Financial News and Notes 3/18/12 – 3/24/12

Economy

-Residential construction fell 1.1% in February, but application for housing permits reached their highest level since 2008.  3/21

-Mortgage rates have risen with the recent uptick in Treasury rates.  The 30 year fixed mortgage rate has jumped to 4.07% from 3.85% in the past 10 days.  3/22

-A gauge of Chinese manufacturing fell to a four month low in March and was the 5th straight month of contraction.  3/22

-Existing home sales fell 0.9% in February, and the inventory of homes listed for sale increased.  3/22

-Global manufacturing continues to expand in March, but fell from the level of February. 3/23

-Jobless claims continued their decent and reached a 4 year low, however the 4 week moving average remained flat as its been for the past month.  3/23

-Euro-zone business activity weakened further in March contradicting recent statements that euro zone is on path to recovery.  3/23

-New home sales fell for the second straight month. 3/24

Corporate

-Amazon is purchasing Kiva, a maker of robots used in shipping, for $775 million to continue to grow their business.  3/20

-Disney expects to lose $200 million on the movie John Carter. 3/20

-Apple announced it would issue a dividend and buy back $10 billion worth of shares to return to investors a portion of the $100 billion stock pile of cash the firm holds.  Apple had not paid a dividend since 1995.  3/20

-Oracle’s fiscal first quarter profit gained 18% driven by software sales which compensated for weakness in its hardware business.  3/21

-Apple said it sold 3 million of its newly released iPad tablet computers over the weekend.  3/21

-Fedex’s fiscal  third quarter saw earnings double, however it lowered its global growth forecast to 2.3% and will scale back its staff accordingly.  It also gave earnings guidance that fell below analyst estimates.  3/23

-B of A is launching a new program that will let some home owners at risk of foreclosure remain in their homes and rent the dwelling from the bank at market rates.  3/23

-KB Homes earnings disappointed as it posted a loss and it reported expectations for weak orders for future homes.  3/24

-The shares of computerized trading firm BATS Global Markets plunged after a few seconds being listed to fractions of a cent due to a software glitch on its own trading platform.  It led the firm to pull its IPO, and called into question the functionality of the trading platform.  3/24

Regulatory

-Owners of the NY Mets have reached a settlement with the court appointed trustee for investor Bernie Madoff’s firm for $162 million.  3/20

-Brazil announced it would not allow executives of Chevron and Transocean to leave the country and will be bringing criminal charges stemming from an oil spill in November.  3/20

Market

-Oil prices fell 2.3% to $105.61 a barrel after comments by Saudi officials that they will attempt to lower prices.  3/21

-US markets saw their worst weekly performance of the year as investors exhibited concern over slower growth in China.  The Dow fell 1.1% and the S&P dropped 0.5% for the week.  International markets were down as well as Japan fell 1.2% and Europe was off 2.5%.  The 10 year treasury yield finished the week at 2.237%.  3/24

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