Friday, April 29, 2011

Britannia Rules Airwaves,Earnings Rule Market

If you notice that you're starting to speak with a slightly British accent,it isn't surprising,given the royal wedding mania that has swept through the televised world.And why shouldn't it have,given the tough row most people have to hoe?A diversion like that is a welcome relief for the average person.It's an extra holiday.
For its part,the market was living out its own fairy story this week,as corporate earnings continued to please,for the most part.When good earnings are rolling in,economic reality such as poor housing figures and persistently high unemployment may be shoved aside for a while.
Analysts caution,however,that gains in the second half of the year could slow down quite a bit as companies find it increasingly difficult to post the type of results that characterized the last few years.
For the week,however,the Dow was up 2.44,while the S&P rose 1.95 and the NASDAQ 1.89.The Dow and S&P closed at their highest since 2008,and the NASDAQ hasn't been this elevated since the year 2000.
Next week,the earnings parade goes on as General Motors,Pfizer,Kraft Foods and AIG share their results for Q1.The Institute for Supply Management will release its April purchasing manager surveys,and the unemployment report will close out the week.
Stock futures were largely positive Friday evening,with the S&P futures up 4.80,the Dow futures adding 48.00 and the NASDAQ retreating a little,down 1.00.
Winter isn't retreating in some areas.Blizzard warnings are up for the Northern Plains.As much as nine inches of snow are expected in northern North Dakota and adjacent areas.
Kraft Foods(KFT),General Motors(GM),Pfizer(PFE),American International Group(AIG)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jerusalem Full of Pilgrims

Pilgrims of every persuasion are gathered in Jerusalem this weekend.Not only is it Easter at the same time this year for both Eastern and Western Christians;it is Passover as well.Often,the Eastern Orthodox have Easter a week or two later than the Roman Catholics and Protestants.
The walled Old City is hosting them all,and so far,all is well for them under the trained glances of the security forces.Merchants,vendors and hoteliers are doing a brisk trade catering to the needs of the throngs.
There were Christians of many nationalities carrying crosses of various styles on the cobblestone Via Dolorosa on Good Friday,retracing the last footsteps of Christ before His crucifixion,pausing at each station of the cross.It started to rain and the umbrellas came out,but the processions to the historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre went on,and Christians were deeply affected as they practiced their faith where it was actually founded,considering themselves blessed to be there at Easter.
The financial markets had a shortened week in observance of Good Friday,and logged continued gains in the event.The Dow rose 1.3 for the week,and the S&P charted a 1.3 gain as well,but the NASDAQ climbed up 2.0.The Reuters/Jefferies Commodity Research Bureau index gained 1.50.Looking to Monday,the S&P futures were up 2.70 Thursday evening,and bond futures were also higher.
Earnings reports from heavyweights such as Exxon Mobil,Procter&Gamble,PepsiCo and Microsoft may influence traders next week,as may the new home sales report.
Exxon Mobil(XOM),Procter&Gamble(PG),PepsiCo(PEP),Microsoft(MSFT)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Massive Storm Heads East,Wind Shapes Valero Texas Open

