October 20, 2011
By: David K. Randall
Stocks slid Thursday after reports that a meeting planned for the weekend between European leaders to fend off a credit crisis may be delayed.
The reports overshadowed an unexpected recovery in manufacturing in the Northeast.
Investors are concerned that differences between the leaders of Germany and France may hold up agreement on how to protect European banks from a likely default by the Greek government.
Officials from the 17 countries that share the euro are scheduled to meet at a summit Sunday to discuss ways to contain the damage. A messy default by Greece could to huge losses for European banks that hold Greek bonds. If that leads them to pull back on lending to each other, investors fear it could cause another freeze in global credit markets like the one in late 2008 after Lehman Brothers collapsed.
U.S. indexes had edged higher in early trading after the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said regional manufacturing was “showing signs of recovery.” Its index of manufacturing, shipments and new orders was far better than economists had forecast.
Other economic reports were mixed. The Labor Department said new applications for unemployment benefits dropped to 403,000 last week, a sign that layoffs are easing. On the down side, sales of previously-occupied homes fell 3% last month from August.
Several large companies reported earnings before the market opened. Union Pacific, the nation’s largest railroad, surged after its earnings came in well ahead of analysts’ estimates. The company gained 5.3% after reporting that its income jumped 16%, more than analysts had forecast. It also said it expects the growth to continue.
Southwest Airlines rose 3.2% after reporting income that was a penny per share higher than analysts predicted. AT&T lost 1% after reporting that the number of new iPhones activated last quarter was the lowest in a year and a half.
The New York Times jumped 4% after the company reported higher profits than expected.
Microsoft will report earnings after the market closes.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 2.5% while the CAC-40 in France fell 2.2%. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1.4% lower.
Earlier, Asian stocks were pummeled, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index losing 1% to close at a two-week low of 8,682.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 1.8% to 17,983.10 and South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 2.7% to 1,805.09.In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.9% to 2,331.37 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index plunged 2.9% to 974.86.
September 37, 2011
By: Chuck Mikolajczak
Stocks extended their rally on Tuesday, sparked by euro zone officials’ efforts to solidify the region’s rescue fund in an attempt to alleviate the debt crisis.
Major indexes rose for a third straight session, with the S&P 500 up more than 5 percent over the period, its largest three-day percentage gain since mid-August.
European officials considered various approaches to maximize the bailout fund and to recapitalize banks.
“Nothing has drastically changed. We get conversations around how we can get out of this mess — and those are good. We need those,” said Michael Sansoterra, portfolio manager of the RidgeWorth Large Cap Growth Fund in Atlanta, Georgia.
“But we’ve yet to see any concrete action. Actions speak louder than words, so we’ll flail about until we get some action.”
Stocks also got a boost as investors rebalanced their portfolios in the last days of the quarter. The wide gap in performance between equities and bonds, favoring government debt so far this quarter, may partly reverse.
Market volatility could remain as traders react to headlines and attempt to gauge the commitment of governments and institutions as they work to prevent a Greek default.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 257.70 points, or 2.33 percent, to 11,301.56. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 26.38 points, or 2.27 percent, to 1,189.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 53.49 points, or 2.13 percent, to 2,570.18.
The S&P materials sector was up 3.2 percent and energy stocks added 2.9 percent as commodity prices rallied on hopes Europe would avoid a recession. Mining and energy shares were the top performers among large-cap stocks.
Copper prices jumped more than 5 percent, helped by a drop in the dollar index, while U.S. crude futures jumped 4.3 percent.
Apple Inc, which is expected to unveil its new iPhone next week, edged up 0.6 percent to $405.52.
In the latest economic data, U.S. consumer confidence was little changed in September and a gauge of labor market conditions deteriorated to its worst since 1983.
The S&P/Case-Shiller survey found U.S. single-family home prices were unchanged in July on a seasonally adjusted basis but the housing market showed little sign of stabilizing.
June 16, 2010
By Cindy Perman
Stocks rallied Tuesday as the euro gained against the dollar after a number of successful European debt auctions eased investor concerns about the euro zone’s solvency crisis. Techs and industrials led the advance.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 213.88, or 2.1 percent, to close at 10,404.77. All 30 components were higher, led by Microsoft [MSFT 26.41 -0.1725 (-0.65%) ], American Express [AXP 41.5327 -0.0573 (-0.14%) ] and Boeing [BA 66.82 -0.66 (-0.98%) ].
