Most U.S. stocks rose, erasing an earlier slump, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s plan to delegate authority to his vice president spurred optimism the nation’s political crisis will not threaten the global economy.
Whole Foods Market Inc. surged 12 percent as the natural- goods grocer raised its annual forecasts. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. rose 14 percent as the biggest U.S. tiremaker reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. Cisco Systems Inc. and Akamai Technologies Inc. slumped at least 14 percent after reporting forecasts that trailed analysts’ estimates.
About 10 stocks rose for every nine that fell on U.S. exchanges. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.1 percent to 1,321.87 at 4 p.m. in New York, reversing an earlier slide of as much as 0.7 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 10.60 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,229.29, erasing most of an earlier 83-point slump, and still snapping an eight-day rally.
“The stock market likes stability,” said Mark Bronzo, who helps manage over $25 billion at Irvington, New York-based Security Global Investors. “If Mubarak is willing to talk about a transition, it will ease the unrest that is taking place in Egypt. The market is very resilient. We had some earnings misses, but that doesn’t change the very positive picture.”
The S&P 500 has risen as much as 96 percent from its 12- year low in 2009 as better-than-forecast economic data and company earnings boosted confidence in the economic recovery. About 74 percent of the 339 companies in the S&P 500 that reported results since Jan. 10 have topped analysts’ per-share profit predictions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Stocks reversed declines after Egyptian President Mubarak said in a televised speech that he decided to delegate his responsibilities to Vice President Omar Suleiman. Egypt will need help restarting its economy once the nation’s political situation begins to stabilize, according to Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive officer at Pacific Investment Management Co.
“The one thing I worry about is a certain amount of capital outflow, especially when the stock market is reopened,” El-Erian, who’s also co-chief investment officer, said in a telephone interview on “Surveillance Midday” with Tom Keene. The Egyptian stock market has been shut since Jan. 27 as protesters rallied in Cairo to demand Mubarak’s resignation.
Stocks also pared declines when Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh resigned after five years at the central bank. Warsh was one of Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s closest financial-crisis advisers before becoming the only governor to question the expansion of record monetary stimulus in November.
Earlier today, U.S. equities fell after China lifted borrowing costs this week for the third time in four months and the Bank of Korea is forecast to raise rates tomorrow. Treasuries slid as initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest since July 2008. First-time applications for jobless benefits dropped by 36,000 to 383,000, less than the 410,000 projected by economists in a Bloomberg survey.
Whole Foods soared 12 percent to $60.05. The largest U.S. natural-goods grocer raised its annual forecasts, buoyed by freer-spending consumers prepared to pay for healthy food. Earnings will be as much as $1.80 a share in 2011. That compared with a previous target of as much as $1.71. The grocer also raised its sales growth forecasts for the year, citing increasing consumer confidence.
Goodyear gained 14 percent to $14.30. The tiremaker said that, excluding some items, it earned 7 cents a share in the fourth quarter. Analysts, on average, estimated a loss of 7 cents, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Cisco tumbled 14 percent to $18.92. The company’s gross margin, the percentage of profit left after subtracting production costs, slid to 62.4 percent in the period that ended Jan. 29. That missed the 63.3 percent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Cisco forecast profit excluding some items this quarter of 35 cents to 38 cents a share, falling short of the 40-cent average analyst prediction.
Akamai declined 15 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $40.75. First-quarter sales will be $265 million to $275 million, Chief Financial Officer J.D. Sherman said yesterday on a conference call. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey had predicted sales of $283.8 million on average.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. slumped 2 percent to $55.59 after its stock rating was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” at UBS AG. The 12-month share-price estimate is $60.
“We’re not in a long-term flight-to-quality trend, but higher quality has been leading,” said Charles Bobrinskoy, vice chairman at Chicago-based Ariel Investments LLC, which oversees about $5.5 billion. “We have disappointing earnings out of Cisco. There’s weakness in the fixed-income markets on concern about inflation. The U.S. economy has been better than what many people thought,” he said. “Still, there’s turmoil abroad.”
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