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23.03.2012 08:20

Stocks: Thursday’s review


Asian stocks rose after Japan posted an unexpected trade surplus and as a survey that showed China’s manufacturing may contract this month stoked speculation the government may introduce more measures to bolster growth.

Nikkei 225 10,127.08 +40.59 +0.40%

Hang Seng 20,901.56 +44.93 +0.22%

S&P/ASX 200 4,273.68 +19.43 +0.46%

Shanghai Composite 2,375.77 -2.42 -0.10%

First Tractor Co., a Chinese maker of farm equipment, jumped 6 percent in Hong Kong after the mainland’s central bank cut reserve requirements to more branches of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.

Samsung Electronics Co., Asia’s No.1 consumer- electronics maker that counts China as its biggest market, gained 1.3 percent in Seoul. Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second- largest carmaker, added 1.7 percent in Tokyo.

European stocks fell for a fourth day, the longest losing streak since November, as manufacturing contracted in China and the euro area.

A preliminary measure of Chinese manufacturing fell to 48.1 this month, according to HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. That’s the lowest reading on the purchase managers’ index since November and compares with a final 49.6 in February. A result below 50 indicates a contraction.

European services and manufacturing output contracted more than forecast in March. A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries dropped to 48.7 from 49.3 in February, according to Markit.

National benchmark indexes fell in all of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.8 percent, France’s CAC 40 retreated 1.6 percent and Germany’s DAX declined 1.3 percent.

Randgold plunged 13 percent to 5,765 pence, the largest decline since October 2008. A Malian army officer said the country’s constitution has been suspended and all state institutions dissolved because of the government’s “incompetence.”

Baloise slid 6.6 percent to 71.05 Swiss francs after saying profit dropped 86 percent last year on investment losses and a writedown on Greek sovereign debt.

Hermes International SCA rose 2.3 percent to 249.80 euros after the French maker of Kelly bags and silk scarves posted earnings that exceeded analyst projections and offered a bonus dividend to shareholders.

Lanxess AG, the German chemical maker spun off from Bayer AG in 2005, jumped 8.5 percent to 61.05 euros, the largest gain since November 2009, after reporting fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates on higher demand from Brazil and China.

U.S. stocks retreated, trimming the longest monthly rally since September 2009 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as manufacturing contracted in China and Europe and FedEx Corp. tumbled amid a disappointing forecast.

Equities joined a global slump today as a Chinese manufacturing index indicated a worse contraction this month. Euro-area services and manufacturing output contracted more than economists forecast. Stocks fell even after data showed that jobless claims dropped to the lowest level in four years, reinforcing signs the U.S. labor market is picking up.

Dow   13,046.14     -78.48 -0.60%, Nasdaq       3,063.32       -12.00 -0.39%, S&P 500    1,392.78       -10.11 -0.72%

FedEx tumbled 3.5 percent to $92.50. It forecast a profit range for its current fiscal quarter whose low end trailed analysts’ estimates amid slowing express-shipment demand.

The company is responding to a drop in express shipments and “below-trend” growth by parking an unspecified number of planes in the desert, reducing flight hours and reviewing domestic capacity. The range of goods delivered by FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. makes them economic barometers.

Energy and raw material shares retreated as the S&P GSCI gauge of commodities declined 1.1 percent amid concern about slower demand. Alcoa (АА) иretreated 2.5 percent, the most in the Dow, to $10.01. Chevron (CVX) slumped 2.4 percent to $105.35. Among industrial companies, Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) dropped 2.4 percent to $106.43.

Discover Financial Services added 2.7 percent to $32.49. The payments network company said fiscal first-quarter profit rose 36 percent to a record as consumers spent more on credit cards.

Market Focus

  • The eurozone started the third quarter on a solid footing, according to PMI survey data
  • Earnings Season in U.S.: Major Reports of the Week
  • German private sector output growth slowed for the second month running in July
  • ECB's Mersch says as conditions normalise, it is unlikely that uncoventional policies will remain necessary
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