US FINANCIAL MARKET
- Safety regulators are poised to approve within days a plan to allow Boeing to begin flight tests of the 787 Dreamliner. Boeing shares are up more than 3 percent.
- GE and Caterpillar are rushing to develop natural gas-powered models in a potential shift from diesel’s six decades as the fuel of choice for railroads. Three of the biggest U.S. rail carriers are working with manufacturers on using gas as an alternative power source for freight trains.
- TJX revenue for the four weeks ended March 2 increased 7 percent, to $1.8 billion.
- Limited Brands, operator of the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works chains, said that its February revenue at stores open at least a year rose 3 percent.
- Kroger’s fourth-quarter profit handily beat Wall Street expectations, as the country’s largest traditional supermarket chain benefited from an extra week in the period.
- Colgate-Palmolive’s board approved a 2-for-1 stock split, its first one since 1999.
- Time Warner said that it will spin off the magazine unit behind Time, Sports Illustrated and People into a separate, publicly traded company by the end of the year.
- Nonlisted real estate investment trusts raised $83 billion in the past decade. Yesterday, Cole Holdings, one of the largest REIT sponsors, said it would merge with one of its companies and go public. While nontraded REITs from the boom years are seeking exits, new ones are raising money. The industry is estimated to have raised $10.5 billion in 2012, the most since 2007.
- Johnson Controls is exploring a potential sale of its automotive electronics unit, but has no intention of selling its automotive interiors business. Johnson Controls is the largest U.S. auto supplier with 2012 sales of more than $4 billion in car interiors. However, it has grappled with industry-wide pressure on margins, low vehicle production in Europe and increased competition from China.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
- The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index improved last week.
- Nonfarm productivity contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.9 percent in the October-December quarter. It shrank because economic activity barely expanded in the fourth quarter, while hours worked rose at a solid pace. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.
- Weekly US unemployment aid applications fell 7,000 to 340,000. And the four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 348,750. That’s the lowest since March 2008.
- Continuing claims were also below expectations at 3,094k (vs. consensus 3,120k). The previous week’s continuing claims were revised up 17k to 3,091k.
- Employers announced 55,356 planned job cuts last month, up nearly 37 percent from 40,430 in January. For 2013 so far, employers have announced 95,786 layoffs, down 9 percent from the first two months of 2012. The financial sector dominated cuts last month.
- US trade deficit widens by 16.5 percent to $44.4 billion in January as exports drop and oil imports rise. In January, imports climbed 1.8 percent to $228.9 billion. Exports decreased 1.2 percentin January to $184.5 billion.
- Among countries, the trade gap with South Korea rose to the highest level since November 2004 and the deficit with Canada was the biggest in more than four years. The trade shortfall with China widened to $27.8 billion in January.
- The figures reflected a jump in fuel purchases. The number of barrels of imported crude jumped to 8.41 million, the most since August, from 7.19 million in December. Excluding petroleum, the trade shortfall was little changed. On the other hand, sales of industrial supplies dropped by $2.63 billion, reflecting the retreat in fuel oil and gold. Other exporters had better results as demand for American- made machines and electronics climbed.
EUROPE & WORLD
- The euro strengthened the most in eight weeks against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said data suggest the region’s economy will stabilize this year.
- German industrial orders unexpectedly drop 1.9 percent in January as eurozone demand slides. Economists had expected an increase of 0.6 percent.
- French unemployment rises again to 10.6 percent in Q4, putting new pressure on Hollande.
- European Central Bank leaves benchmark interest rate unchanged at record low of 0.75 percent.
- The Bank of England has opted against injecting more money into the ailing British economy. Critics say the Bank of England’s program has done little to revive the British economy.
- Unemployment in Greece dipped marginally to 26.4 percent in December, but experts warn that more significant improvements are unlikely in coming months.
TODAY in HISTORY
- Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone (1876)
- Charles Darrow created the game we know as Monopoly (1933)
- ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight titlist ever as he beat James Smith (1987)
Sources: Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Bloomberg, CNN Money.
This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation is being made as to its accuracy or completeness. The information provided should be used only as general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts set forth in the material may not develop as predicted. All indices, such as the S & P 500, are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.