Daily Market Commentary for May 17, 2012
And the whoopla of Facebook continues... if Facebook (FB:Nasdaq) prices at $41 a share or more, it will raise $19.861 billion and beat the previous record set by Visa (V:NYSE) which raised $19.65 billion when it went public March 18, 2008.
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The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits was unchanged last week at 370,000. Jobless claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 370,000 from initial reading 367,000. The average number of new jobless claims over the past four weeks fell by 4,750 to 375,000. In week ended May 5, continuing jobless claims increased by 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.27 million, with continuing claims reported with a one-week lag. Nearly 6.27 million people received some type of state or federal benefit in week ended April 28, down 149,759 from the prior week.
The Conference Board said Thursday that the economy is 'still struggling to gain momentum', though long-term trends remain expansionary as it reported that its index of leading economic indicators fell 0.1% in April striking the first decline since September. "Growth is slow, but choppy, and consumers, executives and investors are looking for more progress," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, a private research group. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators that are designed to signal business cycle peaks and troughs. Among the 10 indicators that make up the LEI, led by building permits, four made negative contributions in April. The LEI rose 1.8% in the six months through April, compared with a gain of 0.1% in the prior six months.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday that business conditions at manufacturing firms in the Philadelphia region worsened in May. The Philly Fed index fell to -5.8 from 8.5 in April, well below expectations. The new-orders index dropped to -1.2 from 2.7 in April and the employment index which is a gauge of hiring expectations, turned negative. Readings below zero indicate that more companies are contracting instead of expanding.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT:NYSE) on Thursday reported its Q1 profit increased 10% to $3.74 billion or $1.09 a share, from $3.4 billion or 97 cents a share in the year-ago period. Total revenue rose 8.5% to $113 billion and sales increased 8.6% to $112.3 billion. Wal-Mart said it expects Q2 profit of $1.13 to $1.18 a share.
GameStop Corp. (GME:NYSE) reported Thursday its Q1 profit fell to $72.5 million or 54 cents a share, from $80.4 million or 56 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Sales fell to $2 billion from $2.3 billion and GameStop expects Q2 earnings of 10 cents to 18 cents a share.
In the run-up to this weekend's NATO summit in Chicago, 12 people have been arrested at protests and demonstrations, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Of the dozen people arrested, 10 were taken into police custody in "voluntary" fashion, McCarthy said in remarks broadcast by the public-television station WTTW. One man from Los Angeles, was charged with a felony for physically attacking a police officer. Protest events that have taken place so far have been small relative to those scheduled for Friday and thereafter including, demonstrations in which 'black bloc' protesters are expected to be involved. The first full-scale NATO gathering in a U.S. city other than Washington, the main meetings at the summit are slated for Sunday and Monday at the McCormick Place convention center.
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