Intraday Market Update
Global equity markets and commodities are under pressure as they deal with geopolitical tensions occurring throughout the world. Short term funding costs for European banks, as measured by the 3-month LIBOR, soared to their highest level since July as banks become less confident in lending to each other. The tensions between North Korea and South Korea sent the KOSPI index to new 3-month lows as the South's government convened an emergency session in Seoul. This rattled investors in the Asia-Pacific region, sending major markets throughout the region down about -3%.
Futures were off sharply overnight in the US major indexes. The S&P 500 futures hit a low of 1,036.75 at about 6:00 AM EST. Shortly after the bell the equity markets reached their intraday low in the first 15 minutes of trading, but then rebounded sharply and are now well off their lows. The SPX reached a low of 1,040, briefly undercutting the February 5th low, but has pared some of the losses and is now near 1,054 (-19 points, or -1.85%). The DJIA, NASDAQ, and Russell 2000 are all off by approximately -2.00%.
Better than expected economic news gave the equity markets a lift shortly after the bell. Consumer confidence surged to 63.3 compared to 57.9 the prior month. Consensus estimates were for a reading between 56 and 61. Strength in the report came from consumer's assessment of the job market which improved significantly for a third straight month. 43.6% of consumers described jobs as currently hard to get, down from February's 47.3%. Weakness in the report came from income expectations and buying plans for homes which was down to 1.9%.
Case-Shiller's Home Price Index in March rose +0.2% for the composite 10 compared to a +0.1% rise in February. The composite 20 was unchanged compared a - 0.1% decline in February. The index may get a boost in April's report considering the buying activity that was pulled forward by the expiration of government stimulus. But the outlook beyond April is uncertain at best.
Germany wants to take further steps in clamping down on speculators as they propose a ban on naked short sales on all German stocks and also a ban on certain derivative contracts involving the euro. This comes after the government banned naked short sales on certain financial stocks and Euro Zone debt last week.
There are a couple bright spots in equities. AutoZone is up +4% after crushing earnings. Uranium supplier USEC (USU) is up +20% after Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox said they would invest $200M in the firm for nuclear fuel cycle development. Medical device maker Medtronic is off -3.50% after meeting earnings expectations and guiding in line, although the CFO warned on the conference call that the firm was more comfortable with the lower end of its guidance range.
Front month crude off by more than -2% and near the lows off the session below $68 per barrel. Gold is slightly higher to about $1,200 per ounce, while silver is off by -1%. Natural gas is about breakeven while copper is off by more than -3%.
Every major equity market throughout the world was sharply lower on Tuesday. Notable losers include Japan (-3.06%), Hong Kong (-3.47%), Australia (-2.96%), London (-2.54%), Germany (-2.34%), France (-2.90%), and Spain (-3.05%).
Core Sector List:
Overall reading: 15 sectors declining, 1 sectors advancing.
Strongest Sectors: Gold Miners, Retail, Internet
Weakest Sectors: Software, Utilities, Transportation
S&P 500 - Daily and 30-minute Intraday Charts:
Dow Jones - Daily and 30-minute Intraday Charts:
NASDAQ - Daily and 30-minute Intraday Charts:
Russell 2000 - Daily and 30-minute Intraday Charts: