Updated: 03-27-2015

The Market at 04:15PM ET
Dow: +34.43… | Nasdaq: +27.86… | S&P: +4.87…
NASDAQ Vol: 1.56 bln… Adv: 1628… Dec: 1125…
NYSE Vol: 725.4 mln… Adv: 1842… Dec: 1200…

Moving the Market

S&P 500 enters -2.5% week-to-date

Biotechnology outperforms

Sector Watch
Strong: Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Health Care, Utilities
Weak: Energy, Financials, Industrials

04:15PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages registered their first advance of the week on Friday with the Nasdaq Composite (+0.6%) ending ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.2%). Despite today's modest uptick, the two indices ended with respective losses of 2.7% and 2.2% for the week.

Overall, the final session of the week was fairly quiet with equity indices bouncing around narrow ranges. The S&P 500 spent the day in a ten-point channel with the bulk of the action occurring near its 100-day moving average (2,058). The benchmark index settled below that level on Thursday, but managed to reclaim that mark today.

Six of ten sectors registered gains with most countercyclical groups showing relative strength. The telecom services sector was an exception, ending flat, while consumer staples (+0.6%), utilities (+0.5%), and health care (+0.7%) posted gains.

Most notably, the third largest sector by weight-health care-was underpinned by biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 347.46, +6.65) surged 2.0%, but still ended the week lower by 5.2%. Today, however, the industry group did some heavy lifting and contributed to the outperformance of the Nasdaq even as large cap technology names struggled.

The technology sector (+0.2%) started in-line with the market, but slumped from its opening high in a move that coincided with Apple (AAPL 123.25, -0.99) turning negative. The stock settled lower by 0.8%, but managed to hold its 50-day moving average (122.67). Meanwhile, high-beta chipmakers traded in mixed fashion until the final hour when it was reported that Intel (INTC 32.00, +1.92) is in talks to acquire Altera (ALTR 44.41, +9.83). The two names soared 6.4% and 28.5%, respectively and the news set a fire under the entire chipmaker space with the PHLX Semiconductor Index surging 2.8%. It is worth noting that the late surge lifted the entire sector into positive territory.  

Elsewhere among cyclical sectors, energy (-0.7%) and financials (-0.1%) lagged while consumer discretionary (+0.5%) and industrials (+0.4%) outperformed.

The energy sector ended the day at the bottom of the barrel, but still finished the week ahead of the remaining cyclical sectors (-0.7%). Crude oil factored into today's weakness as the energy component fell 5.0% to $48.87/bbl and continued its retreat during electronic trading. Despite the plunge, WTI crude gained 4.9% for the week.

Also of note, the financial sector (-0.1%) finished with a slim loss today, but ended the week behind the remaining nine sectors with a 3.0% loss.

On the flip side, the consumer discretionary sector (+0.5%) ended ahead of other cyclical groups with help from homebuilders and retailers. The iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 27.79, +0.46) gained 1.7% while SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 100.24, +0.82) advanced 0.8%.

Treasuries spent the day in a steady climb from their overnight lows with the 10-yr yield slipping four basis points to 1.96%.

Today's participation was below average with roughly 725 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data was limited to Q4 GDP and Michigan Sentiment:
  • GDP growth in Q4 2014 was unrevised in the third estimate and remained at 2.2% after increasing 5.0% in Q3. The Briefing.com consensus expected a revision to 2.4% 
    • Real final sales saw a slight upward revision to 2.3% from 2.1%, but nothing in the data altered the notion that economic growth trends slowed down significantly in the fourth quarter 
  • The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was revised up to 93.0 in the March final reading from a preliminary reading of 91.2 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a revision up to 92.0 
On Monday, February Personal Income, Personal Spending, and core PCE Prices will be released at 8:30 ET while the Pending Home Sales report for February will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.
  • Nasdaq Composite +3.3% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +2.9% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +0.1% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -0.6% YTD 
Week in Review: Stocks Pull Back

The stock market began the trading week on a sleepy note. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and S&P 500 (-0.2%) surrendered their slim gains during the final hour while the Nasdaq Composite settled lower by 0.3% after lagging throughout the session. Equity indices spent the entire Monday session near their flat lines while the Dollar Index (96.86, -1.05) extended its retreat that began during the previous week. The index fell 1.1% with the greenback giving up 1.4% to the euro (1.0966). The single currency rallied in the morning and saw little afternoon reaction to a joint press conference held by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The two leaders did not provide any specifics about their earlier meeting, suggesting the two sides remain at odds with regard to finding a sustainable solution for Greece.

