Amazon shares touch life high after revenue beats estimates]]> |||
New York - The Nasdaq Composite extended its gains in early afternoon trading on Friday, hitting a 15-year intraday high, propelled by strong results from tech behemoths Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
The S&P 500 also hit a record intraday high for the second session in a row.
A majority of the ten S&P sectors rose, with the consumer discretionary index gaining 1.4 percent on the back of Amazon. The online retailer hit a lifetime high after its revenue beat estimates.
Google gained 3.6 percent to $577.64 after reporting higher quarterly revenue and profit and Microsoft added 9.4 percent to $47.42 after it topped Wall Street estimates.
The S&P hit a high of 2,120.92. The Nasdaq rose to 5,100.371, the highest since touching a record of 5,132.52 in March 2000.
“The difference today contrasting with back then is, you have a lot of mature companies like Microsoft, EMC and Intel that can be looked at as almost blue chip companies that pay relatively high dividends,” said James Abate, chief investment officer of Centre Funds in New York, comparing the fresh Nasdaq highs with those in 2000, right before the Internet bubble burst.
“The froth really is in social media companies and when you compare it back then, the froth was pretty much everywhere.”
At 1:03 p.m. EDT (1703 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 30.25 points, or 0.17 percent, at 18,088.94, the S&P 500 was up 6.04 points, or 0.29 percent, at 2,118.97 and the Nasdaq Composite was higher 38.50 points, or 0.76 percent, at 5,094.56.
Xerox slumped as much as 14 percent to a 52-week low of $11.32 after it cut its 2015 profit forecast, adding to a growing list of companies that have blamed a strong U.S. currency for weakened results or forecasts.
Comcast abandoned its proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable after U.S. regulators said the deal would give Comcast an unfair advantage in the Internet-based services market. Time Warner rose 3.7 percent to $154.41 while Comcast was up 0.8 percent at $57.73.
Mylan's shares rose 2.8 percent to $75.78 after the generic drugmaker said it would commence a formal offer to buy Perrigo. Perrigo was down 3 percent to $195.50 after it rejected the offer for the second time in a week.
Aerie Pharmaceuticals dived 60.6 percent to $13.96 after the company's lead experimental drug failed to show that it was superior to commonly prescribed eye-drops.
Biogen shares fell 5.8 percent to $405.10 after sales of its key oral multiple sclerosis drug fell on a sequential basis in the first quarter for the first time since its launch in 2013.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,491 to 1,433, for a 1.04-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,452 issues fell and 1,197 advanced for a 1.21-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 16 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 84 new highs and 16 new lows.
Gold looked set for a third successive weekly loss as strength in global equities pegged prices in a narrow range.]]> |||
London - Gold dipped on Friday and looked set for a third successive weekly loss as strength in global equities, which offset a falling dollar, and uncertainty over the timing of a US rate rise pegged prices in a narrow range.
World stocks hit all-time highs on Friday as positive corporate updates in Europe and a post-dotcom-boom peak for the US Nasdaq stoked investor optimism.
Spot gold was down 0.3 percent at $1,190.55 an ounce at 09h40 GMT, while US gold futures for June delivery were down $4.30 an ounce at $1,190.00.
Spot prices are down nearly 1 percent this week, their biggest weekly loss in seven weeks.
“The news this week in general has been gold-friendly - weaker dollar, weaker US data and Middle East tensions,” Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said. “But it has failed to ignite, leaving the metal rangebound for now.”
“The stock market remains well behaved, and while that continues, the demand is just not strong enough.”
Strength in stocks balanced a drop in the dollar, with the euro hitting two-week highs against the US unit after upbeat German business sentiment data and as fears for a Greek default eased.
Weak data on US jobless claims, manufacturing and home sales have hurt the dollar this week, but boosted uncertainty over whether the Federal Reserve will conduct its first US rate rise in nearly a decade in June or September.
Attention is turning to the Fed's policy meeting next week for stronger clues on when the US central bank will start increasing rates. That would raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar.
“Should the (Fed) prove hawkish, we may expect gold to fall swiftly and embark on a new downtrend to $1,145,” said Howie Lee, an analyst at Phillip Futures.
Traders were also eyeing the Asian physical markets for signs of increased demand that would support global prices.
In China, the second-biggest consumer, premiums fell to about $1 an ounce over the spot from about $2 in the previous day, while in top consumer India, demand is set to taper out after strong sales during Tuesday's Akshaya Tritiya festival.
