Flat month ends strong quarter; stocks await Friday
The Dow dips 31 as investors don't commit much to the market before Friday's big jobs report. Gold hits a new high. Energy stocks move higher with oil prices. Corn and wheat prices jump. Berkshire Hathaway falls on Sokol resignation.
The stock market basically limped out of March. Commodities, however, were a different story. Gold hit a new closing high. Crude oil jumped to its highest close since September 2008.
Although there was a flurry of selling near the close, there was good reason for stocks to end quietly. Friday brings the Labor Department's report on March unemployment, easily the most important economic report of any month.
There are hopes that nonfarm payrolls will rise by 190,000 after a gain of 192,000 jobs in February, but the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 8.9%. A report on jobless claims today showed a modest decline. The Friday report will come out at 8:30 a.m. ET.
The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) closed down 31 points to 12,320. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) fell 2 points to 1,326. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) was up 4 points to 2,781.
The Dow was off about 6 points at 3:35 p.m. ET when The Wall Street Journal reported that Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said the Fed's benchmark federal funds rate might have to be raised to 1% by year's end if inflation pressures don't ease. That prompted a new wave of selling that pushed the major averages lower.
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Still, the losses for the Dow and the S&P 500 were modest -- less than 0.25%. The Nasdaq'sgain was just 0.15%.
Sizable gains for energy stocks, such as Schlumberger (SLB) and Rowan Companies (RDC), and a big gain for fertilizer maker CF Industries (CF) were offset by losses for Carmax (KMX), U.S. Steel (X) and CBS (CBS). Tech stocks overall were lower, thanks to weakness in Intel (INTC) and Research In Motion (RIMM).
Gold settled up $15, or 1.1% , at $1,439.90 an ounce, a new closing high. It had reached as high as $1,440, about $8 under its intraday high of $1,448.60 on March 24. (Editor's note: An earlier version of the post said that $1,440 was a new intraday high.)
Gold was up 1.8% for March and 1.3% for the quarter.
Crude oil was up $2.45, or 2.4%, to $106.72, its highest close since Sept. 26, 2008, when it finished at $106.89 a barrel. Crude surged on reports that troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi retook control of the oil port of Ras Lanuf and were shelling Brega, another energy hub.
Crude was up 10.1% for the month and 16.8% for the quarter. AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report put the national average price of gasoline at $3.606 a gallon, up from Wednesday's $3.595. The average rose 7.1% in March and 17.4% for the quarter. The average is just that. Gasoline is above $4 in major urban areas on the East and West coasts.
Agriculture prices surged on an Agriculture Department report that corn, soybean and wheat supplies were at their lowest levels since 2007. Wheat was up 4.7% to $7.6125 a bushel. Corn jumped 4.5% to $6.9325 a bushel.
At the same time, farmers expect to expand corn acreage to the second-highest level since 1944. That, in turn, means more demand for fertilizers. CF Industries was up 3.2% to $136.79. Potash of Saskatchewan (POT) added 1.3% to $58.93.
|Energy prices -- New York close|
|Thur.||Wed.||Month chg.||YTD chg.|
|(per mil. BTU)|
|(per gallon; AAA)|
Berkshire Hathaway falls on Sokol departure
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), down 2.1% to $83.63, was one of the 20 largest losers among S&P 500 stocks. The company announced late Wednesday David Sokol, one of CEO Warren Buffett's closest aides, had resigned.
The news was complicated by the disclosure that Sokol had put together a sizable position in Lubrizol (LZ), before pitching the company as an acquisition candidate to Buffett. Berkshire is buying Lubrizol for about $9 billion. Sokol and Buffett insisted that Sokol did nothing wrong.
Stocks had a flat finish for March
March finished with the major averages basically unchanged. The Dow had a 0.8% gain for the month. The S&P 500 was off 0.1%. The Nasdaq is off slightly.
The S&P 500's 5.4% gain was its best first-quarter performance since 1998. The Dow's 6.41% gain was its best since the first quarter of 1999. The Nasdaq finished up 4.8%.
The quarterly gains are the seventh in eight quarters.
American Express (AXP), down 1.6% to $45.20, and Intel, down 1.4% to $20.18, were the Dow laggards. Intel was also among the weakest stocks in the Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX.X).
Sixty-three Nasdaq-100 stocks were higher today, led by First Solar (FSLR), up 3.5% to $160.84. Apple was down slightly at $348.51. The index was up 2 points to 2,339.
Leaders and laggards
Bombardier (BDRBF), up 12.5% to $7.31. The world’s third-largest planemaker said quarterly profit rose 80%, more than analysts estimated, as it won business-jet orders and cleared out inventory that had built up during the recession.
Carmax, down 7.2% to $32.10. The largest U.S. seller of used cars said gross margin for the fourth quarter fell to 14.2% from 14.5% in the year-ago period.
Dendreon (DNDN), up 5.3% to $37.43. The company’s prostate cancer drug Provenge should be covered by the U.S. government for use in older men, regulators said. The $93,000 drug regimen is reasonable and necessary for men with advanced, castrate-resistant prostate tumors who have minimal or no symptoms of the disease, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.
