U.S. stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) see-sawed in and out of positive territory this morning on news that consumer confidence rises more than forecasted.
Indicators that consumer confidence is on the rise overshadowed any losses elicited by concerns that the global recession will be prolonged because of the swine flu and the poor performance of some banks on the federal government’s stress tests.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to a whopping 39.2 in April as stocks recovered, mortgage rates dropped, and despite increasing unemployment rates, Americans thought that more jobs will be created, giving the index its biggest gain since 2005. This is great news for the economy in that it improves the odds that the recent gains seen in consumer spending are sustainable, some government actions are starting to pay off and the recession could possibly be easing, states Shobhana Chandra of Bloomberg.
The swine flu has definitely impacted global markets. Many investors remain on the guard for any further developments. The World Health Organization has raised its alert, just short of a full pandemic, states Pan Pylas of the Associated Press. This has forced many investors to shun away from riskier investments like stocks and turn to safe haven assets like the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen.
More news has hit the financial sector. It seems that giants Bank of America (BAC) and Citi (C) didn’t pass the federal government’s stress tests with flying colors. Officials state that the stress test results indicate that both banks may need to raise additional capital. This doesn’t mean that these banks are drowning in the ocean, the additional capital could be needed to meet the requirements the extra capital buffer required by the government, states the Associated Press.
In auto news, Chrysler lenders and the Treasury have been reported to reach a deal, says Poornima Gupta for the Associated Press. The terms haven’t been disclosed, however.
There is yet another sign that the housing market may have bottomed out. Despite dropping again, for the first time in 25 months, home prices didn’t set another record. More appealing mortgage rates and an astronomical number of foreclosures has made the real estate industry a bit more appealing for those who can get a loan. Additionally, the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index tumbled 18.6% from February 2008, slightly better than the 19% it dropped in January, states the Associated Press. Recently, the real estate industry has started to see a little life, which can be seen through the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate (IYR), up 23.8% over the last month, despite being down about 13.8% for the year.
The earnings season has done fairly well for the first quarter of 2009, with nearly 68% of S&P 500 companies beating analyst expectations, drug maker Pfizer (PFE) can now be included in this group. Despite posting a 2% decline in profits, the company reported earnings of $0.54/share beating expectations of $0.49/share.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 0.1%, the S&P 500 gained nearly 0.05% and the Nasdaq was up about 0.2% in intraday trading.
Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.
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