* US: Dow Futures: 13153.00 (0.22%), S&P 500 Futures: 1407.40 (0.07%), NASDAQ Futures: 2781.00 (0.19%)
* Europe: CAC: 3467.89 (-0.05%), DAX: 7056.11 (-0.33%), FTSE: 5862.35 (-0.12%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4343.50 (0.98%), China: 2284.88 (-2.73%), Hong Kong: 20885.52 (-0.77%), India: 5194.75 (-0.92%), Japan: 10182.57 (-0.71%).
* Metals: Gold: 1671.10 (-0.82%), Silver: 32.36 (-0.77%), Copper: 3.82 (-1.55%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 106.11 (-1.14%), Natural Gas: 2.18 (-1.31%)
* Commodities: Corn: 6.32 (-1.14%), Soya Bean: 13.75 (-0.76%), Wheat: 6.44 (-3.33%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3322 (0.05%), GBP/USD: 1.5995 (-0.35%), USD/JPY: 83.0300 (-0.18%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 2.245% (-0.017)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. stock-index futures trading higher: U.S. markets are poised to open higher on Wednesday, as investors await data on housing and durable goods to gauge the health of the economy. The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ futures were all trading in the green.
European markets fluctuate: Markets were trading marginally lower in choppy trade on Wednesday after data showed the British economy shrank more than previously expected. The benchmark Stoxx 600 index fell 0.2 percent. The FTSE was down 0.07 percent, while the CAC 40 gained 0.03 percent and the German DAX fell 0.15 percent.
British economy shrinks: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the UK economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2011, worse than the previous estimate of a 0.2 percent drop. The ONS report showed a less than expected rise in consumer spending. Britons last year also suffered the biggest decrease in disposable income in over three decades.
Asian markets end lower: Asian markets ended lower on Wednesday with Japan’s Nikkei average down 0.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite ended the day at the lowest
level in two months, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.77 percent. The Australian market was the stand-out performer in the region and closed almost a percent higher.
Company News Update
* Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) was up 0.5 percent in early morning trade after the banking giant decided to change its board structure that will allow Lloyd Blankfein to remain as chairman and chief executive.
* Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO), posted quarterly earnings of $1.15 a share that were slightly better than analyst estimates. The stock was trading 0.5 percent lower.
* Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE:TYC), and Pentair Inc. (NYSE:PNR) jumped 2.7 percent and 18 percent, respectively in pre-market trading after Pentair agreed to merge with Tyco’s pipes and valves unit, valuing the business at approximately $4.5 billion.
* PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH), the owner of the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands, was up 0.2 percent after reporting a 56 percent rise in fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. The apparel-maker provided a first-quarter outlook that was below expectation, citing rising raw material costs.
* Dollar General Corp (NYSE:DG), the operator of discount stores, declined 1.2 percent in early New York trading after announcing a secondary public offering of almost 25 million shares at $45.25 per share. The shares will be sold by some existing shareholders, and the company will not receive any proceeds from the offering.
* Organic food maker Annie’s will begin trading this morning on the New York Stock Exchange. The Berkeley, California-based company raised $95 million in its initial public offering, pricing the shares above the established range.
* French oil major Total (EPA:FP) was among the worst performers in Europe, after warning that the gas leak problem at its Elgin platform in the North Sea could take six months to resolve.
* Nestle SA (NESN), the world’s largest food and nutrition company, fell 0.5 percent after UBS removed the stock from the bank’s most preferred list and downgraded it to “neutral” from “buy”.
* London-listed Evraz (LON:EVR), Russia’s largest steelmaker, fell 3.2 percent after it reported a decline of 4 percent in its full-year 2011 net profit. The company also forecast a tough 2012 for the global steel industry
* Italy-based commercial bank, Banco Popolare di Milano (BIT:PMI) shed 4.7 percent as Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “outperform”.
* Europe’s largest drug wholesaler, Celesio (FRS:CLS1), lost 1.1 percent after it said earnings will be flat this year and put its DocMorris mail-order pharmacy up for sale to resolve a conflict with its core German wholesale customers.
* Infineon Technologies AG (FRA:IFX), Europe’s second-largest semiconductor maker, jumped 3.3 percent after Exane BNP Paribas raised its share-price target by 30 percent to 9.50 euros.
* Japanese electronics and entertainment giant, Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) gained 1.8 percent in Tokyo after its CEO Kazuo Hirai said he would directly oversee the group’s ailing TV business to try and make up for lost ground.
KIA Motors Corp (000270.KS) jumped 2.8 percent after it resumed full production at its U.S plant following delays due to a fire at a major parts supplier. The rally in the Korean auto maker was also aided by the U.S.-based TrueCar.com forecasting a better than expected March for car-makers. Hyundai Motors also closed 2.9 percent higher.
* Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. (HKG:0493), China’s No. 2 electronics retailer, slumped 21 percent in Hong Kong trading after recording a 6.2 percent fall in 2011 profit, which was much below analysts forecasts. The worse than expected results have led to a number of brokerages downgrading the stock.
* Jiangxi Copper Co. (HKG:0358), China’s top copper producer, shed 2.5 percent after reporting a 18 percent drop in second-half profit due to slowing demand.
* Li & Fung Ltd (HKG:0494), the world’s biggest supplier of clothes and toys to retailers, slumped 5.3 percent after it announced plans to sell 210 million shares at a 5 percent discount to Tuesday’s closing price.
* Australian banks were among the best performers today, boosted by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s assessment that they were well-capitalized to address any future turmoil. ANZ (ASX:ANZ) was up 1.2 per cent, Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) was up 1 per cent, Westpac (ASX:WBC) advanced 1 per cent and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) rose 1.1 per cent.
Economic Calendar for Wednesday, March 28, 2012:
07:00 A.M. ET: MBA Purchase Applications
08:30 A.M. ET: Durable Goods Orders (February)
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Petroleum Status Report
01:00 P.M. ET: 5-Yr Note Auction
09:00 P.M. ET: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks