Global Markets Overview - 03/05/2012

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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 Tuesday.

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 Friday.

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 broker upgrade.

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 Thursday.

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 1.2%.

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 session.

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 32.3% rise.

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.

COMMODITIES
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 territory.

Oil futures retreated 2% Friday as fears of a supply disruption in Saudi Arabia eased and broader markets pulled back.

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 barrel.



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.



This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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