Stock Market Today: Close - May 12, 2011
In Asia today, stocks fell almost across the board on fears of a possibly slowing Chinese economy. Europe was a bit more optimistic, as 13 of the 18 national stock markets retreated, but could not fight off fears of a possible Greek default, even though a bailout for Portugal seems likely to get the green light. Wall Street opened in the red but erased the loss by noon and remained in the black for the rest of the day. At the close, the Dow Jones Industrials had gained 66 points, to 12,696; the S&P 500 was up seven, to 1,349; the NASDAQ Composite had tacked on 18, to 2,863; the Russell 2000 was ahead seven, to 488; and the equally weighted Value Line (Arithmetic) Index stood at 3,109, up 22 points.
All but two sectors advanced, led by healthcare and consumer discretionary stocks; energy and basic materials declined, though by less than 0.2% apiece. Big stocks outpacing the market included Toyota (TM) and Oracle (ORCL). Big names in retreat featured Cisco Systems (CSCO - Free Cisco Stock Report), dropping over 4% on falling earnings and a glum outlook; Petrobras (PBR), and BHP Billiton (BHP) also slid with their sectors, partially in response to news of lower U.S. gasoline consumption.
Commodities were mixed as crude oil rose 0.8%, to $98.97 a barrel, after peeking over $100 for a while; gold was up six bucks, to $1,507.50 an ounce, and silver slid modestly, to $34.99 an ounce.
Initial unemployment filings appeared to please the market today, though they were anything but encouraging in an absolute sense. Still, they dropped nearly 10% from the prior week, to 434,000, and came in at the consensus figure; of course, that excludes 3.75 million recipients of extended benefits under the stimulus program, unchanged from the previous week. Producer prices increased 0.8% in April and 0.3% excluding food and energy; the corresponding year-to-year increases were 6.8% and 2.1% respectively. Inflation fears will probably continue to be present, though, at this point, much of the higher cost of oil has worked its way through the economy. Retail sales rose 0.5% in April but crept up just 0.2% excluding autos and gasoline. Tomorrow, we hear about consumer prices and consumer sentiment.
Interest rates rose six to seven basis points, to 3.23% for the 10-year Treasury note and 4.35% for the 30-year bond.
At the time of this article's writing, the author owned shares of IBM and BHP Billiton.