Another week of drama: Health care decision, Europe
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision on health care reform. Research In Motion, Nike will dominate earnings. A European summit could get volatile. Economic reports at home could show more softness.
It wasn't a great week for stocks, but given the week's drama -- a Greek election, a Federal Reserve meeting and its nasty aftermath on Thursday -- it could have been worse.
Expect another week of drama -- a lot of drama -- starting perhaps as early as Monday when the Supreme Court may issue its ruling on the Healthcare Reform Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
There are two earnings reports of importance: Nike (NKE) and Research In Motion (RIMM). The BlackBerry maker's stock price fell below $10 on Friday for the first since since 2003 as investors are signaling the company is in crisis.
And there will be important reports on the economy, personal income and housing.
Monday is shaping up as a weak day. Futures trading in the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) are signalling U.S. stocks will open lower.
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At the same time, there was concern about how auctions of government securities in Spain and Italy will fare. European stock futures and Asian shares were lower while the euro dropped toward a two-week low.
Corn and soybean futures rallied on concern dry weather will cut supply.
A volatile week ends with a lower market.
The Supreme Court decision and the rest of the drama will come after a week in which the Dow fell 1%. The S&P 500 was off 0.7%. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) actually finished higher, with a 0.7% gain.
It was a volatile week, especially on Thursday when the Dow fell 251 points in a delayed reaction to the Federal Reserve's decision to adjust a program to sell short-term securities and buy longer-term bonds to keep long-term rates low.
But the Fed's real message was that it is very concerned about the deteriorating economic situation in Europe and its effect on the United States. Policy makers cut their own forecasts for the next several years and conceded that they -- and everyone else -- were probably too optimistic earlier in the year when a warm winter caused a lot of economic activity that might have been delayed until spring.
The stock market slumped badly on Thursday. Many traders had been hoping the Fed would do much more than it did, even if Chairman Ben Bernanke insisted the central bank had made a substantive decision. But Bernanke did say the Fed would do much more -- presumably another big round of purchases of federal bonds -- if conditions really get scary.
But there were other issues at work: worry about a Moody's downgrade of global banks and a Goldman Sachs call to short the entire S&P 500.
There were other effects of the Fed decision.
Gold (-GC) and other commodities moved lower. Crude oil (-CL) closed the week below $80 a barrel for the first time since October, and the national average price of gasoline fell below $3.50 a gallon for the first time since Feb. 11 and ended Friday at $3.454 a gallon. That's down 12.3% from the April peak of $3.936 a gallon and down 4.9% from a year ago.
And there was plenty of criticism: that the Fed was reckless and risks setting off a new round of inflation and that the Fed has offered too little aid to the economy in the last few years because officials are afraid to offend the Republicans in Congress.
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The health care decision is coming
The decision, assuming it comes, will be combed carefully. (The New York Times suggested it may be delayed until Wednesday or Thursday.)
If law is overturned, it's likely to be by a 5-to-4 margin, with most Supreme Court watchers believing Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the deciding vote. (Because of that belief, he already has made the cover of Time magazine.)
The dissents will be closely examined because they may provide a roadmap on how to make the world's most expensive -- and chaotic -- health care system more efficient and accessible to more people
The betting, at least on the basis of three days of oral arguments in March, is that some or all of the law could be struck down. The big winners would be managed-care companies and medical-information companies. Hospital operators would probably be losers.
Health care stocks were the best-performing sector of the stock market in the past week. The sector has been a source of strength in a difficult quarter. The S&P 500 is off 5.2% so far this quarter. The Healthcare Select SPDR (XLV) exchange-traded fund, which tracks the health care sector of the index, is off 0.52%, third-best among the 10 S&P 500 sectors.
But the fact is there has not been exuberant investing in health care stocks. They were up an average 10.5% for the year through March 28. They're down an average 1.1% since.
And the winners are not because of the pending decision.
Edwards Lifesciences (EW), which makes heart valves and other devices for patients with cardiac problems, is up 44% for the year and 39.1% since March. But most of the gain resulted from a June 13 recommendation for the Food and Drug Administration to approve a new valve product.
- For more on the possible outcomes of the decision, check "The Obamacare Ruling: 5 Investing Scenarios."
Most of the attention on Europe will be paid to the European Summit on Thursday and Friday.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain agreed Friday that the eurozone needs to establish a $156 billion package that helps finance growth in the region.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel resisted pressure for common eurozone bonds or a more flexible use of Europe's rescue funds. She wants more fiscal discipline among the eurozone countries, something France has been reluctant to endorse.
