Weekly Wrap-Up 20 February 2015

February 20th, 2015
in contributors, syndication, forex

Dow, S&P 500 close at record highs on Greece debt deal

by Staff,

The Dow and S&P 500 ended at record highs on Friday while the Nasdaq notched an eighth straight day of gains after Greek and euro zone finance ministers reached a deal to extend heavily indebted Greece's financial rescue by four months.

The Nasdaq matched an eight-session winning streak from a year ago and inched closer to its 5,132.52 all-time intraday high, reached in March 2000 just before the dot-com bubble burst. The S&P 500 ended slightly higher for the week as well, its third straight week of gains.

Follow up:

Shares of the Global X FTSE Greece 20 exchange-traded fund jumped 10.1 percent, while U.S.-listed shares of the National Bank of Greece surged 21.7 percent to $1.96.

All of the S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory, except energy, which dipped 0.3 percent. Apple, which hit another record closing high, gave the S&P 500 and Nasdaq their biggest boost.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 154.67 points, or 0.86 percent, to 18,140.44, the S&P 500 gained 12.85 points, or 0.61 percent, to 2,110.3 and the Nasdaq Compositeadded 31.27 points, or 0.63 percent, to 4,955.97.

For the week, the Dow was up 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 was up 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq was up 1.3 percent.

Intuit Inc (NASDAQ:INTU.O) was among the Nasdaq's biggest positives, rising 6.2 percent to $96.72 a day after reporting a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss.

Shares of Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) climbed 6 percent to $81.74 and the stock was among the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainers, following its results. A slew of retailers are due to report next week, including Macy's and Home Depot (NYSE:HD).

Read more about stock markets in an article from Reuters at


The dollar remained higher against the other major currencies on Friday morning, supported by upbeat U.S. manufacturing data and as market sentiment broadly weakened amid mounting fears over Greece's debt troubles. But the U.S. dollar index weakened in the afternoon to close down 0.09 for the day at 94.31 after a morning high of 94.76.

Preliminary data showed that the U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 54.3 this month from 53.9 in January, beating expectations for a fall to 53.6.

The euro was lower against the dollar, with EUR/USD down 0.73% to 1.1284 in the morning as another round of talks with eurozone finance ministers was set to take place later Friday after Germany rejected a proposed bailout extension request from Greece. By the close the news of a delal boosted EUR/USD to a gain 0f (0.13%) for the day to 1.1383.

Earlier Friday, research group Markit said that the euro zone's preliminary composite purchasing managers' index rose to 53.5 this month from 52.6 in January, beating expectations for a reading of 53.0.

Germany's preliminary manufacturing PMI remained unchanged at 50.9 in February, disappointing expectations for a rise to 51.5, while the services PMI rose to 55.5 this month from a reading of 54.0 in January, compared to expectations for an increase to 54.2.

In France, the preliminary manufacturing PMI slipped to 47.7 this month from 49.2 in January, while the services PMI rose to 53.4 in February from 49.4 last month, exceeding expectations for an increase to 49.8.

The pound remained lower against the dollar, with GBP/USD sliding 0.25% to 1.5376.

The Office for National Statistics earlier reported that U.K. retail sales rose fell 0.3% in January, compared to expectations for a 0.2% downtick. December's figure was revised to a 0.2% gain from a previously estimated increase of 0.4%.

Year-on-year, U.K. retail sales rose at a rate of 4.8% last month, below expectations for a 5.9% increase and after a downwardly revised 3.8% gain in December.

A separate report showed that U.K. public sector net borrowing dropped by £9.40 billion January, more than the expected decline of £7.80 billion. December's figure was revised to a £9.87 rise from a previously estimated £12.47 increase.

Elsewhere, USD/JPY dropped 0.30% to 118.58, while USD/CHF retreated 0.60% to 0.9437.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were broadly stronger, with AUD/USD climbing 0.40% to 0.7823 and NZD/USD adding 0.18% to 0.7531.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD edged up 0.14% to 1.2512 after Statistics Canada reported that retail sales dropped 2.0% in December, disappointing expectations for a 0.3% slip, after a 0.4% rise the previous month.

Core retail sales, wich exclude automobiles, declined by 2.3% in December, compared to expectations for a 0.7% fall, after an increase of 0.7% in November.

CTFC Commitment of Traders

Speculators were more bullish on the S&P 500 and less bullish on gold this week. There were only minor sentiment shifts elsewhere.



After the dust settled at the end of the day gold was off almost $6 to close at $1,201.90. Gold prices held steady on Friday morning, as negotiations over Greece's bailout were set to continue and as markets eyed the release of U.S. manufacturing data due later in the day.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery were steady at $1,207.50.

Futures were likely to find support at $1,197.20, the low from February 18 and resistance at $1,222.90, Thursday's high.

Demand for the safe-haven precious metal strengthened after Germany rejected a proposed bailout extension request from Greece on Thursday.

The Greek request included a pledge to maintain "fiscal balance" for a six-month period, in order to give it time to reach a new agreement on growth over the next four years with its partners in the euro zone, Reuters reported.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it was "not a substantial proposal for a solution" and did not meet the criteria agreed on at the euro group meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday.

The European Commission had earlier welcomed the bailout extension request, saying it could pave the way for compromise and stability in the euro zone.

Another round of negotiations was planned at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Friday which led to a four-month deal being announced.

Gold prices also remained supported as traders reassessed their expectations for the timing of the first U.S. rate hike following the release of dovish Fed minutes on Wednesday.

According to the minutes, "many" policymakers were in favor of holding interest rates at current levels for longer and that raising rates too soon could weigh on the economic recovery.

A delay in raising interest rates would be seen as bullish for gold, as it decreases the relative cost of holding on to the metal, which doesn't offer investors any similar guaranteed payout.

Elsewhere in metals trading, silver for March delivery rose 0.24% to $16.420 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery slipped 0.25% to $2.609 a pound.


Brent crude oil steadied above $60 a barrel on Friday as expectations of falling U.S. rig count numbers outweighed concerns about oversupply.

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States fell to its lowest since August 2011 last week.

U.S. crude inventories rose 7.7 million barrels to 425.6 million barrels last week, rising for a sixth straight week to record highs, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Thursday.

Stockpiles of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude at the Cushing oil hub in Oklahoma rose the most in six years, the EIA said.

Read more about oil in the complete Reuters report at

Natural Gas

Natural gas jumped 3.88% higher on Friday to close at $2.94 Natural gas futures had declined on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. natural gas supplies fell less than the five-year average for this time of year last week, underlining concerns over weak demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in March lost 3.0 cents, or 1.06%, to trade at $2.802 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours. Prices were at around $2.832 prior to the release of the supply data.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.697 per million British thermal units, the low from February 17, and resistance at $2.896, the high from February 17.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended February 13 fell by 111 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 108 billion.

Natural gas storage in the U.S. fell by 160 billion cubic feet in the preceding week. The five-year average change for the week is a decline of 180 billion cubic feet, while supplies fell by a whopping 247 billion the same time last year.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.157 trillion cubic feet. Stocks were 678 billion cubic feet higher than last year at this time and 58 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 2.099 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

A day earlier, natural gas surged 7.2 cents, or 2.61%, to settle at $2.831 as investors focused on near-term weather forecasts, which showed frigid temperatures across most parts of the U.S. Northeast in the coming days.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.

Despite recent gains, natural gas prices are likely to remain vulnerable amid speculation supplies are more than ample to meet demand.

Futures are down almost 40% since mid-November as an unusually mild start to winter limited demand while production soared.


Read special report from International Business Times at about the tough year facing U.S. coal in 2015 here.

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