We got tons of economic data from all over the world today. But a late day surge in oil prices freaked everyone out.First, the scoreboard:
Dow: 12,980.3, +28.2, +0.2%
S&P 500: 1,374.0, +8.4, +0.6%
NASDAQ: 2,988.9, +22.0, +0.7%
And now, the top stories:
- Today’s global economic snapshot started in China. According to the country’s official data, manufacturing PMI climbed to 51.0 in February. This was up from 50.5 in January, and it barely beat economists’ estimate of 50.9. A reading above 50 signals expansion in the sector. So this was welcome news for those fearing an economic hard landing.
- The Markit Economics eurozone PMI number climbed to 49.0 in February from 48.8 in January. This was right in line with estimates, and it reflected a 6-month high. For the most part, individual eurozone countries saw improvements. One big loser, however, was Greece whose PMI number plunged to 37.7. Here’s A Quick Guide To Europe’s Deteriorating Youth Unemployment Nightmare >
- One crucial announcement everyone was waiting for was the ISDA judgment on whether or not a Greek credit event occurred, and if Greek debt credit-default swap (CDS) protection buyers would be paid. From what it seems, the answer is no. …for now. The ISDA has not ruled out the possibility that a CDS-triggering credit event could occur in the future.
- In the U.S., weekly initial jobless claims came in at 351k, down from 353k last week. This was better than the increase to 355k expected by economists. It wasn’t a major surprise, but the number continues to reflect a four-year low.
- We got conflicting reads on the health of the consumer today. According the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal incomes climbed 0.3 per cent and spending increased 0.2 per cent. These figures fell short of the the 0.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent increases expected by economists.
- February chain-store sales, on the other hand, came in surprisingly strong. The big winner today was Gap, who reported a 4.0 per cent increase, beating estimates for a 1.4 per cent decline. Limited Brands, Macy’s, Target, Costco, and TJX also beat estimates.
- Auto sales also came in strong. The Detroit three – GM, Ford, Chrysler – all beat analysts’ estimates. Business Insider estimates that U.S. auto sales on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) jumped to around 15.1 million, which is well ahead of estimates calling for 14.0 to 14.4 million.
- There was some disappointing economic data. The ISM manufacturing index fell to 52.4 in February from 54.1 a month ago. Economists were expecting an increase to 54.5. Also, Construction spending unexpectedly fell 0.1 per cent versus economists expectation for 1.0 per cent growth.
- Oil prices surged to above $110 per barrel on reports of an explosion in Saudi Arabia. News outlets have yet to confirm.
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