Stocks tanked after we saw a massive jump in the trade deficit, and global bonds sold off on new concerns about Greece’s debt crisis.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,921.49, -148.91, (-0.82%)
- S&P 500: 2,089.43, -25.06, (-1.19%)
- Nasdaq: 4,938.58, -78.35, (-1.56%)
And now, the top stories on Tuesday:
- The US trade deficit ballooned to $US51.4 billion in March. This was an unprecedented jump on a couple of fronts: it was a six-year high, much more than the $US41.7 billion forecast, and was the biggest deficit since October 2008. It was a 43.1% increase from last month, the largest jump in 18 years. The surge in the deficit — the gap between imports and exports — has been largely blamed on the nine-month slowdown at West Coast ports, and on the strong US dollar.
- This means the economy likely contracted in the first quarter. Many economists downgraded their estimates for Q1 Gross Domestic Product into negative territory. “Guess you can kiss the positive 0.2% rise in first quarter real GDP good-bye,” wrote Chris Rupkey at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. TD Securities estimates that the jump in the deficit could erase between 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points from first-quarter GDP. Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson had this take: “Barring a miracle in other data, the March trade numbers mean Q1 GDP growth will be revised to less than zero. Recession!* *Not really.” So there’s some relief.
- West Texas Intermediate crude oil crossed the $US60 per barrel mark for the first time since December. Reuters reported that protests in the eastern Libyan oil port of Zueitina stopped crude flows, and blocked exports. Also, Saudi Arabia raised its official selling price for crude oil to the US and Northwest Europe, Reuters reported. Still, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister told CNBC in a morning interview, “No one can set the price of oil — it’s up to Allah.”
- Disney posted earnings per share above analysts’ forecasts, and the stock rose to an all-time high in pre-market trading. The company saw diluted earnings per share of $US1.23 (vs $US1.10 forecast,) and revenues of $US12.46 billion (vs $US12.25 billion.) Disney has beaten EPS estimates in every quarter for four years. It’s revenues were boosted by theme park sales and continued demand for “Frozen” merchandise. Income from cable networks fell.
- Microsoft is thinking about buying Salesforce. Salesforce has been approached by another suitor about a possible acquisition, sources told Bloomberg. Additionally, a deal with Microsoft is not yet in the works though Salesforce has reportedly hired two investment banks to respond to offers.
- Avon shares tanked by more than 11% following a report that it’s struggling to sell its North American business. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Avon is considering strategic alternatives for the unit, which could include selling parts or all of it. And late Monday, the New York Post reported that companies interested in buying out Avon are struggling to finance an offer. Avon’s North American revenues fell 18% in Q1.
- The service sector expanded in April. Markit Economics’ latest services PMI came in at 57.4, just below expectations. ISM’s non-manufacturing index also indicated expansion last month, rising to 57.8 from 56.5 in March while topping expectations for a reading of 56.2.
- Alibaba shares fell to an all-time low ahead of its earnings release on Thursday. The stock fell by up to 3% to as low as $US77.77 per share. In an earnings preview, Morgan Stanley analysts noted that in a speech on April 23, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said he expects a headcount freeze in 2015. That could be interpreted to mean earnings will come under pressure in the near term, the firm noted.
- Jefferies has a big new call for Tesla: $US350. Jefferies initiated research coverage on the stock with a “Buy” rating and $US350 price target for Tesla, which saw shares rally by up to 3% to around $US239 per share. A recent survey of 700 people suggested that Tesla could sell “at least” 500,000 cars a year by 2020. According to Bloomberg data, only Stifel, which has a price target of $US400, is projecting more upside for Tesla shares.
DON’T MISS: Americans are losing confidence in the economy »