Silver was down 0.5 percent at $15.79 an ounce, while platinum was down 0.1 percent at $1,131 an ounce and palladium was up 0.4 percent at $770.45 an ounce.
Britain’s main share index edged higher on Friday, supported by gains in heavyweight bank HSBC.]]> |||
London - Britain's main share index edged higher on Friday, supported by gains in heavyweight bank HSBC after it said it is considering moving its headquarters out of Britain for regulatory reasons.
Shares in the London-based global bank rose 2.7 percent after it said its board had asked management to look at where is the best place to be based in light of new UK regulations, citing in particular the requirement to ringfence retail operations.
“There's a lot of uncertainty and operating costs to establishing a ringfence,” Mike Trippitt, an analyst at Numis Securities, said. “The review is a step in the right direction.”
The stock added 12 points to the FTSE 100, which was up 26.73 points, or 0.4 percent, at 7,080.40 points at 08h32 GMT. The index was up 1.3 percent since the start of the week.
BAE Systems rose 2.1 percent after Europe's biggest defence contractor said it had started an assessment of its US-based manpower and services businesses in its Intelligence and Security divisions, which it said have generated a number of enquiries and external interest.
On the downside, AstraZeneca fell 2.6 percent after reporting a 6 percent drop in first-quarter sales, hit by the launch of generic copies of its popular stomach acid pill Nexium in the vital US market and by the strong dollar.
Mid-cap Acacia Mining PLC rose 4.6 percent as analysts at Credit Suisse initiated the stock with an “outperform” rating even after the company reported an 18 percent fall in its first-quarter core profit.
“New management's improving track record and strong focus on mine development give us confidence on project delivery,” Credit Suisse analysts said in a note.
“We see scope for self-help to drive a re-rating (35 percent upside potential) on a six to 12-month view.
Barclays analysts said that Acacia's weak results were primarily due to temporary issues in some mines and saw “no cause for alarm” as they reiterated their “overweight” rating.
Sterling joined the global push against the greenback on Friday.]]> |||
London - Sterling rose to a five-week high against the dollar on Friday, joining a global push against the greenback and exposing the running assumption that uncertainty ahead of the UK general election is a mounting risk for the pound.
Hedge funds were said to be among those buying sterling, which was on track for a 1 percent rise on the week and its biggest two-week gain against the dollar since the immediate aftermath of Britain's last general election five years ago.
In early trading on Friday sterling was 0.6 percent higher at $1.5140, its highest since March 18. Last week, it was trading at a five-year low of $1.4580.
“Pre-election volatility is coming down. There's not that much supporting evidence to suggest that sterling is significantly undervalued,” said Josh O'Byrne, G10 currency strategist at Citi.
Several banks have published research recently suggesting a risk premium is built into sterling because the May 7 election is almost certain to deliver a hung parliament, leading to a potentially unstable coalition government.
“We are having trouble finding it,” O'Byrne said, adding that, if anything, sterling is on the strong side.
The pound was flat against the euro, however, with the common currency hitting a two-week high and on track for its fifth weekly rise in six against the dollar.
The euro was steady at 71.95 pence, down slightly on the week, its third weekly fall in a row.
British economic data this week was mixed. Retail sales fell unexpectedly in March, but minutes from the Bank of England's last policy meeting showed the central bank saw a chance that inflation could rebound faster than expected.
Traders' focus next week will be firmly fixed on the election campaign. One potential twist could come from the announcement from HSBC, Europe's largest bank, that it is reviewing whether to move its headquarters out of Britain following regulatory and structural changes in the industry.
The main economic data releases will be the first reading of first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) on Monday, and the first glimpses into manufacturing and service sector activity in April with Friday's purchasing manager index reports.
European stocks rose in early deals on Friday, boosted by encouraging earnings reports.]]> |||
London - European shares rose in early deals on Friday, boosted by encouraging earnings reports, with investors also cautiously optimistic over the prospects of a deal over Greece's debt crisis.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.4 percent at 1,627.90 by 08h19 GMT, reversing most of the previous session's drop and 1.7 percent off a 2015 peak hit last week, which was its highest since 2000.
Top riser was Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux, up 6.6 percent after reporting a smaller-than-expected fall in first-quarter earnings.
Renault rose 4.3 percent after it said first-quarter revenue rose 13.7 percent, as Europe's auto-market upturn more than made up for collapsing Russian sales and a prolonged emerging-market slump.
Spain's Banco Sabadell rose 4.8 percent after reporting a 75 percent jump in first quarter net profit, beating expectations. Its shares have more than doubled in value since the depths of the euro zone crisis in 2012.
