|From Briefing.com: Weekly Recap - Week ending 10-Feb-12|
Concerns that gridlock could keep Greece from getting more bailout money spurred some relatively aggressive selling that resulted in the stock market's worst session since December. Ensuing losses also sent the stock market into the red for the week, snapping a streak of five straight weekly gains.
News this morning that eurozone officials are likely to suspend funds intended for Greece until the country agrees to more austerity measures and the country signs them into law aroused suspicions that the plan will face another prolonged debate in parliament that will ultimately take the flagging country closer to default.
Headlines about a forthcoming agreement helped lift the euro to a near two-month high against the greenback yesterday, but it rolled over in response to today's story. By session's end it was at $1.318 for a 0.7% loss.
The greenback's strength today was augmented by an interest in safety, which also helped take Treasuries higher. That took the yield on the benchmark 10-year Note back below 2.00% from the 10-day high that it set in the prior session.
Perhaps of little surprise, defensive-oriented stocks suffered the least today. For instance, the Utilities sector shed only 0.1%, while the Consumer Staples sector settled with a loss of just 0.2%. Health Care fell 0.3%.
Cyclically sensitive stocks were hit hard. As a consequence, the Materials sector sank 1.8%. Its loss was the worst of the 10 major sectors. With market participants less tolerant of risk the Volatility Index spiked to a three-week high of almost 22. It eased back from there, but was still up more than 11% by the closing bell.
Selling also extended into the commodity complex, resulting in a 1.1% loss for the CRB Index. Oil prices tumbled 1.2% to $98.68 per barrel, while gold prices closed pit trade with a 0.9% loss at $1725 per ounce and silver settled with a 1.2% loss at $33.60 per ounce.
Prior to Friday stocks didn't move very dramatically. As such, the broad market finished with a fractional loss on Monday. Trade on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday finished with modest gains after the broad market managed to overcome some modest morning selling pressure. Those measured moves still put the S&P 500 at its best level in seven months by Thursday.
Earnings this week were generally upbeat, but the reports had little influence on overall trade. Nonetheless, both Akamai Tech (AKAM 38.43, +0.37) and Visa (V 113.90, +1.48) impressed with their latest quarterly report, but fellow tech play and Dow component Cisco (CSCO 19.90, -0.10) was clipped in the session that immediately followed its upside earnings surprise. Fellow blue chip Coca-Cola (KO 67.94, -0.03) posted its own upside earnings surprise this week. Rival PepsiCo (PEP 63.95, -0.32) did the same. Dow component Walt Disney (DIS 41.45, -0.08) also posted better-than-expected earnings. Time Warner (TWX 37.52, -0.19) did, too, but complemented its upside surprise with a dividend hike. BP Plc (BP 46.35, -0.42) also announced an increase to its dividend.
Domestic data was light this week. Friday featured a preliminary reading on consumer sentiment for February from the University of Michigan. It made a surprise slip to 72.5 from 75.0 in the prior month. The Treasury deficit for January made an unexpectedly steep drop to $27.4 billion from the near $50 billion deficit posted in the prior month, while the overall trade deficit grew by $1.7 billion to $48.8 billion in December.
Earlier in the week data was limited to news that the latest tally of initial weekly jobless claims totaled 358,000, which is less than the 370,000 initial claims that had been generally expected among economists polled by Briefing.com. Consumer credit spiked during December to $19.3 billion to more than double what had been widely expected. Wholesale inventories showed a surprisingly sharp 1.0% increase during December.
Fed Chairman Bernanke testified to the Senate Budget Committee about the economy and its outlook in the first half of the week, but becaue his comments did not deviate from those delivered last week to the House Budget Committee market participants considered it a non-event.
Data from abroad was also in the mix this week, but a focal point was European Central Bank (ECB) President Draghi's decision to expand ECB collateral guidelines, effectively making policy there more accommodative. The ECB did keep its target lending rate at 1.00%, though. As an aside, the Bank of England opted to leave its target rate at 0.5%, but expanded its lending program by 50 billion to 225 billion pounds.
Index Started Week Ended Week Change % Change YTD %
DJIA 12862.23 12801.23 -61.00 -0.5 4.8
Nasdaq 2905.66 2903.88 -1.78 -0.1 11.5
S&P 500 1344.90 1342.64 -2.26 -0.2 6.8
Russell 2000 831.11 813.33 -17.78 -2.1 9.8
NXP Semi (NXPI $22.81 +0.82) reported fourth quarter earnings of $0.24 per share, excluding non-recurring items, in-line with the consensus of $0.24, while revenues fell 13.6% year/year to $931 million versus the $930.04 million consensus. The company issued mixed guidance for the first quarter with EPS of $0.10-0.24 versus the $0.18 consensus with revenues of $927-984 million versus the $920.51 million consensus.
11:19 am S&P Tech Sector Down, But Slightly Outperforming The Broader Markets
The tech sector is trading lower today, just ahead of losses in the broader market. Semiconductors are showing relative weakness in line with the tech space, however, with the Philly Semi Index trading 1.6% lower. WFR (-4.7%) is a notable laggard in the chip index. Among other major indices, the SPY is trading 1.0% lower, while the NASDAQ is trading 0.9% lower and the QQQ is trading 0.8% lower on the session. Among tech bellwethers, TXN (-1.2%) and INTC (-0.7%) are under notable pressure.
In earnings last night, LNKD (+14.1%) posted a Q2 beat and offered inline guidance. Elsewhere, NUAN (-13.3%) posted a Q1 miss and issued inline guidance, NXPI (+0.8%) posted an inline qtr with slightly above consensus guidance and ATVI (-1.8%) reported a beat and downside guidance. This morning, ALU (+13.4%) posted a slight beat.
In news, ALBCF (-3.9%) is considering taking Hong Kong unit private, which would give YHOO (+0.4%) stake in Alibaba, according to reports.
Among notable analyst upgrades this morning, JDSU (+2.5%) was upgraded to Outperform at Credit Suisse and PROJ (+1.5%) was upgraded to Outperform at Wells Fargo. Also, ATVI (-1.8%) was added to Conviction Buy List at Goldman.
Among downgrades, NCR (-1.5%) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman and EA (-4.4%) and ATVI (-1.8%) were downgraded to Neutral at Macquarie.