Our International Trade Deficit narrowed to $46 billion in February. PPI came in flat in 0.0%, but rose by 0.3% excluding food & energy. Initial Jobless Claims rose to 380,000 staying above the recessionary level at 350,000. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded to 12,986.96 going into the final half hour of trading, but staying below its 50-day simple moving average at 12,991. The NASDAQ’s rebounded to 3058.71 going into the final half hour of trading after holding its 50-day simple moving average at 2997 on Tuesday.
Asian stocks were higher on Thursday. The Nikkei 225 ended their session at 9,525 – up 0.70% on the day. The Hang Seng ended their session at 20,327 – up 0.93% on the day. European stocks were mixed on Thursday before rallying into the green in late trading. The FTSE 100 ended their session at 5,710 – up 1.34% on the day. The DAX ended their session at 6,743 – up 1.03% on the day. The CAC 40 ended their session at 3,270 – up 0.99% on the day. The yield on the 10-Year US Treasury declined from 2.051 percent to 2.010 then rose to 2.065 below its 50-day simple moving average at 2.074.
Gold rebounded from $1651.0 the Troy ounce and $1681.3 staying below its 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages at $1697.6 and $1691.1, which are converging towards a “death cross”. Crude oil traded up from $102.39 per barrel to $104.24 testing its 50-day simple moving average at $104.21. The euro versus the dollar traded up from 1.3105 to 1.3211 testing its 50-day simple moving average at 1.3212.
Natural gas prices fell to $1.984 per 1M British thermal units on Wednesday on the NYMEX, the first time below $2 in over ten years. Shell (RDS.A) was down 2.7% premarket after a 10 square mile oil slick was spotted near its platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Goodrich Petroleum (GDP) is initiated with a Buy rating at Deutsche Bank. Whiting Petroleum (WLL) is initiated with a Buy rating at Brean Murray. PetroChina (PTR) has been upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS. First Solar (FSLR) declined 5.4% Thursday morning. Dow components – Chevron (CVX) picked up 0.6% with Exxon Mobil (XOM) up 0.8%.
Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was trading at $69.73 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 2.12% on the day – up 0.87% year-to-date.
With the price of gold around $1675 the Troy ounce, the share price of some gold stocks moved higher Thursday morning; Barrick Gold (ABX) was up 2.0%, and Newmont Mining (NEM) was up 2.6%. Dow components – Alcoa (AA) gained 3.0% in morning trading while DuPont (DD) tacked on 1.6%.
The Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) was trading at $36.58 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 2.78% on the day – up 9.19% year-to-date.
Canadian Pacific (CP) is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. Packaging Corp of America (PKG) has been upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at JPMorgan. Dow components – Boeing Co (BA) gained 1.7%, Caterpillar (CAT) rebounded 3.8%, General Electric (GE) tacked on 0.8, 3M Company (MMM) was higher by 1.4%, and United Technologies (UTX) regained 2.2%.
The Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) was trading at $36.75 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 2.00% on the day – up 8.89% year-to-date.
Electronic Arts (EA) is initiated with a Neutral rating at Ascendiant Capital Markets who cites key game and industry sales concerns. Their price target is $16 per share. BJ Restaurants (BJRI) is initiated with an Overweight rating at Barclays. Mattress Firm (MFRM) has been initiated with a Hold rating at Stifel Nicolaus, which notes that the stock is up 132% since November’s Initial Public Offering. Movado Group (MOV), the watchmaker has been added to the Top Picks Live list at Citigroup. Dow Components – Disney (DIS) was higher by 1.1%, and McDonalds (MCD) lost 0.6%.
The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was trading at $44.64 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 1.32% on the day – up 14.40% year-to-date.
Danone (DANOY) has been upgraded to Buy from Hold at Société Générale. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) has been downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $73 price target at Canaccord Genuity. Dow components – Home Depot (HD) tacked on 1.6%, Kraft (KFT) gained 0.5%, Coca Cola (KO) was flat, Procter & Gamble (PG) declined 1.0% and Wal-Mart (WMT) gained 0.7% in morning trading.
