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
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
(+) 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.
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