,840.65 -47.59 -0.23%

S&P/ASX 200 4,254.25 -20.77 -0.49%

Shanghai Composite 2,378.2 +1.36 +0.06%

China Rongsheng, the biggest Hong Kong-listed shipbuilder, declined 7.2 percent as net income tumbled 59 percent.

Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. fell 5.4 percent on speculation growth in mainland car sales will miss targets.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, slipped 1.7 percent in Sydney after copper futures slid the most in two weeks yesterday.

Most European stocks declined as a report showed sales of previously owned U.S. houses unexpectedly fell in the world’s biggest economy. Sales of previously owned U.S. houses unexpectedly fell in February, showing that the real-estate market is taking time to stabilize.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the government’s budget shortfall will be 7.6 percent of gross domestic product next year.

National benchmark indexes fell in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose less than 0.1 percent. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent while Germany’s DAX gained 0.2 percent.

Adidas, the second-largest sporting-goods maker, fell 2.3 percent to 57.64 euros. Morgan Stanley cut the shares to underweight from equal weight, meaning investors should hold a smaller proportion than represented in the benchmarks. Morgan Stanley cited risks in the second half as initiatives to fuel growth will likely mute mid-term margin expansion.

TeliaSonera fell 3.7 percent to 45.70 kronor, the biggest drop since Aug. 18, after the Finnish government sold 2.1 percent of the shares for 451 million euros, and 600 million euros of bonds to fund investments in the mining industry.

Banco Popolare gained 3.3 percent to 1.65 euros. The bank, which needs to fill a capital shortfall of 2.7 billion euros, according to the European Banking Authority, said it can meet the target without capital market transactions.

Sainsbury climbed 4.5 percent to 319.3 pence. The supermarket owner reported fourth-quarter sales growth that beat estimates as the Taste the Difference food range helped the retailer close the gap on market leader Tesco Plc.

Ziggo NV, the Dutch cable company owned by Warburg Pincus LLC and Cinven Ltd., soared 15 percent to 21.25 euros on its first day of trading. The company raised about 804 million euros selling shares at the top end of its forecast in the biggest initial public offering in Europe so far this year.

U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down a second day, on concern the best first-quarter since 1998 has outpaced economic prospects and as Baker Hughes Inc. drove a selloff in energy shares.

Data today showed purchases of previously owned U.S. houses dropped 0.9 percent to a 4.59 million annual rate from a revised 4.63 million pace in January that was faster than previously estimated.

Dow 13,124.62 -45.57 -0.35%, Nasdaq 3,075.32 +1.17 +0.04%, S&P 500 1,402.89 -2.63 -0.19%

Energy shares in the S&P 500 slumped 1 percent for the biggest decline among 10 groups.

Baker Hughes tumbled 5.8 percent to $45.04. North American first-quarter profit margin will drop to as low as 13.2 percent from 18.7 percent because of lower prices, higher costs and supply shortages as U.S. operators shift rig locations, the company said. Companies are drilling for oil because it’s worth about eight times more on an energy-equivalent basis than gas on U.S. markets.

Hewlett-Packard slid 2.2 percent to $23.46. The company will combine its personal-computer unit with the division that sells printers into a group led by Todd Bradley, who ran the PC business, to help cut expenses amid declining sales and profit.

LinkedIn Corp. surged 6.5 percent to $97.78. The biggest professional-networking website was raised to buy from neutral at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

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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