The stock market rose slightly in early trading today as investors continued their flight from European assets, resulting in a rise in U.S. based equities and debt. The Dow Jones Industrial index (DJI) rose 67 points by 12:00 noon Eastern Time to 12,089 – although the index had cooled from its early surge of over 100 points. The NASDAQ Composite gained 4 points by midday to 2,616 while the S&P 500 had risen 6 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,242.
Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) pared early gains of nearly 12 percent but was still up 5.8% to $28.01 per share after posting strong numbers in its regulatory filing Monday night. Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE: S) shares had risen 4.4 percent by 12:30pm Eastern Time to $2.47 on news that a judge had delayed its lawsuit to block AT&T’s potential $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA.
Shares for Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) had lost 11.5% of their value by midday Tuesday to $24.81 after the company reported a 13% decrease in its third quarter profit. It also forecast lower revenue for the 2012 fiscal year. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) shares tumbled 3.7 percent to $182.54 per share upon news that long-term investors have been selling the company’s stock since late June. IRA.com News reported Monday that Amazon.com, Inc. and Verizon had both been included in buyout rumors of struggling online video streaming company Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), which was relatively unchanged in early morning trading today.
The Euro currency was down over 1 percent to as low as $1.3057 versus the U.S. Dollar as the Eurozone’s sovereign debt troubles continued to weigh heavily upon investor sentiment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers on Tuesday that the €500 billion cap on the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) fund will remain in place, dampening hopes that the fund’s powers will be expanded to allow for sovereign bond purchases.
In November, several European policy makers had backed a proposal for the EFSF to absorb sovereign debt of struggling nations in the region and then utilize those bonds as collateral to secure a fresh round of loans from the European Central Bank. FitchRatings on Tuesday lowered its outlook for several countries adjacent to the Eurozone which have significant ties and exposure to the region, which placed further pressure on European assets.
Fed Policy Meeting
The Federal Reserve is holding its final policy meeting of 2011 this afternoon, with an announcement expected by the end of the trading session Tuesday. Many analysts believe the main result of today’s meeting will be an announcement of short-term interest rate forecasts for the beginning of 2012.
With the influx of investor assets currently storming toward U.S. financial instruments, some experts have expressed doubt that there will be any motion by the Fed to bring up Quantitative Easing for the remainder of 2011. U.S. Treasury yields remain close to 2 percent on 10-year debt and the U.S. Dollar has recovered significantly from its YTD lows in April. Although holiday retail sales have not been as spectacular in the U.S. as many had hoped, Black Friday and Cyber Monday numbers indicated that consumer confidence had not dipped to 2008 levels, when retailers were forced to deal with overstocked inventories and eroding prices of goods.
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Looking Ahead to Tuesday Afternoon Trading
Unless the Fed surprises experts by making a drastic interest rate forecast in its announcement following today’s meeting, it appears unlikely that U.S. policy will influence markets much this afternoon. However, news out of Europe could have a much more profound impact on markets today if any major news occurs in that region before market close.