Sunday, May 3, 2009

US Stocks: Weekly Round Up (April 26-May 1)

. Sunday, May 3, 2009

By stockOzone team

US stock indices finished with gains amid hopes that the worst may be over. For the week, Dow was up 136.12 points or 1.68%. S&P climbed 11.29 points or 1.30%, while Nasdaq Composite settled with a weekly gain of 24.91 points or 1.47%. A steady stream of positive economic data and corporate earnings boosted investor optimism.

Economic data released during the week were largely better than expected. A release by University of Michigan/Reuters showed that consumer sentiment index rose to 65.1 in April from 57.3 in March. According to Department of Commerce, U.S. factory orders fell 0.9% in March. Economists expected a reading of 0.6%. Institute for Supply Management said on Friday that its manufacturing index rose to 40.1% from 36.3% in March, the highest since September. A release by Commerce Department showed that US consumer spending rose 0.2% in April. According to Department of Labor, Americans filing first- time claims for unemployment benefits increased by 27,000 to 640,000 in the week ending April 25, matching consensus estimates. U.S. Department of Commerce said this week that real gross domestic product shrank at a 6.1% annualized rate in the first quarter; compared to 6.3% decline in the fourth quarter of 2008. A release by US Conference Board showed that consumer confidence index jumped to 39.2 in April from 26.9 in March. According to the Case-Shiller home price index released by Standard & Poor's, home prices in 20 major cities fell 18.6% in February from the same month last year, compared with a 19% year-over-year decline in January 2009.

Meanwhile, U.S. Federal Reserve policy makers on Wednesday left the target federal-funds rate for interbank lending unchanged in a range between 0.0% and 0.25%. The FOMC said in a statement "The economic outlook has improved modestly since the March meeting," adding that "the pace of contraction appears to be somewhat slower."

Chrysler LLC on Thursday filed for bankruptcy after talks between the U.S. Treasury Department and lenders broke down. However, the automaker also reached an alliance agreement with Fiat will supply small vehicle and engine technology, as well as distribution of Chrysler vehicles in Europe and other parts of the world, in return for an initial 20 percent equity stake in Chrysler.

Earlier this week, Shares of US banks were hammered on reports that U.S. regulators have told Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) and Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) that they may need to raise more capital following stress testing of the two banks.

On the earnings front, oil giant Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) announced first-quarter results that missed expectations. Net income slipped 58% to $4.55 billion, or 92 cents a share, from $10.89 billion, or $2.02 a share in the year-ago period.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX) reported that its first quarter net income tumbled 64% to $1.84 billion, or 92 cents a share, from $5.17 billion, or $2.48 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue slipped 46% to $35 billion from $65 billion. Shares of Chevron finished at $66.87, up 77 cents or 1.16%.

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) reported that it earned $2.61 billion, or 84 cents per share, compared to $2.71 billion, or 82 cents per share, a year ago.

Drugmaker Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) Inc. said that its first quarter profit fell 2% to $2.73 billion, or 40 cents a share from net income of $2.78 billion, or 41 cents a share, in the prior year quarter. Revenue decreased 8% to $10.9 billion from $11.8 billion.

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) said that its first quarter profit rose slightly to $3.21 billion, or 58 cents a share, from $3.05 billion, or 57 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago. Shares of the company fell 46 cents or 1.48% to $30.54.

Disclosure: Author does not own any of the stocks discussed here.

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