Tag Archives: GSPC

Stock Futures Point Higher Ahead of Numerous Earnings Reports

By IBTimes

new york stock exchange floor traders economic earnings reports profits economy

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock futures point to a higher open Wednesday, ahead of the publication of new home sales data and quarterly earnings statements from major American companies, including Facebook, Ford, PepsiCo, Qualcomm, Visa and Boeing.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) were up 0.2 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.3 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.9 percent.

Investors are expected to focus on new home sales data for June, to be released by the Commerce Department, at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Analysts expect new home sales — the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month — may probably increase to 485,000 in June from 476,000 in the previous month.

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New home sales had recorded a better-than-expected gain in May, helped by a pick-up in demand, while existing home sales data for June, which was released Monday, showed a decline. Analysts attributed the fall to a recent hike in mortgage interest rates and believe new home sales could still increase in June.

“With the NAHB current sales index still rising strongly, we have penciled in an increase in new sales from 476,000 in May to 485,000,” Paul Diggle, an economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.

On the earnings front, a number of major companies, including Caterpillar (CAT), Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), EMC Corp. (EMC), US Airways Group, (LCC), Ford (F), PepsiCo (PEP) and Boeing (BA), will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Visa (V), Western Digital (WDC), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Facebook (FB) are to announce their earnings after markets close Wednesday.

Markit Economics’ flash Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI, for the manufacturing sector in the month of July, is scheduled to be released at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index, which measures the activity level of purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector, is expected to show a reading of 52.5 in July, up from the 51.9 recorded in June. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

European markets were trading higher Wednesday, as investor sentiments were buoyed after flash PMIs for the euro zone’s manufacturing and services sectors beat expectations. The 17-nation eurozone’s manufacturing PMI for July came in at 50.1 compared to 48.8 in the previous month. The services PMI registered a reading of 49.6 compared to 48.3 in June.

Germany’s manufacturing PMI came in at 50.3 in July, up from 48.6 in June while the nation’s services PMI was at 52.5 in July, up from 50.4 in June. Meanwhile, in neighboring France, while the …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Stock Futures Point to a Higher Open on Wall Street

By IBTimes

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday, ahead of the publication of the House Price Index and corporate earnings statements from tech majors Apple, AT&T and Electronic Arts.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average(^DJI) were up 0.3 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.1 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.3 percent.

Investors will also be turning their attention to the publication of the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index provides the monthly average change in house prices across the country or a certain area, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The index is expected to nudge up to 0.8 percent in May, from 0.7 percent recorded in the previous month.

In addition, a number of major companies, including United Parcel Service (UPS), Altria Group (MO), Lockheed Martin (LMT), MGIC Investment (MTG), Wendy’s (WEN) will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Altera (ALTR) and Broadcom (BRCM), along with Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T) and Electronic Arts (EA), will announce their earnings after markets close.

European markets were trading flat after climbing higher earlier Tuesday, as Asian markets rallied following recent reports from China indicating Beijing might take measures to support the country’s economic growth, and the Japanese government upgraded its outlook of the country’s economy for a third consecutive month.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.1 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was flat, Germany’s DAX-30 was up 0.1 percent and France’s CAC-40 was trading up 0.05 percent.

In Asia, Chinese stocks led a rally in the region’s markets, with the Shanghai Composite index surging 2 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared 2.3 percent. Shares jumped after several local media reported that Premier Li Keqiang, at a cabinet meeting last week, gave an assurance that the government won’t allow China’s economic growth to fall below 7 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.8 percent after the government said that the recovery in the world’s third-largest economy had turned self-sustaining, MarketWatch reported. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index rallied 1.3 percent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.8 percent in late-afternoon trade.


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How Did Stocks Really Perform Since Oct. 2007?

By Alex Dumortier, CFA, The Motley Fool

^GSPC Chart

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We’re over the hump! It’s the last trading day of the first quarter, and stocks went out on a high note, with the S&P 500 gaining 0.4%, finally achieving a new all-time (nominal) high. Setting the new high was no walk in the park. On top of the fact that it has taken nearly five-and-half years to get here, the market appeared to be extremely reluctant to push the index into uncharted territory — it closed within 1% of the Oct. 2007 high 12 times this month, which suggests the level was psychologically important.

The narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average also finished up 0.4%. Meanwhile, option traders cheered the market‘s advance by pushing the VIX Index , Wall Street‘s “fear gauge,” down 3.4%, to close at 12.70. (The VIX is calculated from S&P 500 option prices, and reflects investor expectations for stock market volatility over the coming 30 days.)

Two graphs to understand today’s new high
With the S&P 500 making a new high today, we know that the index return is basically a donut over the nearly five-and-half year period beginning Oct. 9, 2007 through today. But there’s more to it than that:

^GSPC data by YCharts

The chart shows that, when one includes reinvested dividends (orange line), the S&P 500’s return over this period rises to 13.2%. Not a great result over that length of period, by any means, but it’s certainly an improvement. That’s the good news — but here comes the hammer: Inflation (red line) eats away virtually that entire income return. All in, we’re more or less back at a flat return.

Here’s another angle worth pondering: Although the S&P 500 is often used as a proxy for the broad market, it’s essentially a large-cap index. A much better measure of broad equity market performance is the Wilshire 5000 Index, which contains over 5,000 equities. Here’s how it stacks up:

Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index data by YCharts

The Wilshire 5000 (blue line) beats the S&P 500 (orange line) by nearly three percentage points over this period. To see why, consider the performance of the Wilshire 4500 Completion Index (red line), which is constructed from the Wilshire 5000 minus the stocks in the S&P 500 — it smashed the S&P 500 by 12 percentage points. This indicates that mid- and small-cap stocks have outperformed large-cap stocks since Oct. 2007.

Will today’s milestone usher in a new leg in the rally that began in March 2009? That’s impossible to predict, but the market has got the monkey of the old high off its back, which is another sign that investors’ risk aversion continues to normalize, albeit at a glacial pace.

If you’re sick of flat returns, and ready to invest in stocks based on competitive advantage and long-term value creation, The Motley Fool’s chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for this …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Investors Still Like Bonds, Even as Stock Market Surges

By The Associated Press

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Richard Drew/AP

By MARK JEWELL and MATTHEW CRAFT

Market pros call it the Great Rotation. That’s the long-awaited scenario when investors take their money out of bonds and sink it into stocks.

It was the buzzword this month when the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) reached a record high. The idea was that investors were confident enough in the economy to shed their financial crisis fears and leave the safety of bonds.

But it’s not happening.

Money keeps flowing into bonds. Industry consultant Strategic Insight says U.S. bond mutual funds have attracted $64 billion in cash in the first two months of the year, just below last year’s pace of $68 billion over the same period.

Stock mutual funds had net deposits of $76 billion through February, according to the consultancy. While that is up sharply from $14 billion a year earlier, the cash for stocks is not coming at the expense of bonds, according to more recent snapshots of investment flows.

Instead, investors are withdrawing from money-market funds, which are often used as a parking spot for cash, according to EPFR Global.

“The expectations of a big exodus from bonds are way overblown,” says David Santschi, CEO of TrimTabs Investment Research, a fund-tracking firm.

A stock market crash and recession have made bonds especially appealing since 2008, when the nation was in the throes of the financial crisis. The abundance of buyers has pushed bond prices up and sent yields lower, reducing interest payments to investors.

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Even with low yields, bonds will continue to attract retiring baby boomers and others who want reliable income for daily expenses. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note — a benchmark — is hovering under 2 percent. Other types offer higher yields. Investment-grade corporate bonds yield 3 percent and riskier “junk” bonds yield just under 6 percent.

Money-market funds, meanwhile, yield 0.02 percent.

Still, the Dow’s record surge is drawing more attention to stocks.

The blue-chip index broke through its all-time high March 5 and kept climbing. It’s up nearly 11 percent this year and 122 percent from its bottom in March 2009. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) is up 9 percent and is close to breaking its own record.

Investors added $8 billion to U.S. stock funds and exchange-traded funds in February. And they’re putting in more cash this month, as $12 billion flowed into stock funds and ETFs through Tuesday, according to EPFR Global.

Bond funds, including ETFs, have pulled in nearly $8 billion this month.

