Euro sinks to 11-1/2-year low, bonds gain after ECB – Reuters

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK Fri Mar 6, 2015 2:41am IST

New 10-euro banknotes are pictured during their presentation at the Austrian national bank in Vienna January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/Files

New 10-euro banknotes are pictured during their presentation at the Austrian national bank in Vienna January 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader/Files

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The euro fell to an 11-1/2-year low against the dollar on Thursday as U.S. and euro zone bond prices rose, after the European Central Bank spelled out its 1 trillion-euro stimulus plan that begins next Monday.

European stock prices rose to seven-year highs in advance of the ECB’s latest effort to jump-start the struggling euro zone economy, while U.S. equities edged higher as investors awaited direction from the government’s monthly labour report due out on Friday.

ECB President Mario Draghi outlined the central bank’s quantitative easing programme at a press conference following a scheduled policy meeting. He left the door open for more bond purchases beyond September 2016.

“It will have a material effect on a lot of European exporters. We’ll see a lot of benefits on the cost side for producers,” Xavier Smith, portfolio manager of the Centre Global Select Fund (DHGRX.O) in New York said of the ECB bond purchase plan.

The ECB upgraded its growth outlook for the euro zone to 1.5 percent for 2015. That still trails a 2.8 percent pace seen for the United States.

Brent oil prices ended a tad lower in the absence of a deal with world powers on Iran’s nuclear programme. An agreement could loosen restrictions on Iran to sell its oil, exacerbating a global supply glut.

The rise in European stock prices was limited by the prospect of an economic slowdown in China, with mining companies falling on the outlook.

Beijing announced a 7 percent growth target for the year and signalled that the lowest rate of expansion for a quarter of a century is the “new normal.”

The euro EUR= slumped below $1.100 for the first time since September 2003. It was last down 0.5 percent at $1.1024. Against the yen, it was down 0.1 percent, at 132.46 yen EURJPY=.

In contrast, the dollar strengthened to an 11-1/2-year peak against a basket of currencies ahead of Friday’s U.S. payrolls report. If the data shows further improvement in wages and job growth, it will reinforce an expectation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year. ECONUS

The dollar index .DXY was up 0.45 percent at 96.398.

U.S. and euro zone prices rose. Benchmark 10-year U.S. yield US10YT=RR dipped to 2.10 percent, while the Italian and Portuguese counterparts IT10YT=RR and PT10YT=RR slipped to record lows. [US/] [GVD/EUR]

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended up 38.82 points, or 0.21 percent, to 18,135.72 the S&P 500 .SPX rose 2.51 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,101.04, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 15.67 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,982.81. [.N]

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended up 0.8 percent, while Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 closed up 0.3 percent. [.EU] [.T]

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 45 nations, edged up 0.03 percent at 429.31.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $60.48 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 settled down 77 cents, or 1.49 percent, at $50.76. [O/R]

Spot gold prices XAU= fell $1.89 or 0.16 percent, to $1,197.56 an ounce. [GOL/]

(Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Wall Street up slightly ahead of jobs report – Reuters UK

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK Thu Mar 5, 2015 8:18pm GMT

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 4, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were modestly higher on Thursday after two days of declines as investors held back on big bets ahead of Friday’s jobs report, which is expected to be a big factor in influencing the timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

The S&P and the Dow hit records and the Nasdaq surpassed 5,000 at the start of the week after a strong February performance for U.S. stocks.

“People are taking a wait-and-see approach ahead of the jobs report,” said Paul Brigandi, managing director of portfolio management at Direxion Funds in New York.

European news was some help to U.S. markets on Thursday but higher-than-expected U.S. jobless claims took “a little bit of the wind out of the sails,” Brigandi said.

Initial jobless claims rose to 320,000 in the latest week, above the 295,000 estimate. The disappointing numbers came after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.

A separate report showed new orders for U.S. factory goods unexpectedly fell in January for a sixth month, a sign of weakness in the manufacturing sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 36.89 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,133.79, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 3.84 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,102.37 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 19.32 points, or 0.39 percent, to 4,986.46.

Earlier in the day, the European Central Bank raised growth and inflation targets and announced it would start its new government bond-buying program of 60 billion euros a month on March 9.

Healthcare stocks helped the S&P 500 stay positive in the late afternoon. Biogen Idec (BIIB.O) rose 2.4 percent to $424.24.

