Shares drift higher but Italy remains a cloud
00:00, February 27 2013
· By Sales Trading
Europe's markets have managed to stay fairly well supported today as investors continue to digest the results of this week's inconclusive Italian election. Downside has been somewhat limited in light of Fed Chairman Bernanke's soothing comments about QE last night; while a fairly well received Italian bond auction has also helped.
Yields did come in significantly higher, but the success of the auction was likely down to local buyers and thus not really an accurate guide for overall sentiment or confidence in the bond sale.
Upside has been limited by some fairly belligerent comments from the Five Star movement's Beppe Grillo who ruled out any sort of support for either of his political opponents, which suggests that forming any type of coalition government will be fraught with difficulty, if not impossible.
Amongst the best performers today telecoms giant Vodafone is higher on reports that it has put on hold its bid for German cable provider Kabel Deutscheland.
Also outperforming is industrial pump maker Weir Group after reporting record profits and margins for 2012 at the same time as retaining a fairly upbeat outlook.
On the downside oil services company Petrofac is having a day to forget despite reporting results in line with expectations and an increased dividend. Also lower Eurasian Natural Resources has slipped back after announcing that it would be subject to higher than expected tax rates for 2012.
Intu Properties, formerly Capital Shopping Centres, are also lower after announcing the issuance of more shares to fund a £251m real estate purchase in Milton Keynes.
US markets opened only slightly higher despite a fairly upbeat January durable goods number. The headline figure was worse than expected, with a 5.2% drop, however when stripping out transportation and aircraft orders, the numbers were much better than expected, showing a 1.9% gain, well above expectations of a 0.2% rise. US home sales for January also came in better than expected at 4.5%, above the 1.9% gain expected.
Investors continue to remain remarkably sanguine given the so called "sequester" is only a couple of days away.
With Fed Chairman Bernanke due to start the second day of testimony on Capitol Hill markets are likely to remain underpinned given his comments yesterday on the ongoing nature of the current stimulus plan.
On the earnings front retailers are in the spotlight with Target reporting Q4 results which came in below expectations. Net income fell 2% in the face of tougher competition, even though its adjusted numbers beat expectations.
Sector peer JC Penney is also due to release its latest numbers after the bell with expected to show a loss for Q4 of $0.18c a share.
The Japanese yen has been the best performer today as markets await the announcement of the next Bank of Japan governor, with traders paring short yen positions, while concerns about uncertainty in Europe have helped drive capital back into the Japanese currency.
While the latest UK GDP numbers came in as expected, revisions in previous quarters prompted a revision higher in the annualised number to 0.2% growth for 2012, which is a silver lining at best and a fig leaf for the UK chancellor to use to offset the political damage of the weekend ratings downgrade by Moody's. This has seen the pound pull back some ground after the losses of recent days.
The worst performers have been the commodity currencies of the Australian, Kiwi and Canadian dollar. The Aussie dollar slipped back after disappointing Q4 construction data overnight.
Rising oil inventory data from the American Petroleum institute has seen WTI oil prices come under pressure today, though the slightly better tone from equity markets has limited the downside, as has a slightly lower than expected build from weekly inventory data.
Precious metals prices have slipped back on a slightly firmer dollar with gold, silver and platinum and palladium all lower, though gold prices remain above the $1,600 level after yesterday's sharp move above it.
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