Friday, March 11, 2011

Japanese eathquake rocks stock markets

Stocks were under pressure from news out of Asia, but they settled back & absorbed the news well.  Higher retail sales in US were a help.  Dow fell only 17, decliners ahead of advancers 3-2 & NAZ was off 1.  The Financial Index broke into the black in the last hour.


Value 220.89 One-Year Chart for S&P 500 FINANCIALS INDEX (S5FINL:IND)
Change   0.14  (0.1%)

The MLP index dropped 1 to 365 while the REIT was flattish at 230.  Junk bond funds were mixed & Treasuries hardly budged.

Treasury yields:

U.S. 3-month
U.S. 2-year
U.S. 10-year

JPMorgan Chase Capital XVI (AMJ)

stock chart

Crude oil fell the most in 7 weeks after Japan’s strongest earthquake on record shut refineries in the world’s 3rd-largest oil-consuming country.  Gold just marked time. 

CLJ11.NYM....Crude Oil Apr 11...100.74 ...Down 1.96  (1.9%)

GCH11.CMX...Gold Mar 11.......1,413.40 ...Up 1.20 (0.1%)

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Retail Sales in U.S. Rose 1% in February

Photo:  Bloomberg

In Feb, retail sales posted their largest gain in 4 months as shoppers stepped up purchases of autos, clothes & other goods while spending more for gas.  The Commerce Dept reported to strong consumer spending & acceleration in economic growth in Q1. Retail sales rose 1.0%, the largest gain since Oct & the 8th straight monthly advance (but in line with expectations).  Jan sales were revised up to a 0.7% increase from a previously reported 0.3% gain. Compared to Feb 2010, sales were up 8.9%.  Excluding autos, sales rose 0.7% last month after gaining 0.6% in Jan.  Receipts at gasoline stations increased 1.4% after rising 1.3% in Jan. Excluding gasoline, sales rose 0.9% after rising 0.6% in Jan.  The Energy Information Administration said this week households would pay an average of $700 more for gasoline this year than in 2010.  Mar sales will tell more about how higher gas prices impact stores sales.

Retail Sales in U.S. Rose 1% in February, Most in Four Months

Spanish Banks Seek Investors to Plug $21 Billion Shortfall

Photo:  Bloomberg

European debt problems linger as Spanish banks may need € 15B ($21B) to meet minimum capital levels. 12 lenders, including 8 savings banks, are among the lenders that fell short of gov-set capital requirements.  Yesterday’s announcement sets in motion a timetable that gives lenders as long as a year to raise funds or risk being taken over by a gov bailout fund.  Spain’s credit rating was cut yesterday to Aa2 by Moody’s, which said lenders may need as much as € 50B to meet the new rules.  Meanwhile, the yield on Portuguese 5-year debt reached a €-era record amid speculation the nation may be nearing a request for financial aid. Last year Euro debt problems rocked financial markets around the world.  Keep an eye on these situations.

Spanish Banks Seek Investors to Plug $21 Billion Shortfall

Once again, stocks adjusted to ugly news very well suggesting inner strength in the markets.  On the other hand, Dow lost its upward steam on Feb 18.  It's still sputtering, not the kind of markets bulls have been talking about for 2011.  High yield securities have also largely been.holding onto 2 year gains.  With minimal gut reaction selling at the opening, markets could remain quite for the balance of the day.  Next Fri is quadruple witching which could be affecting markets as early as today.    

Dow Industrials (INDU)

stock chart

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