Stocks are flat on Wall Street; Amazon surges - Yahoo Finance Stocks are flat on Wall Street; Amazon surges - Yahoo Finance

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stocks are flat on Wall Street; Amazon surges - Yahoo Finance

Stocks are flat on Wall Street; Amazon surges - Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are trading flat in the first half-hour of trading Friday as investors weigh big corporate profit gains against disappointing economic news.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 16 points at 13,222 at 10 a.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 edged up one point to 1,401. The Nasdaq composite rose two points to 3,053.

Amazon surged 16 percent after the online retailer reported a big increase in shipments. Merck & Co. was flat after reporting first-quarter profit jumped 67 percent on higher sales of asthma and diabetes drugs.

The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew at annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year. Economists had expected it to grow 2.5 percent, according to a survey by FactSet, a financial data provider.

In Europe, gains were subdued after S&P downgraded Spain's debt for the second time this year. Spain also reported another increase in its unemployment rate.

The yield on Spain's benchmark 10-year bond rose 0.07 points to 5.86 percent.

Germany's DAX rose 2.5 percent, France's CAC-40 1.5 percent.

Procter & Gamble fell 3 percent after the consumer products giant reported a 16 percent profit slump for the first three months of the year on higher costs for raw materials and restructuring charges.

U.S. stocks struggle as Europe fears loom -

There are just some gadgets from '80s movies that as soon as they showed up on the screen, everybody wanted them. Don't deny it, you know you did too.

Defensive stocks are on a tear - Benzinga

by Michael Tarsala, CMT

Yowza, market participants are risk averse!

Defensive names are dominating the short list of stocks that are still holding up just fine right now.

Using a mix of screeners including one at and, I looked for stocks that still had this going for them:

  • Positive price momentum
  • Still trading above their 50-day moving averages
  • Market caps of $5 billion and above

I pumped out a list of 66 U.S.-listed stocks, a very small number out of a potential list of 980 (7%).

From that short list, 94% (61 out of the 65) were defensive plays or from defensive groups. Lots of utilities were on the list, as well as consumer staples, biotech and pharma stocks, REITS and some tobacco plays.

For reference, I dumped the short list of tickers at the bottom of this post.

Out of the four non-defensive stocks still on the list, three were alcohol-related, which I consider a quasi-defensive industry group. People tend to drink in good times and bad. When the going gets tough, they'll switch to beer, wine or the cheap stuff. So it was no surprise to see Anheuser-Busch/InBev (BUD) on the list. Yet Beam Inc. (BEAM) and Brown-Forman (BF-B) also were there, as they continue to benefit from a long-term shift toward booze drinking relative to beer and wine.

Polaris Industries (PII) is one of two non-defensive stocks out of the initial screen of 980. Hooray for quads and snowmobiles (which otherwise wouldn't mix with booze). The other is Transdigm (TDG), maker of aircraft components.

This defensive posture is not likely to turn on a time. Yet for me, finding only two decent-sized risk-on stocks that are still chugging along is a contrarian signal. It may be a reason for investors with a long-term horizon to start doing more homework in the risk-on sectors.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • The McClellan Oscillator (one I depend on) is at -63; readings below 0 are oversold, and I find readings below -100 to be VERY oversold.
  • Read the latest from Liz Ann Sonders today, on why this pullback might not be as bad as 2010 and 2011.
  • More near-term market downside is possible, although it may be time to start looking in the scary places for value.

List of 66:


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Stocks open higher on Wall Street, Amazon surges - Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, following gains in Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 20 points at 13,224 shortly after the opening bell. The Standard & Poor's 500 edged up two points to 1,401. The Nasdaq composite rose three points to 3,053.

Amazon stock surged 16 percent after the online retailer reported a big gain in shipments.

Procter & Gamble fell 3 percent after the consumer products giant reported a 16 percent profit slump for the first three months of the year on higher costs for raw materials and restructuring charges.

In Europe, gains were subdued after S&P downgraded Spain's debt for the second time this year. Spain also reported another increase in its unemployment rate. Germany's DAX rose 1 percent, France's CAC-40 1.3 percent.

Latin American Stocks on a Tear - Smart Money

China's economy, and whether it's slowing down or even crashing, is the dominant topic in many investing circles these days. Indeed, the worries about the world's No. 2 economy are overshadowing the fast-growing economies -- and stock prices -- in Latin America. The good news, some money managers say, is that investors can, with a little bit of selective stock picking, still take advantage of the growth in Chile, Brazil and other nations.

