Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 1st 2015 Contents February proved to be a
strong month for US
stocks, even though it
ended in downbeat fash-
ion.Major stock indexes
closed lower on Friday,
capping a week of subdued
trading that still delivered
a couple of new highs for the Dow Jones indus-
trial average and Standard & Poor s 500 index.
It also brought the Nasdaq composite within
striking distance of its March 2000 high.
The Nasdaq notched the biggest monthly
gain at 7.1 percent. But the S&P 500 s 5.5 per
cent performance marked its best monthly
increase since October 2011, and a turnaround
from its 3.1 per cent slide in January. The Dow
rose 5.6 per cent for the month.
Trading was listless for much of Friday as
investors balanced encouraging reports on
housing and consumer confidence against data
showing that the US economy grew at a slower
annual rate in the final months of 2014 than
previously estimated. Oil rose, recouping some
of its losses from a day earlier. Technology
stocks were among the biggest decliners.
"Many people are trying to figure out what
to do, taking some profits when they can. We
saw that over the past couple of days with
tech stocks," said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade s
chief strategist. "It s a wait-and-see attitude."
The Dow ended down 81.72 points, or 0.5
per cent, to 18,132.70. That s down 0.5 per
cent from its most-recent high of 18,224.57
The S&P 500 slid 6.24 points, or 0.3 per
cent, to 2,104.50. The index is down 0.5 from
a high of 2,115.48 on Tuesday.
The Nasdaq fell 24.36 points, or 0.5 per
cent, to 4,963.53. The index has been inching
closer to crossing the 5,000-point mark, some-
thing it hasn t done since March 2000 at the
height of the dot-com era. It s now within 86
points of that peak.
The three main US stock indexes are all up
for the year.
The current bull market, now in its sixth
year, has been powered by strong corporate
earnings growth and low interest rates, which
make stocks more attractive relative to bonds.
Strong job growth and improving consumer
confidence have also encouraged traders,
despite signs of sluggishness in Europe and
Some of that confidence appeared shaken
on Friday, when the Commerce Department
reported that the US economy grew at an
annual rate of 2.2 per cent in the October-
December quarter, weaker than the 2.6 per
cent estimate last month.
The latest growth projection represents a
major slowdown from the previous quarter, which produced the strongest growth in 11
Other economic bellwethers were more
upbeat: An index of pending home sales, an
indicator of potentially completed sales, rose
in January and the December figure was revised
higher to show a smaller decline. Separately,
the University of Michigan s index of consumer
sentiment slipped this month. It remains at
the highest level in eight years.
"The market does not have a clear catalyst
to either cause it to sell off or to surge forward,
and we re getting a little expensive from a val-
uation perspective," said David Heidel, regional
investment director at US Bank Wealth Man-
Investors should get a better sense of the
economy and consumers willingness to spend
next week, when automakers report their Feb-
ruary sales figures and the government issues
its monthly update on hiring.
All told, eight of the 10 sectors in the S&P
500 ended lower, with technology stocks
notching the biggest decline. The sector is up
4.2 per cent this year. Consumer staples rose
the most. Those stocks are up 2.9 per cent
Several energy companies were among the
biggest decliners in the S&P 500.
Southwestern Energy fell US$1.27, or 4.8
per cent, to $25.08, while NRG Energy lost 79
cents, or 3.2 per cent, to US$23.98. Chesapeake
Energy slid 52 cents, or 3 per cent, to $16.68.
Benchmark US crude rose $1.59 to US$49.76
a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude rose US$2.53 to US$62.58 a barrel
US oil prices appeared to stabilise in February
around the US$50 a barrel mark. That s made
a key variable of business more predictable
for investors, Kinahan said.
"That s really the kind of thing that gives
stability to the stock market," Kinahan said.
US government bond prices rose. The yield
on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.99
per cent from 2.03 per cent late Thursday.
In metals trading, gold edged up $3 to
$1,213.10 an ounce, silver fell seven cents to
$16.51 an ounce and copper was flat at US$2.72
In other energy futures trading:
• Wholesale gasoline rose 6 cents to $1.768
• Heating oil jumped 16.3 cents to $2.30 a
• Natural gas rose 3.7 cents to $2.734 per
1,000 cubic feet
MARCH 1 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
STOCKS | SBG9
US stocks slip after
End best month since 2011
London s stock market hit a fresh record intraday
high Friday, rounding off a successful week thanks
to a deal on Greece s bailout and positive company
The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 3.07 points or
0.04 percent lower at 6,946.66 points, having hit a new
best ever level of 6,967.24 points in late trade.
"Many are convinced that markets have still further to go
especially as the tensions in Eastern Ukraine appear to be
easing a bit and Greece s loan extension has been secured,"
said Markus Huber, senior analyst at brokers Peregrine and
Parliament in Germany on Friday overwhelmingly backed
a four-month extension of Greece s bailout programme by
Shares in British Airways owner IAG led the FTSE gainers,
jumping 3.66 percent to 580 pence after it reported surging
annual profits thanks to sliding fuel prices and a turnaround
at its Spanish carrier Iberia.
"IAG is leaving other airlines in its slipstream after con-
fidently upping 2015 targets; its solid run comes in the wake
of problems for other European flag carriers," said Lewis
Sturdy, dealer at London Capital Group
"The stock is up around 80 percent since last summer,
a stunning run, and momentum is in its favour."
Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.64 per cent to 79 pence after
the state-rescued lender posted its first annual profit since
a 2008 bailout by the British government, edging it closer
to a return to full private ownership.
Other gainers included Primark clothing chain owner AB
Foods, up 2.49 per cent at 3,125 pence, and testing and cer-
tification specialist Intertel, up 2.43 per cent at 2,530 pence.
Commercial property firm Intu Properties suffered the
most, plunging 5.10 per cent to 353.50 pence after its full
year results disappointed investors.
Britain s other state-rescued banking group, Royal Bank
of Scotland, sank 5.02 per cent to 367.20 pence as it revealed
that German prosecutors are investigating the Switzerland-
based private banking arm of RBS s Coutts unit for allegedly
helping clients avoid tax.
Coutts, one of the world s oldest banks that lists Queen
Elizabeth II among its clients, comes under the spotlight
after Swiss prosecutors began an investigation of British bank
HSBC following similar allegations.
On the currency markets, the pound strengthened slightly
to US$1.5438 at 5.26 pm from US$1.5413 on Thursday evening
and to 1.3785 euros from 1.3757 euros the night before. Reuters
Specialist Vincent Surace, left, directs trades in Salesforce Inc on the floor of the New York
Stock Exchange on Thursday, February 26, 2015. AP
London shares close flat after hitting new intraday high
Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic stock board of a securities
firm in Tokyo Friday, February 27, 2015. Asian stocks were
lackluster Friday after US markets drifted lower and Japan reported
faster growth in factory output but weaker retail sales. (AP)
How the Dow Jones
industrial average fared
The Dow Jones industrial average fell
81.72 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 18,132.70.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid
6.24 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,104.50.
The Nasdaq composite lost 24.36 points,
or 0.5 per cent, to 4,963.53.
For the week:
The Dow is down 7.74 points, or 0.04 per
The S&P 500 index is down 5.80 points,
or 0.3 per cent.
The Nasdaq has gained 7.56 points, or
0.2 per cent.
For the year:
The Dow is up 309.63 points, or 1.7 per
The S&P 500 index is up 45.60 points, or
2.2 per cent.
The Nasdaq is up 227.47 points, or 4.8
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