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Stocks Rise As Volatility Bets Go Bust


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

Global equities rallied following the overwhelmingly successful referendum vote by Crimea to leave Ukraine and sanctions from the US and EU that appeared to have less bite than had been previously anticipated. The US responded by enacting sanctions against a number of Russian individuals, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The US successfully passed a UN resolution on Saturday that expressed concern over the referendum vote and has publicly said that it is illegal. Defying these sanctions from the US, the Russian government recognized Crimea as sovereign and independent.

Following a meeting between its ministers in Brussels, the EU enacted sanctions against select Russian individuals that assisted in violating Ukrainian sovereignty, stating that it would consider deeper sanctions against Russia if the situation escalated. A number of European oil-field servicers and drillers suffered losses on the idea that sanctions with Russia would crimp demand.

In the US, the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) bounced back strongly from its overnight lows, gaining 28 points to finish up 1.0% in today's session. In particular, bullish volatility positions that had been purchased on Friday in the expectations of further fireworks today provided extra ammunition for the rally. The gains in the benchmark index were led by technology, industrial, and financial stocks. Crude oil remained lower for much of the day, closing down 0.92%.

Industrial production in the US rose strongly in February, increasing 0.6% month-over-month despite previous economic reports that suggested otherwise. The expected gain was 0.2% after declining 0.2% in January. Notable strength was seen in business equipment and materials production. The March NAHB index of real-estate broker and homebuilder sentiment for future single-family home sales and construction rose marginally to 47 from 46 in the month prior.

Tomorrow's Financial Outlook

Tomorrow morning the February consumer price index will be released. Following poor producer price growth that was reported last Friday, many forecasters have been revising their estimates lower. The median expected consumer price growth in the month is now 1.2% year-over-year. Also scheduled to be reported is February housing starts and building permits. After showing the second largest monthly drop in two decades in January, economists are expecting a 3.4% increase in housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 910,000. Lastly, the Treasury department will report foreign Treasury flows for January.

The week will be generally quiet for economic reports from the rest of the world. Tomorrow, the German ZEW survey of professional investors' thoughts on the current economic situation and expectations for future growth is scheduled to be released. Additionally, February Chinese property prices will be released.

Tomorrow we will start getting the first look at first quarter earnings. Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) and Hertz (NYSE:HTZ) are scheduled to report.

Twitter: @Minyanville

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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