Stocks held back by fiscal-cliff worries

The major averages end the day little changed in light Veterans Day trading. Tuesday's market may open lower. Titanium Metals and Jefferies Group jump on merger announcements. Gilead Sciences rises on hopes for hepatitus treatment. Apple slips again.

By Charley Blaine Nov 12, 2012 5:19PM
Updated: 3:32 a.m., Wednesday

(Reuters) - Stocks pushed higher Monday as bargain-hunters emerged after last week's selloff, though concerns of a drawn-out battle over the "fiscal cliff" put a cap on gains.

Barclays cut its year-end target for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) to 1,325 from 1,395, citing the government spending cuts and tax increases that will take effect early next year unless Congress acts before then.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.4% last week, the worst week for the index since June. The drop was partly propelled by concerns about whether there will be a timely solution to avoid the "fiscal cliff," the combination of tax increases and federal spending cuts set to take effect on Dec. 31.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) were flat at 12,815. The S&P 500 was flat at 1,380, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) dropped 1 point to 2,904.

The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) dropped 1 point to 2,583. Apple (AAPL), the biggest influence on the index, was off $4.23 to $542.83, its fourth loss in five days.

Though most consider it unlikely that a deal will not be reached, analysts fear going over the cliff could push the economy back into recession. There are also concerns that a protracted debate could hurt business and investment sentiment.

"It's just the uncertainty. It's going to continue to have that negative influence on any kind of small business growth or hiring or planning," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates in Toledo, Ohio.

"You not only have it for small businesses and the like, but on the investor side, too."

Stocks traded little changed for much of the day. A late afternoon rally faded at the close. Volume was light, with the U.S. bond market and government offices closed for the Veterans Day holiday.

But futures trading early Tuesday suggests a potentially nasty open. Weighing on Asian and European markets were worries about the U.S. fiscal cliff.

Eurozone finance ministers last night postponed agreement on Greece’s long-delayed 31.3-billion euro ($40 billion U.S.) aid payment for yet another week as divisions between the International Monetary Fund and EU creditors over how fast Athens must reduce its burgeoning debt levels burst into the open.

Earnings are due from Dow components Home Depot (HD) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) as well as upscale retailers Michael Kors (KORS) and Saks (SKS) and discount retailer TJX companies (TJX).

Crude oil (-CL) settled down 50 cents to $85.57 a barrel in New York; Brent crude was down 33 cents to $109.07 a barrel in London.

Gold (-GC) settled unchanged at $1,730.90 an ounce in New York.

Energy prices -- New York close



Mon.     Fri.

Month chg.

YTD chg.
Crude oil (-CL)

$85.57

$86.07

-0.78%

-13.42%
(per barrel)











Heating oil (-HO)

$2.9992

$3.0055

-2.06%

2.92%
(per gallon)











Natural gas (-NG)

$3.5700

$3.5030

-3.30%

19.44%
(per mil. BTU)











Unleaded gasoline (-RB)

$2.6763

$2.6992

1.75%

0.71%
(per gallon)











Brent crude 

$109.07

$109.40

-0.30%

1.57%
(per barrel)











Retail gasoline

$3.4560

$3.4560

-1.85%

5.49%
(per gallon; AAA)












Gilead Sciences (GILD) helped pull the Nasdaq higher after the company reported over the weekend a 100% cure rate using a combination of drugs in a small number of patients with the most common and hardest to treat form of hepatitis C. Gilead was up $8.91 to $73.92.

The S&P 500 is still up about 10% for 2012, though recent months have eroded those gains. The Nasdaq has fallen for five straight weeks.

Some major acquisition news gave investors reason for optimism on Monday. Precision Castparts (PCP) ]offered to buy Titanium Metals (TIE) for $2.9 billion, while Leucadia National (LUK) agreed to buy investment bank Jefferies Group (JEF) for $3.6 billion.

Shares of Titanium surged $4.93 to $16.50 while Jefferies climbed $2 to $16.27. Precision rose $8.36 to $179.69. Leucadia fell 66 cents to $21.14.