Latin American stocks, which compose about 20 percent of the emerging-market economies by market value, have been surging lately. Since the beginning of the year, the MSCI Emerging Markets Latin America index is up 10.5 percent, compared with 4.1 percent for Chinese stocks. Brazil's economy is expected to grow 3.6 percent this year, Chile's 4.7 percent and Peru's 5.6 percent. But it would be a mistake, pros say, to rely on many of the Latin American commodity firms -- oil producers, copper miners and the like -- whose stock prices have soared over the past decade. Much of their products wind up fueling China. If China's growth does indeed slow down, those commodity firms would quickly feel the effects. Instead, these pros say, aim for stocks of firms that target the burgeoning Latin American middle class.

Money-management firm T. Rowe Price has been shifting away from materials stocks to consumer firms, such as telecom company America Movil (AMOV) , which is based in Mexico but does extensive business throughout Latin America. The firm also is bullish on Brazilian department store chain Lojas Renner, which stands to benefit as more Brazilians enter the workforce and get wealthier. "It's like J.C. Penney 30 years ago," says Todd Henry, a vice president at T. Rowe Price.

While Latin American stocks aren't necessarily dirt cheap, Josh Stewart, comanager of the $117 million Wasatch World Innovators fund, says there are still bargains to be had. Among his favorites: Arcos Dorados (ARCO), which owns the franchise rights to McDonald's throughout much of Latin America (the firm's name is Spanish for Golden Arches). It trades for 23 times its estimated 2012 earnings; that isn't particularly cheap, but Stewart is focused on a different ratio: Arcos operates about 1,800 restaurants -- that's roughly one McDonald's for every 330,000 Latin Americans. Considering there's one Mickey D's outlet for every 22,000 Americans, Arcos may have many more Happy Meal moments to come.

US stocks waver; euro dives on Greece turmoil - US News and World Report

By DANIEL WAGNER, Associated Press

Europe's latest political impasse cast a gloom over financial markets Tuesday. The euro plunged, and the Dow Jones industrial average extended a slide that has wiped out nearly 5 percent of its value in two weeks.

The biggest action of the day came shortly before U.S. markets opened, when a Greek party leader announced the talks to build a coalition government had failed. The euro and major European stock markets turned sharply lower and stayed there the rest of the day.

Newly elected political leaders in Greece disagree about whether to accept more international bailouts and continue with painful spending cuts. If Greece exits the euro currency, it could rattle financial markets around the world.

In the U.S., stocks opened mixed and then staged a weak, mid-morning rally after word that confidence among U.S. builders rose to a five-year high in May. Homebuilders gained: Hovnanian Enterprises surged 10 percent, Lennar Corp. 3 percent and PulteGroup Inc. 2 percent.

The Dow and other stock indexes meandered between gains and losses for much of the day, then turned decisively lower in the last hour of trading.

The Dow wound up with a loss of 63.35 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 12,632. Losses by most of its components were offset by a big gain for JPMorgan Chase. The nation's biggest bank rose 1.3 percent, recovering some of the losses it has sustained since revealing a $2 billion trading loss last week.

The Dow has lost 647 points, or 4.9 percent, since May 1, when it hit a four-year high of 13,279.32. In that time it has fallen every day but one. The Dow is on track for its first monthly decline since September, when it fell 6 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished down 7.69 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,330.66. The Nasdaq composite index fell 8.82, or 0.3 percent, to 2,893.76.

The euro fell as low as $1.2720, a four-month low against the dollar, after Greek socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos declared that attempts to form a governing coalition there had failed and new elections will be held next month.

Aside from fears about Europe, stocks are suffering because a string of weaker economic data has dimmed hopes for corporate profits in the current quarter ending June 30, said John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet, a financial data provider.

For the first month of the quarter, as earnings came in strong and stocks rose, analysts' expectations for second-quarter earnings growth held steady at 6 percent, Butters said. In the two weeks since, as the U.S. economy appeared to soften and Europe's problems reemerged, he said, analysts cut their estimates for S&P 500 earnings growth to 5 percent.

