Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Mixed


Stocks finished mixed in a choppy session Monday as the latest economic reports failed to meet expectations.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.1 points, or 0.11%, to 10,499.18. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 4.13 points, or 0.37%, to 1,135.26. And the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 3 points, or 0.15%, to 2,063.15.

Health-care stocks were strong, with gains in biotech and pharmaceutical issues, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

Also higher were telecom services, financials, and energy, with the latter gaining on higher crude oil prices. On the downside were auto makers and metals stocks.

In economic news, the Institute for Supply Management factory index for January came in at 63.6, vs. a prior reading of 63.4, lower than economists' estimate of 64.7. The upward shift in production, as well as orders above 70 for the third straight month, accounted for the modest rise in the index, says Informa Global Markets.

Construction spending in December rose 0.4%, vs. November's 0.5% increase, also lower than expected.

Personal income rose 0.2%, vs. November's 0.3% rise, while personal spending rose 0.5%, after November's 0.5% gain. Both numbers were near forecasts.

There are no major economic reports coming out Tuesday. Of all the economic data releases expected this week, the most closely watched will be Friday's employment report for January.

The majority of December-quarter earnings season wraps up this week. While the results were very strong, there were some companies that toned down expectations for the March quarter and full year, notes Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

Cisco Systems (CSCO), Tyco International (TYC), and Avon (AVP) are scheduled to report earnings Tuesday.

On Monday, Dow component International Paper (IP) reported better than expected fourth-quarter operating earnings per share of 23 cents, vs. 33 cents a year ago, despite a 3.2% revenue rise.

Boston Scientific (BSX) reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of 17 cents, vs. 15 cents a year ago, on a 15% revenue rise (including foreign exchange).

Playtex Products (PYX) shares fell after the company says it sees $146.7 million in fourth-quarter sales, 30 cents for 2003 EPS, and 30 cents to 33 cents for 2004 EPS (including charges). The company plans a senior secured notes offering. S&P cut its ranking on the stock to avoid.

Wendy's International (WEN) shares lost ground after the fast-food chain reduced its 12% to 15% long-term EPS growth rate target to 11% to 13%. It cited higher beef costs and other expenses. It sees $2.27 to $2.32 for 2004 EPS, and also announced a dividend increase.

The Semiconductor Industry Association said second half 2003 sales performance was one of the strongest on record; worldwide sales rose 19% to $166.4 billion in 2003. The SIA predicted sales growth of 19% in 2004. Despite the upbeat report, the Philadelphia semiconductor index (SOX.X) fell Monday.

Treasury Market

Treasuries ended higher in price, helped by a round of option-related call buying, says Informa Global Markets. It was a choppy session - the economic data were mixed and corporate deal pricings added volatility, notes Informa Global Markets.

World Markets

European stock markets finished mixed. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was down 9.3 points, or 0.21%, to 4,381.4 following report Britain's PMI was unchanged at 56.0 but still at a four-year high.

In Paris, the CAC 40 added 26.58 points, or 0.73%, to 3,665.02 even though French January PMI index rose to 53.5 from 51.9 in December. Germany's DAX index rose 13 points, or 0.32%, to 4,071.6. There was little reaction to the report German January PMI was unchanged at 53.0.

Asian markets finished lower Monday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell 6.88 points, or 0.06%, to 10,776.73. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index skidded 289.39 points, or 2.18%, to 12,999.98.


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