U.S. MARKET AVERAGES
Stock markets lack a definite trading direction as two of the major indexes Dow and S&P 500 have been hovering near the flat line but Nasdaq is in the negative territory, reflecting considerable losses by software, biotechnology and disk drive stocks. Dow posts only modest losses, being supported by Exxon Mobil Corp.
which gained on rising oil, McDonald’s
which increased sales on forthcoming IPO for its Chipotle brand, and Caterpillar
which gained on speculations of post-Rita rebuilding related profits.
Trading activity is missing to a large extent as investors wait cautiously what the impact of Hurricane Rita will be. The hurricane of category 5 which has gathered strength along its march towards the Texas coast and is expected to hit tomorrow, sent oil prices near $68 a barrel and made oil majors evacuate their rigs in the Mexican Gulf.
The second hurricane after devastating Katrina raises concerns about its impact on gasoline prices which could hurt consumer spending, the key indicator of economic growth.
Markets also weigh Initial claims which were the highest since July 2003, but came below the average analysts’ estimate of 440,000.
Retailers and homebuilders are two of the day's brightest spots, gaining 0.5% and 1.5%, respectively. Energy stocks remain in the positive, but the sector has retreated from its earlier highs as oil prices declined.
The gold sector posts losses on profit taking, with traders using a decrease in the price of the precious metal as an opportunity to cash in on the recent gains among gold stocks. Some industrial and technology stocks also decline.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
) advanced 1.4% after posting first-quarter results that were over the expectations. The company also restated its profit prospect for year 2006.
) gained 2.3% after the telecommunications company narrowed its forecast for cost savings for the recently joined company by 20%.
) dropped 4.7% after the company posted yesterday a second-quarter earnings that were below analyst predictions, and presented a worst-than-expected third-quarter outlook.
), the New York publisher, announced a lower first-quarter loss and repeated its earnings forecast for fiscal 2006. The loss for the quarter ended August 31 fell to $21.2 million from $50.5 million a year earlier.
) could gain in early trading after the company was upgraded at UBS to buy from neutral, citing valuation. The company fell 1.3% yesterday.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA
Thursday morning, the Department of Labor released its report on initial jobless claims in the week ended September 17. The report showed that claims increased only modestly compared to a significantly upwardly revised figure for the previous week.
The Labor Dept. said that jobless claims rose to 432,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 424,000. Economists had expected claims to rise to 450,000 from the 398,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The upward revision to the previous week's figure reflected an increase in claims made by people dislodged by the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
The report also showed that the 4-week moving average rose to 376,250 from the previous week's revised average of 347,250. This marks the sixth consecutive increase for the less volatile moving average.
The Labor Dept. also said that continuing claims rose to 2.666 million from the preceding week's revised level of 2.578 million.
INTERNATIONAL MARKET NEWS
ended mostly in the red on sharp declines of U.S. stock markets overnight and soaring oil prices, boosted by threatening Hurricane Rita. The Nikkei fell 0.3%, dragged by consumer-electronics group Sony Corp. and other decliners like Advantest Corp., Honda Motor. Across the region, South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3% and Australia’s All Ordinaries gained 0.2%. Markets in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore finished down.
closed largely down, reflecting surging oil prices as Hurricane Rita threatens to hit key refineries in the Mexican Gulf The German DAX 30 declined 0.5% on post-election economic uncertainty. The French CAC 40 lost 0.5%, dragged by beverage producer Pernod Ricar and insurer AXA. In contrast, oil heavy London’s FTSE gained 0.3% as oil majors, mining stocks, and retailers provided support.
ENERGY, METALS, CURRENCIES