Existing Home Sales fell 0.9% in February to an annual rate of 4.59 million homes, weaker than expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded between 13,158.11 and 13,190.02 in the opening half hour then declined to a day’s low at 13,112.93. The NASDAQ’s traded between 3076.14 and 3084.23 in the opening half hour then declined to a day’s low at 3069.09 and rebounded to 3090.08 into the final hour of trading.
Asian stocks were lower on Wednesday on lingering concerns about the Chinese economy. The Nikkei 225 ended their session at 10,086 – down 0.55% on the day. The Hang Seng ended their session at 20,857 – down 0.15% on the day. European stocks were mixed on Wednesday. The FTSE 100 ended their session at 5,892 – up 0.01% on the day. The DAX ended their session at 7,071 – down 0.23% on the day. The CAC 40 ended their session at 3,527 – down 0.10% on the day. The yield on the 10-Year US Treasury declined from 2.383 percent to 2.283 staying above its 200-day simple moving average at 2.211.
Gold declined from $1660.0 the Troy ounce to $1646.3 then rebounded to $1661.9 staying below its 200-day simple moving averages at $1680.8 for fifth consecutive days. Crude oil declined from $106.86 per barrel to $106.06 then rebounded to $107.64. The euro versus the dollar declined from 1.3283 to 1.3183.
President Obama will tomorrow announce a fast-tracking of the approval of the southern half of TransCanada’s (TRP) Keystone XL pipeline, CNN reports. Shell (RDS.A) has signed its first-ever production-sharing contract to explore, develop and produce shale gas in China. The deal adds to one that Total (TOT) is finalizing with Sinopec (SNP) as China looks to foreign firms for their technical and operational know-how to develop its huge reserves of the fuel. Linn Energy (LINE) CEO Mark Ellis expects the company “to do $1B to $2B transactions each year for the foreseeable future,” as the oil and gas firm looks to continue its scorching growth. Baker Hughes (BHI) warns its pretax op profit will fall on a quarterly basis in Q1, with the N. American margin set to drop to 13.2%-14.2% from 18.7% in Q4, and that for its international ops to decline to 12.2%-13.2% from 15.6%. Precision Drilling (PDS) is a new Market Perform at Wells Fargo. Hercules Offshore (HERO) is moved to Perform from Underperform at FBR Capital.
Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was trading at $73.13 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down 1.19% on the day – up 5.79% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +5.93%. The 2011 change was -1.29%.
Big Movers: (DHT) -13%.
EU regulators are taking a closer look at the proposed $90B tie-up between Glencore (GLCNF) and Xstrata (XSRAY) after receiving complaints that the deal might give the merged firm unfair power over zinc, nickel and coal. GSE Holdings (GSE) is picked up with an Outperform at Oppenheimer. U.S. Silica (SLCA) is initiated with a Buy at Dahlman Rose. Agrium (AGU) is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie. Royal Gold (RGLD) gets raised to Outperform from Perform at National Bank.
The Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) was trading at $37.12 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, unchanged on the day – up 10.81% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was -0.56%. The 2011 change was -12.78%.
Big Movers: (OMN) +19%.
Cintas (CTAS) beat estimates by 6 cents with revenue in-line with estimates. Enpro Industries (NPO) is a new Buy at Capstone Investments. AeroVironment (AVAV) is moved to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital. Cintas (CTAS) is downgraded to Neutral from Outperform with a $45 target at Robert W. Baird. Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) is now Neutral from Buy at SunTrust.
The Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) was trading at $37.52 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down slightly on the day – up 11.17% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +2.79%. The 2011 change was -3.21%.
Big Movers: (MTOR) +11.5%, (USG) +11.5%, (AIR) -10.5%.
Thomson Reuters (TRI) is close to a sale of its healthcare business in a deal that could bring in as much as $1B, The Wall Street Journal reports. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) missed estimates by a penny with revenue in-line with estimates. The company is reaffirming guidance for FY13 EPS of $0.35-$0.41 ($0.35 consensus), and now expects to open 75 international franchises in FY13, up from a prior 60. Caesars Entertainment (CZR) is a new Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. News Corp (NWSA) is now Neutral from Sell at Macquarie. Luxottica (LUX) is lowered to Reduce from Neutral at Nomura.
The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) was trading at $44.71 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down 0.12% on the day – up 14.58% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +10.09%. The 2011 change was +4.30%.
Big Movers: (LIMAF) +53%, (CAAS) +10.5%, (CCME) -21.5%.
General Mills (GIS) reported FQ3 EPS of $0.55 (in-line), while beating revenue by $40M, and reaffirms its 2012 EPS guidance of $2.53-$2.55. Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) is initiated with a Buy rating and $48 target by brokers William Smith.
The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was trading at $33.65 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, up 0.15% on the day – up 3.57% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +3.75%. The 2011 change was +10.85%.