Analysts expect earnings to decline this quarter for half of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, Butters said. He said many expect a strong rebound in the fourth quarter as demand returns in emerging markets like China and India.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— Home Depot slumped 2.4 percent after the world's biggest home-improvement company forecast revenue that was below what Wall Street analysts were expecting.

— TJX Cos., which owns the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods store chains, shot up 6.9 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index. The discount retailer reported a 58 percent surge in first-quarter income and raised its full-year profit forecast.

— Avon Products Inc. fell 9.7 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index, after perfume marketer Coty Inc. canceled its unsolicited, $10.7 billion bid for the cosmetics retailer.

— Groupon rose 3.7 percent after the online daily discount site reported first-quarter revenue that exceeded analysts' expectations.


Daniel Wagner can be reached at

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Stocks sag on report GM is pulling Facebook ads - MSN Money
Charley BlaineUpdated: 5:29 p.m. ET

Stocks fell back in afternoon trading as crude oil (-CL) dropped below $94 a barrel for the first time since December and dragged energy prices lower. Worries grew about a possible financial collapse in Greece.

Meanwhile, Facebook's initial public offering took a blow today when The Wall Street Journal said General Motors (GM) plans to stop advertising on the social-networking site, saying the company's marketing executives determined their paid ads had little impact on consumers.

Facebook's big selling point is that its huge user base represents a powerful tool for advertisers to reach customers. But GM, which has been spending $10 million a year with Facebook, found that the ads had little effect, the Journal said. What was working was the $30 million that GM is spending creating pages on Facebook.

Facebook is to price its initial public offering Thursday, with trading set to start on Friday. Late Tuesday, it had boosted the price range for the IPO to $34 to $38 a share, implying the company could go public with a market capitalization of better than $104 billion. The original range was $28 to $35 a share.

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) closed down 63 points to 12,632. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was off 8 points to 1,331. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) fell 9 points to 2,894, while the Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) was off 10 points to 2,581.

Apple (AAPL), down $5.05 to $553.17, subtracted more than 6 points from the Nasdaq-100.

J.C. Penney shares battered by worse-than-expected results
In after-hours trading today, J.C. Penney (JCP) shares were down 10.6% to $29.80 after the department-store operator suspended its dividend and cut its guidance for the year.

The company lost 25 cents a share in the first fiscal quarter after one-time charges. That was 15 cents more than expected. Revenue of $3.15 billion was down 20% from a year ago and missed Street estimates by $300 million.

The company no longer expects to meet its 2012-13 goal of earnings of $1.59 a share using generally accepted accounting. It affirmed its non-GAAP guidance of$2.16 a share.

Rivals Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) report results on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Macy's (M), another rival, was up 33 cents to $37.01.

Market slump accelerates after Facebook news
The market was slowing anyway when the Journal published its Facebook story online, sending out promotions for it just before 3:15 p.m. ET. The slide accelerated until the Dow was off as many as 82 points. Technology shares, which had been higher for much of the day, fell even more.

Zynga (ZNGA) shares did manage to rise 61 cents to $8.56.

Driving the pre-Facebook slide was the decline in energy shares as well as investor worries about Europe and Greece and whether growth is stalling in the United States.

A bank run and new elections in Greece
Greek worries surged as President Karolos Papoulia was forced to say he would call for new elections, probably in mid-June. There was more -- and louder -- talk that Greece might leave the eurozone. Greek stocks tumbled. So did European stocks overall.

As important, he noted in a news conference that Greeks are pulling money out of their banks today. His estimate was 700 million euros, or $890 million by 4 p.m. in Athens, 9 a.m. ET.

JPMorgan shares rise
Shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) faded with the market but ended up 45 cents for the day at $36.24 as Wall Street concluded -- at least for today -- that JPMorgan's big $2 billion trading loss was going to be contained. The shares had peaked at $37.27 around 12:30 p.m. ET.

CEO Jamie Dimon told shareholders at the company's annual meeting (which lasted maybe an hour) that the company's dividend would remain at $1.20 per share.

Retail and homebuilding shares were higher, however. TJX Companies (TJX), the parent of TJ Maxx, was up $2.75 to $42.45 and the top-performing S&P 500 stock after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results.

Homebuilders Lennar (LEN) and D.R. Horton (DHI) were the third- and fifth-best S&P 500 performers after a new survey showed builder confidence reaching the highest level since 2007.

