Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lower markets on mixed economic data.

Dow fell 16 (paring earlier losses), decliners slightly ahead of advancers & NAZ lost 6.  The MLP index rose 2+ to the 433s & the REIT index fell pennies below 341.  Junk bond funds were mixed & Treasuries climbed higher.  Oil slipped lower in the 48s & gold inched higher.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

CLK15.NYM...Crude Oil May 15...48.05 Down ...0.63  (1.3%)

GCJ15.CMX....Gold Apr 15......1,188.40 Up ...3.60 (0.3%)

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel & French President Francois Hollande pressed the Greek gov to come up with an economic plan that its creditors can approve, saying time is short.  “There’s no time to lose,” Merkel said.  While talks are “a start,” they “aren’t there yet,” she said.  “As I already said several days ago, we’ve lost too much time,” Hollande said.  “The sooner, the better.”  The leaders of the euro area’s 2 biggest economies used the occasion to signal unity on Greece, saying they want to keep the country in Europe & insisting that Greek Prime Minister Tsipras deliver on economic reform commitments.  While other euro-area governments gave Greece until the end of Jun to present a plan & “I’m not counting the days,” Merkel said “the quicker Greece makes proposals, the quicker an agreement can be reached.”  Asked about Tsipras’s plan to visit Moscow for talks next week, she said she & Hollande “have also been to Moscow & we’re still members of the European Union & stand united.”

German unemployment dropped to a record low as the labor market continued to underpin the country’s position as Europe’s economic powerhouse.  The jobless rate fell to 6.4% in Mar from 6.5% in Feb, the Federal Labor Agency said.  The prediction was for the level to remain unchanged.  The number out of work declined a seasonally adjusted 15K to 2.8M.  German business & investor confidence is mounting as plunging energy prices put more cash in consumers’ pockets & a weaker € bolsters exports.  Output in the country probably increased “sharply” in Q1, the Bundesbank said in its Mar monthly report.  Inflation data published yesterday showed German consumer prices rising again on an annual basis in Mar, after 2 months of decline.  A purchasing managers’ index showed manufacturing accelerated more than predicted in the month.  Italy’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 12.7% in Feb, from 12.6% the prior month, statistics agency Istat said.  The jobless rate in the 19-nation euro area probably held at 11.2% in Feb, according to a recent survey.

German Unemployment Keeps Falling as Economy Strengthens

Consumer confidence increased in Mar to the 2nd-highest level since Aug 2007 as Americans grew more upbeat about the outlook for the labor market & incomes.  The Conference Board’s sentiment index climbed to 101.3 from 98.8 in the prior month that was stronger than initially reported.  The forecast called for the gauge to hold at Feb’s previously reported 96.4 reading.  The gain in Mar was paced by households who looked forward to more employment opportunities & rising incomes in the coming 6 months.  The pickup may help consumer spending rebound after a setback earlier this year.  The gauge averaged 96.9 during the last expansion & 53.7 during the recession that ended Jun 2009.  In Jan, the index rose to 103.8, the best reading since Aug 2007.  The Conference Board’s consumer expectations gauge for the next 6 months increased to 96, the 2nd-highest reading in 4 years, from 90 in Feb.  The measure of present conditions dropped to 109.1 in Mar from 112.1 & the share of Americans who said business conditions were good held at 26.7%.  The Conference Board’s data showed Americans’ assessments of current & future labor-market conditions improved.  The share of Americans who said jobs were plentiful rose to 20.6% in Mar from 20.3%.  The proportion of consumers expecting more jobs to become available in the next 6 months climbed to 15.5% from 13.8% in Feb.  The share of respondents that said they expected their incomes to grow in the next half year increased to 18.4% from 16.4% last month.

Americans’ Confidence Climbs to Second-Highest Since 2007

Stocks aren't doing much of anything.  Today's final prices may be largely a function of money managers adjusting their books one way or the other.  But there are plenty of problems out there.  The US economy does not have a robust recovery.  Intl relationsd are a mess, highlighted by the need to refinance Greek debt shortly & the growing fighting in Yemen (along with the rest of the MidEast).  Dow is up 100 in Q1, not bad all considered.

Dow Jones Industrials

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