Big Movers: (SEED) +30%, (FEED) +16%, (GMCR) +10%, (CHBT) -16%.
Thomson Reuters (TRI) is close to a sale of its healthcare business in a deal that could bring in as much as $1B, The Wall Street Journal reports. OraSure Technologies (OSUR) is boosted to Buy from Hold at MLV & Co. Allscripts-Misys Healthcare (MDRX) is downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.
The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) was trading at $36.635 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down slightly on the day – up 5.61% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +1.06%. The 2011 change was +10.32%.
Big Movers: (ALIM) -9%, (CRME) -8%, (WPI) +8%.
Bowing to investor pressure, Hartford Financial (HIG) will exit its annuity business and weigh the sale of a large portion of its life-insurance operations. Guggenheim upgrades Capital One (COF) and Regions Financial (RF), both to Buy from Neutral. Assurant (AIZ) is lowered to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. BlackRock (BLK) gets cut to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley. Guggenheim downgrades BB&T Corp (BBT), M&T Bank (MTB), and SunTrust (STI), all now Neutral from Buy.
The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) was trading at $15.805 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down 0.44% on the day – up 21.58% 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.
Big Movers: (AGO) -15%.
Oracle (ORCL) beat estimates by 6 cents with revenue in-line with estimates. Sales of new software licenses increased 7%, above expectations for a 3% rise. Oracle (ORCL) was once looking for $6B in damages from Google (GOOG) over Android’s use of Java, but now it looks like the final settlement figure for the bitter legal dispute between the companies will be well under $100M. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) reportedly intends to merge its PC and printing operations as part of a major reorganization that will also include the departure of printing chief V.J. Joshi. Jabil Circuit (JBL) beat estimates by a penny and revenue by $150M, but now expects to earn between $0.49 – $0.59 per share (versus estimates of $0.58). Micron (MU) is resumed with an Outperform at RBC Capital. Aruba Networks (ARUN) is a new Buy at Auriga. MicroStrategy (MSTR) is initiated with a Buy at ThinkEquity Synacor (SYNC) is a new Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Needham. Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT) is a new Buy and $31 target at Auriga. Equinix (EQIX) is initiated with a Buy at Jefferies. LinkedIn (LNKD) is lifted to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs. OpenTable (OPEN) is boosted to Buy from Hold at The Benchmark Company. Accenture (ACN) gets increased to Hold from Sell at Société Générale. Saba Software (SABA) is now Buy from Hold at Benchmark. Silicon Labs (SLAB) is lifted to Buy from Neutral at UBS. Perfect World (PWRD) is downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura.
The Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) was trading at $30.06 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down slightly on the day – up 18.11% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +7.08%. The 2011 change was +1.03%.
Big Movers: (PWAV) +18%, (CNIT) +13.5%, (TGE) -13.5%, (TSL) -11%.
AT&T Inc (T) is begin with a Buy and $34 price target at Telsay Advisory Group. Vodafone Group (VOD) is added to Goldman’s Conviction Buy List. China Telecom (CHA) is now Neutral from Overweight at JP Morgan.
The NASDAQ Telecommunications Index (IXTC) was trading at $217.18 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down 0.14% on the day – up 10.28% year-to-date. The February 2012 change was +1.63%. The 2011 change was -12.62%.
Heavily Traded: (S) +0.7%, (T) +0.3%, (CLWR) -0.6%, (ATML) +2.7%, (VOD) -0.2%, (VZ) +0.6%.
NiSource (NI) is now Buy from Hold at Keybanc Capital.
The Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) was trading at $34.51 at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, down 0.20% on the day – down 4.09% year-to-date (the weakest performing 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) +0.2%, (NRG) +3.1%, (PEG) up slightly,
(EXC) -0.4%, (AEP) -0.4%, (PPL) -0.7%.
STOCKS: TRP, RDS.A, TOT, SNP, LINE, BHI, PDS, HERO, DHT, GLCNF, XSRAY, GSE, SLCA, AGU, RGLD, OMN, CTAS, NPO, AVAV, CTAS, CXW, MTOR, USG, AIR, TRI, KKD, CZR, NWSA, LUX, LIMAF, CAAS, CCME, GIS, TAP, SEED, FEED, GMCR, CHBT, OSUR, MDRX, ALIM, CRME, WPI, HIG, COF, RF, AIZ, BLK, BBT, MTB, STI, AGO, ORCL, GOOG, HPQ, JBL, MU, ARUN, MSTR, SYNC, UBNT, EQIX, LNKD, OPEN, ACN, SABA, SLAB, PWRD, PWAV, CNIT, TGE, TSL, T, VOD, CHA, S, CLWR, ATML, VZ, NI, DUK, GEN, NRG, PEG, EXC, AEP, PPL