The S&P 500 rose 2.4 percent to trade above its 200-day moving average of 1,108.26 for the first time since May. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2.8 percent. And the CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was near 25 at the closing bell.
The euro rose against the dollar as strong demand for government debt from several European countries offset worries about the debt crisis after Moody’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating to junk status on Monday.
“Most of the downtrend in the euro is done,” said Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Global Arena Investment Management. “We’ll probably have one more downdraft for the euro by August to around $1.15, but that’s it.”
June 4, 2010
By David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) Young children who swim in chlorinated pools may suffer an increased risk of lung infections and even lifelong asthma and respiratory allergies, according to a study conducted by researchers from Catholic University Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, and published in the European Respiratory Journal.
“This suggests that chlorinated pool attendance can increase the risk of asthma and respiratory allergies by making the airways more sensitive not only to allergens but also to infectious agents,” senior researcher Alfred Bernard said.
Researchers conducted health tests on 430 Belgian kindergarteners and had their parents fill out questionnaires about their health history and swimming habits. They found that while 36 percent of children who had been exposed to chlorinated pools before the age of two had a history of the lung infection known as bronchiolitis, compared with only 24 percent of children who had not been exposed.
June 1, 2010
By Emma Wilkinson
Researchers analysing data from a Europe-wide survey found three-quarters of those asked thought it important to compare their incomes with others.
But those who compared salaries seem less content, especially if they looked at those of friends and family rather than work colleagues.
The paper in the Economic Journal also found the poor were most affected.
The researchers, from the Paris School of Economics, used data from the European Social Survey covering 19,000 participants in 24 countries.
They found that those who compared their incomes with others tended to be less happy.
May 27, 2010
By Edmund Conway
Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governor, summed it up best: “Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough,” he said the other week, “but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.”
In other words, were this a computer game, the politicians would be down to their last life. Any mistake now and it really is Game Over. Or to pick a slightly more traditional game, it is rather like a session of pass-the-parcel which is fast approaching the end of the line.
The European financial crisis may look and smell rather different to the American banking crisis of a couple of years ago, but strip away the details – the breakdown of the euro, the crumbling of the Spanish banking system to take just two – and what you are left with is the next leg of a global financial crisis. Politicians temporarily “solved” the sub-prime crisis of 2007 and 2008 by nationalising billions of pounds’ worth of bank debt. While this helped reinject a little confidence into markets, the real upshot was merely to transfer that debt on to public-sector balance sheets.
May 7, 2010
By Katie Allen
Whoever wins the election must make sorting out the public finances the top priority, the European commission warned on the eve of the poll, as it predicted the British budget deficit would swell this year to become the biggest in the European Union, overtaking even Greece.
The commission’s spring economic forecasts put the UK deficit for this calendar year at 12% of GDP, the highest of all 27 EU nations and worse than the Treasury’s own forecasts.
The country’s budget shortfall was the third largest in the EU last year but will overtake both Greece and Ireland this year, according to the forecasts. Greece’s measures to tackle its public finances problems are projected to cut its deficit to 9.3% of GDP.
Worries about Britain’s public finances – in their worst state since the end of the second world war – continue to unnerve financial markets and analysts are divided over whether a hung parliament will have the clout to rapidly reduce the deficit.
“The first thing for the new government to do is to agree on a convincing, ambitious programme of fiscal consolidation in order to start to reduce the very high deficit and stabilise the high debt level of the UK,” said European economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn.
“That’s by far the first and foremost challenge of the new government. I trust whatever the colour of the government, I hope it will take this measure.”
The deficit forecasts are an improvement on the commission’s last outlook for Britain but they still paint a gloomier picture than the government itself.
In financial year terms, the commission’s forecasts are for a worse deficit than predicted by Alistair Darling at his March budget. In 2010/11 the commission puts the deficit at 11.5% of GDP, compared with Darling’s forecast for an 11.1% ratio of public sector net borrowing – the gap between tax and spending – to GDP.
