Stocks Slip, But Quarter Ends Up

|
 |  Includes: CVX, DIA, GNW, HON, MTG, PMIR, QQQ, RDN, SPY
by: Midnight Trader

4:24 PM, Mar 31, 2010 --

  • NYSE down 12.98 (0.2%) to 7,447.82.
  • DJIA down 51 (0.5%) to 10,856.
  • S&P 500 down 3 (0.3%) to 1,169.43.
  • Nasdaq down 12 (0.5%) to 2,397.96.


GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Hang Seng down 0.6%
  • Nikkei down 0.06%
  • FTSE down 0.21%


UPSIDE MOVERS


(+) MCRS gets analyst price target hike.

(+) UL raised to Buy at BofA/Merrill.

(+) OXGN gets new favorable analyst coverage.

(+) IRE gets government package details.

(+) LIWA results easily top year-ago quarter.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS


(-) DG gains after earnings, guidance beat.

(-) RIMM shifting between narrow gain and loss after weekly gains, ahead of earnings; does get analyst upgrade this morning.

(-) F prices warrants.

(-) APWR misses with revenue, guides for revenue miss.

(-) RAD narrows loss.

MARKET DIRECTION

Economic data proved sobering early Wednesday, sending stock averages that were already probably over-extended lower for the session. But the decline barely registered a blip at the conclusion of a strong quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 4.1% in Q1; the S&P 500 was up 4.9%; the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 5.7%.

Among the day's data, the Chicago purchasing managers index fell to 58.8% from 62.6% in February. Economists had been anticipating a retreat but this was a bigger decline than expected. A similar report for the New York City region mirrored the trend.

Business activity in New York City fell in March from February, hitting a level that was last seen in August. The Institute for Supply Management's New York's seasonally adjusted index of current business conditions fell to 60.6 in March from a revised 78.1 in February. The Institute's broader national survey for March will be released tomorrow..

In yet another report, U.S. mortgage applications rose in the latest week for the first time in three weeks as demand for home purchase loans reached the highest level since October. The housing market remains weak in the face of rising foreclosures.

Mortgage insurers PMI (PMI), MGIC Investment (NYSE:MTG), Genworth (NYSE:GNW) and Radian (NYSE:RDN) are higher after a trade group, Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, said borrowers who caught up on their overdue mortgages outnumbered those who became newly delinquent on insured home loans. It was the first role reversal in almost four years, Bloomberg reports.

Earlier, the ADP jobs report showed U.S. private employers shed 23,000 jobs this month, missing expectations for a gain of 40,000 jobs.

ADP, an employment services firm, said private employers cut a net 23,000 jobs in March in contrast to economists, who are looking for employers to add 40,000 jobs, according to a Thomson Reuters poll. The Labor Department will report more definitively on jobs Friday. In the past there have been wide variations between the two employment reports. Economists expect the Labor Department's report to show the economy adding 190,000 jobs in March. The market will be closed, Friday, however, for the Good Friday holiday.

Crude oil futures closed atop $83 a barrel, logging a more than 5% gain in March.

Gasoline inventories increased by 300,000 barrels; analysts had expected a decline. Distillates inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels, also in line with expectations.

Oil prices and a favorable legal ruling pushed Chevron (NYSE:CVX) higher and helped to limit the Dow's decline. Honeywell (NYSE:HON) was also a gainer after raising its Q1 profit outlook.