Global Markets Overview -10/10/2012

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By Christine Gaylican | October 10, 2012 12:19 PM EST

U.S. STOCKS

Stocks fell after a weaker-than-forecast economic-growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund stirred worries about corporate earnings ahead of Alcoa's quarterly report, due after Tuesday's closing bell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 82 points, or 0.6%, to 13501, a drop that coincided with the five-year anniversary of the market's all-time high. On Oct. 9, 2007, the Dow notched its record close at 14164.53.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 11 points, or 0.8%, to 1445. Consumer-discretionary and technology sectors on the S&P 500 fell hardest, each down 1.2%. Intel, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard were the worst-performing stocks on the Dow. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein cut Intel's stock-recommendation rating, noting slack demand for personal computers.

The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 38 points, or 1.2%, to 3074. Shares of energy companies rose, however, as oil prices shot higher.  Alcoa, which gained 0.5%, unofficially will kick off the third-quarter reporting season when the aluminum producer releases its quarterly results after markets close.

Aggregate profits for S&P 500 companies are expected to have declined for the first time in nearly three years. Concerns about waning global growth were echoed overnight by the International Monetary Fund, which cut its forecast for 2013 economic expansion to 3.3% from 3.5% in 2012.

On the U.S. economic front, the National Federation of Independent Business small-business optimism index slipped in September from August, missing the median among estimates by economists.

In corporate news, Edwards Lifesciences slumped 19% after the medical-device maker cuts its third-quarter revenue outlook. Owens Corning declined 7.5% after it lowered its 2012 earnings outlook. ProPhase Labs gained 11% after receiving an increased buyout offer from Matrixx Initiatives.

EUROPEAN STOCKS

European stocks saw broad-based losses Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund cut its global-growth forecast, although resources firms found support after China injected liquidity in an open-market operation.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 0.5% to 270.20. Alcatel-Lucent dropped 5.1% as Credit Suisse reiterated its underperform rating on the telecom-equipment firm and said the weak trends from the first half of the year are likely to have continued into third quarter. 

Banks also posted some of the biggest losses, with Spain's Banco Popular Espanol SA down 2.7% and Banco Santander SA off 2.5%.  Sentiment was dented as the IMF at its meeting in Tokyo slashed its projections for global growth for 2012 and 2013.

The IMF also said several euro-zone countries, including France and Spain, will miss their deficit targets next year, as austerity moves hurt growth prospects.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index dropped 0.5% to 5,810.25, with heavyweight HSBC Holdings PLC down 0.8%. Aggreko PLC fell 3.4% after HSBC cut the provider of industrial generators and power-distribution equipment to neutral from overweight. 

Miners bucked the trend and advanced, however, as China moved to support growth in the economy. Rio Tinto PLC gained 1.5%, Anglo American PLC picked up 0.6% and BHP Billiton PLC added 0.7%.

Among French stocks, Veolia Environnement SA dropped 2.2%, after HSBC cut the stock to neutral from overweight. EADS NV shed 0.6% amid merger negotiations with BAE Systems PLC. Shares of BAE Systems dropped 0.3%. The CAC 40 index declined 0.7% to 3,382.78.  In Germany, the DAX 30 index gave up 0.8% to end at 7,234.53, with Deutsche Bank AG off 1.1%.

ASIA-PACIFIC STOCKS

 Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday, with mainland Chinese shares sharply outperforming as the People's Bank of China extended its efforts to ease monetary conditions, while a rise in iron ore prices helped resource companies.

The PBOC introduced CNY265 billion into the money market, in an attempt to bolster a slowing economy. This is the second largest daily reverse repo used by the central bank so far and it provided support to the local equity market, with the Shanghai Composite Index ending 2% higher at 2115.23. 

The reverse repo also fueled expectations that Beijing could introduce further supportive measures to help the economy. The cost of iron shot up 6.0% Monday overnight as Chinese buyers came back to work after a week-long public holiday, while a strike at South Africa's largest iron mine continued.

Crude-oil futures rose in Asia which boosted some regional oil companies. Oil companies were at the forefront of a climb in Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, up 0.5% at 20937.28%, with Cnooc gaining 0.6% and Sinopec adding 3.8%. Other commodity stocks also performed well: China Coal Energy was 1% higher and Aluminum Corp. of China added 0.6%.

The Japanese market resumed trading following a public holiday Monday, during which the dollar softened 0.4% against the yen. The greenback stabilized at Y78.28 Tuesday, the firmer yen weighed on the Nikkei Stock Average, which slipped 1.1% to 8769.59.

Japanese carmakers were in focus again, after a Nikkei report said that Suzuki Motor Corp.'s Chinese sales fell by 42.5% on the year in September--suggesting that the ongoing island dispute between China and Japan has already had a significant effect on sales. Suzuki Motor was down 2.1%, Nissan Motor lost 1.9% and Toyota Motor fell 1.5%. 

South Korea's Kospi Composite dropped 0.1% to 1979.04. In corporate news, a number of major electronics companies fell heavily.  Smartphone maker HTC Corp dropped 7% in Taiwan after posting its lowest quarterly profit since 2006.  Troubled electronics company Sharp Corp. tumbled 14.7% in Tokyo after Goldman Sachs downgraded the company to Sell from Neutral. 

ZTE Corp. lost 5.6% in Hong Kong, extending its 6% sell-off on Monday after news that a U.S. congressional probe concluded that telecommunications equipment maker poses a threat and should be barred from U.S. contracts and acquisitions.

COMMODITIES

Base metals on the London Metal Exchange closed lower Tuesday, largely due to exogenous factors such as a stronger dollar against other currencies and lower equity markets as market participants brace for metal-price consolidation in sessions ahead.

At the close of open-outcry trading, LME three-month copper was 0.4% lower on the day at $8,145 a metric ton. Meanwhile, benchmark three-month aluminum and zinc were also lower, dropping 1.4% each to $2,053/ton and $2,006.5/ton, respectively. 

Crude-oil prices rose Tuesday afternoon as traders overlooked forecasts of economic weakness and focused on burgeoning tensions in the Middle East.  Light sweet crude for November delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped $3.06, or 3.4%, to $92.39 a barrel.

Brent oil futures were $2.49, or 2.2%, higher at $114.31 a barrel.  Gold futures locked in a three-day losing streak as sharp losses in the euro pressed gold prices lower. The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, fell $10.70, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,765.00 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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