Financial News and Notes 2/19/12 – 2/25/12

Economy

-Previously owned home sales rose 4.3% in January to reach the highest pace since May 2010. 2/23

-Jobless claims maintained their downward trend over the past week by holding steady at 351,000 new applications for unemployment benefits. Economists expected the number to rise. 2/24

-The EU drastically lowered its growth outlook for the area’s economies to a GDP contraction of 0.3% for 2012. 2/24

-ECB president Mario Draghi said that Europe’s old social model is obsolete and austerity measures are here to stay. 2/24

-Consumer sentiment rose over February and outpaced expectations. 2/25

Corporate

-Dell saw profits fall 18% in the fourth quarter due to a reduced supply of disk drives and lower demand from the public sector. 2/22

-HP saw earnings fall 44% and revenue drop 7% in its fiscal first quarter and forecasted a weaker current quarter. 2/23

-AIG had earnings of $19.8 billion in the 4th quarter largely due to a tax break. The tax benefit of $17.7 billion was the main driver as the firm had $1.6 billion in operating income. 2/24

-Proctor and Gamble plans to cut 4,000 jobs and streamline its marketing in cost cutting measures. 2/24

-Three large European banks, including RBS, suffered heavy losses in the 4th quarter showing the toll the continent’s debt crisis has taken on banks. 2/24

-Sears announced it will shutter 1,200 stores in an attempt to raise up to $770 million in cash. The moves are viewed as the first step in the breakup of the company. The company announced losses of $3 billion in 2011. 2/24

-Volkswagen charged forward over 2011 doubling the previous year’s profit and earning the highest profit for the auto industry in 2011, but the 4th quarter was relatively flat showing the firm is feeling the effects of the European financial struggles. 2/25

Market

-Oil prices were pushed to another nine month high on Iran’s threat to cut off oil supplies to Europe. Oil finished at $104.50. 2/21

-At long last European leaders reached and approved a bailout agreement for Greece. The deal provides Greece with $172 billion and requires the country to reduce their debt loan to 120.5% of GDP by 2020. The country needs to improve its GDP while making substantial spending and pension cuts in a country that is entering its fifth year of recession. Creditors of the country in the private sector agreed to write down their holdings by 53.5%. 2/21

-Commodity prices continue to surge. Oil rose $2.60 to $105.60 a barrel and gold gained $32.60 to finish at $1,757.10. 2/22

-On positive economic news U.S. markets finished the week up. The S&P 500 reached its highest level since June 2008 up 0.2% and 0.3% for the week. The Dow once again crept over 13,000 only to fall back below the milestone. The Dow ended the week up 0.3%. Internationally, Japan rose 2.8% for the week reaching a 6 and a half month high, China edged up reaching a 3 month high, but Europe ended down 0.4%.  2/25

There is no guarantee that any investment strategy, including those described here, will be successful. Any investment or investment strategy can lose money. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future results. You should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Raffa Wealth Management, LLC. This information was gathered from reliable sources but we cannot guarantee accuracy. Indexes do not reflect the fees associated with actual investments and such fees would reduce the performance illustrated.
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