Markets Higher, Closing News 6/21/11

The Dow closed up triple digits today, +109 points, and don’t look now but we’re riding a four-session winning streak. Markets were higher because of the growing belief that Greece will be able to avoid a default on their debt.

Protesters are again gathering outside of the Greek Parliament as a vote of confidence for austerity measures is expected at 5:00 pm EST. The newly restructured cabinet is widely expected to confirm their vote of confidence in the plans, but the government still must have the final austerity plans approved before a Eurozone finance ministers’ meeting on July 3 to receive the €12 billion in emergency funds.

Existing Home Sales fell 3.8% in May, a narrower decline than the 5.0% expected by economists. The percentage of distressed sales was 31% in May, down from 37% in April, suggesting that the housing market is still weak as the sales of existing homes hit a six-month low.

Fitch Ratings warned today that if the U.S. government does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2, and misses the coupon payment on August 15, the U.S. rating would be moved lower to “Restrictive Default.”

The artist who created Mike Tyson’s infamous face tattoo has settled his lawsuit with Warner Bros over use of the design in “The Hangover II”. The artist had been seeking to have his design (which he claims was used without his permission) entirely removed from the movie when released on DVD. I’m definitely glad the face-tat stays, because without Tyson’s design the gag loses some of its “punch”. (Okay that was cheap)

Market Indices/Statistics:

  • Dow closed up 109.63 pts/+0.91% to 1,2190.01
  • S&P closed up 17.16 pts /+1.34% to 1,295.52
  • Nasdaq closed up 57.60 pts/+2.19% to 2,687.26
  • 26 of the 30 Dow stocks closed higher / 4 closed lower
  • 9 of the 10 of the S&P 500 sectors closed higher
  • Materials was the best performing sector (up 2.59%)
  • Consumer Staples was the only sector lower (down 0.14%)
  • The VIX is down 1.22 pts to 18.76
  • Oil is up $0.17 to $93.80
  • Nat Gas is up $0.080 to $4.460
  • Gold is up $5.30 to $1,547.30
  • Euro vs. Dollar up $0.0095 to $1.4400
  • Dollar vs. Yen down $0.08 to $80.20

Companies in the News:

Homebuilders, including Toll Brothers (+1.38% to $20.54), Pultegroup Inc. (+2.33% to $7.46), and Meritage Homes (+2.62% to $22.72), traded higher after the existing home sales were reported slightly better than expected.

Best Buy announced a new $5 billion share repurchase program, which ends and replaces the company’s prior plan which had approximately $800 million remaining. The board of directors also approved a dividend increase to $0.16 per share from $0.15, to be paid on October 25 to holders of record on October 4. Shares of BBY traded higher (+2.66% to $32.38) on the day.

BP traded higher (+3.73% to $43.40) after its Chairman announced that he believes permission for deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is not far off, and that Weatherford (+4.08% to $17.59) will pay BP $75 million to protect it from any private claims related to the Deep Water Horizon spill last year.

Shares of Encana traded lower (-0.80% to $29.68) after announcing that their talks for a joint venture with PetroChina Co (+1.68% to $142.55) have fallen apart. The agreement ended because the two sides were not able to agree on alignment for the transaction, which included a joint operating agreement.

Earnings:

Walgreen Co. reported Q3 results that beat expectations, coming in at $0.65 per share on $18.4 billion vs. consensus of $0.63 per share on $18.36 billion. Shares traded lower (-4.21% to $43.28) because of a contract dispute with Express Scripts, Inc. Because the contract was not renewed, Walgreens will not be a part of Express Scripts pharmacy benefits provider network as of January 1, 2012.

Barnes & Noble also traded lower (-5.96% to $18.94) after announcing Q4 results before the opening bell this morning.  Barnes & Noble reported a Q4 loss of $1.04 per share on $1.37 billion in Q4 revenue vs. a $0.91 loss per share on revenue of $1.39 billion expected. Sales for the quarter were negatively impacted by the liquidation of over 200 Borders bookstores.

Coming Wednesday:

Economic Reports: Fed Meeting Closes at 12:30 pm, Ben Bernanke holds press conference at 2:15 pm; Earnings From FedEx, CarMax, H.B. Fuller and Steelcase