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On the bright side. the S&P 500 inched to a new 4-year high.First, the scoreboard:
Dow: 12,981.5, -1.4, -0.0%
S&P 500: 1,367.6, +1.8, +0.1%
NASDAQ: 2,966.1, +2.4, +0.1%
And now, the top stories:
- Not much good came out of this weekend’s meeting of the G20 leaders in Mexico City. Leaders resisted calls to boost IMF funds, which would potentially be tapped to aid the eurozone. In today’s Cashin’s Comments, Art Cashin quoted a UBS colleague who called the G20 meeting a “waste of time and airfares.”
- The German government today, however, approved the 130 billion euro bail out financing package for Greece. The Parliament voted 496 to 90 overwhelmingly in favour of the the package.
- January pending home sales jumped 2 per cent, beating economists’ expectation for a modest 1.0 per cent increase. “Given more favourable housing market conditions, the trend in contract activity implies we are on track for a more meaningful sales gain this year,” wrote Lawrence Yun of the National Association of Realtors. Homebuilders Lennar and DR Horton moved higher. Lowe’s, the do-it-yourself home repair retailer, reported better-than-expected earnings, which helped its shares rise.
- Warren Buffett had some bullish things to say about housing in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, which was released on Saturday. “That devastating supply/demand equation is now reversed: Every day we are creating more households than housing units. People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while “doubling-up” may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure.” HORMONES, MISTAKES AND MOYNIHAN: Here Are The Highlights From Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter >
- Other big winners in today’s market were the big U.S. banks. The sector got a nice shout out in Buffett’s letter. “The banking industry is back on its feet, and Wells Fargo is prospering. Its earnings are strong, its assets solid and its capital at record levels.” Buffett also had nice things to say about J.P. Morgan and Bank of America. All three banks saw their shares soar.
- The Dallas Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index jumped to 17.8 from 15.3, topping economists’ estimate for 15.8. The report came with some bullish indicators for hiring. “labour market indicators reflected a sharp increase in hiring and longer workweeks,” the Federal Reserve said in a statement. “20-nine per cent of firms reported hiring new workers, while 4 per cent reported layoffs. The hours worked index continued to suggest average workweeks lengthened.”
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