Global Markets Overview - 18 February 2013

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By Christine Gaylican | February 18, 2013 9:29 AM EST

U.S. STOCKS, BONDS

Stocks edged mostly lower as declines in Wal-Mart Stores and the energy sector offset firm readings on consumer confidence and New York manufacturing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.37 points, or 0.1%, to 13981.76 Friday, capping the blue-chip benchmark's second-straight weekly decline.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index eased 1.59 points, or 0.1%, to 1519.79, rounding out its seventh-straight weekly advance, the longest such stretch since January 2011.

The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 6.63 points, or 0.2%, to 3192.03. Wal-Mart fell 2.1%, the biggest drop among Dow components, after Bloomberg News reported a vice president at the retail giant told executives in an email that February sales so far are a "total disaster."

Energy shares in the S&P 500 led declines across four of the index's 10 sectors as crude-oil prices fell 1.5%, to settle at $95.86. Apache slid 4.3%, falling for a second day after the energy company reported Thursday that quarterly profits missed forecasts.

Newfield Exploration dropped 3.4%. On the economic front, New York factory activity is expanding this month, for the first time since July, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Empire State Manufacturing Survey.

The survey's business conditions index bucked economists' forecasts for a decline. U.S. industrial production was lower than expected last month as auto manufacturers trimmed output, the Federal Reserve reported.

Capacity utilization slid from the prior month's upwardly revised reading but topped economists' projections.

Consumers are feeling better about the economy than last month, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer-sentiment index for February. The reading topped economists' expectations.

EUROPEAN STOCKS, BONDS

European stock markets inched lower Friday, with investors remaining on the sidelines while finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations began a closely watched two-day meeting in Moscow amid rising global currency tensions.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.2% to close at 287.34, leaving the index flat for the week. Shares of precious-metals miners were among the biggest decliners after a round of downgrades by Citigroup.

Shares of Randgold Resources Ltd. dropped 3.8% and Fresnillo PLC lost 6.3% as ratings on both U.K. miners were cut to sell from neutral, while Petropavlovsk PLC shaved off 4.8% as it was cut to neutral from buy.

Also on the decline in Europe, shares of Aker Solutions ASA dropped more than 10% after the Norwegian oil-services firm reported fourth-quarter profit below market expectations.

On an upbeat note, shares of luxury-goods firm PPR SA jumped 7.6% as the Gucci owner said it is confident of its prospects for 2013 after posting a rise in net profit last year.

Among country-specific indexes in Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed marginally higher at 6,328.26 and ended the week with a 1% gain.

Anglo American PLC rose 1.3%, after Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll said she sees a better 2013 after a challenging 2012. France's CAC 40 index fell 0.3% to 3,660.37, but gained 0.3% on the week. S

hares of Renault SA rose 3.5% after J.P. Morgan Cazenove lifted the car maker to overweight from neutral. Germany's DAX 30 index shaved off 0.5% to 7,593.51, with shares of E.ON SE off 1.3%, as the utility firm sold its stake in a Finnish nuclear project. The German benchmark lost 0.8% on the week.

ASIA-PACIFIC MARKETS
Asian markets were mostly lower Friday, as poor European data and caution before the Group of Twenty meeting over the weekend weighed on stocks.

Regional stocks started the day lower, though some managed to climb back to the breakeven mark, after mixed overnight cues.

Disappointing gross domestic product data from Europe was offset to some extent by better than expected weekly U.S. employment data.

The yen's new found strength prompted a sharp decline in Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei ending down 1.2% at 11173.83. Local exporters reacted badly to the firmer currency: Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. each dropped 1.9%, while Hitachi retreated 1.2%.

Also in Tokyo, Kirin Holdings sank 4.9% as investors were disappointed by its Y90 billion 2013 net profit forecast. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.1% to 23444.56 and South Korea's Kospi ended up less than 0.1% at 1981.18.

Markets in Mainland China and Taiwan, which have been closed for the week for Chinese New Year public holidays, will resume trading today, Monday.

COMMODITIES
Base metal prices were mixed at the close of London Metal Exchange trading Friday, struggling for direction as investors avoided making any bold moves until Chinese markets reopen after a week-long holiday Monday.

At the close, LME three-month copper was down 0.4% at $8,205/ton. U.S. oil futures prices tumbled 1.5% Friday as concerns about a stalling European economy sparked some profit-taking ahead of the long weekend, traders and analysts said.

Light, sweet crude oil for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled $1.45, or 1.5%, lower at $95.86 a barrel. Brent futures on the IntercontinentalExchange settled 19 cents, or 0.2%, lower at $117.66 a barrel.

Gold prices hovered above $1,600, having slipped below that level for the first time in six months after regulatory filings showed that several high-profile fund managers cut back their bullion holdings. Gold for April delivery, the most active contract, fell $26, or 1.6%, to settle at a six-month low of $1,609.50 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. COMPILED FROM MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.

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