What’s the Story?

by CC March 20, 2012 9:12 am • Commentary


Stocks and commodities declined after China raised fuel prices by the most in two years and BHP Billiton Ltd. said the nation’s steel production is slowing. Treasuries advanced for the first time in 10 days.

The MSCI All-Country World Index fell 0.6 percent at 12:35 p.m. in London, retreating for the first time in four days, and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures slipped 0.5 percent. The S&P GSCI commodities gauge declined 1 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury (USGG10YR) dropped three basis points to 2.35 percent and the dollar gained against all but one of its most-traded peers.

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer and steelmaker, is raising fuel prices for the second time in less than six weeks. The nation’s vehicle sales may miss industry forecasts this year as economic growth slows, an official from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. U.S. housing starts fell in February from a three-year high, the Commerce Department said today.


Housing starts fell in February, but permits for future construction jumped to their highest level since October 2008, according to a government report on Tuesday that showed steady improvement in the housing market.

The Commerce Department said housing starts slipped 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 units. January’s starts were revised up to a 706,000-unit pace from a previously reported 699,000 unit rate.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts little changed at a 700,000-unit rate. Compared to February last year, residential construction was up 34.7 percent, the biggest year-on-year rise since April 2010.

New building permits surged 5.1 percent to a 717,000-unit pace last month, far exceeding economists’ expectations for an advance to a 690,000-unit pace from January’s 682,000-unit rate.


Stocks to Watch

Among the stocks that could see active trade in Tuesday’s session are DSW, Tiffany and Jefferies Group

DSW is slated to report its fiscal fourth quarter earnings before the start of trading. It expected to earn 49 cents a share on revenue of $508.7 million according to analysts. Same-store sales are looking to rise 4.1%.

Also up in the morning is Tiffany; the luxury retailer should earn $1.42 a share on revenue of $1.19 billion with same-store sales tracking 3.9% higher.

Jefferies Group, posting its fiscal first quarter numbers, will record a profit of 28 cents a share with revenue of $692.4 million, if Wall Street’s best guess is on the mark.

Late Monday, shares of Adobe Systems  slid more than 6% after the company reported that its earnings fell by 21% in the fiscal first quarter, although it did meet Wall Street forecasts.

And Apple, which rose 3% in the regular session was not slowing down in after-hours. Shares added another 3% to hover around $604 after the company said it sold more than 3 million of its new iPads over the weekend.


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