- US: Dow Futures: 12975.00 (0.29%), S&P 500 Futures: 1367.50 (0.23%), NASDAQ Futures: 2634.00 (0.42%)
- Europe: CAC: 3484.03 (0.91%), DAX: 6914.49 (0.84%), FTSE: 5915.01 (0.74%).
- Asia-Pacific:Australia: 4255.50 (-1.00%),China: 2426.11 (-0.10%),Hong Kong: 21387.96 (-1.37%),India: 5339.75 (-0.84%),Japan: 9707.37 (-0.16%)
- Metals: Gold: 1707.50 (-0.22%), Silver: 34.63 (0.14%), Copper: 3.90 (0.66%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 107.33 (0.24%), Natural Gas: 2.54 (-3.10%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.54 (-0.49%), Soya Bean: 13.15 (-0.36%), Wheat: 6.63 (-0.64%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3309 (-0.1201%), GBP/USD: 1.5947 (0.1916%), USD/JPY: 81.2245 (0.0933%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.045% (0.073)
Market News Update
U.S. stock-index futures climb: Stock-index futures signaled U.S. markets may kick off the month on a high note following the best February in 14 years as traders awaited a slew of economic data and waded through sales reports from retailers and automakers. As of 8:23 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 39 points to 12976, S&P 500 futures gained 4 points to 1369 and NASDAQ 100 futures climbed 11 points to 2634. http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2012/03/01/stock-futures-climb-as-traders-focus-on-data/
New Jobless Claims Steady: New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits edged down last week, holding near four-year lows, according to a government report on Thursday that suggested the labor market was gaining momentum. http://www.cnbc.com/id/46586888
U.S. January Consumer Spending Rises 0.2%: Consumer spending in the U.S. rose less than forecast in January after little change the previous month, showing a lack of improvement in the biggest part of the economy. Purchases climbed 0.2 percent, while incomes increased 0.3 percent, Commerce Department figures showed today inWashington.
Store chains post sales gain in February: Retailers are reporting strong sales gains for February, as rising consumer confidence is helping consumers to feel more comfortable spending again. Among the strongest performances was Limited (LTD), the operator ofVictoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. The company reported that sales at stores open at least 12 months rose 8 percent from last year, outpacing analysts’ average forecast of 6.2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.
European shares rise: European shares and the euro reversed early losses on Thursday as the impact of the latest massive cash injection by the European Central Bank lifted sentiment, overwhelming fears that furtherU.S. monetary easing could be on hold. Data showing new factory orders forAsia’s manufacturing powerhouses perked up a bit in February, easing some concerns about the global economic slowdown. The FTSE Eurofirst index of top European shares gained 0.3 percent to 1,078.92 points, bouncing back from a session low of 1,071.58. Banks led the recovery, rising more than 1 percent.
Asian shares end lower: Asian stock markets ended mostly lower Thursday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s cautious remarks on the U.S. economy overshadowed an improvement in China’s manufacturing activity. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.5%, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average shed 0.2%, and the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1%. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203986604577254101013641574.html?mod=WSJ_Markets_LeadStoryAsia
Company News Update
- Facebook Inc.’s implied value dropped 5 percent to about $93 billion in the auction of a fund that holds shares of the social-networking company’s stock. The sale yesterday set a price of $40 apiece for 125,000 units of the fund, according to an e-mailed statement from SharesPost Inc., which managed the auction. A Feb. 14 fund auction valued Facebook at about $98 billion.
- ARM Holdings Plc (ARM), whose chip designs are used in most smartphones, is set to power the networks that run them as it steps up competition with Intel Corp. in a $9 billion market.
- Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA (F), said itsU.S. sales increased 40 percent in February, exceeding analysts’ estimates, as higher gasoline prices boosted demand for cars including the 200 sedan.
- Clothes and accessories company Kenneth Cole Productions Inc (KCP), which is considering a takeover offer from its founder American clothing designer Kenneth Cole, posted a quarterly profit compared with a year-ago loss, helped by a rise in wholesale revenues.
- Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR) reported fiscal fourth-quarter revenue on Thursday that beat Wall Street’s expectations, while revenue at stores open at least a year rose 10.3 percent.
- Edison International (EIX) posted a fourth-quarter loss as the energy company took a more than $1 billion write-down for three coal plants, another power plant and certain wind assets.
- PetSmart Inc. (PETM) said its fourth quarter profit rose 13 percent on higher revenue, as the company boosted sales at stores open longer than a year far higher than Wall Street expected.
- Royal Bank of Canada (RY) and Toronto- Dominion Bank (TD), the country’s two biggest banks, raised their dividends after reporting profits that topped analysts’ estimates on record earnings from consumer lending.
- British bank HSBC Holdings (HBC) is nearing a deal to sell its general insurance business for about $1 billion, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, with French insurer AXA SA (AXA) and Australia’s QBE Insurance Group (QBE) expected to split the business, a separate report said.
- European Union regulators dropped a probe into AstraZeneca Plc (AZN), the U.K.’s second-biggest drug maker, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (4502)’s Nycomed unit over possible collusion to keep cheaper copies of medicines off the market.
- Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) rejected a proposal to settle a 10-year dispute tied to comments by its former Chief Executive Officer Rolf Breuer about Leo Kirch’s media group.
- Premium Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli (LSPN) on Thursday warned that commodity markets remain volatile and that consumer sentiment is hit by the prospects of a worsening employment market.
- Vivendi SA (VIV) tumbled as much as 9.4 percent after forecasting a profit slump through 2013 as SFR, the French wireless unit it bought out for 7.95 billion euros ($10.6 billion) last year, faces increased competition.
- Royal Ahold NV (AH), the Dutch owner of Stop & Shop grocery stores, said sales growth has eased in recent weeks and warned of “another challenging year” as consumers focus on value and competition remains intense.
- Hong Kong Airlines, backed by China’s fourth-largest carrier Hainan Airlines, has threatened to cancel an aircraft order with Airbus (EAD), underlining growing tensions between China and the European Union over the EU’s emissions trading scheme, a local newspaper reported.
- India’s Tata Communications (TCL) is preparing to bid for Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWC), the Times of India reported on Thursday, in what would be the biggest British acquisition by an Indian firm since Tata Motors bought Jaguar Land Rover. Tata Communications would be vying with Vodafone Group (VOD) which said in February it was considering bidding for C&W Worldwide, whose fixed-line network could boost bandwidth for its Internet-hungry as an alternative to Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android.
- Woolworths (WOW),Australia’s top supermarket chain, posted a modest 3.2 percent rise in first-half earnings and said it expects trading to remain subdued as grocery prices come under pressure and cautious consumers keep spending in check.
Economic Calendar for Thursday, March 01, 2012:
08:00 A.M. ET: Motor Vehicle Sales
08:00 A.M. ET: Chain Store Sales
08:30 A.M. ET: Jobless Claims
08:30 A.M. ET: Personal Income and Outlays
10:00 A.M. ET: ISM Mfg Index
10:00 A.M. ET: Construction Spending
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Natural Gas Report
02:00 P.M. ET: Auto Sales
02:00 P.M. ET: Truck Sales
04:30 P.M. ET: Fed Balance Sheet
04:30 P.M. ET: Money