The Conference Board reported that Leading Indicators rose 0.7% in February. Gold declined from $1656.6 the Troy ounce to $1625.0 staying below its 200-day simple moving averages at $1681.3 for six consecutive days. Crude oil declined from $107.12 per barrel to $104.50. The euro versus the dollar declined from 1.3254 to 1.3138. The Dow Industrial Average traded down to a day’s low at 13,017.42. The NASDAQ’s traded down to a day’s low at 3050.70.
Asian stocks rebounded on Thursday despite a weaker than expected manufacturing report out of China. The Nikkei 225 ended their session at 10,127 – up 0.40% on the day. The Hang Seng ended their session at 20,902 – up 0.22% on the day. European stocks slumped on Thursday on the global economic concerns. The FTSE 100 ended their session at 5,846 – down 0.79% on the day. The DAX ended their session at 6,981 – down 1.27% on the day. The CAC 40 ended their session at 3,472 – down 1.56% on the day.
The yield on the 10-Year US Treasury declined from 2.312 percent to 2.244 staying above its 200-day simple moving average at 2.207. Initial Jobless Claims declined to 348,000, the first reading since the end of 2007 below the recessionary threshold of 350,000. Freddie Mac reported that its 30-Year fixed rate mortgage rose to 4.08% from 3.92% tightening the refinancing window.
A Brazilian federal prosecutor has formally filed criminal charges against Chevron (CVX), Transocean (RIG) and 17 of the companies' employees for last November's oil spill, raising the stakes in a legal saga that has added to Chevron's woes in Latin America and threatens to slow Brazil's offshore oil boom. BP (BP), Exxon Mobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) are discussing a $40B project to export natural gas from Alaska to Asia, sources tell The Financial Times. Gulfmark Offshore (GLF) and Hornbeck Offshore (HOS) are each initiated with Equal Weights at Morgan Stanley, which has an Overweight on Tidewater (TDW). Cimarex (XEC) is an Above Average at Caris & Company. Exxon Mobil (XOM) is now Neutral from Underweight with a $92 target at JPMorgan. Subsea 7 SA (SUBCY) is now Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan.
Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was trading at $71.48 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 2.26% on the day – up 3.40% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +5.93%. The 2011 change was -1.29%.
Big Movers: (KWK) -9%.
Gold mines in Mali owned by Randgold Resources Ltd. (GOLD) are operating as normal Thursday, but the company, which relies on Mali for the biggest share of its gold output, is watching the country closely after members of Mali's army toppled the government.
The Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) was trading at $36.52 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 1.62% on the day – up 9.01% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was -0.56%. The 2011 change was -12.78%.
Big Movers: (GOLD) -11%, (CAGC) +9.5%.
Heavily Traded: (AA) -2.5%, (FCX) -4.25%, (VALE) -2.5%, (X) -5%.
FedEx (FDX) beat estimates by 20 cents with revenue in-line with estimates. The company forecasts FQ4 EPS of $1.75-$2.00 and FY12 of $6.35-$6.60 and expects capital spending of $4.2B during fiscal year. Herman Miller (MLHR) missed estimates by a penny and revenue by $9M. United Continental (UAL) is initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James. Taser (TASR) is taken to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan with a price objective of $5. Emerson Electric (EMR) is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura.
The Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) was trading at $37.10 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 1.12% on the day – up 9.93% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +2.79%. The 2011 change was -3.21%.
Big Movers: (FCEL) -13%, (TASR) +9%.
McDonald's (MCD) CEO Jim Skinner will retire at the end of June after 41 years with the company, with McDonald's President and COO Don Thompson appointed to replace him. Verizon (VZ) and Comcast (CMCSA) executives were yesterday grilled at Congressional hearings over Verizon's spectrum purchase/reseller deals with Comcast and other cable companies. Lululemon Athletica (LULU) beat estimates by 2 cents and revenue by $9.3M. Guidance: FQ1 net revenue $265M-$270M, EPS $0.28-$0.29 (versus consensus of $257.46M and $0.30); FY 2012 net revenue $1.3B-$1.325B and EPS $1.50-$1.57 (versus consensus of $1.31B and $1.61). Perry Ellis International (PERY) beat estimates by a penny with revenue in-line with estimates. Dollar General (DG) beat estimates by 5 cents and revenue by $80M The company expects FY12 total sales to increase 8%-9% and same-store sales 3%-5%, and sees FY12 EPS falling in a range of $1.60-$1.65. Sonic (SONC) beat estimates by a penny with revenue in-line with estimates. Carnival Corp (CCL) is a new Neutral at Longbow. McGraw-Hill (MHP) is a fresh Buy at Jefferies. Pearson Plc (PSO) is a new Hold at Jefferies. Shoe Carnival (SCVL) is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee with a target of $34. Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) is lifted to Below Average from Sell at Caris Lions, but is lowered to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore. Autoliv (ALV) gets upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs. Education Management (EDMC) is moved to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley. PVH Corp (PVH) is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.
