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20.07.2012 08:06

Stocks: Thursday’s review

Asian stocks rose, with the benchmark index headed toward its biggest gain in almost three weeks, amid speculation China will do more to boost growth and after U.S. housing starts jumped to the highest in four years.

Nikkei 225 8,795.55 +68.81 +0.79%

S&P/ASX 200 4,206.69 +83.09 +2.02%

Shanghai Composite 2,184.84 +15.74 +0.73%

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Chinese companies listed in the city jumped 2.4 percent as the country’s swap market signaled a further reduction in the reserve ratio requirement for banks.

BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s biggest oil producer, increased 2.5 percent as crude prices exceeded $90 a barrel for the first time since May.

Man Wah Holdings Ltd., a sofa maker which gets more than half of its sales from the U.S., climbed 4.9 percent in Hong Kong.

European stocks rose to the highest level since early April as companies reported quarterly earnings that exceeded analysts’ estimates.

Spain’s five-year borrowing costs surged at a debt sale today, while France paid record-low yields of less than 1 percent to sell similar securities.

Spanish five-year notes yielded an average 6.459 percent, compared with 6.072 percent a month ago. French yields for the same maturity fell to 0.86 percent, almost half of last month’s level. Spain sold debt as lawmakers debated spending cuts in Parliament, where police erected barriers and stood guard.

Spanish 10-year bonds extended their decline, pushing the yield through 7 percent for the first time since July 10, after the auction.

National benchmark indexes rose in all 18 western European markets except Portugal and Iceland. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5 percent. France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.9 percent and Germany’s DAX advanced 1.1 percent.

Nokia surged 12 percent to 1.54 euros. The unprofitable mobile-phone maker posted sales of its flagship smartphone that topped some analysts’ estimates. Sales of the Lumia product increased to 4 million units in the second quarter, Espoo, Finland-based Nokia said.

Novartis AG rose 1.7 percent to 56 francs. The company reported second-quarter profit that declined less than analysts forecast, helped by increasing sales of new products such as the Gilenya treatment for multiple sclerosis and the Afinitor cancer drug.

Electrolux AB, the world’s second-biggest appliance maker, rose 6.2 percent to 153.70 kronor as it reported second-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates after it succeeded in pushing through higher prices in North America.

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a two-month high, amid better- than-estimated earnings and bets that disappointing economic data will lead the Federal Reserve to add stimulus.
Investors also watched economic data. Sales of existing U.S. homes unexpectedly dropped and manufacturing in the Philadelphia region contracted for a third month. Other reports today showed consumer confidence weakened, claims for unemployment benefits rose and an index of leading economic indicators declined more than forecast.
IBM (IBM) climbed 3.8 percent, the most since Jan. 20, to $195.34. IBM, which accounts for more than 11 percent of the Dow, added 54 points to the share price-weighted average.
The company’s decade-long shift to higher-margin software sales helped it overcome a slowdown in technology spending last quarter. IBM aims to get half of its earnings from software by 2015 -- a move away from less-profitable hardware and services.
EBay soared 8.6 percent to $43.95, the highest price since 2006. Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe has increased spending on advertising and new technology to expand beyond EBay’s auction roots and let shoppers buy more items in instant sales, similar to those on Inc.’s site.

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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