Equity indices registered their second consecutive decline on Tuesday with the S&P 500 retreating 0.6%. The benchmark index ended in-line with the Dow Jones Industrial Average while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) outperformed slightly. Equities traded near their flat lines through the first half of the session before sliding to lows during afternoon action. All ten sectors finished the day in negative territory with technology (-0.3%) registering the slimmest loss. Also of note, the Dollar Index (97.15, +0.12) was on track for its third consecutive decline, but an early morning rebound following an in-line CPI report (+0.2%) helped the Index finish with a slim gain. Meanwhile, crude oil endured some intraday volatility before settling higher by 0.1% at $47.51/bbl. Strikingly, crude's flat finish could not stop the energy sector (-0.8%) from ending the day among the laggards. Notably, Whiting Petroleum (WLL) sank 19.5% after pricing a secondary share and note offering.

The market registered its third consecutive decline on Wednesday with the S&P 500 ending lower by 1.5%. The benchmark index settled below its 50-day moving average (2,067) while the Nasdaq Composite (-2.0%) underperformed throughout the day. The S&P 500 hovered near its flat line during the opening hour, but high-beta groups like biotechnology, chipmakers, and transport stocks began showing weakness early on and continued their retreat throughout the day. As a result, eight sectors settled in the red with five ending behind the benchmark index. Most notably, the technology sector surrendered 2.7% with chipmakers enduring even more aggressive selling. All 30 components of the PHLX Semiconductor Index (-4.6%) finished in the red with ARM Holdings (ARMH) and Lam Research (LRCX) leading the slide with respective losses of 6.2% and 7.6% while heavyweight Intel (INTC) tumbled 2.9%.

On Thursday, equities posted modest losses after climbing off their opening lows. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% and settled below its 100-day moving average (2,057) while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) underperformed. Equity indices could not avoid registering their fourth consecutive decline, but they were able to avoid settling on their lows. The market began the day under pressure after overnight reports revealed that coalition forces from ten countries, led by Saudi Arabia, carried out air strikes against rebel forces in Yemen. This followed Wednesday's reports indicating Yemen's President Hadi fled his country by sea. The news gave a boost to the dollar, but the yen also rallied against its peers, which signaled caution among participants in the foreign exchange market. The Dollar Index (97.36, +0.38) gained 0.4% as the greenback spiked 0.8% against the euro, sending the single currency from a morning high near 1.1050 to 1.0880. For its part, the dollar/yen pair slipped 0.3% to 119.20 after testing the 118.50 level in the morning. In addition, the latest developments in the Middle East led to concerns about potential disruptions to the energy market. As a result, crude oil surged 4.6% to $51.43/bbl. However, the energy sector (-0.2%) could not make it out of the red.
Dow: +34.43… | Nasdaq: +27.86… | S&P: +4.87…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1628/1125. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1842/1200.

03:40PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM]
  • Oil is the big mover today, falling $2.56 to $48.87/barrel in pit trading today
  • In electronic trade, oil has extended losses and fell as low as $48.26/barrel and is now -6.1% at $48.32/barrel
  • Nat gas has been in the red all day today, ultimately losing $0.05 to $2.64/MMBtu
  • Metals declined today as well
  • Apr gold lost $5.00 to $1199.90/oz, while May silver fell $0.06 to $17.08.
  • May copper ended $0.04 lower at $2.77/lb.
Dow: +46.51… | Nasdaq: +31.89… | S&P: +6.23…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1572/1192. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1808/1234.

03:00PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 trades higher by 0.1% with one hour remaining in the session.

The benchmark index has spent the day in a ten-point range with the bulk of the action taking place in the neighborhood of its 100-day moving average (2,058). In fact, the index has oscillated around that level throughout the afternoon.

The health care sector (+0.9%) holds the lead going into the home stretch while two of the remaining three countercyclical sectors-consumer staples (+0.4%) and utilities (+0.5%)-also trade ahead of the broader market.

On the downside, the energy sector has extended its decline to 0.8% as crude oil tumbled into the pit close and continued its retreat during electronic trading. WTI crude is currently lower by 5.6% at $48.55/bbl.
Dow: +3.04… | Nasdaq: +15.73… | S&P: +1.89…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1461/1238. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1734/1288.

