Thursday, March 26, 2015

Markets finish lower in a choppy session

Dow fell 40, decliners over advancers 3-2 & NAZ gave up 13.  The MLP index was fractionally higher in the 428s & the REIT index was off 1+ to the 336s.  Junk bond funds did little & Treasuries pulled back, taking the yield on the 10 year Treasury just over 2%.  Oil jump over 2 to the 51s (not seen in 3 weeks) & gold held above 1200 after backing off from earlier highs.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

CLK15.NYM....Crude Oil May 15....51.30 Up ...2.09 (4.3%)

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

The US may allow Iran to run hundreds of centrifuges in a fortified underground bunker as part of a nuclear deal, according to the AP.  The site would be subject to intl inspections & Iran would not be permitted to do work that could result in an atomic bomb.  In exchange, Iran would agree to limit research & development at other sites.

U.S. May Allow Iran to Run Centrifuges In Fortified Bunker: AP

Consumer confidence climbed last week to match the 2nd-highest level since Jul 2007, propelled in part by gains among lower-income earners & job seekers as the labor market improves.  The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to 45.5 in the week ended Mar 22 from 44.2 the prior week.  Measures of the economy, buying climate & households’ financial well-being all improved.  Spirits brightened for those making less than $50K a year in wake of bigger Feb job gains in services that include the retail & restaurant industries.  More confidence about finances signals consumers may be inclined to step up purchases & drive the economy after a projected slowdown Q1.  A strengthening labor market & still-cheap gasoline are also delivering a boost to household spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy.  Among the 3 components of the index, the gauge of Americans’ views on the state of the economy rose to 37.7 from 37.2.  An index of the buying climate, showing whether this is a good time to purchase goods & services, increased by 1.5 points to 39.8, matching the 2nd-highest reading in 8 years.  A measure of personal finances climbed to 58.9 from 57.1.  Confidence improved for 3 of 4 groups of wage earners making less than $50K a year.  Sentiment among Americans making $25-$40K was the strongest since Feb 2007.  Women were more optimistic than at any time since Jul 2007, while confidence among seniors, the unemployed & renters was the highest since the start of the last recession.  The comfort index for Democratic voters was the highest in 14 years.  The Bloomberg Comfort Index has been presented on a scale of zero to 100 since May 2014, rather than the previous minus 100 to 100, with the midpoint shifting to 50 from zero.  The change is also reflected in the gauge’s components.  It doesn’t affect the measures’ relationship to each other or their correlation with other economic indicators.  Historical data has been revised & analysis of trends, values & other variables also aren’t affected.

Consumer Comfort in U.S. Matches Second-Highest Level Since 2007

ConAgra Foods, the packaged food company, reported a better-than-expected fiscal Q3 profit & provided an upbeat full-year outlook.  For the qtr ended Feb, the company swung to a net per share loss of $2.23, from EPS of 52¢, in the year-earlier period.  Excluding non-recurring items, such as a large impairment charge, adjusted EPS came in at 59¢, beating estimate of 52¢.  Revenue slipped 1.8% to $3.88B, just shy of the $3.87B projection, weighed by a 2% sales decline in its consumer foods business.  For fiscal 2015, the company expects adjusted EPS of $2.15-$2.19, above analysts forecast of $2.14.  The stock lost 19¢.  If you would like to learn more about CAG, click on this link:

ConAgra Foods stock gains after better-than-expected profit, upbeat outlook

ConAgra Foods (CAG)

Stocks began the day with selling, recovered in the PM, but late day selling returned taking the averages back into the red.  Increased fighting in the MidEast is weighing on the markets.  Higher oil prices are helping MLPs.  One thought on them, the producers, which extract oil from the ground, may see see acquisition activity when the energy companies get used the present level of oil prices.   Dow is back to where it was in mid Nov after dropping 450 this month.

Dow Jones Industrials

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