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Friday, 13 January 2012 | 00:00
DJ30 PointChange: +21.57 Level: 12471.02 NASDAQ PointChange: +13.94 Level: 2724.7 NQ100 PercentChange: +0.4 R2K PercentChange: +0.4 SP400 PercentChange: +0.2 SP500 PointChange: +3.02 Level: 1295.5 NASDAQ-Adv:1535 Dec: 967 NYSE-Adv:1838 Dec: 1151 [BRIEFING.COM] Some disappointing data resulted in a shallow slide for stocks this morning, but the broad market staged a gradual recovery so that it settled with a modest gain. Stocks now enter Friday riding a week-to-date gain greater than 1%.

After a few days without any data of consequence participants anxiously awaited monthly retail sales numbers and the latest weekly initial jobless claims tally, but both came short of what had been widely expected. Specifically, retail sales during December increased 0.1%, while sales less autos actually fell 0.2%. Economists polled by had expected, on average, respective increases of 0.4% and 0.3%. Little attention was paid to the upward revisions of the prior month.

Initial weekly jobless claims mad an unexpected jump to 399,000 from 375,000, which is where many had expected them to remain. Continuing jobless claims climbed to 3.63 million from 3.61 in the prior week.

The data cast a pall over news that recent debt offerings from both Spain and Italy were successful, which initially helped drive Europe's bourses higher before sentiment was soured by cautious, although unsurprising, comments about downside risks to economic activity in the region from European Central Bank (ECB) President Draghi. Draghi's comments came in a press conference that followed the ECB's decision to keep its target interest rate at 1.00%. Also, the Bank of England opted to keep its interest rate at 0.5% and its asset purchase plan at 275 billion pounds.

The euro displayed resilience today. Selling undercut an early gain, but the currency rallied so that it was at $1.283, up 0.9%, by session's end.

As a consequence of the euro's rally, the dollar traded lower, but that failed to help energy prices. Natural gas fell another 2.5% to settle pit trade at a 28-month low of $2.70 per MMBtu, while oil futures settled pit trade with a 1.9% loss at a 2012 closing low of $99.07 per barrel.

Softer oil and gas prices weighed on the energy stocks all session. The sector settled with a 0.9% loss. In contrast, materials stocks staged a strong advance by scoring a 1.5% gain. While energy stocks made up the session's worst performing sector, materials were the best.

Financials faltered alongside the broad market in the early going, but were able to stage a gradual recovery. Banks were generally quiet ahead of the latest quarterly announcement from JPMorgan Chase (JPM 36.85, +0.19), which will set the bar for bank stocks when it reports tomorrow morning.

Although the broad market was basically without legitimate leadership for the second straight session, technical support played a part in today's advance. The stock market's early slide was stemmed when the S&P 500 tested the 1286 line, which was recently an area of resistance before the broad market measure gapped above it earlier this week.

Treasuries were quiet today, but there was a mild flurry of selling following results from an auction of 30-year Bonds. The auction drew a bid-to-cover of 2.60, dollar demand of $33.8 billion, and an indirect bidder participation rate of 31.9%. For comparison, an average of the previous six auctions results in a bid-to-cover of 2.69, dollar demand of $37.2 billion, and an indirect bidder rate of 29.8%.

Advancing Sectors: Materials +1.5%, Industrials +0.9%, Tech +0.4%, Financials +0.4%, Telecom +0.3%, Consumer Discretionary +0.3%, Health Care +0.2%
Declining Sectors: Consumer Staples -0.1%, Utilities -0.2%, Energy -0.9%

Source: Briefing

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