- US: Dow Futures: 12966.00 (-0.27%), S&P 500 Futures: 1387.40 (-0.11%), NASDAQ Futures: 2730.50 (-0.03%)
- Europe: CAC: 3454.22 (-0.53%), DAX: 6959.63 (-0.31%), FTSE: 5826.91 (-0.32%).
- Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4270.40 (-0.08%), China: 2349.54 (-1.12%), Hong Kong: 20668.80 (-1.13%), India: 5278.20 (0.95%), Japan: 10011.47 (-1.15%).
- Metals: Gold: 1649.20 (0.41%), Silver: 31.62 (0.89%), Copper: 3.80 (0.88%)
- Energy: Crude Oil: 105.73 (0.36%), Natural Gas: 2.28 (0.48%)
- Commodities: Corn: 6.49 (0.78%), Soya Bean: 13.63 (1.00%), Wheat: 6.49 (0.43%)
- Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3256 (0.42%), GBP/USD: 1.5852 (0.20%), USD/JPY: 82.4600 (-0.08%)
- 10 year US Treasury: 2.244% (-0.034)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. stock-index futures trading lower: Stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Friday, as investors await a report on new-home sales. This week has seen markets retreat amid fears of slower growth in China and the S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) is on track to extend its biggest weekly drop since December. The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ futures were all in the red.
European markets decline further: Stalked by concerns over the global growth outlook, European markets declined on Friday. The markets are down for fifth straight day, and are heading for the biggest weekly drop this year. Investors are looking forward to data on American new-house sales today. The FTSE was down 0.5 percent while the CAC 40 Paris and the German DAX were also down close to 0.8 percent each.
U.K. Consumer Confidence dips: According to a survey by Nationwide Building Society, U.K. consumer confidence declined in February, as Britons became more pessimistic about the future due to the rising joblessness and weak economic growth. Nationwide said its consumer confidence index fell by three points to 44 in February, much below its average.
Asian markets end mostly down: Asian markets ended down on Friday, extending the biggest weekly decline of the year, as fresh signs of economic slowdown in China and Europe worried investors. Japan’s Nikkei average fell more than a percent as a jump in the yen led to a sharp pullback in exporters. The Shanghai Composite was down 1.1 percent, ending the day at a one-month low. The Hang Seng Index fell 1.1 percent, with banks being the biggest draggers.
Company News Update
- The world’s largest sporting-goods company, Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE), was trading marginally higher after posting a third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates. Nike’s profit has surpassed analysts’ projections in 22 of the past 23 quarters and the company said future orders indicate a strong summer ahead.
- Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN), the world’s second-biggest technology-consulting company, advanced 1.2 percent after reporting a fiscal second-quarter net income jumped 28 percent, after yesterday’s market close. It also raised full-year earnings forecast to above the average analyst projection.
- Memory chip maker, Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) slumped close to 3 percent after reporting a third consecutive quarterly loss, which was largely attributed to a drop in chip prices due to the sluggish demand for personal computers.
- Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), the operator of chains such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden, posted quarterly earnings of $1.25 a share, which were slightly better than street estimates. The stock was trading 0.3 percent in pre-market trading.
- Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) slid 2.2 percent in early morning trade after the online games maker said Friday that it planned to sell some 49 million shares n a secondary offering.
- Exchange operator, BATS Global Markets, will start trading today after pricing its IPO at $16 per share, the low end of its estimated range.
- BT (LON:BT.A), U.K.’s largest fixed-line operator, jumped 5 percent after it agreed to a new pension deal that should help cut its pension plan deficit by more than half to 4.1 billion pounds.
- Whitbread Plc (LON:WTB), the owner of the Costa Coffee chain, surged 1 percent after HSBC Holdings Plc increased its estimate for the share price to 2,000 pence from 1,800 pence and named it as the favored hotel stock.
- Gold miner, Randgold Resources (LON:RRS) shed 5.2 percent in London trading, after Citigroup downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “buy. The recent military coup in Mali, where the gold miner has significant operations, has made investors nervous about the prospects of the company.
- STMicroelectronics (EPA:STM), the microchip manufacturer, was up 1 percent, helped by a ratings upgrade from Cheuvreux, the European and American securities brokerage division of Credit Agricole S.A.
- Allianz (FRA:ALV), Europe’s biggest insurer, fell 1.3 percent after the Chief Executive Officer Michael Diekmann wrote in a letter to shareholders that he expects a tough year ahead due to the low interest rates and extreme global market volatility. The German company has however stuck to 2012 operating profit target.
- Australian mining behemoth, BHP Billiton Ltd. (ASX:BHP), lost 1.2 percent in Sydney trading after metal and oil prices fell yesterday.
- Japanese auto-makers, Honda Motor Co. (TYO:7267) and Nissan Motor Co. (TYO:7201), who get about 80 percent of their revenue overseas, fell close to 3 percent in Tokyo, after the surge in the yen against the dollar hurt large-cap exporters.
- China’s third-largest lender by market value, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. (SHA:601288), slipped 3.1 percent after announcing the first quarterly drop in profit since listing two years ago. The bank attributed the drop in profit to lending restrictions and higher bad-loan costs.
- Hong Kong- based clothier, Esprit Holdings Ltd. (HKG:0330), whose sales pre-dominantly come from Europe, declined 2.3 percent, after announcing worse-than-expected manufacturing data.
- In its steepest decline in a month, LG Electronics Inc. (066570) fell 1.9 percent in Seoul after Mirae Asset Securities Co. said Asia’s second- biggest mobile-phone maker’s sales may miss estimates.
Economic Calendar for Friday, March 23, 2012:
10:00 A.M. ET: New Home Sales (February)
01:45 P.M. ET: Ben Bernanke Speaks
02:30 P.M. ET: Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart speaks
09:00 P.M. ET: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks