Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Slightly Higher


Stock finished slightly higher on Monday, as the buying spree lost steam in the afternoon. Some activity may be related to the quarterly expiration of futures and options this Friday, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope. Capping market upside, July West Texas Intermediate crude oil rallied to $55.62, its highest since Apr. 26.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.93 points, or 0.09%, to 10,522.56. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.71 points, or 0.23%, to 1,200.82. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index added 5.96 points, or 0.29%, to 2,068.96.

On Tuesday, investors will get updates on retail sales and the producer price index. May retail sales are expected to fall 0.5%, vs. a 1.4% jump in April. Excluding auto sales, the figure is expected to dip 0.1%, vs. a 1.1% increase in the previous month.

The producer price index (PPI), a gauge of wholesale level inflation, is seen falling 0.2% vs. a 0.6% rise in April. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the PPI is expected to rise 0.1%, vs. a 0.3% increase in the previous month.

Among companies in the news Monday, Morgan Stanley (MWD) CEO Philip Purcell has agreed to step down after a lengthly leadership battle. Purcell says he will give up his post at the investment bank as soon as his successor is named, but no later than the company's next annual meeting in March. The company also said it expects second-quarter earnings per share to be about 15% to 20% below a year-ago's $1.10. The stock rose.

A possible fifth case of a rare and often deadly brain infection linked to the multiple-sclerosis drug Tysabri, which is made by Biogen Idec (BIIB) and Elan (ELN), has been reported to federal regulators, according to government records, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Northwest Airlines (NWAC) may be steering perilously close to Chapter 11 as bad news is stacking up, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Treasury Market

Treasury prices fell on Monday. The market was still feeling the effect of Alan Greenspan's bearish Congressional testimony and the presumption that at the least at the short end, yields are headed higher, reports Action Economics. However, the long end were underperforming as some of the curve narrowing was unwound and on the view that 10-year notes are too rich near 4%, says Action Economics. The yield on the 10-years moved up to 4.08%.

In the currency markets, the dollar index rose to a nine-month high.

World Markets

European stock markets finished higher on Monday. London's FTSE 100 index was up 20 points, or 0.4%, to 5,050.4. Among stocks on the move, Hanson was higher after a 6.25 billion euro unsolicited bid for Germany's HeidelbergCement AG raised the prospect the British company may become a takeover target. Royal & Sun, a potential target of Corvus Capital, was higher.

Germany's DAX index fell 13.11 points, or 0.29%, to 4,599.21. HVB was higher after Italy's UniCredito agreed to buy the company for $19.2 billion euros.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 19.39 points, or 0.46%, to 4,203.49. Cegid was higher as the company expects to report higher earnings. Dassault Aviation, which plans to sell stake in Thales SA, was a bit higher.

Asian markets finished with small gains on Monday. In Japan, the Nikkei index rose 7.28 points, or 0.06%, to 11,311.51. Gains in automobile stocks, as the U.S. dollar strength boosted sentiment for select exporters, drove marginal gains in Tokyo's two major indices. In economic news, Japan's first-quarter GDP growth was revised down to 1.2% quarter-to-quarter from 1.3%, slightly disappointing. Japan's production was revised lower to a gain of 1.9% month-to-month in April from 2.2%, but remains healthy, according to Action Economics.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index added 17.26 points, or 0.12%, to 13,952.02 on the back of strength in telco plays China Mobile and China Unicom, and index heavy weight Hutchison Whampoa.


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