Much of the money flowing into stocks and bonds has come out of money-market funds. About $32 billion has been pulled out of money funds this month, according to EPFR Global.

Withdrawals that didn’t …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Algeria terror leader preferred money to death

Moktar Belmoktar is known abroad as the man who orchestrated the abduction of scores of foreigners last week at a BP-operated plant in the remote, eastern corner of Algeria, in a raid that led to many of their deaths.

In the Sahara at least up until this week he was, ironically, known as the more pragmatic and less brutal of the commanders of an increasingly successful offshoot of al-Qaida. The question now is has he evolved into an international terrorist every bit as violent his rivals, or did the Algeria operation go very differently than he intended?

Belmoktar, a 41-year-old Algerian known in Pentagon circles as “MBM,” just split off from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, to start his own franchise.

Over the past decade, AQIM has kidnapped dozens of foreigners, including diplomats, aid workers, field doctors and tourists. Although Belmoktar‘s hostages are forced to endure months of privation and live with the constant threat of execution, those who have dealt directly with him say his cell has never executed a captive, according to hostage negotiators, a courier sent to collect proof-of-life videos, senior diplomats and security experts interviewed for this article.

The notable exception was the 2011 kidnapping of two French nationals from a bar in the capital of Niger, both of whom were killed when the French military tried to rescue them. It’s unclear if the two died from friendly fire, or were executed by their captors in a situation that closely mirrors the chain of events in Algeria, where combat helicopters strafed the compound in an effort to liberate the hostages, killing both kidnappers and victims.

Belmoktar prefers to trade his hostages for money, experts have said, and global intelligence unit Stratfor says he can get an estimated $3 million per European captive. The money allowed him to build one of the best-financed arms of AQIM. It may explain how he was able to strike out on his own six weeks ago to create “The Masked Brigade,” whose inaugural attack was launched inside Algeria.

MBM is more along the lines of, how do I negotiate and put extra money in my pocket?” says Rudolph Atallah, the former head of counterterrorism for Africa at the Pentagon, who has spent years tracking the terror network in this Sahelian country. “The others are purists.”

Belmoktar is a contrast to his more ruthless colleague, Abou Zeid, who beheaded a British national and executed a 78-year-old Frenchman in 2010 in retaliation for a raid attempting to save him that killed six militants.

Up until December of last year, both men were emirs of their own “katiba,” or brigade, in AQIM. Though they are both from southern Algeria, they have chosen to embed themselves in northern Mali, in the immense, ungoverned desert which ranges from feather-soft dunes to flat, rocky plains. And both have made tens of millions of dollars by kidnapping French, Canadian, Spanish, Swiss, German, English and Italian nationals.

The contrast between the two is captured in the recently published memoir of Robert Fowler, a Canadian diplomat who was kidnapped by Belmoktar in 2008 in Niger, where he had been sent as a United Nations special envoy. Fowler was tied up and shoved into a pickup truck and the blows he suffered as his body was banged against the metal during the multi-day journey to Mali caused a compression fracture in a vertebra.

Fowler’s ordeal could have been much worse. He describes how on April 21, 2008, he was driven to a rendezvous point. The same day, Abou Zeid‘s troops arrived with two women, one of them on the point of death.

Belmoktar went to inspect the women, and returned to where Fowler was sitting with a “thunderous look on his face,” he wrote. Belmoktar asked to be passed dysentery pills from the medical kit, and ran back to give them to 77-year-old Marianne Petzold, a retired German teacher, and Swiss national Gabriella Burco Greiner.

When Fowler saw the two “the shock was physical. I recoiled with horror at the sight of those small, troubled white faces, twisted with pain.”

One had been bitten by a scorpion, and her arm had ballooned and turned black. She would later spend six weeks in the hospital getting skin grafts to replace the necrotized flesh, he writes in “A Season in Hell.” They both suffered from dysentery, and Abou Zeid had refused to give them the medicine that their governments had sent during their negotiation. At the moment that they were supposed to be released, Abou Zeid decided that he was not ready to free them, and an argument ensued between him and Belmoktar.