A vast storm ravaged the lower 48 the past few days from north to south,killing 10 in Arkansas,Oklahoma and Alabama with tornadoes.In the Northern Plains,it brought blizzard conditions,but by the time it hits the Mid-Atlantic Saturday,it will simply be a rainy,windy day.
At the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio,the wind gusted to 25 mph,keeping scores high.There were only a handful of birdies on Friday as the stiff breeze twisted judgement.Seven players were tied for first at the end of the 2nd round at three under par,all Americans except for Australian Geoff Ogilve,who has seven career victories.
The stock market was less stormy,with modest losses caused by earnings disappointments from the likes of Google,Bank of America and Alcoa.For the week,the Dow lost 0.31,while the S&P dropped 0.64 and the NASDAQ slipped 0.25.Next week will be dominated by a cascade of earnings reports,with one fifth of the S&P 500 reporting.Sharing their Q1 results will be Citigroup,IBM,Intel,General Electric and McDonald's,among others.
The S&P futures were up strongly Friday evening,rising 8.50 on good consumer confidence and industrial production news.
Google(GOOG),Citigroup(C),International Business Machines(IBM),Intel(INTC),General Electric(GE),McDonald's(MCD)
Update:There have been nearly 100 reports of tornadoes in Oklahoma alone,and 120 in Alabama.The death toll form the wild weather has risen to at least 17.The chance of tornadic conditions is reportedly about 40% for Virginia on Saturday,and about 70% for North Carolina.
April reports of severe weather have been nearly double the average number this year.
In the Northern Plains,12" of snow has fallen.The severe weather threat may extend as far north as Washington,D.C.,and flooding may occur farther north than that.On the back side of the storm,wind speeds of up to 60 mph could be reached.
Update 2:By late Saturday,many areas were quieting down as the great spring storm pulled northwards.Tornado watches had been posted earlier as far north as Adams and York Counties in Pennsylvania,and there were at least 30 high water rescues,as well as flooded basements,from Mechanicsburg to Harrisburg in the Keystone State.In many cases,motorists ignored high water signs and drove right into the potentially deadly ponding,necessitating rescues by firefighters.
Scores improved at the Valero Texas Open on Saturday as the wind died down in the Texas hill country,with American Brendan Steele topping the field with a 3rd round seven under par 68.Defending champion Adam Scott of Australia was tied for 5th with two other Americans,having shot a four under par 70.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tiger's Good Round,Western Weather

Tiger Woods is showing consistency at The Masters,a tradition-steeped tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.Woods played intently on Friday,finishing with a strong 2nd round seven under par 66.He was tied for 3rd place with South Korean K.J. Choi.Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy was dominant at -10,while Australian Jason Day tied a tournament record for the lowest 2nd round score for a first-timer at Augusta,shooting an eight under 64.Also of note,Fred Couples,51,is in contention with his 2nd round five under 68.
Weather conditions will be hot and humid for the remainder of the tournament.To the west,storms are taking many forms,from apple-sized hail in Butler County,Kansas to a heavy snow forecast in Flagstaff,Arizona.There may be wind gusts up to 75 mph in the Southern Plains,and a 50,000 acre brush fire raged in North Texas.
Stocks did not rage this week,with the S&P down slightly for the week,pressured by soaring oil prices.Gold closed at a record high 1474.10 an ounce Friday.The S&P futures were down a modest 4.70 Friday evening,and bond interest rate futures also dropped.Shaping trading next week will be the start of earnings season as Alcoa reports on Monday,JP Morgan Chase on Wednesday,Google on Thursday and Bank of America on Friday.
Alcoa(AA),JP Morgan Chase(JPM),Google(GOOG),Bank of America(BAC)
Update:Rory McIlroy continues to decisively top the leader board with a four stroke lead heading into Sunday's final round.Tiger Woods and Fred Couples are still in contention,along with Jason Day and former Masters champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina.Phil Mickelson is a mathematical long shot for his fourth green jacket at the tournament.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stocks,Employment Post Modest Gains-plus Mickelson's momentum

For the week,stocks posted modest gains,with the Dow gaining 1.28,the S&P 1.42 and the NASDAQ 1.70.The first quarter has closed and Q2 has begun with risk assets still in the leading role for portfolio managers.The week ahead promises more of the same,with the S&P futures up 6.70.Bond futures rose in price also.
The employment picture improved as expected,with the unemployment rate falling slightly to 8.8% in March.Since 2009,it has declined from 10.1%.The slow recovery continues.
Unsettled spring conditions prevailed in the Mid-Atlantic region this week,and the next promises a repeat with more spotty showers in the forecast.
It was sunny at the Houston Shell Open Friday,where American Chris Kirk topped the leader board with a second round 69 for a -9.Fellow Americans Anthony Kim and Johnson Wagner shared 2nd with -9s,while Irishman Padraig Harrington was 4th,also shooting a 2nd round 69.
Update:On Saturday,Phil Mickelson,40,showed flashes of his old brilliance,seizing a share of the lead with his friend Scott Verplank,and tying the course record with a 13 under 63 at that,as he builds to his title defence at The Masters next week,the first of the year's majors.Mickelson surged from being five strokes off the lead on Friday.Chris Kirk fell to third place,sharing it with Australian Aaron Baddeley.