FROM MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD:
U.S. STOCK MARKETS:
Stocks finished slightly lower Friday after meandering in
negative territory for most of the day, with the Dow seeing its
first weekly loss in three weeks despite closing above 13000
Without major economic data releases or corporate news to
provide direction, stocks drifted lower in a rudderless session.
Indexes fell at the open and continued downward until
midafternoon, then recovered and peaked briefly into positive
territory before falling back.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2.73 points to finish at
12977.5. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index dropped 4.46
points, or 0.3%, to 1369.63, and the Nasdaq Composite closed
12.78 points, or 0.4%, lower at 2976.19.
The Dow fell less than the other indexes primarily on the
strength of IBM, which rose $1.28, or 0.7%, to close at $198.81.
The move accounted for nearly 10 points in the Dow's performance
Otherwise, seven of the S&P's 10 sectors were lower, led
by energy and industrial shares. Blue chips were weighed down by
American Express, which declined 1.1%.
Decliners outpaced advancers by just over 2-to-1 on the New
York Stock Exchange and about 2.5-to-1 on the Nasdaq. Meanwhile,
shares of online business-review site Yelp began trading in their
stock market debut, rising 9.58, or 64%, to 24.58 a share from
their initial $15 price.
Goldman Sachs raised its three-month and six-month targets on
the major European indexes and upgraded its rating on the
European banking sector to overweight from neutral.
In corporate news, Sara Lee rallied 1.44, or 7.1%, to 21.83
after the company said it can now go ahead with its plan to spin
off its coffee and tea business on the Amsterdam stock exchange.
Shutterfly jumped 4.45, or 17%, to 31.36 after the company agreed
to buy certain assets of Eastman Kodak 's online photo-services
business for $23.8 million.
EUROPEAN STOCK MARKETS
European stock markets ended the week higher Friday in a
session that saw choppy trade following Spain's decision to lift
its deficit target, while major banks provided support after a
The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed 0.1% higher at 267.21,
ending the week with a 0.9% gain. Among the biggest gainers, SBM
Offshore NV jumped 15.7%, after reporting a larger-than-expected
loss for 2011 but saying it expects 2012 sales of around $4
billion, a 27% increase.
Markets turned lower in midday trade after Spanish Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy said Spain was lifting its 2012 deficit
target to 5.8% of gross domestic product, up from the previously
agreed 4.4%. Banco Popular Espanol SA lost 1.1%, Banco de
Sabadell SA fell 0.7% and Caixabank SA traded 0.8% lower, but the
Ibex 35 index managed to eke out a 0.2% gain to 8,563.40.
In Greece, the Athens General Index was 0.2% higher at 749.32,
buoyed by National Bank of Greece SA, up 1.7%. Euro-zone finance
ministers indicated Thursday they would provide Greece with funds
from its new bailout fund once the country completes its planned
bond swap with private creditors.
A bailout deal is expected to be finalized in the coming week.
In the broader European stock markets, investors reacted to
recommendations on telecom and bank stocks.
Supporting the CAC 40 index, which closed marginally higher at
3,501.17, BNP Paribas SA rose 1.5% and Societe Generale SA gained
1.3%. Goldman Sachs upgraded the European banking sector to
overweight from neutral, citing more upside potential as the
three-year long-term refinancing operation from the European
Central Bank has improved liquidity.
On a down note, Goldman Sachs downgraded the telecom sector to
underweight from overweight, sending shares of telecom firms
lower. France Telecom shed 0.4%. In the U.K., Vodafone Group PLC
traded 0.7% lower and weighed on the FTSE 100 index, which fell
0.3% to 5,911.13.
Xstrata PLC declined 1.3% and Randgold Resources Ltd. fell
1.2% on the back of lower commodity prices. German drug maker
Bayer AG shed 1.7% and helped push the German DAX 30 index 0.3%
lower to 6,921.37.
Retailer Metro AG lost 2.9% after disappointing retail data:
Germany's Federal Statistics Office reported a 1.6% monthly fall
in January retail sales. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones
Newswires had forecast a 0.3% increase.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Asian stock markets ended higher Friday, with financials
leading the charge, as investors digested mostly positive
developments from overseas, while energy plays got a boost from
crude oil's continued rise.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 0.8%, while the Shanghai
Composite Index rose 1.4%. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose
0.7%, and South Korea's Kospi added 0.2% after a holiday
Bank-sector gains in Europe and the U.S. Thursday spread to
Tokyo financials Friday, with Credit Saison up 5.6%, Daiwa
Securities Group up 2.7% and Nomura Holdings 2.4% higher. In Hong
Kong, HSBC Holdings PLC rose 1.6% and Bank of China climbed
Thursday trading in New York also saw oil futures briefly top
$110 a barrel. Energy shares advanced, with Inpex Corp. up 1.2%,
and Japan Petroleum Exploration up 1.7%, though off their highs
of the day as crude prices ebbed during the Asian equities
Among Hong Kong-listed names, China Petroleum & Chemical
Corp. rose 2.2%, while PetroChina advanced 1.0%. South Korean car
maker Hyundai Motor jumped 1.9% after reporting Thursday its U.S.
February sales climbed 17% from a year ago.
However, Japanese car makers were lower, with Toyota Motor
down 0.6%, and Mazda Motor off 2.3%. Both firms also reported
U.S. sales, with Toyota's sales up 12% and Mazda recording a
Other Japanese export-related firms were solidly higher, with
TDK up 2% and Fujitsu 1.4% higher, as the dollar remained
supported against the yen.
Base metals closed mostly lower on the London Metal Exchange
Friday, having dropped alongside other risk assets as weak
European data weighed on sentiment and investors digested a mixed
week of trading.
LME three-month copper ended at $8,580 a metric ton, down 0.6%
on Thursday's close.
However, zinc and lead managed to hold in positive
Oil futures retreated 2% Friday as fears of a supply
disruption in Saudi Arabia eased and broader markets pulled
Futures gave back ground following Thursday's sharp
after-hours rally, prompted by reports of an oil pipeline
explosion in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi officials later denied the reports limited to regional
press and futures spent Friday in a steady slide. Light, sweet
crude for April delivery settled $2.14, or 2%, lower at $106.70 a
barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the
ICE futures exchange settled $2.55, or 2%, lower at $123.65 a