The same man who masterminded the recent horror in Algeria last week was visibly disturbed, wrote Fowler. He said it was Belmoktar who intervened, overruling Abou Zeid to free the two, ordering the drivers to take off across the trackless desert.

“If you are kidnapped by Belmoktar you would most likely live — and you could not say the same thing for Abou Zeid: All the hostages killed between 2006 and 2012 were killed by Abou Zeid. You don’t want to be in a position of describing him as the ‘noble savage.’ But I do think his thought process is less distorted by ideology,” says Geoff Porter, founder of North Africa Risk Consulting, a political risk firm specializing in the Sahara region, who has tracked Belmoktar for years. “

However, long before this week’s attack in Algeria, Belmoktar had also shown brutality. His men attacked a military base in Mauritania in 2005, killing over a dozen soldiers, said Dakar, Senegal-based analyst Andrew Lebovitch. And he’s twice been sentenced to death in absentia in Algeria for the killing of customs officials and border guards, according to Abdel Bari Atwan‘s upcoming book “After Bin Laden.”

His trajectory up until last week was nearly identical to that of Abou Zeid. Like Abou Zeid, he joined the Armed Islamic Group, or GIA, an Algerian extremist organization which arose in the aftermath of the 1991 election, which was voided by the secular government after an Islamic party won. He then joined the GIA‘s offshoot, the GSPC, a group that carried out suicide bombings against Algerian government targets. In 2006, when the group became part of al-Qaida, changing its name to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, both Abou Zeid and Belmoktar became the head of individual brigades.

Belmoktar claims he trained in Afghanistan in the 1990s, including in one of Osama Bin Laden‘s camps. It was there that he reportedly lost an eye, earning him the nickname “Laaouar,” Arabic for ‘One-eyed.’ Research by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation claims Belmoktar became the conduit between the core al-Qaida and AQIM.

But early on, there were signs that Belmoktar was not in step with the gratuitous violence that characterized both the GIA and the GSPC, as well as AQIM. A diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Algiers quotes Algerian sources who say that at different times, Belmoktar denounced both GIA and AQIM tactics because they caused many civilian casualties.

Last December, after rumors of a growing rift with Abou Zeid, Belmoktar announced that he was leaving AQIM and creating his own group, “The Masked Brigade.” His close associate, Oumar Ould Hamaha, told the AP that Belmoktar wanted to create a pan-Saharan movement, and the North African chapter was too narrowly focused on countries in the Maghreb, or North Africa.

It came as the United Nations was getting ready to authorize a military intervention to take back Mali‘s north from Islamic extremists, including Belmoktar’s group. When France began airstrikes on Jan. 11, destroying a training camp, several weapons depots and a base known to be used by Belmoktar’s men in the northern Malian town of Gao, Hamaha raged that now their jihad would go “global.”

It was only a few days later in the tiny town of Ain Amenas in far eastern Algeria that turbaned men claiming allegiance to Belmoktar descended on a natural gas complex, operated in partnership with BP and took hundreds of hostages in the most ambitious terrorist operation the North Africa had ever seen. They forced the hostages to wear explosives. Belmoktar issued a statement saying the dozens of captives would be killed if France didn’t halt its military incursion in Mali.

No one will ever know what would have happened if Algeria or other governments agreed to negotiate. Instead, the Algerians sent in helicopters, pounding the compound, and in the bloodbath that ensued, at least 32 militants and 23 captives were killed, according to the Algerian government. It’s unclear how many were killed by friendly fire, and how many were executed by Belmoktar’s men.

One of the people that knows him best says these events in Algeria signal that Belmoktar has chosen to walk down the path of Abou Zeid.

Moustapha Chaffi has been the main hostage negotiator on many of the kidnappings carried out by both Belmoktar and Abou Zeid. It was he who was waiting to receive Fowler and the two women on April 21, 2008. He confirmed that Belmoktar ran to give them the dysentry pills, and later insisted they be released.

“Before he led this operation in Algeria, that was the sentiment I had, that Belmoktar was less brutal,” Chaffi said by telephone on Friday. “Now I find myself thinking that they are all terrorists. That they all take hostages. That they are all fanatics. So to draw a difference between them is really, really relative. There’s in fact no difference anymore.”

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Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Dakar, Senegal and Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News