AbbVie (ABBV.N) said it would buy Pharmacyclics (PCYC.O) for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world’s top-selling cancer drugs and expanding its reach in the profitable oncology field. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.2 percent to $254.07 while AbbVie fell 5.8 percent to $56.70.

“M&A activity gets everybody excited in that sector,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Kroger (KR.N) rose 7 percent to $74.63. The biggest U.S. supermarket operator reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit and forecast full-year earnings above expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,636 to 1,369, for a 1.20-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,564 issues rose and 1,114 fell for a 1.40-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 was posting 21 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 86 new highs and 35 new lows.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)

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Euro sags to 11-1/2-year low, bonds rise after ECB – Reuters

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK Thu Mar 5, 2015 11:44pm IST

Traders work at their screens in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Traders work at their screens in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt February 2, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The euro fell to an 11-1/2-year low against the dollar on Thursday as U.S. and euro zone bond prices rose, after the European Central Bank spelled out its 1 trillion-euro stimulus plan that begins next Monday.

European stock prices were supported by the ECB’s latest effort to jump-start the struggling euro zone economy, while U.S. equities were little changed as investors awaited direction from the government’s monthly labor report due out on Friday.

ECB President Mario Draghi outlined the central bank’s quantitative easing program at a press conference following a scheduled policy meeting. He left the door open for more bond purchases beyond September 2016.

“Mr. Draghi is showing that the ECB is determined to continue until it gets the results it needs. They are perfectly aware that they cannot afford to fail,” said Mauro Vittorangeli, a senior fixed income portfolio manager with Allianz Global Investors in Paris.

The ECB upgraded its growth outlook for the euro zone to 1.5 percent for 2015. That still trails a 2.8 percent pace seen for the United States.

Brent oil prices hovered near $61 a barrel in the absence of a deal with world powers on Iran’s nuclear program. An agreement could loosen restrictions on Iran to sell its oil, exacerbating a global supply glut.

The rise in European stock prices was limited by the prospect of an economic slowdown in China, with mining companies falling on the outlook.

Beijing announced a 7 percent growth target for the year and signaled that the lowest rate of expansion for a quarter of a century is the “new normal.”

The euro EUR= slumped below $1.100 for the first time since September 2003. It was last down 0.6 percent at $1.1014. Against the yen, it was down 0.1 percent, at 132.38 yen EURJPY=.

In contrast, the dollar strengthened to an 11-1/2-year peak against a basket of currencies ahead of Friday’s U.S. payrolls report. If the data shows further improvement in wages and job growth, it will reinforce an expectation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year. ECONUS

The dollar index .DXY was up 0.5 percent at 96.437.

Euro zone bond prices rose, while U.S. debt prices held steady. Benchmark 10-year U.S. yield US10YT=RR was 2.12 percent, while its Italian and Portuguese counterparts IT10YT=RR and PT10YT=RR slipped to record lows. [US/] [GVD/EUR]

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 1.22 points, or 0.01 percent, to 18,098.12, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 1.45 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,097.08, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 0.50 points, or 0.01 percent, to 4,967.64.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended up 0.8 percent at a seven-year high, while Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 closed up 0.3 percent. [.EU] [.T]

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 45 nations, edged up 0.03 percent at 429.31.

Brent crude LCOc1 was last up 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $60.73 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 was last down 22 cents, or 0.43 percent, at $51.31. [O/R]

Spot gold prices XAU= rose $1.2 or 0.10 percent, to $1,200.65 an ounce. [GOL/]

(Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Wall St. little changed after two-day drop, data – KDAL

Thursday, March 05, 2015 6:48 a.m. CST

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks closed modestly higher in light trading on Thursday as investors held back on big bets ahead of Friday’s jobs report, which is expected to be a big factor in influencing the timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

Focus on the report was heightened as many investors see it as one of the most import economic indicators due to be released ahead of the Fed’s meeting in mid-March.

“People are anticipating some fireworks tomorrow. That’s the best way to describe the waiting today,” said Paul Schatz, president and chief investment officer at Heritage Capital in Woodbridge, Connecticut.

The S&P and the Dow had hit records and the Nasdaq surpassed 5,000 at the start of the week after a strong February performance for U.S. stocks, giving additional reason for investors to take a breather on Thursday.

European news was some help to U.S. markets but higher-than-expected U.S. jobless claims took “a little bit of the wind out of the sails,” said Paul Brigandi, managing director of portfolio management at Direxion Funds in New York.