Overseas, a report over the weekend showed China's export growth climbed to a five-month high, beating expectations and adding to recent data suggesting the country's seven straight quarters of slowing economic growth have ended.

Investors also watched the latest developments from the euro zone debt crisis. Euro zone governments will not agree to disburse more money to debt-ravaged Greece on Monday, despite the country's approving a tough 2013 budget, because there is not yet a consensus on how to make its debts sustainable into the next decade.

As a result, the region's finance ministers may have to talk again later this week.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



Mon.

Fri.

Month chg.

YTD chg.
Treasury yields











13-week Treasury bill

0.0900%

0.090%

-18.18%

800.00%
5-year Treasury note 

0.643%

0.639%

-10.07%

-22.53%
10-year Treasury note

1.611%

1.613%

-4.45%

-13.90%
30-year Treasury bond

2.745%

2.752%

-3.72%

-4.98%
Currencies











U.S. Dollar Index

81.106

81.098

1.40%

0.73%
British pound

1.5886

1.5911

-1.56%

2.24%
(in U.S. $)

 








U.S. $ in pounds

£0.629

£0.629

1.58%

-2.19%
Euro in dollars

$1.27

$1.27

-1.91%

-1.87%
(in U.S. $)

 








U.S. $ in euros

€ 0.787

€ 0.786

1.94%

1.90%
U.S. $ in yen 

79.62

79.44

-0.23%

3.26%
U.S. $ in Chinese

6.25

6.24

0.31%

-1.16%
yuan











Canada dollar

$1.001

$1.000

0.07%

2.03%
(in U.S. $)

 








U.S. dollar 

$1.000

$1.000

0.00%

-2.00%
(in Canadian $)

 








Commodities

 

 

 

 
Gold (-GC)

$1,730.90

$1,730.900

0.69%

10.47%
(per troy ounce)

 








Copper (-HG)

$3.468

$3.446

-1.41%

0.93%
(per pound)

 








Silver (-SI)

$32.5220

$32.599

0.64%

16.50%
(per troy ounce)

 








Wheat (-ZW)

$8.5775

$8.865

-0.78%

31.41%
(per bushel)

 








Corn (-ZC)

$7.1800

$7.388

-5.00%

11.06%
(per bushel)

 








Cotton 

$0.7088

$0.696

1.16%

-22.69%
(per pound)

 








Coffee

$1.5305

$1.499

-1.03%

-33.36%
(per pound)

 








Crude oil (-CL)

$85.57

$86.070

-0.78%

-13.42%
(per barrel)










 
U.S. bond markets were closed Monday for the Veterans Day.

-- Charley Blaine contributed to this report.
195Comments
Nov 12, 2012 5:50PM
avatar

Another RED (Down) day for the markets as investors are scared of NOBAMA's tax plans! Glad I dumped last week before the SH$T hit the fan, I'll sit on the side lines until I see something on the positive side which isn't happening yet!

Nov 12, 2012 5:47PM
avatar
Stodk market cruds are the mos paranoid skitso idiots on the face of the earth. One blames Obama after they have had one of the best years in memory. guess the RNC did not shoot all their trolls.
Nov 12, 2012 5:39PM
avatar
Today was a nothing day for the market.

Let's see what the rest of the week brings.

THANK YOU VETERANS!!!!!!!!
Nov 12, 2012 5:37PM
avatar
Probably even if they pass the tax increases, I  don't see any reason business will pick up since businesses don't know the impact of Obama care on their bottom line.  More hoarding of cash and very little hiring, just the bare minimum.  Thanks Obama for continuing to keep the economy in the dumps.

Also, I see that many companies will probably issuing a one time dividend to the stockholders so that the dividends will be taxed at a lower rate this year.  Boy I sure do love capitalism.



Nov 12, 2012 5:29PM
avatar
Bush tax cuts set to expire, when they do the capital gains on your stocks will be taxed not at the current 15%, but at the marginal rate. You have until January first.
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