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US Markets Take Another Wild Ride, With Utilities, Transports, and Financials on the Upswing


Today's financial recap and tomorrow's financial outlook.

US stocks had another roller coaster of a day. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) opened the day to a strong rally, gaining as much as 15 points before falling to -15 points for the session. The selling ceased at 1 p.m. and the S&P regained all of its losses. The NASDAQ-100 (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX) had a similar nausea-inducing ride, traversing 100 points during the session. Some of the selling could be attributed to news from Ukraine that Russian troops had been sighted in the eastern cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. European risk assets all declined, and German bunds rallied strongly, which carried US Treasuries higher.

The iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (NYSEARCA:ITB) rose 1.4% in early trading but sold off following the weaker-than-expected NAHB Housing Market Index report, finishing 0.30% lower. The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (NASDAQ:IBB) opened with a 2.2% gain before dipping 5.7% intraday to $207.48. However, the biotech sector recovered in the afternoon to finish in the green. Utilities were the clear winners on the upside today, with the Utilities SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLU) notching a 1.22% gain. Transports and financials also fared well.

March consumer prices rose 1.5% from a year ago, slightly more than the 1.4% expected, helped by faster price increases in services industries. The first regional manufacturing index for April (New York's) saw its topline figure decline to 1.29 from 5.61 last month with modest weakness in new orders and production.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) both reported very strong first-quarter earnings in the pre-market, which helped US equities rally strongly in early trading. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) reported its earnings after the close, showing better than expected margin and profit growth, but revenues were still slightly below estimates. Margin guidance for the coming quarter was very strong, but the full-year forecast only beat the analyst estimate by a thin margin.

Tomorrow's Financial Outlook

March housing starts and building permits will be reported tomorrow morning. Starts are expected to increase to an annual rate of 975,000 from 907,000 in February now that the harsh winter weather has passed. Permits are expected to remain little changed at 1.015 million from 1.014 million in the month prior. Monday's retail sales showed the strongest growth in building materials in the past 12 months, which implies that tomorrow's report may be even stronger. March industrial production and factory capacity utilization will be reported, as well as the Fed's Beige Book.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is scheduled to give a speech at 12:25 p.m. EDT in New York. Board member Jeremy Stein and regional presidents Lockhart and Fisher will also give speeches tomorrow.

A big overnight market mover will be the release of China's first-quarter GDP. Economic activity has clearly slowed in the country, and economists are expecting growth to decline to 7.3% year-on-year from 7.7% in the fourth quarter 2013. Year-to-date retail sales, capital investment, and industrial production through March are also scheduled to be reported. Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda is scheduled to give a speech in Tokyo early tomorrow morning.

Nineteen major US companies are scheduled to report earnings tomorrow as the first-quarter season officially kicks off. Notable reports include US Bancorp (NYSE:USB), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), IBM (NYSE:IBM), American Express (NYSE:AXP), Sandisk (NASDSAQ:SNDK), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), WW Grainger (NYSE:GWW), and PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC).

Twitter: @Minyanville

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