Markets Mixed, Closing News 3/30/12

Markets ended the day mixed as the Dow and S&P gained on a better than expected consumer spending report and additional support for the euro zone bailout fund.  Apple retreated 1.7% which put the Nasdaq in the red for the day.

U.S. consumer sentiment rebounded to its highest level in more than a year coming in at 76.2 vs. an expected 74.5 and higher than last month’s 74.3.  Optimism over jobs and income was cited as the reason for the boost.  Conversely, Chicago PMI was lower than expected at 62.2.

Euro zone finance ministers reportedly agreed to increase the lending level for the bailout fund from 500 billion to 700 billion euros.  Meanwhile, Spain announced cuts to its budget totaling 27 billion euros in an effort to reduce its budget deficit even as unions led disruptive strikes yesterday in response to the impending austerity measures. 

Q1 2012 officially closed out as the best quarter since 1998 for the markets.

The news story leader….the Mega Millions jackpot is now….$640 MILL-ion dollars!  So…who will not be reporting to the office on Monday? 

Market Indices/Statistics:

  • Dow closed up 66.22 pts/+0.50 to 13,212.04

  • S&P closed up 5.19 pts/+0.37% to 1,408.47

  • Nasdaq closed down 3.79 pts/-0.12% to 3,091.57

  • 27 of the 30 Dow stocks closed higher

  • 9 of the 10 S&P 500 sectors closed up

  • Energy and Healthcare were the best performing sectors (+0.75% each); IT was the only negative sector (-0.36%)

  • The VIX was up 0.02 to 15.50

  • Oil is up $0.33 to $103.11

  • Nat Gas is down $0.028 to $2.121

  • Gold is up $14.50 to $1,669.40

  • Dollar vs. Euro is up $0.005 to $1.335

  • Dollar vs. Yen is down $0.28 to $82.17

Companies in the News:

Best Buy (BBY, -$1.09/-4.4% to $23.68) is under continued pressure after reporting disappointing earnings and announcing 50 store closings.  There was a price downgrade by Wedbush announced today, from $25 to $23.

Corning Inc. (GLW, +$0.05/+0.4% to $14.08) is trading slightly lower in the after-market after headlines started running that the company received a grand jury subpoena in connection with an investigation into conduct relating to possible antitrust law violations.  While there are no estimates of the financial impact, headlines are noting that significant penalties could be imposed if wrongdoing is found.

Family Dollar Stores (FDO, +$3.19/+5.3% to $63.28) was one of the biggest gainers among S&P stocks buoyed by a better than expected personal spending report and improved consumer confidence.

Global Payments Inc. (GPN, -$4.73/-9.1% to $47.50) was halted today on rumors that there was a security breach with the company’s systems that put approximately 50,000 customers’ information at risk.  Late in the day, the company issued news that confirmed it had identified unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system.  The company has involved IT experts and law enforcement to address the problem and it continues its investigation into the matter.  MasterCard (MA, -$7.68/-1.8% to $420.54) and Visa (V,-$1.00/-0.8% to $118.00) were under pressure on the reports; MasterCard made a statement that their systems were not impacted while Visa made no official comment.

Liz Claiborne Inc. (LIZ, +$1.53/+12.9% to $13.36) shares were up today on rumors that several private equity firms have approached the company about taking it private at a premium of $20 per share.  The company issued a press release which denied the rumors that there is a current contemplation to employ a strategy that deviates from the operating plan already in place, which includes a name change to Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (NYSE: FNP) to better reflect the company after the sale of its Liz Claiborne brand to J.C. Penney (JCP, -$0.25/-0.7% to $35.43).

Rexnord Corp (RXN, +$1.10/+5.5% to $21.10) shares gained today, a day after its initial public offering.  The company priced 23.68 million shares at $18.00; RXN opened yesterday at $19.05 and closed at $19.00.  Rexnord is a multi-platform diversified global industrial company offering process & motion and water management solutions.

Coming Monday:

Economic Reports:  Feb. Construction Spending (+0.7% expected), March ISM Manufacturing (53.1 expected) at 10:00 a.m.    Earnings:  Pep Boys-Manny Moe & Jack (est: $0.12)



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