Financial News and Notes 2/26/12 – 3/3/12

Economy

-Sales of new homes fell 0.9% in January compared to December, but are up 3.5% compared to a year earlier. 2/27

-G-20 leaders met over the weekend and decided to defer for months any meaningful decisions on assistance to Europe waiting more action by Europe to fight back their debt crisis. 2/27

-Greece became the first EU country to be rated in default by S&P. 2/28

-Pending home sales rose 2% in January to reach the highest level since April 2010. 2/28

-Orders for long lasting goods, like boats or dishwashers, fell 4% in January. 2/29

-Home prices dropped to new record lows in December, falling 4%. 2/29

-Consumer confidence reached a 12 month high. 2/29

-The revised estimate of 4th quarter GDP edged up to 3.0% from 2.8%. It’s the fastest growth rate since the second quarter of 2010. 3/1

-Fed chairman Ben Bernanke testified before congress that while there has been positive news on jobs the overall economic recovery has been “uneven and modest.” 3/1

-The unemployment rate in the Euro-zone reached a 15 year high, and inflation accelerated. Unemployment hit 10.7% in January and inflation rose 0.1% to 2.7%. 3/2

-Initial jobless claims fell slightly and the 4 week moving average dropped to its lowest level in close to 4 years. 3/2

-Auto sales in February were the best increase in 4 years. 3/2

-Wage and salary gains have seen solid growth but when accounting for inflation the gains have been very modest. 3/2

Corporate

-HSBC saw a 27% rise in earnings over 2011 despite its inability to cut costs. 2/28

-Elpida, a Japanese chip maker, filed for bankruptcy protection making it the largest Japanese manufacturer since World War II to declare bankruptcy. 2/28

-U.S. Banks had their largest quarterly increase in lending in 4 years. It is good news for the economy as the increasing availability of debt for businesses can help aid their growth. 2/29

-GM will put manufacturing the Chevy Volt on hold for five weeks due to slow sales. 3/3

-Yelp’s share price rose 64% on its first trading day. 3/3

-BP estimates that the settlement it reached as a result of the oil spill of its Deepwater Horizons oil drilling platform will have a total cost of $7.8 billion. 3/3

Market

-The Dow finally settled above the 13,000 mark, closing at 13,005, after hovering near the milestone for several days. It’s the highest point the index has reached since May of 2008. The Dow is up 6.4% for the year to date for the best start to a year since 1998. Oil eased off recent highs falling $2.01 to $106.55. 2/29

-The ECB made its second wave of low interest loans to help the weak European banking sector. Over 800 banks took the loans of more than $700 billion. 3/1

-U.S. markets fell on the last day of February by 0.5% on a cautious view of the economy by the fed chairmen and no evidence that a QE3 program could be in the works. The Dow fell back below the 13,000 mark, but is up 2.9% for the month and is only 8.6% short of its all time high. The S&P 500 gained 4.3% for February. International markets gained 5.7% over the month. The 10 year treasury yield finished at 1.988%. After several large trades, gold prices dropped significantly to $1,709.9 an ounce and oil fell as well to finish at $107.07 a barrel but it up 8.7% in February. 3/1

-Stocks have continued their upward trend. The S&P finished the week up 0.3%, the Nikkei reached a 7 month high up 1.3%, and Europe rose 0.9%. Oil retreated ending the week down 2% at $106.70 a barrel. 3/3

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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