Initial jobless claims rose to 320,000 in the latest week, above the 295,000 estimate. The disappointing numbers came after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.

A separate report showed new orders for U.S. factory goods unexpectedly fell in January for a sixth month, a sign of weakness in the manufacturing sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 38.82 points, or 0.21 percent, to 18,135.72, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 2.51 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,101.04 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 15.67 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,982.81.

Earlier in the day, the European Central Bank raised growth and inflation targets and announced it would start its government bond-buying program of 60 billion euros a month on March 9.

AbbVie said it would buy Pharmacyclics for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world’s top-selling cancer drugs. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.3 percent to $254.22 while AbbVie fell 5.7 percent to $56.86.

The news also helped lift other healthcare stocks such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals , which closed up 5.8 percent at $126.96. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals added 3.8 percent to $428.95 and Biogen Idec rose 2.8 percent to $425.60.

About 5.7 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.5 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,660 to 1,371, for a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,560 issues rose and 1,154 fell, for a 1.35-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 97 new highs and 42 new lows.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)

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Wall St. little changed after two-day drop, data – KFGO

Thursday, March 05, 2015 6:48 a.m. CST

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday, in the wake of two days of declines on the S&P 500, as economic data did little to alter expectations on the timing of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Initial jobless claims rose to 320,000 in the latest week, above the 295,000 estimate and 313,000 in the prior week. The disappointing claims numbers come after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.

A separate report showed new orders for U.S. factory goods unexpectedly fell in January for a sixth month, a sign of weakness in the manufacturing sector.

As investors attempt to gauge the timing of the Fed’s impending rate increase, the equity market’s advance has slowed on the heels of the latest record highs for both the Dow and S&P 500 on March 2, with each index down 0.9 percent.

“There is nothing really to drive sentiment one way or the other that is going to change people’s perceptions on anything at the moment so therefore you are just getting this churning back and forth,” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York.

“Once we made that new high the other day, the market just backed off and now it is just churning until tomorrow.”

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 21.35 points, or 0.12 percent, to 18,118.25, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.3 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,098.83 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 8.83 points, or 0.18 percent, to 4,975.97.

AbbVie is to buy Pharmacyclics for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world’s top-selling cancer drugs and expanding its reach in the profitable oncology field. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.5 percent to $254.77 while AbbVie lost 3.1 percent to $58.39.

Costco Wholesale rose 2.2 percent to $150.39 after it reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Retailers will be watched as they post monthly sales results for signs of whether lower gas prices have translated to improved spending elsewhere in the economy.

Kroger gained 5 percent to $73.12 after the biggest U.S. supermarket operator reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit and forecast full-year earnings above expectations.

The European Central Bank said it will start its new government bond-buying program of 60 billion euros a month on March 9 and raised its economic growth forecast for 2015. It boosted its 2016 inflation forecast to 1.5 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,590 to 1,271, for a 1.25-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,473 issues rose and 1,073 fell for a 1.37-to-1 ratio.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 18 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 72 new highs and 25 new lows.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Cuban: Tech bubble worse now than 15 years ago – Yahoo7 News

Today’s technology bubble is worse than the one that burst 15 years ago, according to billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban .

Overvalued tech companies today are mostly private rather than publicly traded, he wrote in a Wednesday blog post. That distinction makes torrents of funding more dangerous for investors, Cuban contended.

“Back then the companies the general public was investing in were public companies. They may have been horrible companies, but being public meant that investors had liquidity to sell their stocks,” the Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” investor wrote.

“The bubble today comes from private investors who are investing in apps and small tech companies,” Cuban continued.

The post comes two days after the Nasdaq (^IXIC) hit 5,000 for the first time since the tech bubble of 2000. This time, though, Cuban isn’t worried about public companies.

Read More Nasdaq 5,000: Bubble or not?

Cuban believes that angel investors and other private investors make more perilous plays than stock traders 15 years ago. Those investments lack the liquidity that a stock investment would have, he said.

Cuban asked: “If a stock in a company is worth what somebody will pay for it, what is the stock of a company worth when there is no place to sell it?”

Mark Cuban will appear on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” at 4 p.m. ET to discuss his blog post.

