Investing.com Weekly Wrap-Up 13 March 2015

March 13th, 2015
in contributors, syndication, forex

U.S. stocks lower at close of trade

by Investing.com Staff, Investing.com

U.S. stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in theBasic Materials, Utilities and Industrials sectors led shares to the downside.

At the close in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.82%, while theS&P 500 index fell 0.61%, and the NASDAQ Composite index declined 0.44%.

Follow up:

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), which rose 0.88% or 0.36 points to trade at 41.38 at the close. Meanwhile, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) added 0.42% or 0.13 points to end at 30.93 and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) was up 0.30% or 0.35 points to 115.23 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), which fell 2.32% or 3.67 points to trade at 154.31 at the close. United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) declined 2.00% or 2.43 points to end at 118.81 and Visa Inc (NYSE:V) was down 1.65% or 4.44 points to 265.14.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were GameStop Corp (NYSE:GME) which rose 3.46% to 40.68, Leggett & Platt Incorporated (NYSE:LEG) which was up 3.18% to settle at 45.46 and Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:MU) which gained 2.48% to close at 28.71.

The worst performers were ENSCO plc (NYSE:ESV) which was down 6.62% to 20.45 in late trade, Avon Products Inc (NYSE:AVP) which lost 5.85% to settle at 7.72 and Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:ATI) which was down 5.76% to 29.76 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were Amarin Corporation PLC (NASDAQ:AMRN) which rose 21.85% to 2.90, Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHIP) which was up 16.87% to settle at 0.900 and Repligen Corporation (NASDAQ:RGEN) which gained 16.74% to close at 31.31.

The worst performers were KBS Fashion Group Ltd (NASDAQ:KBSF) which was down 31.72% to 3.38 in late trade, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (NASDAQ:SHOS) which lost 29.85% to settle at 9.12 and CTI BioPharma Corp (NASDAQ:CTIC) which was down 24.23% to 1.970 at the close.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 2082 to 730; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1652 fell and 1129 advanced, while 4 ended unchanged.

Shares in ENSCO plc (NYSE:ESV) fell to all time lows; falling 6.62% or 1.45 to 20.45. Shares in Amarin Corporation PLC (NASDAQ:AMRN) rose to 52-week highs; up 21.85% or 0.52 to 2.90. Shares in KBS Fashion Group Ltd (NASDAQ:KBSF) fell to all time lows; falling 31.72% or 1.57 to 3.38. Shares in Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (NASDAQ:SHOS) fell to all time lows; down 29.85% or 3.88 to 9.12. Shares in Repligen Corporation (NASDAQ:RGEN) rose to all time highs; gaining 16.74% or 4.49 to 31.31. Shares in CTI BioPharma Corp (NASDAQ:CTIC) fell to 52-week lows; losing 24.23% or 0.630 to 1.970.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was up 3.89% to 16.02.

Forex

The euro slipped below 1.05 against the U.S. dollar on Friday, as concerns mounted for European importers that EUR/USD could reached parity sooner than expected.

In U.S. afternoon trading, the euro fell 1.32% or 0.014 to 1.0497 to reach a 12-year low. The euro dropped steadily from session-highs of 1.0636 in European trading to cap a volatile week for the currency.

The euro has depreciated more than 10% against its U.S. counterpart for the year and nearly 40% since August. More than a third of the yearly decline has occurred over the last week, as investors geared up for the start of the European Central Bank's €60 billion a month quantitative easing program, which began on Monday.

In quantitative easing, policy makers purchase securities with the newly printed currencies to raise the money supply in the wider system. Monetary easing programs, such as the ones previously undertaken by central banks in the U.S. and Japan following the 2008 Financial Crisis, are intended to drive up the market price of bonds. When bond prices increase, yields decrease lowering the rates for mortgages and other loans.

One week into the initiative, the bond buying program appears on its way of accomplishing its intended effect. Yields on 10-year government bonds are down across the board in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. On Friday, however, theGerman 10-Year bunds edged up 4.03% to 0.01, after reaching record-lows last week.

Questions, though, remain on whether the European Central Bank can attract enough buyers to snatch up the sovereign debt. Over the first three days of quantitative easing, the ECB made €10.3 billion in bond purchases, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, Norway's oil fund announced on Friday that it will sell $860 million in European bonds from its portfolio to invest in real estate.

The U.S. dollar continued its upward path against its major global competitors. TheU.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, cracked the historic 100 barrier underscoring the strength of the dollar. By late-afternoon, the index peaked at 100.37 to reach a level not seen since 2003.

Currency traders now await next week's critical Federal Open Market Committee meetings when the U.S. Federal Reserve could provide indications on how shortly it might raise interest rates. If the Fed decides to remove a reference to "remaining patient," in its minutes, it typically indicates that interest rates could be raised at either of its next two meetings. After next week's meeting, the FOMC will meet in June and September.

Additional gains in the dollar were softened on Friday by weaker than expected U.S. economic data. The U.S. Labor Department said in a monthly report that producer prices in February declined by 0.5%, following a drop of nearly 1% a month earlier.

Elsewhere, the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index fell sharply to 91.2 in March from a 95.4 level last month. The index was expected to rise slightly to 95.5.