Of the 16 percent of STOXX 600 companies to have reported first quarter results so far, 61 percent have beaten or met expectations, Thomson Reuters StarMine data showed.
Thomson Reuters data shows first quarter earnings are expected to grow 2.8 percent from the first quarter of last year.
“Now we have an economy which is starting to gather pace... that should start to filter through into earnings,” James Butterfill, global equity strategist at Coutts, said.
“Lending is picking up, as is consumer confidence, all of which points to an economic recovery in Europe.”
German business morale rose to its highest level in almost a year in April, a leading survey showed on Friday, in a sign that Europe's largest economy has started the second quarter on a strong footing.
There was also optimism regarding Greece's prospects, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had a “constructive” meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The Athens ATG index was up 3.1 percent, with banks up 8 percent.
HSBC Holdings, Europe's biggest bank, added the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300, rising 2.6 percent after it said it has started a review of whether to move its headquarters out of Britain following regulatory and structural changes in the industry.
Capping gains, Germany's RWE and Munich Re went ex-dividend, falling 5.2 percent and 4.3 percent respectively after trading without entitlement to their latest dividend payouts on Friday.
Hong Kong’s main share index ended firmer on Friday, bolstered by hopes of more capital inflows from mainland investors.]]> |||
Hong Kong - Hong Kong's main share index ended firmer on Friday, bolstered by hopes of more capital inflows from mainland investors.
The Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent, to 28,060.98, bringing this week's gain to 1.5 percent. The China Enterprises Index reversed early losses and gained 0.1 percent, to 14,488.99 points.
Zhao Yang, fund manager of Bosera Asset Management Company, which is launching a mutual fund to invest in the city's markets, said he expected inflows from Chinese mutual funds and insurers to continue, and the valuation gap between Hong Kong and China-listed stocks to narrow further.
His view was echoed by brokerage China Investment Securities, who wrote on Friday: “In the short term, Hong Kong stocks are vulnerable to the mood in mainland markets. But with money flowing in and the Hong Kong dollar holding strong, the market is still in an upward trend.”
Among the most actively traded stocks on Hong Kong's main board were CCT Land, unchanged at HK$0.02 Ping Shan Tea, up 4.4 percent to HK$0.07 and China LNG Group, up 16.1 percent to HK$2.24.
Total trading volume of companies included in the HSI index was 2.5 billion shares.
The rand was flat against the dollar early on Friday, consolidating its recovery from Thursday's one-month low.]]> |||
Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was flat against the dollar early on Friday, consolidating its recovery from Thursday's one-month low, but it could come under pressure ahead of wage negotiations in the gold mining sector.
At 06h41 GMT the local unit was trading at 12.1475 against the dollar, broadly in line with its 12.1550 New York close.
Sources in the National Union of Mineworkers told Reuters on Thursday the union was set to demand a 75-percent wage hike for workers in the gold sector next week, suggesting protracted negotiations and possible industrial action in the mines.
“The rand is looking frail even after having clawed back some of yesterday's extraordinary losses,” John Cairns of Rand Merchant Bank said in a market note.
US durable goods data due later in the session could provide direction for the dollar. Traders were also waiting for a meeting of eurozone finance ministers and central bankers to discuss the Greek debt crisis and an economic reform plan.
South African government bonds were stronger, with the yield on the 2026 benchmark down 2.5 basis points to 8.060 percent.
An index of Asian shares rose on Friday, on track for a weekly gain as a fresh record for the Nasdaq helped nudge it toward seven-year highs.]]> |||
Tokyo - An index of Asian shares rose on Friday, on track for a weekly gain as a fresh record for the Nasdaq helped nudge it toward seven-year highs, while the dollar marched in place after more lacklustre US economic data.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.3 percent, moving back toward a seven-year intraday high touched in the previous session. Japan's Nikkei stock index was down 0.3 percent in early trade, after hitting a 15-year peak on Thursday.
On Wall Street overnight the Nasdaq pushed above a record set in March 2000, the height of the dot.com boom.
But US economic data contrasted with the shining share market performance. A larger-than-expected 11.4 percent drop in new home sales in March, together with disappointing global factory data, rekindled doubts about whether the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year and gave investors an excuse to reduce long positions in the dollar.
“Clearly the market is pushing back expectations of a Fed hike,” Mitul Kotecha, head of FX strategy, Asia-Pacific for Barclays in Singapore, said on a visit to Tokyo this week. “It's certainly something that clients are nervous about.”