More From CNBC

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Wall Street Paces Higher After Two-Day Drop – Fox Business

U.S. stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday, in the wake of two days of declines on the S&P 500, after higher-than-expected initial jobless claims figures and ahead of a report on factory orders.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 26.87 points, or 0.15 percent, to 18,123.77, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 2.48 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,101.01 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 12.76 points, or 0.26 percent, to 4,979.90.

“That’s a bit of an uptick because we’ve been pretty consistently in the upper 200,000 range,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

“Some movement up or down would be expected, but 320,000 is probably a bit more than people were looking for.”

The disappointing claims numbers come after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.

The benchmark S&P index has slowed after a 5-percent surge in February and a record on March 2 with its worst two-day performance since late January. The index has been down during four of the past six sessions as investors attempt to gauge the timing of an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

January factory orders data is scheduled for later in the session at 10:00 a.m.. Expectations call for orders to rise 0.2 percent versus a 3.4 percent decline in December.

S&P 500 e-mini futures <ESc1> were up 4 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a slightly higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures <1YMc1> rose 39 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures <NQc1> added 9.75 points.

AbbVie <ABBV.N> is to buy Pharmacyclics <PCYC.O> for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world’s top-selling cancer drugs and expanding its reach in the profitable oncology field. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.4 percent to $254.48 in premarket trade while AbbVie lost 5.5 percent to $56.97.

Costco Wholesale <COST.O> rose 2.3 percent to $150.60 before the opening bell after it reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Retailers will be watched as they post monthly sales results for signs of whether lower gas prices have translated to improved spending elsewhere in the economy.

Kroger <KR.N> gained 5 percent to $73.15 in premarket after the biggest U.S. supermarket operator reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit and forecast full-year earnings above expectations.

The European Central Bank said it will start its new government bond-buying program of 60 billion euros a month on March 9 and raised its economic growth forecast for 2015. The central bank also boosted its 2016 inflation forecast to 1.5 percent.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Wall St. little changed after two-day drop, data – Reuters UK

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK Thu Mar 5, 2015 6:24pm GMT

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 4, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday, after two days of declines on the S&P 500, as economic data did little to alter expectations on the timing of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Initial jobless claims rose to 320,000 in the latest week, above the 295,000 estimate and 313,000 in the prior week. The disappointing claims numbers come after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.

Investors were looking ahead to the jobs report due out on Friday to help them assess the timing of the Fed’s first interest rate hike in years, said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners, in Chicago.

“We’re kind of tapping our foot for tomorrow’s non-farm payroll,” said Battle. “The Federal Reserve made it very clear they’re going to raise rates but its going to be data dependent. It’s one of the benchmark numbers they’re looking at.”

At 12:50 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 11.85 points, or 0.07 percent, to 18,108.75, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 1.64 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,096.89 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.99 points, or 0.02 percent, to 4,968.13.

A separate report showed new orders for U.S. factory goods unexpectedly fell in January for a sixth month, a sign of weakness in the manufacturing sector.

As investors attempt to speculate on the timing of the Fed’s impending rate increase, the equity market’s advance has slowed since the March 2 highs for both the Dow and S&P 500, with each index down 0.9 percent.

“There is nothing really to drive sentiment one way or the other that is going to change people’s perceptions on anything at the moment so therefore you are just getting this churning back and forth,” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York.

AbbVie (ABBV.N) is to buy Pharmacyclics (PCYC.O) for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world’s top-selling cancer drugs and expanding its reach in the profitable oncology field. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.5 percent to $254.63 while AbbVie lost 4 percent to $57.68.

Kroger (KR.N) rose 5.6 percent to $73.56 after the biggest U.S. supermarket operator reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit and forecast full-year earnings above expectations.

The European Central Bank said it will start its new government bond-buying program of 60 billion euros a month on March 9 and raised its economic growth forecast for 2015. It boosted its 2016 inflation forecast to 1.5 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,520 to 1,408, for a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,374 issues rose and 1,265 fell for a 1.09-to-1 ratio.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 20 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 81 new highs and 30 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Wall St. flat after two-day drop; factory orders due – Reuters

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 4, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid


(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday, in the wake of two days of declines on the S&P 500, as gains were curbed by a higher-than-expected initial jobless claims report ahead of a report on factory orders.

Initial jobless claims rose to 320,000 in the latest week, above the 295,000 estimate and 313,000 in the prior week. The disappointing claims numbers come after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report.