That probably kept Friday's stock market rally in check, and it could weigh on markets as the week rolls on. There is a big fight brewing between Merkel and the new French president, Francois Hollande. A loud, ugly fight would hurt global markets.
A warning from the central bankers
On Sunday, the Bank for International Settlements, an organization that serves as an umbrella for the world’s largest central banks, called on euro zone countries to insure bank deposits and take other measures to prevent a banking collapse so that the European debt crisis does not undermine the global economy.
In its annual report, the BIS said central banks can't cope with the euro zone crisis alone. They are nearing the limits of their resources, and it is time for policy makers to act.
"Central banks are being cornered into prolonging monetary stimulus, as governments drag their feet and adjustment is delayed," the organization said. "It would be a mistake to think that central bankers can use their balance sheets to solve every economic and financial problem."
The report warned that bank deposits were already flowing out of countries perceived as vulnerable. By May, Greek banks had already lost about a third of their foreign deposits and one-quarter of domestic deposits, and the outflow seemed to be accelerating.
Money is also flowing out of Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain and into banks in Germany and the Netherlands because depositors believe there's more safety, The New York Times said.
Nike and Research In Motion top the earnings reports
After Thursday's close come two important reports.
Nike is expected to cheer investors with earnings of $1.37 per share for the fiscal fourth quarter, up 10.5% from a year ago. Revenue is expected to grow 13.1% to $6.52 billion.
Here's what to watch: the order book. Nike also includes an estimate of orders for the next few months. Listen to see if Europe is affecting sales. One analyst believes the European business is still quite strong, the Portland Business Journal noted Friday. Sterne Agee's Sam Poser said in a client note that athletic footwear and apparel brands and retailers are actually growing in Western Europe.
Research In Motion is a different and sadder story. The company expects to report a loss for its fiscal first quarter. It has promised to explore strategic alternatives, which would mean a sale.
The consensus estimate is still for a penny a share in earnings, down from $1.33 a year ago, with a 35.8% decline in revenue to $3.15 billion. And the questions at the conference call will surely be on survivability.
Also reporting next week: for-profit college operator Apollo Group (APOL) on Monday; drugstore chain Walgreen (WAG) on Tuesday; food processor General Mills (GIS) and homebuilder Lennar (LEN) on Wednesday; Family Dollar (FDO), office-furniture-maker Herman Miller (MLHR) and gun-maker Smith & Wesson (SWHC) on Thursday and Constellation Brands (STZ) and builder KB Home (KBH) on Friday.
The second quarter ends on Friday.
The economic reports: A last revision for GDP
Reports this past week (and in weeks before that) suggested the economy has slowed down from a quick start in the first quarter. This week's reports will probably confirm that.
There may be some cheer from housing. Nomura Securities is expecting May new-home sales to rise 4% in May to 375,000 units. That will undo some of the gloom from Thursday's existing-home sales report for May, which said sales on analyzed basis were off 1.5% from April.
Here's another bit of cheer: We're far enough along in the year that unadjusted sales (that is actual sales) were up slightly in May.
But the rest of the week may not be so cheery.
Case-Shiller Home Price Index, due Tuesday from Standard & Poor's. Look for a small year-over-year decline. But the rate of decline is slowing rapidly.
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, due Tuesday. This will probably decline. The index is closely attuned with the stock market.
Durable-goods orders, due Wednesday. Slowing European growth will depress orders.
Gross domestic product: a final revision for the first quarter, due Thursday. Analysts expect growth at an annualized 1.7%, down from 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Personal income, due Friday. Look for a small gain in income and in spending.
Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, due Friday. Nomura Securities sees the index falling to 51.2 in June from May's 52.7. But a reading above 50 means the economy is still growing.
University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, due Friday. Expect a big decline thanks to the stock market's woes.
A no on Obamacare might be a positive for the market. People generally seem to hate it, and many feel its cost will be a drag on the economy.
More interesting will be its impact on the popularity of Romney and Obama.
"By having a Universal system we can insure that everyone who is able will pay into the system and everyone will benefit from the lower cost of Medical care"
max, Odumbo has already cut 500 Billion Dollars out of Medicare. His objective is to eliminate all healthcare programs to finance his Socialist Obamacare Program. The people that cannot pay today will not pay in the future, so where are we better off? I will tell you, the Government will control every aspect of your health...not the doctors...not you...and if you don't want to play along, they will take your money, property, and if necessary your freedom.