While a June increase in US interest rates looks unlikely, he said the US Federal Reserve is still poised to hike later this year depending on economic data.
“Any weakness in the dollar's ascent will be temporary, with strengthening likely toward the year-end,” he said.
The dollar was steady on the day at 119.59 yen, below its overnight high of 120.10 yen.
Against the euro, it bought $1.0810, as the common currency got a lift off its overnight low of $1.0666 from signs that Greece was making progress in securing fresh funds.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday everything must be done to prevent Greece running out of money before it reaches a cash-for-reform deal with its international creditors.
Oil prices drifted off the overnight highs that were logged after Saudi Arabia and its allies continued bombing missions in Yemen that raised concerns about the security of Middle East oil supplies.
Brent crude touched a high of $65.58 on Thursday, its highest since December, was last down 0.3 percent on the day at $64.65 a barrel. U.S. crude was down about 0.5 percent at $57.47.
The dollar eased against the yen on Friday after weak data muddied the waters over the timing of a US interest rate hike.]]> |||
Tokyo - The dollar eased against the yen on Friday after weak data muddied the waters over the timing of a US interest rate hike, while the euro struggled on concerns about cash-strapped Greece.
In Tokyo, the greenback edged down to 119.51 yen from 119.55 yen in New York and is well below the 120.10 yen touched earlier Thursday.
The euro was trading in narrow range after it strengthened ahead of a eurozone finance ministers meeting as Greece seeks to strike a deal with its international creditors to avert a default.
The single currency bought $1.0810 and 129.19 yen, down from $1.0823 and 129.39 yen in US trade.
The Federal Reserve has ruled out raising interest rates when it meets next week, but policymakers have left the door open to a move in June, largely depending on the state of the world's top economy.
Official data on Thursday showed fresh claims for US unemployment insurance benefits edged up marginally, while sales of new homes plunged in March after a sharp rise in February.
“Since the Fed is data-dependent, markets will react positively to good news and negatively to bad,” said Kazuo Shirai, a US-based trader at MUFG Union Bank.
“While there seems to be a weak tone for the dollar recently, it can spike up suddenly, making people inclined to be sidelined until a clear trend is set,” he told Bloomberg News.
Offering up a measure of support for the euro, a poll on Thursday showed consumer confidence in Germany - Europe's biggest economy - was at its highest since late 2001, as low inflation buoys households' income expectations. However, although there were signs of concern about the constant tug-of-war over Greece.
With Greek government coffers rapidly emptying, analysts warn Athens may have only weeks left before defaulting and possibly exiting the eurozone unless it reaches a deal with its creditors to unlock 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout loans.
A Eurogroup finance ministers meeting will discuss the Greece issue in Latvia's capital Riga later in the day.
Oil prices slipped on profit-taking in Asia on Friday following sharp gains in the previous session.]]> |||
Tokyo - Oil prices slipped on profit-taking in Asia on Friday following sharp gains in the previous session as ongoing unrest in the Middle East fuels worries about supplies from the crude-rich region, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell 26 cents to $57.48 while Brent eased 26 cents to $64.59 in late-morning trade.
On Thursday WTI gained $1.58 and Brent advanced $2.12.
“It seems to be profit-taking at the moment for oil after gains due to supply-side and geopolitical catalysts,” Nicholas Teo, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told AFP.
“Rumblings from Saudi Arabia about Yemen have influenced prices in the past few days,” he added.
Saudi-led warplanes launched more deadly strikes in Yemen Thursday despite a demand by Iran-backed rebels for a complete halt to the raids as a condition for UN-sponsored peace talks.
The new wave of strikes killed at least 23 rebels as the World Health Organisation said the overall death toll from fighting since late March topped 1 000.
Yemen is not a major oil-producing country, but its coast forms one side of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the key strategic entry point into the Red Sea through which 4.7 million barrels of oil passes each day on ships headed to or from the Suez Canal.
Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said oil prices will also likely see further gains following signs that US crude production is easing.
The US Department of Energy said Wednesday US production slipped by 18 000 barrels a day in the week to April 17, following a 20 000 barrel drop in the previous week.
Total crude reserves in the top crude consumer however stand at record levels, adding 5.3 million barrels in the same period.
Dealers are hoping a slowdown in US shale output could alleviate a global crude oversupply, which led to a collapse in prices of more than 50 percent between June and January.
“Although inventories obviously show bearishness, production has stopped increasing, which is an event we have been waiting for” since prices hit their low, Ang said.