The Week In Review
3/14-3/18/11March 18, 2011
U.S. stocks opened sharply higher as Wall Street welcomed news of a ceasefire in Libya and a coordinated effort by industrialized nations to bring the Japanese yen down from historic highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 144 points to 11,919 led by a 2% rally in Caterpillar. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 14 points to 1,288. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 26 points to 2,662. Everything is good this morning. The commodities are in the lead once again. Diamond Offshore is higher on an upgrade. LDK Solar is one of the few commodities lower following earnings. The financials are up once again following a nice rally in the last hour of trading yesterday. The big banks are up over a percent on hopes they will get government approval today to raise their dividends once again. Fifth third is up 2% on an upgrade. The insurance stocks also look great. The tech stocks are higher, but not up as much as the broader market. Case in point, Apple is only up half a percent this morning. Research in Motion is up a percent on an upgrade. Cisco Systems is up 2% after the company announced their first dividend in history to shareholders on record before March 31st. The US auto stocks are higher as Ford and GM received upgrades. Tata Motors is lower as the company said they would pass along the higher prices. FedEx is higher on an upgrade. Through the first hour the averages succumbed to a little profit-taking. The Nasdaq is only up 10 points as Apple fell into negative territory. In fact a number of high flying stocks from last month are lower like Salesforce.com, F5 Networks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Deckers Outdoors, Netflix, and Priceline.com. Through the morning the averages pulled back from the highs. The Nasdaq gave up most of its gains thanks to weakness in Apple and Google. The Dow is holding up better thanks to the financials. As expected the big banks did get approval to raise their dividends once again and they didn't waste any time. JP Morgan is jumping 3% after raising their dividend and initiating a share buyback. All the other big banks are up 2% each. In the last hour the averages gave up more of their gains outside the financials. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 83 points at 11,858, led by J.P. Morgan Chase and Caterpillar. The S&P 500 rose 5 points to 1,279. The Nasdaq Composite gained 7 to 2,643. The Dow fell 1.5% for the week, the S&P 500 lost 1.9%, and the Nasdaq sank 2.7%.
March 17, 2011
U.S. stocks surged higher at Thursday's start, recovering a large chunk of the prior day's losses, as investors looked to a Group of Seven meeting to help calm investors' nerves about the nuclear disaster in Japan. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 127 points to 11,741. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 16 points to 1,273. The Nasdaq Composite added 35 points to 2,652. It's appropriate for the major averages to start in the green on St Patrick's Day. With the news out of Japan not as dire as yesterday, the bulls are inching their way back into the markets. On the earnings front, FedEx is jumping 5% on in line earnings and encouraging comments about the future. The transportation average is up 2% this morning. The commodities look good. Freeport McMoran is jumping 2% while Cliffs Natural Resources is up 3%. Petro China is up a percent on earnings. Noble Energy is higher on an upgrade. Devon Energy is higher even though it was downgraded. The financials are modestly higher this morning, but no major follow through. In the tech space Apple and Google look good thanks in part to upgrades. BMC Software, Motorola Mobility, EMC, and HP are also higher on upgrades. Akamai is jumping 5% on an upgrade. Qualcomm is up 3% on news they won't see a significant impact from the Japanese disaster. That's good. IBM is unchanged on a downgrade to neutral. Through the first hour the averages remained near the highs of the day. Through the morning the Dow rose as much as 170 points before pulling back. The financials have given up a lot of their gains. The Nasdaq is holding near its high of the day. In the afternoon the averages gave up half their gains on, you guessed it, concerns out of Japan. A spike in the yen currency also added to equity volatility. In the afternoon the averages slowly recovered, accelerating its' pace in the last hour. The financials had a nice snapback in the last hour on rumors the big banks will get government approved to raise their dividends once again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 161 points, or 1.4%, at 11,774, with all but four of 30 components posting gains. The S&P 500 added 16 points, or 1.3%, to 1,273 led by a 3.1% gain in energy stocks. The Nasdaq Composite gained 19 points to 2,636. The Nasdaq is still lower for the year.
March 16, 2011
U.S. stocks fell in early trading Wednesday, extending three straight days of losses, as some disappointing U.S. economic data offset optimism in Asian markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 53 points to 11,804, led by a 1.8% drop in IBM shares. The S&P 500 dipped 4 points to 1,277, led by a drop 2% drop in D.R. Horton shares. The Nasdaq Composite was off 9 points to 2,657 points. Weak new construction in U.S. housing isn't helping the banks and the housing stocks. Elsewhere, the commodities are perking up following yesterday's drumming. The fertilizer stocks are trading higher following positive comments from RBC. The oil stocks are mixed this morning as a number of them received upgrades and downgrades. The insurance stocks are lower except for Alfac. Aflac is up 2% on an upgrade. The tech stocks are lower as key two components Apple and IBM were both downgraded this morning. Both are lower this morning than yesterday's lows. That's not good. Through the first hour the averages pushed lower only to recover to where they opened. The commodities are the best performing sector so far this morning. Through the morning the averages dropped a quick 100 points on comments out of Europe regarding the condition of the Japanese nuclear power plants. The comments were clarified indicating they were a reiteration of comments made yesterday, but the damage had been done. After five days, the condition of these four Japanese nuclear reactors remains in flux. Commodities and a few financials are in the green. Through the last hour of the morning and into the afternoon the averages hovered just above the lows for the day. My mid-afternoon, the averages dropped to new lows for the day falling 200 points in the Dow and 40 points in the Nasdaq. Through the afternoon the selling accelerated with the Dow falling nearly 300 points dropping into negative territory for the year. The Nasdaq is down 60 points or nearly 2% for the year. Entering the last hour the averages improved on attempts by the Japanese to get electricity back to the nuclear power plants, however, the rebound didn't hold up in the last hour. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 242 points, or 2%, at 11,613, up modestly from the start of the year. The S&P 500 fell 24 points, or 2%, to 1,256 points, down 0.1% for the year. The Nasdaq Composite fell 50 points, or 1.9%, to 2,616, down 1.4% for the year so far.