I see the parents of the slain border patrol agent are going to campaign for Mr.Romney. I also note that a group of Mexican law enforcement people are going to make a commercial for Mr. Romney asking why Holder and Obama allowed Fast and Furious and refuse to answer Congressional questions. I hear the families of some 400 slain by these weapons in Mexico, want to help Mr. Romneys campaign also...
They should make effective commercials. Halder clearly lied to Congress and is OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE in the cover up of Obama's involvement...
Comrade Max Sparticas, Why do you keep postingthese lies? These are false Donkey Party talking points.
Obama has spent 5.5 trillion we don't have since he has been in office. As far as 2007 & 2008 budgets, tose were passed but the democrat house and democrat senate. They could logically be included in "57 states" numbers but they are not.
The amount spent in 2008 was 3 Trillion, it is now 3.8 tillion a 26% increase.
Government spending has increased to over 26% of GDP and it stood at a shade under 18% when "The private sector is Fine" took over.
Mr. Obama is clearly the most inept, clueless, out of touch, corrupt, lazy President in the last Century. Jimmy Carter is happy, someone will be remembered now as worse than him.
Where is the "under 8% unemployment Mr. Oblama promised? Is that like his promise to cut the deficit in half within 2 years?
Incorrect. Redirecting money to the auto sector will cost a like amount of jobs in other areas of the economy, and shrink revenue by a larger amount. It in effect will cost thousands of more jobs than it creates.
This why after 5.5 trillion in deficit spending and stimulus the unemployment rate under Obamanomics went from 7.2% on 01/20/2009 to well over 10%. The government canot create jobs. Every dollar is spends has to first be taken OUT of the PRIVATE economy via taxation, borrowing or debasing.
It is pretty clear from these comments not one of you has read the bill It is 2612 pages long, and a fair amount is lawyerese. It was written by many people, that much is obvious from the style. it would take a SCOTUS justice at least a couple of days to read the whole thing.
If you ignore all the miscellanous junk, i.e. funding for special junk (2 dams, special farm progects, etc) it is very contradictory. Seems like the special interest groups included language they want throughout.
The basic premise of the bill is a massive increase in Medicaid with the states picking up tab, and the mandatory participation of the health uninsured to fund the cronic users of the current healthcare system who are uninsured.
The real question of course is who should be fleeced to pay for these cronic uninsured users who utilize the existing system? I for one don't want to pay for these people. The CHOOSE to place healthcare coverage and their health at a lower spendiong priority than other necessities.
This healthcare bill was rammed down the throats to the very people that have to PAY THE BILL.
The other aspect of the bill is to attempt to control costs by limiting payments to healthcare providers (i.e controlling the wages of doctors, nurses). Congress will never allow these to happen. They have been shown to resist making current Medicare payment reductions. So this bill actually increases cost by a modest amount. It in no way has provisions that will control any costs.
Read the bill and draw your own conclusions. It should be repealled. If you want healtcare coverage for 33 million uninsured, LET THE 33 million uninsured foot the bill.
Real Healthcare reform MUST include the following, Tort reform, allow the sale of insurance across state lines. And a national regulatory organization to define what is covered in each policy across state lines. Maybe allow 12 standard policies. This could be funded by the massive savings eliminating 50 state insurance regulatory agencies.
Don't think the Wall has to be 300 ft wide....Surely you jest...
But I did think the illegals that have been caught, providing the labor for their keep...
Was a grand idea.....But then prisoners everywhere in the US should provide low-cost or free labor for their keep at about 10 hours per day...6hrs. on Sunday after Church.
Less time in the yard, watching TV, vid games or drugs and fighting....Let them earn it...
ca-chink,ca-clink,rattle chink, clink, clink clink....Our roads need some work boys.
So Stop the fear Mongering and Focus on the real threat..Obama.
"Slandering the President's name is immature."
We have not had a President for almost 4 yrs. but we have had a Community Organizer, Dog Eating, Drugged Out wannabe Dictator. He has done a great job degrading our Constitution and dividing Americans by gender, race, religion and economics. Call me immature if you like, but I live in Realville. I would encourage all Freedom Loving Americans to vote this Nightmare out of office.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Wednesday session on a modestly lower note, but it is worth mentioning today's retreat took place after six consecutive gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and S&P 500 (-0.2%) settled not far below their flat lines, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.8%) lagged throughout the session.
Equity indices started the day in the red, with the Nasdaq showing early weakness as large cap tech names and biotechnology weighed. The technology ... More
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