Closing Update: Stocks Rebound Despite Crimea Saber-Rattling, Factory Data Helps


Stocks closed higher Monday, joining a global relief rally that followed a so-far peaceful follow-up to Sunday's vote by Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Strong data on factory production and utilization supported the stock move, although gains were tempered somewhat by a below-consensus rise in homebuilder sentiment.

President Obama today ordered sanctions against seven Russian officials - including several top advisers to to President Vladimir Putin - the White House and the West believe were complicit Crimea's overwhelming vote this weekend to secede from Ukraine. The President also warned further sanctions are likely if Russia moves closer to annexing Crimea. Putin, meanwhile, cheered the vote, declaring Crimea a sovereign, independent country.

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders as measured by the National Association of Home Builders index improved in March but still fell short of Street expectations, rising a single point to 47.0 reading, trailing forecasts for a more robust gain to a 50.0 reading - which is index demarcation between a positive or a pessimistic outlook on the housing market.

Stocks rallied early after the Federal Reserve reported industrial production last month was showing signs of overcoming adverse winter weather, climbing 0.6% and beating estimates for a 0.2% gain. January was revised upward as well, from a negative 0.3% reading to a 0.2% decline. Capacity utilization also was better than expected while a regional measure of manufacturing activity in New York showed slight improvement over February levels.

Commodities were mostly lower. Crude oil for April delivery settled 81 cent lower at $98.08 per barrel while April natural gas gained 11 cents at $4.50 per 1 million BTU. April gold slid $6.10 to $1,373.10 per ounce while May silver declined 14 cents to $21.27 per ounce. May copper was unchanged at $2.95 per pound.

Here's where the U.S. market stood at the end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 181.55 (+1.1%) to 16,247.22

S&P 500 up 17.70 (+0.9%) to 1,858.83

Nasdaq Composite Index up 34.55 (+0.8%) to 4,279.95


Hang Seng Index down 0.30%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.96%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.78%


(+) MNGA, Slated to unveil its liquid biomass technology at the Seventh Annual International Biomass Conference & Expo.

(+) HTZ, Reportedly close to spinning off its construction-equipment rental unit, either through a distribution of shares to shareholders or possibly a reverse Morris trust combining a spin-off and a merger, according to the Financial Times.

(+) YHOO, Shares rise after Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba said it has started the process to go public on a U.S. stock exchange. YHOO has long held a 24% stake in Alibaba, worth as much as $37 billion, according to market experts.


(-) HNR, Q4 net loss widens to $112.7 mln, or $3.02 per share, from $23.1 mln last year. Excluding the charges linked to a sale of assets in Venezuela and exploration costs, it lost $0.36 per share, missing analyst estimates for $0.10 profit.

(-) VRSN, Cowen downgrade to Market Perform from Outperm after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration decides to give up its Internet domain name functions by September 2015. Price target cut $14 to $49 a share.

(-) ICPT, Q4 earnings disappoint, overwhelming positive Phase III test results for the company's obeticholic acid drug candidate as a treatment for primary billary cirrhosis.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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