March 15, 2011
Beware of the Ides of March. U.S. stocks opened sharply lower Tuesday, extending heavy losses in Asian and European trading, as investors reacted to news that a damaged nuclear reactor in Japan was leaking more radiation into the atmosphere. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 264 points, or 2.2%, to 11,728, led by a 5% drop in General Electric shares. The S&P 500 dropped 31 points or 2.5% to 1,264, with a 3.1% drop in industrials leading a broad decline. The Nasdaq Composite fell 73 points or 2.7% to 2,627. The Japanese index, the Nikkei fell as much as 14% overnight before closing down 10%. In our markets, the weakness is broad based led by commodity stocks tied into the uranium and nuclear power business. The alternative energy stocks are modestly higher this morning. Commodity stocks Exxon, Nucor, Gerdau, Noble Corp, and Noble Energy were all upgraded, but all are lower. In the tech space everything is lower. Even Apple is down 3%. Intel is down 3% on a downgrade. Chipmaker Micron may benefit from the Japanese disaster, but the stock is lower. Research in Motion is lower even though it was upgraded. In the retail space, Brown Shoes is down 22% following earnings. DSW is down 5% after missing estimates. Lowes is down on an upgrade. William Sonoma is one of the few retailers higher on an upgrade. Netflix is up 3% on an upgrade from Goldman Sachs. Through the first hour the averages tried to rebound with little success. Through the morning the averages fought to recover. The good is we didn't make new lows after the open. In the afternoon the averages were able to get under a 200 point sell off. In the middle of the afternoon the Fed left rates unchanged and making encouraging comments about the economy. The averages initially sold off only to rebound. In the last hour the averages continued to improve declining only 85 points before selling back off. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 137 points, or 1.2%, at 11,855. That was an improvement from a loss of 297 points at the day's lows. Chevron was the sole gainer in the Dow. The S&P 500 closed down 14 points, or 1.1%, at 1,281, with utilities the worst and materials performing the best. The Nasdaq Composite ended down 33 points, or 1.3%, at 2,667.
March 14, 2011
U.S. stocks started moderately lower Monday, led by a pullback in utilities, as investors focused on efforts in Japan to avoid a nuclear catastrophe after Friday's massive earthquake led to explosions at two nuclear reactors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 44 points to 12,001, led by a 2% drop in General Electric shares. GE designed reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. The S&P 500 dipped 4 points to 1,299, with all sectors lower, led by utilities. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 10 points to 2,706. The commodities continue to get hit led by uranium stocks. The price of oil has started to retreat the last several days. Oil driller Noble Corp received an upgrade, but the stock is lower. The alternative energy plays are all trading higher. The insurance stocks continue to get hit on their Japanese exposure. AFLAC is down 4%. MetLife, Prudential, and Hartford are down over 2% each. More stocks trading on the Japanese concerns are the autos and semiconductor sectors. Toyota is down 4.5% after several of their plants were disrupted. The American autos like GM and Ford are modestly higher. In the chip space, American memory chip maker Micron is up 4% after several Japanese chip companies were shut down. Chipmaker, Xilinx raised their dividend, but the stock is lower. Elsewhere in the tech space, Apple is up a percent on news ipad sales are white hot. Through the first hour the averages pushed lower with the Dow dropping 100 points and the Nasdaq declining 20 points. One deal this weekend thanks to Berkshire Hathaway buying Lubrizol for $9 billion. Lubrizol is up 27% on the takeover. Berkshire is down a percent this morning. Only a handful of winners so far this morning. Through the morning the averages drifted lower after breaking key resistance levels. Through the morning and into the afternoon the Dow fell as much as 150 points before recovering. The Nasdaq declined 33 points before recovering. In the middle of the afternoon the averages rebounded on news Japan was getting a better hand on their nuclear disaster problems. Hopefully that turns out to be true. In the last hour the averages continued to improve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down just 51 points at 11,993, led by a 2.2% drop in GE shares. GE designed six of the reactors in Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where cooling systems. The S&P 500 lost 7 points to 1,296.39. The Nasdaq Composite fell 14 points to 2,700.