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Reports US

US stock market, economy and companies update (March 21, 2014)

March 21, 2014, Friday, 16:29 GMT | 12:29 EST | 20:59 IST | 23:29 SGT
Contributed by Trade The News

- The S&P500 pushed out to all-time highs in the first minutes of cash trading this morning, peaking at nearly 1884. Volume is several times higher than average thanks to quad witching. Banks shares are modestly higher after the CCAR stress test results, except for ZION which is down 3.5%. As of writing the DJIA is up 0.63%, the S&P500 is up 0.41% and the Nasdaq is down 0.19%.

- The Russian stock market dropped approximately 3.7% in early going after the Obama Administration introduced sanctions against a new round of Russian officials, as well as Bank Rossiya, a key institution used by the Putin regime. Geneva-based Gunvor, the world's No. 4 oil trading company, was also sanctioned for its ties to the Putin regime. Both S&P and Fitch have cut their sovereign outlooks on Russia to negative. The MICEX is only down 1% or so as of writing.

- Fed dissenter Kocherlakota outlined in a speech this morning some of his objections to the change in the Fed's forward guidance. Kocherlakota said the new guidance weakens the Fed's commitment to the 2% inflation target and does not provide any information on the speed at which it wants to reach full employment. Fed officials Bullard and Stein are scheduled to speak later today.

- Third-quarter results out of Darden Restaurants were in line with analysts' lowered expectations. Back on March 3rd Darden warned that severe winter weather hurt sales and profit in the quarter and today's results reflects the earlier statements, although Darden also lowered its full-year comp sales outlook. The company is still planning to spin off or sell Red Lobster, despite the continuing opposition of activist investors Starboard Value and Barington. Shares of DRI are up 2.6% this morning.

- AK Steel followed in the footsteps of Nucor earlier this week and offered very weak first-quarter guidance. AK cited higher energy costs related to the extreme cold weather, an unplanned blast furnace outage, the acceleration of a planned blast furnace outage, and a charge for a tentative legal settlement. The company warned shipments would be down q/q, although average selling prices were rising. AKS was up nearly 4% in the first hour of trade but is off its highs, while NUE is up 1.5%.

- Trading in Tiffany has been choppy this morning. The luxury retailer saw a loss in its fourth quarter from a sizable charge linked to an unfavorable arbitration ruling, but ex charges the firm only fell a bit short of EPS expectations. The firm's FY15 outlook was a bit soft as well. However, sales comps looked very good and executives were very upbeat on the conference call. After declining more than 2% in the early going, TIF is presently +2.5%.

***Looking Ahead***
- (CY) Cyprus Sovereign Debt Rating may Be Published by Moody's
- 11:45 (US) Fed's Bullard speaks on Brookings Panel on Nominal GDP
- 13:45 (US) Fed Fisher on forward guidance in London
- 14:00 (EU) EU President Van Rompuy in Brussels
- 15:00 (AR) Argentina Feb Industrial Production M/M: No est v 2.2% prior (revised from 1.6%); Y/Y: -3.1%e v -2.6% prior
- 15:00 (AR) Argentina Q4 Current Account Balance: -$1.4Be v -$1.3B prior
- (CO) Colombia Central Bank Interest Rate Decision: Expected to leave Overnight Lending Rate unchanged at 3.25%
- 16:30 (US) Fed's Kocherlakota speaks on Monetary Policy in Washington
- 16:30 (UK) BOE's Dale in Washington DC
- 18:30 (US) Fed's Stein speaks on Monetary Policy in Washington
- (MX) Mexico Banamex Survey of Economists

***Economic Data***
- (IT) Italy Feb Hourly Wages M/M: 0.1% v 0.6% prior; Y/Y: No est v 1.5% prior (revised from 1.4%)
- (IN) India Forex Reserves w/e Mar 14th: $297.3B v $295.4B prior
- (BR) Brazil Mar IBGE Inflation IPCA-15 M/M: 0.7% v 0.8%e; Y/Y: 5.9% v 5.9%e
- (CA) Canada Jan Retail Sales M/M: 1.3% v 0.7%e; Retail Sales Ex Auto M/M: 1.0% v 0.7%e
- (CA) Canada Feb CPI M/M: 0.8% v 0.6%e; Y/Y: 1.1% v 1.0%e; Consumer Price Index: 124.1 v 123.9e
- (CA) Canada Feb CPI Core M/M: 0.7% v 0.5%e; Y/Y: 1.2% v 1.1%e
- (CA) Canada Feb CPI (Seasonally Adj) M/M: 0.3% v 0.2%e; CPI Core (Seasonally Adj) M/M: 0.2% v 0.2% prior
- (MX) Mexico Jan Retail Sales Y/Y: -0.3% v -0.3%e