Stocks, Commodities Rise; Yen Falls to Lowest Since ’09
U.S. stocks advanced on speculation quarterly earnings would help equities rebound from their biggest weekly decline of the year. The yen weakened to the lowest since 2009 after the Bank of Japan (8301)’s stimulus efforts.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.6 percent to 1,563.07 at 4 p.m. in New York, reversing an earlier drop of 0.3 percent. Japan’s currency sank 1.8 percent to 99.34 per dollar, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average jumped to a 4 1/2-year high. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.2 percent. The S&P GSCI gauge of 24 commodities jumped 0.6 percent as oil, copper and wheat rose. South Korea’s won slid to the weakest level in eight months.
Alcoa kicked off the U.S. first-quarter earnings season after the close of regular trading. Income at S&P 500 companies probably fell 1.8 percent in the first three months of the year, the first year-over-year drop since 2009, analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show. Industrial production in Germany rebounded in February, the Economy Ministry said today.
Today’s reversal “continued a pattern, which has shown for quite some time now, which is any weakness is met with buying at some point of the day,” James Gaul, a portfolio manager at Boston Advisors LLC, which oversees about $2.5 billion in assets, said in a telephone interview. “There are people who are afraid of missing out on further rallies.”
Alcoa, the first Dow member to publish results each quarter, jumped 1.8 percent to $8.39 in regular trading. After the market close, the largest U.S. aluminum producer reported first-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts’ estimates as demand from U.S. automakers increased. Sales declined to $5.83 billion from $6.01 billion, missing the $5.88 billion average of 11 estimates. Alcoa (AA) shares slid 1.2 percent as of 4:41 p.m. in New York.
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. surged 13 percent today as China expedited the approval of its anti-influenza drug Peramivir. Lufkin Industries Inc., a maker of oil-well pumps, jumped 38 percent as General Electric Co. agreed to buy the company. Johnson & Johnson declined 1.1 percent after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut the stock’s rating.
The S&P 500 fell 1 percent last week, the biggest weekly decline of the year, as U.S. payrolls had the smallest gain in nine months in March while other reports showed manufacturing and services industries expanded less than forecast. The index climbed to an all-time high of 1,570.25 on April 2.
“Earnings clearly are going to be the driver for a lot of volatility in the next couple of weeks,” Omar Aguilar, the San Francisco-based chief investment officer of equities at Charles Schwab Investment Management said in a telephone interview. The firm had $219.3 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31. “The consensus is that we’re going to have a pretty diverse and poor earnings season. I think we’ll probably see a lot of surprises on the positive side, which is good.”
The S&P GSCI climbed for the first time in seven days. Wheat jumped 1.9 percent after China said it purchased almost 1 million metric tons of U.S. grain. China bought the soft red winter wheat last week, state-owned researcher Grain.gov.cn said in an e-mailed report today, without saying where it got the information.
West Texas Intermediate rose 0.7 percent after the biggest weekly drop in six months as militants and government forces clashed in Nigeria and talks between Iran and world powers failed to make progress. Natural gas tumbled 1 percent, reversing an earlier rally of as much as 1.3 percent, amid forecasts of warmer weather in the eastern U.S. that would limit demand for the heating fuel.
Gold futures declined for the fourth time in five sessions, slipping 0.2 percent, as the dollar’s advance reduced the appeal of the metal as an alternative investment. Copper rose the most in more than two weeks as miners prepared to strike in Chile, the world’s biggest producer.
The yen weakened 1.8 percent to 99.34 per dollar. The currency depreciated against all of its 16 major peers. BOJ officials said last week they will boost monthly bond purchases to 7.5 trillion yen ($80 billion), exceeding the 5.2 trillion yen forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
The yen has slumped 22 percent in the past six months, the worst performance of 10 developed market currencies tracked by the Bloomberg Correlation Weighted Indexes.
The cost of insuring against losses on Portugal’s sovereign debt with credit-default swaps increased 31 basis points to 428, the highest since Jan. 2. The PSI-20 Index of stocks fell 1.4 percent as Banco Espirito Santo SA and Banco Comercial Portugues SA declined in Lisbon trading.
The country’s Constitutional Court blocked a plan to suspend some payments to state workers and pensioners, leaving the government needing to find more spending cuts to meet the terms of the country’s international bailout.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose three basis points to 1.74 percent.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) fell 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex Index tumbled 2.4 percent, the most in 10 months, as China reported more infections from a deadly bird influenza and trading resumed after four-day weekend. South Korea’s Kospi sank 0.4 percent and the won slid 0.8 percent as the risk of conflict with North Korea spurred capital outflows.
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