Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Lower


Stocks ended lower on Monday as investors reacted to negative corporate news, including a profit warning from photographic supplies maker Eastman Kodak (EK), a Dow component.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 66.07 points, or 0.62%, to 10,529.48. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was off 9.66 points, or 0.84%, to 1,147.2. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index declined 38.85 points, or 1.9%, to 2,008.78, dragged down by weakness in semiconductor stocks.

On Tuesday, investors will be faced with more corporate news, including earnings reports from companies including supermarket chains Kroger (KR) and Albertson's (ABS) and apparel retailer AnnTaylor Stores (ANN).

Tuesday's economic calendar is light with more closely watched reports on retail sales and inflation at the wholesale level scheduled for later in the week.

On Monday, one of the big losers was chip giant Intel (INTC), a Dow component that's traded on the Nasdaq, as investors remained cautious about the semiconductor sector's prospects ahead of a mid-quarter update from Texas Instruments (TXN) after the market close.

Texas Instruments raised its first-quarter outlook to earnings per share of 19 cents to 22 cents, from its previous forecast of 16 to 22 cents. It sees revenue between $2.835 million and $2.95 billion, vs. its previous outlook of $2.72 billion to $2.95 billion.

Kodak shares fell after the company warned that its purchase of two digital printing units from Germany's Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG for about $150 million would hurt its 2004 earnings per share, but add to revenue.

In other deals news, food company J.M. Smucker Co. (SJM) said it would buy International Multifoods (IMC) for about $500 million.

Also, regional telephone company BellSouth (BLS) announced plans to sell its Latin American assets to Spain's Telefonica for $5.85 billion.

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), the world's largest retailer, said it expects to meet its forecast for a 4% to 6% increase in March sales at U.S. stores open at least a year.

Warnaco Group (WRNC), which makes Speedo swimsuits and Calvin Klein jeans, reported a fourth-quarter profit from continuing operations, vs. a loss in the prior year quarter.

Martha Stewart returned to a New York courthouse for a probation hearing after a jury on Friday found the lifestyle entrepreneur guilty of lying to investigators about her sale of stock in biotech company ImClone (IMCL). The charges include one count of conspiracy, two counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction of agency proceedings. Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) continued to fall on Monday.

In other corporate news, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa) reported that profit nearly doubled to $8.15 billion in 2003, thanks to rising premiums in its insurance businesses. In his widely-read annual letter to shareholders, Buffett says he continues to find few bargains in stocks, and that his cash holding is up to $36 billion, according to wire reports.

Diversified conglomerate General Electric (GE) says it plans to raise about $3.8 billion through a stock offering of about 118 million shares of common stock.

Treasury Market

Treasuries ended higher on the decline in equities and on the heels of Friday's release of disappointing employment data showing far fewer jobs than expected were created in February. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note settled at 3.78%, the lowest level since July, 2003.

There was no economic news to trade on today. The Treasury announced it will auction $16 billion in 5-year notes on Wednesday, and $11 billion reopened 10-year notes on Thursday.

World Markets

European stock markets ended higher on Monday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index added 6.7 points, or 0.15%, to 4,553.8 as traders paused to reflect on potential economic growth following America's weaker than expected jobs report Friday.

Germany's DAX index gained 19.85 points, or 0.48%, to 4,145.99 as the IWH Institute sees German growth picking up next year.

In Paris, the CAC 40 advanced 20.27 points, or 0.54%, to 3,781.38. Suez, Havas, and Television Francaise were higher.

In Asia, markets finished mixed overnight. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 34.43 points, or 0.3%, to 11,502.86 as Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui on Sunday said that the risk of deflation has not ended in Japan's improving economy and that the bank would maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy. The cosmetics sector was in focus after Kanebo, Japan's second-biggest cosmetics maker, said will write down some of its shareholders' capital as part of a proposed state-funded rescue of the company, NHK reported. The company declined to comment on the report.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 118.78 points, or 0.88%, to 13,773.54.


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