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Midday Market Report: Oil Supplies Grow Unexpectedly, Stocks Falter

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European and American equities fell on weak economic data and a glut of oil supplies today.

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Weak economic data and dropping oil prices drove stocks in Europe and America down today.

European stocks headed down today after GDP and inflation data for the continent's biggest economies came up weak.
  • The Eurostoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) fell 1.13% to 2,496.68.
  • The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) dropped 1.03% to 5,808.99.
  • Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) dropped 1.13% to 6,998.80.
The sell-off in Europe hit investor sentiment in the US as well.
  • The Dow (^DJI) fell 0.66% to 13,109.98.
  • The S&P 500 (SPY) rose 0.78% to 1,401.49.
  • The Nasdaq (^IXIC) declined 0.79% to 3,095.80.
Durable goods orders, defined as any hardware or software intended to last three years before needing to be replaced, increased only 2.2% in February, less than the 3% increase expected.

Oil futures fell today as Britain and France consider joining the United States in a coordinated release of strategic oil petroleum reserves to put a lid on oil prices. A report by the US Energy Department showed an unexpected rise in stockpiles. Crude oil supplies in the US rose by 7.1 million barrels to 353.4 million. WTI crude for May delivery dropped over 2% to $105.09/barrel this morning.

Energy and basic materials stocks led today's decline. Exxon Mobil (XOM) declined 0.92%. PetroChina (PTR) and Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR) both declined nearly 3%. Total (TOT) is still dropping, mostly because of a leak in one of its North Sea gas platforms that could take months to repair. Freeport-McMoRan Copper (FCX) was particularly hard-hit, declining 4%.

Annie's Inc, the organic packaged food company, debuted on the Big Board today under the ticker (BNNY). Annie's proved that Wall Street has a healthy appetite for IPOs, popping 70% this morning. Vocera Communications (VCRA) also debuted on the NYSE and spiked over 40%.

As the Supreme Court debates the fate of President Barack Obama's landmark health care law, investors in hospitals and health care stocks are buying insurance against a decline in those companies' bonds. If the law is deemed unconstitutional, tens of millions of people will no longer have health insurance, leaving health care companies with fewer potential customers.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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