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.

By Charley Blaine Jun 22, 2012 9:52PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 3:15 a.m. ET Monday

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.

Article continues below.
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.
Europe has another big week ahead
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.
Jun 24, 2012 9:58PM
2008 - 2012   new debt 5.5 trillion  with nothin to show  
Jun 23, 2012 10:43PM

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...

Jun 23, 2012 10:40PM

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? 

Jun 25, 2012 7:47AM
Rule already! They did their vote months ago. Employers need to know if they should hire, keep what they have  or fold up quietly into the night. Citizens want to know how much they need to start setting aside-enough for a monthly premium/copays/deductable/out-of-pocket or a 1-time annual fine (way cheaper then p/c/d/o) at least up front the fine is cheaper.
Jun 24, 2012 8:41AM
To Active IRA, Presidents do not spend, Bushes Democratic congress spent all the money. My favorite was Pelosi on the health care bill after signing and passing, "now let's go find out what is in it". And that is what is wrong with Washington and our budgets, congress and deficit.  
Jun 25, 2012 7:19AM
So the court will either make it's decision today or Thursday!  Which day will the Market go ape crap?  No matter what the decision will be I can see the headlines now. "Healthcare Program Doesn't Meet Up To Wall Street Expectations".  My question is does anything meet up to their expectations.  Maybe they should check themselves against that reference.
Jun 23, 2012 12:34PM
 Oh I agree 100% Classic Lady. Congress lost whatever shred of credibility they had left when insider trading was revealed on BOTH sides of the aisle. Just a joke they are
Jun 23, 2012 6:12PM
There needs to be a constitutional amendment that gives all branches of government the same health care options as the rest of us. If members of congress and supreme court justices were required to purchase their insurance on the open market, maybe we would finally have some meaningful competition in the health care industry.

 I'm not looking for a free lunch, but I think everyone should at least order from the same menu.
Jun 24, 2012 3:54PM



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.



Jun 23, 2012 12:18AM
nobamamamamama is the problem with our economy. but that will soon end come november. he couldn't run a koolade stand.
Jun 24, 2012 12:24PM
 I love math and used to get estimates from  concrete subs as a general contractor;
 The 4 trillion spent on the war on terror could have paid for a concrete Mexican  Wall 300 feet high 300 feet wide and 2000 miles long with a Great Pyramid tossed in every 100 miles just for as seen from the moon aesthetics
 And that is assuming Union wages. 
 Now if you sentenced every caught illegal to 6 months on the wall  as forced labor, you could get it for much less! Maybe even allow them to put their personal graffiti, mural , or grave marker shrine on it as the case may be,  to soften the sentence. Time reduced for being jovial while you work
Jun 24, 2012 8:05PM
them boys in DC want to re-write that document that we true americans hold so dear

the people that drafted it knew the problems then     which are the same as now

when you change the rules  you change the game,unless you make up the rules as you go along
Jun 23, 2012 9:18AM

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.

Jun 24, 2012 1:25PM

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. 

Jun 23, 2012 12:24PM
The only thing the bill will accomplish other than stifling the economy is bringing us closer to a single payer system.  And to think we're trusting government to bring down costs.  Right.  Hopefully it gets struck down in it's entirety.
Jun 23, 2012 12:16AM
Fear Mongering and saying that "the sky is falling" won't change the Opinions of the Majority of Americans against this.
So Stop the fear Mongering and Focus on the real threat..Obama.

Jun 24, 2012 1:27PM
Fact: Europe does not tax their rich. Europe has no revenue, because of that fact. Europe's countries are all broke and can't bale out their own banks, because of that fact. The wealthy are trying to tell everyone that the solution is to tax the wealthy less. Yea Right! Let me know how that works out for you?
Jun 24, 2012 6:38PM
It's time to dump Obama Care and stop the millions who are free loading on our Medical system. Millions each year who don't have insurance access our hospitals have babies and get treated for all manners of illness and then leave and never pay a penny. This is the main factor in driving up medical cost for responsible insured citizens who ultimately end up flipping the bill for the dead wood citizens. 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, we are currently ranked 37th in the world for quality care, America should never settle for less than #1.
Jun 24, 2012 10:38AM

Comrade ActiveRIA,


You have shown time and time again you want to balance the budget by raising taxes.  I OPPOSE any tax  increases UNTIL the budget is balanced, PERIOD.   We have 2.4 trillion in revenue and 3.8 trillion in spending.  That is a gap of 1.4 trillion.  800 Billion of that 1.4 trillion is NEW DEMOCRAT SPENDING.  That all has to go before we can even talk about new taxes.  Next we need to slash the defense budget  200 billion.   Then you need only cut another 400 billion.


All of these cuts must be this year, not 7 years in the future like Simspon Bowles.  


Simpson Bowles put all spending cuts far into the future.  And the tax increases immediate.    How about  we put all of Simpson Bowles CUTS up front, and the tax increases 7 years out?


No tax increase until the BUDGET is BALANCED, and all of Obama's new spending is gone.  And any new taxes must come only after the budget is balanced, and then ONLYto reduce the deficit.


I had not heard of Norquist, before you mentioned him, but he is 100% correct.   We don't have a taxing problem, we have a SPENDING problem. 


So lets start with Simpson Bowles reversed...  800 billion inimmediate spending cuts, Obama can pick where they come from, and in 7 years we will raise taxes.


Take it or leave it.


Jun 25, 2012 9:07AM
Does ObamaCare cover the cost of mental diseases, like Libtarditus, Socialism and sodomy?
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