European growth isn't so bad
Until Greek President Papoulia said he would call for new elections, the market had been cheered by a report showing Germany's economy growing decently, with French economic growth flat.

Germany's economy expanded by 1.7% in the first quarter over a year ago. Economists had been expecting growth of 0.1% from the fourth quarter and 0.8% year over year.

Economic growth in the eurozone overall was flat, according to a report today, while economists had expected a 0.2% decline.

But that didn't help stocks in Europe. Germany's Xetra Dax Index ($DE:DAX) dropped 51 points to 6,401. France's CAC-40 Index ($FR:PX1) dropped 19 points to 3,029. Shares of Credit Agricole (CRARY), one of France's three largest banks, dropped 16 cents to $1.90 in New York. Deutsche Bank (DB) was off $1.07 to $37.08.

Home Depot shares slip despite boosting guidance
Home Depot (HD) shares were off $1.21 to $48.67 after falling to as low as $47.23. The home-improvement retailer said warm weather helped boost fiscal-first-quarter profits, and it boosted full-year guidance. Home Depot earned $1.04 billion, or 68 cents a share, up from 50 cents a share a year ago and ahead of analysts' expectations for 65 cents a share. The stock was hit when sales of $17.81 billion fell short of the $17.96 billion analysts anticipated.

Avon Products (AVP) shares slumped $2.02 to $18.71. Rival Coty withdrew is $10.7 billion takeover bid late Monday. Coty said Avon had taken too long to respond to its offer. "Two months is enough," Coty chairman Bart Becht said in a letter to Avon's board.

Groupon (GRPN) shares were up 44 cents to $12.17 after reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings after Monday's close. The shares had been as high as $14.92 Groupon earned 2 cents a share on revenue of $559.3 million. Analysts had forecast a profit of a penny a share on revenue of $530.6 million. The company expects second-quarter revenue to be between $550 million and $590 million. Analysts have been looking for revenue of $558.7 million. Groupon shares are up 33% since Friday.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) jumped $2.81 to $50.05 after rising to as high as $51.65. The largest publicly traded U.S. athletics store boosted its full-year sales forecast.

Dollar's rise knocks oil, gold lower
Europe's woes drove the euro lower against the dollar, and the U.S. dollar index hit 81.33, up from 80.75 on Monday. The euro was trading at $1.2729 today, its lowest level since mid-January.

Crude oil (-CL) settled down 80 cents to $93.98 a barrel, its lowest settlement since Dec. 16. Brent crude was up 23 cents to $111.80 a barrel.

The national retail price of regular unleaded gasoline was unchanged at $3.727 a gallon, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. It was the first time in 12 days that the average did not fall. The price had fallen 27 times in 28 days and is 5.3% from its peak in early April.

Gold (-GC) settled down $3.90 to $1,557.10 an ounce. Silver (-SI) dropped 27.3 cents to $28.08 an ounce. Copper (-HG) was off 3.65 cents to $3.5175 a pound.

Interest rates were basically flat, although the 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 1.779% from 1.788% on Monday.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



Month chg.

YTD chg.
Treasury yields

13-week Treasury bill

0.0900%     0.090%

0.00%     800.00%
5-year Treasury note 

0.733%     0.721%

-9.62%     -11.69%
10-year Treasury note

1.777%     1.788%

-7.21%     -5.02%
30-year Treasury bond

2.931%     2.949%

-5.73%     1.45%

U.S. Dollar Index

81.38     80.748     3.21%     1.07%
British pound

1.6000     1.6103     -1.49%     2.98%
(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in pounds

£0.625     £0.621     1.51%     -2.89%
Euro in dollars

$1.27     $1.28     -3.91%     -1.76%
(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in euros

€ 0.786     € 0.779     4.07%     1.79%
U.S. $ in yen 

80.39     79.86     0.48%      4.26%
U.S. $ in Chinese

6.34     6.32     0.61%     0.22%

Canada dollar

$0.994     $0.997     -1.95%     1.28%
(in U.S. $)

U.S. dollar 

$1.007     $1.003     1.98%     -1.27%
(in Canadian $)





Gold (-GC)




(per troy ounce)

Copper (-HG)




(per pound)

Silver (-SI)




(per troy ounce)

Wheat (-ZW)




(per bushel)

Corn (-ZC)




(per bushel)





(per pound)





(per pound)

Crude oil (-CL)




(per barrel)


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