CTFC Commitment of Traders

Speculators turned more bearish on the euro, British pound, Japanese yen and the Australian dollar this week. The S&P 500 also saw an increase an increase in bearishness, while bullish sentiment weakened for gold and silver

cot.2015.mar.11

Gold

Gold prices edged forward on Friday, as the euro resumed its slide and weaker than expected U.S. data curbed investor expectations of short-term economic growth.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery inched up 1.40 or 0.12% to 1,153.20 a troy ounce. Gold futures fell steadily in U.S. afternoon trading after peaking at 1,1680.80 hours earlier on a lightly traded session.

After dipping more than $30 last Friday to erase all of its yearly gains for 2015, gold futures still remain above its 52-week low of $1,142.47 reached in mid-November.

On Friday morning, gold futures moved modestly higher after a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor indicated that producer prices for the month of February declined by 0.5%. Previously, economists had forecasted an uptick of 0.3% following a drop of nearly 1% a month earlier.

Elsewhere, the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index fell sharply to 91.2 in March from a 95.4 level last month. The index was expected to rise slightly to 95.5.

The U.S. dollar, meanwhile, continued its path forward reaching a level not seen in nearly 12 years. The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, cracked the historic 100 barrier underscoring the strength of the dollar. The index reached 100.28 in U.S. morning trading before falling slightly back hours later.

Dollar-denominated commodities such as gold become more appealing to holders of the domestic currency when it appreciates.

Metal traders await next week's critical Federal Open Market Committee meetings when the Fed could provide on indications on how shortly it might raise interest rates. If the Fed decides to remove a reference to "remaining patient," in its minutes, it typically indicates that the U.S. central bank is ready to raise interest rates at either of its next two meetings. After next week's meeting, the FOMC will meet in June and September.

In China, the Shanghai SE Composite Index gained 23.59 or 0.7 to 3,372.91 on a down day for equities markets worldwide. China is the world's second-largest purchaser of the precious metal behind India.

Silver futures, meanwhile, for May delivery were down 0.021 or 0.14% to trade at 15.495 a troy ounce.

Copper delivery for May rose 0.005 or 0.18% to $2.663 a pound.

Elsewhere, Platinum for April delivery rose 0.50 to 1,115.40, after falling to its lowest level since July, 2009 earlier in the week.

Oil

Oil futures plunged on Friday below $45 a barrel, after the International Energy Agency painted a bleak picture on the short-term price outlook of crude.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, deliveries for WTI Crude dropped 4.40% or 2.10 to $44.95 a barrel, as prices for Texas light sweet dive toward yearly lows. Prices for crude futures plummeted from a high of $47.28 during late Asian trading.

WTI crude is approaching a yearly-low of $44.45 a barrel from late-January.

On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), April deliveries for brent crude fell 3.70% or 2.13 to $55.15. At Friday's close, the spread between international and U.S. benchmarks moved above $10 a barrel - up from an 8.7 level at the start of the week.

U.S. supply levels demonstrate few signs of retreating from record-highs, according to the IEA. Nationwide, crude oil inventories have reached 448.9 million barrels - the most in more than 80 years.

"It continues to defy expectations," the IEA said in its monthly report.

The agency also revised upward its forecast of annual demand to 93.5 million barrels per day, up by 100,000 from previous estimates.

Reports from oil services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) that weekly rig counts had tumbled to its lowest level in four years had little impact on WTI prices. The number of oil and gas rigs for the week ending Mar. 6 fell by 67 to 1,125, down by nearly 600 rigs from last year at this time. For the week that ended Feb. 27 oil and gas rigs in the U.S. declined by 75 to 1,192. A week earlier, the rig count dropped by 43 to 1,267.

Despite the dwindling levels, domestic production continues to hover near record-highs of 9.0 million per day, according to Baker Hughes. Earlier this week, the EIA revised its annual production level to 9.35 million barrels a day.

As prices tumbled on Friday, Opec issued a bulleting blaming the United States' reliance on shale oil production for the continual declines. Still, it is expected that shale oil production in the U.S. could reach the lowest in four years by April.

Meanwhile, the rapidly appreciating U.S. dollar moved higher on Friday, placing additional pressure on crude oil. The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, cracked the historic 100 barrier for the first time in more than 11 and a half years. The index reached 100.37 in U.S. afternoon trading, as EUR/USA fell toward 1.05.

Natural Gas (Thursday Report)

Natural gas futures held on to gains on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. natural gas supplies fell more than expected last week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in April edged up 0.9 cents, or 0.34%, to trade at $2.834 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours. Prices were at around $2.845 prior to the release of the supply data.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.662 per million British thermal units, the low from March 11, and resistance at $2.870, the high from March 6.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended March 6 fell by 198 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 191 billion.

Supplies fell by 189 billion the same time last year, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 116 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.512 trillion cubic feet. Stocks were 483 billion cubic feet higher than last year at this time and 225 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 1.737 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

A day earlier, natural gas for delivery in April jumped 9.2 cents, or 3.37%, to settle at $2.824 amid expectations this week's storage data will show a significant gas withdrawal.

Despite recent gains prices are likely to remain vulnerable in the near-term as the coldest part of the winter has effectively passed and below-normal temperatures in March mean less than they do in January and February.

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









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