Tesla Motors (TSLA), up 17% to $27.75, tops among stocks in the Russell 1000 Index. The U.S. electric carmaker was raised to "overweight" from "equal-weight" by Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, who initiated a price target of $70.
U.S. Steel (X) down 4.2% to $53.94. The steel maker was added to Deutsche Bank's short- term sell list.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS), down 2.9% to $42.22. Sands China Ltd., controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s casino company, said it’s being investigated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission for alleged breaches of regulations.
|Short hits from the markets -- New York close|
|Thur.||Wed.||Month chg.||YTD chg.|
|13-week Treasury bill||0.090%||0.090%||-35.71%||-25.00%|
|5-year Treasury note||2.225%||2.217%||4.12%||10.37%|
|10-year Treasury note||3.454%||3.455%||1.17%||4.51%|
|30-year Treasury bond||4.508%||4.523%||0.40%||3.35%|
|U.S. Dollar Index||76.072||76.357||-1.10%||-4.06%|
|(in U.S. $)|
|U.S. $ in pounds||£0.624||£0.622||1.53%||-2.68%|
|Euro in dollars||$1.417||$1.413||2.48%||5.91%|
|(in U.S. $)|
|U.S. $ in euros||€ 0.706||€ 0.708||-2.42%||-5.58%|
|U.S. $ in yen||83.333||82.890||1.50%||2.42%|
|U.S. $ in Chinese||6.571||6.552||-0.32%||-0.66%|
|(in U.S. $)|
|(in Canadian $)|
|(per troy ounce)|
|(per troy ounce)|
Obama had the opportunity to do great things but like every politician be it Dem or Rep the only people they need to serve are those big money folks who put them in office. However someday they will have to pay the piper. The young generation do not look at the government as we older crowd do.
They will rise up and bite the hand of those who think they feed them.
Obama has very little to do with the price of oil. Do you really think he wants gas to rise to $8, or even $5. It would kill his re-election chances. The primary cause of the recent run-up in oil prices is speculation. With so much fear and uncertainty in the ME/NA countries, speculators have had a field day driving up prices. When they decide it's time to bail, they will short oil futures and make money all the way back down.
one thing will become clear as time goes by: bernanke is a genius. economic genius is defined by someone willing to take unpopular and misunderstood action over the short-term to accomplish a greater-good in the long-term. he is a genius.WATCHA SMOKIN??
ActiveRIA, given that the FED must sson start raising rates, do you think Ben will make the same mistake as in the past and raise them too quickly? Would he not better stating his goal say 1% by the end of 2011 and 2% by the end of 2012? At say 25 BP every quarter? Giving the market a plan and also some stability of a gradual increase?
did you watch the video active.....if so, your thought's?
bizown- "If a mall developer has 40% of their mall vacant and the cash flow from the mall is insufficient to service the loan, the bank would normally need to set aside reserves for the entire loan. Under the new guidelines they could carve the loan into two pieces, with 60% that is covered by cash flow as a good loan and the 40% without sufficient cash flow would be classified as non-performing. "
Yes,he can. It's called "Troubled Debt Restructure", or just TDR. His bankster can restructure the loan into two loans (imaginatively referred to as Note A and Note B). Banksters have had this option under banking Regs for 18 months or so. But it's not so sweet for the banksters.
If you can support doing a TDR, the first thing you're required to do is to charge Note B off, completely. When you take that charge off, you wipe it off of your books as an active loan and the related Note A will be Risk Rated Substandard for as long as it's on the banksters' books.
TDRs get much ore attention from bank regulators, often require a higher Loan Loss Reserve, have more frequent review requirements and are generally a pain in the ****. Due to their obvious downside, no bankster is quick to do TDRs. It's a practice of last recourse.
It's a way to work with a struggling Borrower who is underwater on their cash flows to try to save their real estate. Banksters have to separately report on TDRs to their regulators. So most self-respecting banksters might rather get that root canal before they'd do that TDR.
2-sick referred to an article here weeks ago on TDRs and I was too busy to respond then. It was month's end, Quarter end today. Wild day, absolutely zoomed by. Enjoy your day.
The idea that reporters are not relating true issues is very sick.
you may wish to rethink your reading/ viewing habits and thats away from anything NBC/ cbs/ abc/ and CNN......lou dobbs may give you a handle on the truth!
watch this, it'll make you throw up but......
"It's time to break up the unethical romance between government and big business. For too long, corporate elites have lobbied to profit from the ...
by FreedomWorksAction | 2 months ago | 4,155 views
i love to post this one......the lefties won't dare watch it...baw hahahaha
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended the midweek session with slim gains after showing some intraday volatility in reaction to the release of the latest policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 added 0.1%, while the relative strength among small caps sent the Russell 2000 higher by 0.3%.
Equities spent the first half of the session near their flat lines as participants stuck to the sidelines ahead of the FOMC statement, which conveyed no changes to the ... More
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