The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was trading at $33.60 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 0.03% on the day – up 3.42% year-to-date.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has selected McKesson (MCK) to continue as its primary pharmaceutical supplier in a deal that valued at up to $31.6 billion over as many as eight years. UBS begins Ardea Biosciences (RDEA) with a $31 price target, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) with a $20 price target, and BioMarin Pharmaceutical (BMRN) with a $43 price target and Buy ratings. UBS initiates Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN), Human Genome Sciences (HGSI), Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD), and InterMune (TMN) with Neutral ratings. ICU Medical (ICUI) is initiated with a Buy rating and $60 price target at Benchmark Company, citing that an aging population will drive an increase in the volume of medical and surgical related procedures. Dow Components – Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) slipped 0.1%, Merck (MRK) lost 0.4%, and Pfizer (PFE) was flat.
The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) was trading at $36.96 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 0.54% on the day – up 6.54% year-to-date.
Bank of America (BAC) appears to be suing itself over faulty mortgage foreclosures in Florida, with the bank serving as both the loan servicer and the second-lien holder of defaulted mortgages. FBR Capital resumes Outperform ratings on Cardinal Financial (CFNL) with a $13 price target, Virginia Commerce Bancorp (VCBI) with a $10 price target), and State Bank Financial (STBZ) with a $21 price target. FBR Capital has new Market Perform ratings on Eagle Bancorp (EGBN), First Bancorp (FBNC), and Union First Market Bankshares (UBSH). Dow Components – American Express (AXP) was up 1.7%, Bank of America (BAC) rallied by 1.7%, JP Morgan (JPM) gained 1.4%, and Travelers (TRV) gained 1.2%.
The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) was trading at $15.46 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 1.78% on the day – up 18.92% year-to-date.
Sony (SNE) has set in motion a five-part restructuring for the company, which includes 10,000 job cuts this fiscal year. Google (GOOG) will report its Q1 2012 earnings after the close today, and analysts expect that EPS grew 19.4% to $9.65 and that revenues climbed 24.7% to $8.15 billion. Netflix (NFLX) is initiated as a new Buy at Suntrust. SunTrust assigns new Neutral ratings on Amazon.com (AMZN), Yahoo (YHOO), Groupon (GRPN), and Pandora (P). SunTrust initiates Google (GOOG) and LinkedIn (LNKD) with Buy ratings. American Superconductor (AMSC) is initiated with a Buy at Maxim Group and $7 price target, as wind power gross margins are estimated at 40%. Dow Components – Cisco Systems (CSCO) gained 0.9%, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was up 5.7%, IBM (IBM) gained 0.8%, Intel Corp (INTC) gained 1.2%, and Microsoft (MSFT) gained 1.8%.
The Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) was trading at $30.05 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 1.31% on the day – up 18.07% year-to-date.
Nokia (NOK) might sell its Navteq map unit, which it bought for about $7.3 billion in 2008. America Movil (AMX), the Mexican telecom firm is initiated with an Outperform rating at Macquarie. AT&T Inc (T) has been upgraded to Overweight from Neutral on improved revenue growth from tablets and price increase efforts. Dow components – AT&T (T) picked up 1.6% while Verizon (VZ) gained 0.2%.
The NASDAQ Telecommunications Index (IXTC) was trading at $212.14 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 1.06% on the day – up 7.72% year-to-date.
Nokia (NOK) might sell its Navteq map unit, which it bought for about $7.3 billion in 2008. America Movil (AMX), the Mexican telecom firm is initiated with an Outperform rating at Macquarie. AT&T Inc (T) has been upgraded to Overweight from Neutral on improved revenue growth from tablets and price increase efforts. Dominion Resources (D) was down 0.5%, Edison International (EIX) was down 0.6%, First Energy (FE) was flat, and PG&E Corp (PCG) was up 0.7%.
The Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) was trading at $34.43 at 3:30 PM on Thursday, up 0.29% on the day – down 4.31% year-to-date.
STOCKS: CVX, XOM, RDS.A, GDP, WLL, PTR, FSLR, AA, DD, ABX, NEM, BA, CAT, GE, MMM, UTX, CP, PKG, DIS, MCD, EA, BJRI, MFRM, MOC, HD, KFT, KO, PG, WMT, DANOY, BBBY, JNJ, MRK, PFE, MCK, RDEA, ARIA, BMRN, ACHN, HGSI, IRWD, TMN, ICUI, AXP, BAC, JPM, CFNL, VCBI, STBZ, EGBN, FBNC, UBSH, CSCO, HPQ, IBM, INTC, MSFT, SNE, GOOG, NKLX, AMZN, YHOO, GRPN, P, LNKD, T, VZ, NOK, AMX, D, EIX, FE, PCG