“That’s a bit of an uptick because we’ve been pretty consistently in the upper 200,000 range,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

“Some movement up or down would be expected, but 320,000 is probably a bit more than people were looking for.”

The benchmark S&P index has slowed after a 5-percent surge in February and a record on March 2 with its worst two-day performance since late January. The index was down during four of the past six sessions as investors attempted to gauge the timing of an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

January factory orders data is scheduled for release at 10:00 a.m..

Expectations call for orders to rise 0.2 percent versus a 3.4 percent decline in December.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 12.36 points, or 0.07 percent, to 18,109.26, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.54 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,099.07 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 7.36 points, or 0.15 percent, to 4,974.50.

AbbVie (ABBV.N) is to buy Pharmacyclics (PCYC.O) for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world’s top-selling cancer drugs and expanding its reach in the profitable oncology field. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.4 percent to $254.38 while AbbVie lost 4.6 percent to $57.50.

Costco Wholesale (COST.O) rose 2.4 percent to $150.72 after it reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Retailers will be watched as they post monthly sales results for signs of whether lower gas prices have translated to improved spending elsewhere in the economy.

Kroger (KR.N) gained 6.1 percent to $73.88 as the best performer on the S&P 500 after the biggest U.S. supermarket operator reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit and forecast full-year earnings above expectations.

The European Central Bank said it will start its new government bond-buying program of 60 billion euros a month on March 9 and raised its economic growth forecast for 2015. It boosted its 2016 inflation forecast to 1.5 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,416 to 1,175, for a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,140 issues fell and 976 advanced for a 1.17-to-1 ratio.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 13 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 33 new highs and 10 new lows.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Global stocks stumble, euro hits eleven-and-a-half-year low before ECB – Reuters UK

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK Wed Mar 4, 2015 9:20pm GMT

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/Remote

1 of 2. Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 27, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski/Remote

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock prices around the world fell on Wednesday on profit-taking, while the euro dropped to an 11-1/2-year low ahead of a European Central Bank meeting where policymakers are expected to offer details on their bond-purchase stimulus plan.

The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 retreated further from record highs set on Monday while major gauges of European and Japanese shares were below their multi-year peaks.

“Given the strength we’ve had in the equity markets since the beginning of February, we are transitioning into a sideways-trending market as investors digest the recent gains and look for greater clarity,” said Terry Sandven, senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

Brent crude fell on data showing U.S. crude inventories climbed to a record high in the latest week. It held above $60 a barrel on Iran’s opposition to a nuclear deal and supportive market comments from Saudi Arabia’s oil minister.

The U.S. government’s February payrolls report due on Friday is seen as the week’s premier data. Further evidence of jobs and wage growth would support the notion the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates as early as this summer.

Payroll processor ADP said on Wednesday U.S. companies added 212,000 workers last month, slightly less than forecast, paring bets on a robust February payroll figure.

Economists polled by Reuters projected U.S. payrolls grew 240,000 in February, below January’s 257,000 increase. ECONUS

The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield US10YT=RR was flat at 2.12 percent, paring its decline after a stronger-than-expected report on the U.S. services sector. [US/]

The Dow .DJI lost 106.47 points, or 0.58 percent, to 18,096.90, the S&P 500 .SPX slipped 9.25 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,098.53 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC fell 12.76 points, or 0.26 percent, to 4,967.14. [.N]

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended up 0.8 percent at 1,557.03, recovering from a drop on Markit’s final euro zone composite purchasing managers’ index that came in weaker than estimated. [.EU]

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 45 nations, slipped 0.48 percent to 429.28.

Lower stock prices moved in tandem with a weaker euro. The currency fell 0.9 percent to $1.1073 EUR= after touching $1.1063, the lowest since September 2003.

The euro hit a near one-month low against the yen. It was last down 0.9 percent at 132.55 yen EURJPY=.

The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies .DXY, hitting an 11-1/2-year peak. It was last up 0.6 percent at 95.963. The greenback, however, was little changed at 119.71 yen JPY=. [FRX/]

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down 47 cents or 0.8 percent, at $60.55 a barrel but U.S. crude CLc1 settled up $1.01 or 2 percent at $51.53. [O/R]

Spot gold XAU= fell $4.21 or 0.35 percent to $1,199.10 an ounce, declining for a third straight day. [GOL/]

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York and; Lionel Laurent, Blaise Robinson and Emelia Sithole-Matarise in London; Editing by Susan Fenton, Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish)

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