Weekly Market Recap: Consumer Sentiment Hits New High, Sears Holdings Skyrockets

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Tuesday

Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow +0.12%, S&P +0.07%, Nasdaq -0.11%, Oil +2.37%, Gold +2.03%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $106.06 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,760.90 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 3.43% to settle at $34.43.

Hot Feature: Will Higher Gas Prices Derail the Recovery?

Today’s markets were mixed because:

1) Greece. Today’s initial gains were driven by progress made in Greece after weeks of negotiating ended early Tuesday with a deal that will provide Athens with the 130 billion euros in funding it needs to stave off default. But while the deal sparked a modest rally in the morning, investors had already largely priced in the all-but-certain conclusion.

2) Financials. Though the early rally dissipated in the afternoon, financial stocks stayed positive. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) all closed up between 0.6 percent and 2 percent. Of the financial heavyweights, only JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) were in the red, the former dipping just below the break-even point in the last few minutes of trading.

3) Companies. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares fell 3 percent after Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced a new video streaming service for all of its cable subscribers, while Home Depot (NYSE:HD) got a boost after reporting fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped analysts’ expectations. Macy’s (NYSE:M) also reported better-than-expected earnings and sales that were in line with forecasts, while Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) shares climbed as much as 6 percent on reports that the company plans to buy out Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada’s 20 percent stake at a big discount.

BONUS: A Greener Apple

Wednesday

Markets closed down on Wall Street today: Dow -0.21%, S&P -0.33%, Nasdaq -0.52%, Oil -0.26%, Gold +1.12%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $105.97 a barrel. Precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,778.20 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.20% to settle at $34.43.

Hot Feature: Do Central Banks Care More About the Dow or Gold?

Today’s markets were down because:

1) Greece. Investors remained skeptical about the bailout for Greece, approved by euro-zone finance ministers on Tuesday, after Fitch lowered the credit rating on Greek debt from “CCC” to “C”, indicating that the ratings agency believes default is “highly likely in the near term.” While the deal means Greece will stay in the euro, and suggests it will avoid default in the near term, analysts warn that the nation will eventually need more support, and that Greece’s fate also depends on whether private-sector investors agree to accept a massive writedown on their holdings of Greek debt.

2) Housing. Existing-home sales rose 4.3 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million homes, the highest level since May 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Record affordability driven by low home prices and mortgage rates helped drive sales, pushing down inventories.

3) Companies. Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) was decidedly the most disappointing earnings call on Tuesday as the company reported results that missed expectations, pushing shares down 6 percent. Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) reported a $2.79 million loss on Wednesday, a significant reversal compared to the $3.42 million it made in profit last year. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was also in the spotlight today as the tech giant faced China’s Proview International in a Shanghai courtroom on allegations that it does now own the rights to the iPad trademark in China, while Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares were dealt a heavy blow in the form of Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) new “Streampix” video-on-demand service, though Comcast says the service is not meant to compete with Netflix.

BONUS: Obama Will Propose New Corporate Tax Rate

Thursday

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.36%, S&P +0.43%, Nasdaq +0.81%, Oil +1.75%, Gold +0.55%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $108.14 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,781.10 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 3.36% to settle at $35.48

Hot Feature: Do Central Banks Care More About the Dow or Gold?

Today’s markets were up because:

1) Jobs. New claims for unemployment benefits were unchanged last week, holding steady for a second week at the lowest level seen since March 2008. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 7,000 to 359,000, also the lowest since March 2008, signaling that employers may be close to ending the long cycle of heavy layoffs, instead preparing for more hiring.

2) Europe. A strong report on Germany’s economy lent some early support to markets this morning, but the European Commission said Thursday that it expects the euro zone to face a mild recession in 2012, thanks to negative growth in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and four other countries in the 17-nation single-currency region.

3) Companies. Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) traded lower after reporting earnings that fell far short of expectations, while Target (NYSE:TGT) reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and issued a positive outlook for 2012. IBM (NYSE:IBM), Travelers (NYSE:TRV), and Disney (NYSE:DIS) helped offset Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE:HPQ) declines after the company reported dismal PC sales for the quarter ended January 31, dragging down 44 percent.

BONUS: USDA Expects Food Inflation to Ease as Farmers Ramp Up Production

Friday

Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow -0.01%, S&P +0.17%, Nasdaq +0.23%, Oil +1.77%, Gold -0.67%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $109.74 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,774.30 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.47% to settle at $35.47

Hot Feature: Will the U.S. Release Oil Reserves to Ease Gas Prices?

Today’s markets were mixed because:

1) Housing. New home sales fell in January but an upward revision to December’s data and a reported drop in the supply of properties on the market are signaling a recovery in the housing sector. In fact, the inventory of new homes on the market in January was the lowest on record, as the slow recovery and flood of foreclosed properties on the market have discouraged new construction. Meanwhile, existing-home sales jumped 4.3 percent in January, according to a report earlier this week, to the highest level since May 2010. Confidence among homebuilders approached a five-year high this month, though, and builders are indicating that they’re ready to undertake more residential projects.

2) Consumers. Consumer sentiment rose to a 12-month high in February as Americans became more confident in the resilience of the U.S. economy, according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Though the survey’s gauge of current economic conditions cooled, roughly one-third of consumers responding to the survey reported hearing about more job opportunities, the highest proportion ever recorded by the survey.

3) Companies. J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) shares slipped after reporting sales that fell short of expectations for the fourth quarter, though the department store chain beat earnings estimates. AIG (NYSE:AIG) reported fourth-quarter profits of nearly $20 billion, thanks to an accounting change, giving shares a boost, while Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) also popped after the company topped earnings and sales expectations late Thursday. Gap (NYSE:GPS) shares fell after the retailer missed earnings and sales expectations, while Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) tumbled after the shoemaker issued a downbeat outlook for the first quarter of 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Knapp at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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