The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was trading at $44.60 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 0.25% on the day – up 14.30% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +10.09%. The 2011 change was +4.30%.
Big Movers: (SCVL) 20%, (SWHC) +13%.
ConAgra Foods (CAG) beat estimates by 2 cents with revenue in-line with estimates.
The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was trading at $33.68 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, up slightly on the day – up 3.66% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +3.75%. The 2011 change was +10.85%.
Big Movers: (SEED) -9%, (DMND) -6.75%, (CHBT) -6.5%, (RAD) -6.25%.
C.R. Bard (BCR) is now Neutral from Sell at Goldman. Novo-Nordisk A/S (NVO) is downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank.
The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) was trading at $36.51 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 0.34% on the day – up 5.25% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +1.06%. The 2011 change was +10.32%.
Heavily Traded: (PFE) flat, (MRK) +0.3%, (WPI) +4.5%, (JNJ) -0.2%, (AMRN) +1.2%.
Discover Financial Services (DFS) beat estimates by 22 cents and revenue by $40M. Bank of Ireland (IRE) is started with a Sell at Citigroup, which has a new Neutral on Deutsche Boerse AG (DBOEY). Banco de Chile (BCH) is initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse. First Republic Bank (FRC) is taken to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley. Annaly Capital Management (NLY) is now Underperform from Neutral at Sterne Agee. CVB Financial (CVBF) is cut to Hold from Buy with a $12 price target at Wunderlich. Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC) is downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, which reduces rival First Horizon (FHN) to Equal Weight from Overweight.
The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) was trading at $15.595 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 1.33% on the day – up 19.96% year-to-date (the strongest performing sector). The February 2012 change was +5.02%. The 2011 change was -18.50%; the weakest performing sector for the year.
BrightSource looks to buck dark solar picture in IPO. In spite of the dismal environment for the solar industry and the shares of companies dependent on it, BrightSource Energy, a provider of systems for building solar thermal power plants, plans to sell 6.9M shares for $21-$23 in an IPO under the ticker (BRSE). Research In Motion (RIMM) has lost its position as the top smartphone producer in its home nation of Canada, according to data compiled by IDC and Bloomberg. The company shipped 2.08M Blackberrys last year vs. Apple's (AAPL) 2.85M units. Ciena (CIEN) is begun with a Buy at Nomura. F5 Networks (FFIV) is a new Neutral at Nomura. JA Solar (JASO) is reinstated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse. OpenTable (OPEN) is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James. Western Digital (WDC) is boosted to Strong Buy from Buy at Needham with a target of $66. Rackspace (RAX) gets reduced to Neutral from Buy at Goldman.
The Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) was trading at $29.99 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 0.23% on the day – up 17.84% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +7.08%. The 2011 change was +1.03%.
Big Movers: (TSEM) +13%, (CVG) +9.5%.
Verizon (VZ) and Comcast (CMCSA) executives were yesterday grilled at Congressional hearings over Verizon's spectrum purchase/reseller deals with Comcast and other cable companies.
The NASDAQ Telecommunications Index (IXTC) was trading at $216.27 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, down 0.42% on the day – up 9.82% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +1.63%. The 2011 change was -12.62%.
Heavily Traded: (S) -1.4%, (T) -0.2%, (CLWR) -2.9%, (VOD) +1.3%, (VZ) -0.3%.
American Electric Power (AEP) is increased to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital.
The Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) was trading at $34.59 at 4:00 PM on Thursday, up 0.23% on the day – down 3.86% year-to-date (the weakest performing sector / the only negative sector). The February 2012 change was +0.61%. The 2011 change was +14.81%; the strongest performing sector for the year.
Heavily Traded: (DUK) -0.2%, (GEN) -3.4%, (CNP) +0.3%, (PPL) -0.8%, (EXC) +0.6%.
STOCKS: CVX, RIG, BP, XOM, COP, GLF, HOS, TDW, XEC, XOM, SUBCY, GOLD, CAGC, AA, FCX, VALE, X, FDX, MLHR, UAL, TASR, EMR, FCEL, MCD, VZ, CMCSA, LULU, PERY, DG, SONC, CCL, MHP, PSO, SCVL, LGF, ALV, EDMC, PVH, SWHC, CAG, SEE, DMND, CHBT, RAD, BCR, NVO, PFE, MRK, WPI, JNJ, AMRN, DFS, IRE, DBOEY, BCH, FRC, NLY, CVBF, ASBC, FHN, BRSE, RIMM, AAPL, CIEN, FFIV, JASO, OPEN, WDC, RAX, TSEM, CVG, S, T, CLWR, VOD, AEP, DUK, GEN, CNP, PPL, EXC
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