The EU’s executive did double its forecast for British growth this year to 1.2% from 0.6%, in line with a March budget forecast for 1-1.5%. But in 2011 it warns growth will only pick up to 2.1%, significantly below a Treasury forecast of 3-3.5%.
It described “a slow start to a protracted recovery”, highlighting pressures on private consumption, a key growth driver, from employment worries and stagnant wages.
May 7, 2010
By Michael P. Regan and Rita Nazareth
May 7 (Bloomberg) — Global stocks tumbled, while Treasuries rallied after Europe’s debt crisis spurred a market rout yesterday that undermined confidence in financial trading mechanisms. Oil slid 1.5 percent to lead commodities lower.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell as much as 3 percent before paring losses to 0.8 percent as of 11:22 a.m. in New York. The MSCI World Index sank 1.7 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index plunged 3.2 percent. The 10-year Treasury note’s yield slipped two basis points to 3.41 percent. Greece led a drop in bonds of debt-laden nations, with the 10-year yield premium demanded to own the securities instead of benchmark German bunds rising to a record of more than 9 percentage points.
Regulators are reviewing a plunge that briefly wiped out more than $1 trillion in market value yesterday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid almost 1,000 points before paring losses. The New York Stock Exchange switched from electronic matching to auctions during the slide, encouraging some sell orders to flow to smaller exchanges that had few if any buyers. Concern over the integrity of trading systems today overshadowed government data showing the biggest jobs growth in four years.
“It’s a confidence crisis,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist for Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc., which oversees about $667 billion. “You’ve got yourself in a vortex of negativity in Europe. In the U.S., the investigation on yesterday’s trading is definitely an overhang. It’s a very precarious scenario. The market is waiting for a viable solution.”
Stocks have been pummeled the last two weeks amid concern European leaders won’t do enough to keep the most indebted nations from defaulting after a 110 billion-euro ($140 billion) rescue package for Greece failed to halt a rise in government borrowing costs. The Stoxx 600 has tumbled 12 percent from its high for the year last month.
February 3rd, 2010
By Randy Dotinga
Adding more evidence to theories linking DNA to weight, European scientists report that a genetic variation seems to virtually guarantee that a person will become obese.
The genetic variation in question robs people of about 30 genes and appears to be found in seven of every 1,000 severely obese people, the researchers report. The same variation also may be linked to mental retardation and learning disabilities.
“Obesity is definitively a genetic trait, and it is very likely that additional small chromosomal abnormalities exist that may dramatically increase the risk of obesity and may also be linked to brain developmental problems,” said Dr. Philippe Froguel, co-author of a study published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Nature and head of genomic medicine at Imperial College London.
In the new study, researchers examined the genes of teens and adults who had learning difficulties and developmental delays. Thirty-one people were missing the genes in question, and all were obese.
The researchers then looked at the genomes of 16,053 people who were either of normal weight or obese. Nineteen people had the same genetic deletion, and all were severely obese.
“We feel that this is a major advance — the first paper to convincingly demonstrate that a relatively rare genetic variant can also be an important cause of common obesity,” said study co-author Alexandra Blakemore, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London.
“Although the percentage of severely obese people with this (variation) is just under one person, that adds up to an awful lot of people in total,” Blakemore said. “The effect on carriers is very strong.”
But what are the missing genes doing to the body to make people become obese? That remains to be determined.
“The mechanism by which this genetic defect unveils itself may give us insight into how other conditions lead to obesity. There may be an enzyme or a protein that is involved in the development of obesity,” said Dr. Stuart Weiss, an assistant clinical professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, who is familiar with the study findings.
Finding the cause “will allow us to investigate medications and therapies” that could turn something in the body on or off, he said.
Not all obese people can get skinnier by eating less and exercising more, Weiss said. “The bottom line is that they may be able to eat less, but their bodies may be so efficient that they can extract calories from food much more effectively and may not be burning energy as efficiently as others,” he said.
This fact leads to unhappy news for some obese people, he said. “If you’re eating just one pea and you’re gaining weight, you’ll have to cut the pea in half.”
Still, the future could bring genetic tests for patients that could allow doctors to tailor treatments to their particular bodies, he added.