Monday, March 1, 2010

Markets begin March like a lion

Stocks opened higher & remained on that plateau all day. Dow gained 78, advancers over decliners 3-1 & NAZ was up an impressive 35 (but still below its Jan highs). Banks crept up. The Financial Index is approaching the middle of its 190-210 trading range for 7 months. By way of comparison, the sluggish Dow (as of this year) is up over 10% reaching new interim highs in the same time span.

S&P 500 FINANCIALS INDEX

Value
198.16
Change
0.73
% Change
0.4%






The 2 week chart for the MLP Index shows after resting for more than a week, MLPs are charging forward. Today the index is up 2¼ to the 297s, getting very close to the 300 high reached in Jan. The Dow Jones Index is up 1½ to the 182s. Junk bond funds rose while the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond inched up 1 basis point to 3.60%.

Alerian MLP Index --- 2 weeks




Dow Jones REIT Index --- 2 weeks








Oil dropped $1.50 at lunchtime, off its $80 high, but no reasons have been given. Speculative interest for commodity traders today was drawn to copper after the earthquakes in Chile (#1 copper producer). Gold remained flat.

CLJ10.NYM..Crude Oil Apr 10..78.57 ..Down 1.09
......(1.4%)


GCH10.CMX..Gold Mar 10..1,119.10 ..0.80
......(0.1%)



Gold Super Cycle!! Click Here





Deal, Handshake

Photo: CNBC


Most top performers in the S&P 500 in 2010 are benefiting from takeover talks, helping prop up otherwise weak markets. Over the weekend, life sciences instrument company Millipore (MIL) was purchased by Germany's Merck KGaA for $107 in cash. Shares of MIL are now up more than 45% YTD. In addition: Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), up 21%, is sort of being purchased by Coca-Cola (KO & a Dow stock). Oil-Services firm Smith International (SII), up more than 50%, is being acquired by Schlumberger (SLB). Further, chemical company Airgas (ARG) & fertilizer maker CF Industries (CF) have double-digit gains following hostile takeovers. Speculative money will be trying to guess which is the next takeover candidate.


Market Would Be Lost This Year Without Mergers



Early returns on Feb auto sales are due tomorrow & results are expected to be drab. Toyota (TM) problems & snowstorms may have pinched fairly hard. Sales could be higher year over year (10M annual rate), but considering how weak they were last year (9M annual rate), that's not saying much. Of course, what is bad for autos will also hurt the struggling housing sector.

U.S. Auto Sales May Hit ‘Speed Bump’ on Snow, Toyota








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There was not much news today & what there was was centered around takeovers & buyouts. The Greek debt problem just won't go away. The British £ fell below $1.50, on worries about elections in 2 months which may bring into power a minority gov not be able to deal with financial problems in England. Their problems are not as serious as the truly weak countries in the EU, but they are problems nevertheless which need to be solved. In the meantime, markets had a mild recovery in Feb & started of the new month extending those gains.

Dow Jones Industrials --- 2 weeks




Nasdaq --- 2 weeks