Euro Weakness Pressures U.S. Markets; Dell Go-Shop Bidding In Focus
It was business as usual for the ongoing bull run in U.S. equities, after stock-index futures pointed to a positive open in the wake of news that Cyprus locked down a bailout from the euro zone. But after opening modestly higher to start the week, all three major U.S. equity indexes had reversed course to trade sharply lower.
According to media reports, the downdraft coincided with headlines out of Europe that Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the Cypriot bank restructuring plan should serve as a template for the rest of the Eurozone, triggering weakness in the Euro.
In what initially appeared to be a supportive development, Cyprus secured a 10 billion-euro rescue package, agreeing to raise 4.2 billion euros by restructuring the country's banking sector and taxing bank deposits larger than 100,000 euros.
Last week, the European Central Bank threatened to withdraw emergency aid from the Cypriot banking system if leaders were unable to come up with a deal to improve the country's financial sector--a move that briefly shook world markets.
Domestically, investors have one development to focus on: a panel discussion featuring Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. On a bullish note, the March Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook came in at +7.4 vs. a +3.4 estimate, and +2.2 previously.
Overseas, European markets also reversed course to trade down after rallying on the Cyprus deal news on the news, while Asian markets finished mostly higher.
In individual company news, Dell ( DELL ) shares were up 3% at $14.46 after the company said it received two alternative offers during its go-shop period. One proposal was submitted by a group affiliated with a private equity fund managed by Blackstone and the other by entities affiliated with Carl Icahn.
Overall, commodity prices were mixed at mid-day, with oil up $0.93, at $94.64 a barrel. Natural gas continued to toy with the $4 mark, up $0.048 to $3.975 per million BTUs.
Gold futures were down $2.00 $1606 per ounce, while silver was up $0.157, to $28.855 per ounce. Copper was down $0.026 to $3.44.
Here's where the markets stood at mid-day:
NYSE Composite down 25.46 (-0.28%) to 9,040.33
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 46.38 (-0.32%) to 14,465.65
S&P 500 down 2.48 (-0.16%) to 1,554.41
Nasdaq Composite Index down 7.77 (-0.24%) to 3,237.33
Nikkei 225 Index up 1.68%
Hang Seng Index up 0.61%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.05%
FTSE 100 Index down 0.36%
DAX down 0.69%
CAC 40 down 1.07%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) down 33.26 (-0.25%) to 13,159.73
NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) down 27.00 (-0.49%) to 5,464.42
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) down 30.93 (-0.35%) to 8,709.84
(+) STXS (+51%) Shares took flight after company announced that it has received regulatory approval of its Niobe remote magnetic technology for cardiac ablations in Japan, a critical milestone in securing full market entry into the country.
(+) ECYT (+8.6%) Shares rose after analysts at Robert W. Baird upgraded their rating on the stock to Outperform from Neutral. They also hiked their price target on the stock to $13 from $9 a share.
(+) ZAZA (+3.4%) Stock held slight gains after the company said it will sell about 10,000 net acres located in Fayette, Gonzalez and Lavaca Counties, Texas for about $43.3 million. In the pre-bell session, the stock added over 21%. The closing of the sale is expected to occur during Q2 and net proceeds from the sale, after customary closing purchase price adjustments and expenses, are expected to be about $42 million.
(-) CHKP (-3.1%) Shares slipped after being downgraded at Lazard Capital Markets to Neutral from Buy.
(-) VHS (-7.9%) Health care provider company shares tumbled after the company said its Phoenix, Ariz., health plan subsidiary, VHS Phoenix Health Plan, LLC, received a letter from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System on Friday March 22 informing PHP that it was not awarded an acute care program contract for the program year commencing Oct. 1.
(-) CMGE (-7.2%) Stock fell despite company announcing that it has signed strategic partnership agreements with China Wireless Technologies Limited and Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment to pre-install customized versions of the company's Game Center application on Smart phones produced by both companies.