02:30PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major U.S. indices continue to float around just north of break-even levels on notably thin volume. If the Nasdaq holds its current level, it will record an almost 3% loss for the week. 
 
WTI crude oil futures (-4.8% to $48.95/bbl) have sold off in recent trade to new session lows ahead of the close of pit trading. The weakness seen there has helped drag down the entire S&P energy sector (-0.7%) as well, making it the standout underperformer on the day. Conversely, health care (+0.9%) holds on to strong gains as the sector recovers from a tough week, helped by strength in the iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF (IBB 347.88, +7.07). Helping add to those gains, Biomarin Pharma (BMRN 129.19, +13.64) shares are up 12% after reports the company may be an acquisition target for Shire PLC (SHPG 241.69, +3.19).  BMRN also had its price target lifted at Deutsche Bank and UBS. Another notable mover can be seen in Intercept Pharma (ICPT 290.72, +8.03), whose price target was raised to $400 at Deutsche Bank after its competitor, French biotech firm Genfit, yesterday reported data that its Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis drug did not directly meet its primary endpoint.  
 
Dow: +11.98… | Nasdaq: +15.25… | S&P: +2.39…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1462/1218. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1755/1255.

01:55PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices continue drifting inside narrow ranges.

Today's economic news was uneventful.

Headline GDP growth in Q4 2014 was unrevised in the third estimate and remained at 2.2%. GDP increased 5.0% in Q3 2014. The Briefing.com Consensus expected fourth quarter GDP would be revised to 2.4%.

Real final sales saw a slight upward revision to 2.3% from 2.1%, but nothing in the data altered the notion that economic growth trends slowed down significantly in the fourth quarter.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was revised up to 93.0 in the March final reading from a preliminary reading of 91.2. The index is down from 95.4 in February. The Briefing.com Consensus expected the Consumer Sentiment Index to be revised up to 92.0.

Improving job conditions -- lower initial claims levels -- offset higher gasoline prices and a volatile equity market.

Trends in sentiment, however, don't have much of an impact on consumption growth. Consumption trends rely on income growth and not sentiment. As long as income trends higher, consumption gains should closely follow.
Dow: 14.88… | Nasdaq: 15.32… | S&P: 3.03…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1423/1227. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1794/1217.

01:30PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Not much change since our midday update with the key indices continuing their range-bound drift. The Nasdaq (+0.3%) outperforms today, but the index remains on track to end the week behind the S&P 500. The Nasdaq is currently down 3.0% since last Friday while the S&P 500 has given up 2.4%.

Individual sectors are split down the middle with five up and five down. The health care sector (+0.9%) has shown considerable strength since the early going while the consumer discretionary sector (+0.5%) has spent the day ahead of other cyclical groups.

Homebuilders have contributed to the outperformance of the sector, evidenced by a 1.7% gain in the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (ITB 27.78, +0.45). Thanks to today's gain, the ETF is essentially unchanged for the week.
Dow: +12.21… | Nasdaq: +16.51… | S&P: +2.60…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1447/1209. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1744/1240.

12:55PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages sport modest midday gains with the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) trading ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.1%).

Equity indices have spent the first half of the trading day inside narrow ranges with the S&P 500 bouncing between 2,052 and 2,063 after starting the day just below its 100-day moving average (2,058).

Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq leads even though the technology sector (-0.4%) sits near the bottom of the leaderboard with its largest component-Apple (AAPL 123.48, -0.76)-trading lower by 0.6%. However, biotechnology has picked up the slack, evidenced by a 2.3% gain in the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.74, +7.93). Despite today's spike, the high-beta ETF remains down 4.9% for the week. For its part, the health care sector (+0.8%) is the second best performer, only trailing utilities (+0.9%).

Although biotechnology has displayed significant strength, a couple other influential groups like financials (-0.3%) and energy (-0.5%) have prevented the market from clearing its early high. Notably, the energy sector has been pressured by a 2.7% decline in crude oil. The energy component hovers near $50.00/bbl, but remains on course to end the week higher by 7.4%.

WTI crude has retreated today, which has also been the case with the dollar. Currently, the Dollar Index (97.25, -0.19) is lower by 0.2% after surrendering its overnight strength. Notably, the euro trades higher by 0.2% at 1.0900 after hitting a low near 1.0805.

Elsewhere, Treasuries have spent the day in a steady climb off their overnight lows. The 10-yr yield is lower by three basis points at 1.96%.

Economic data was limited to Q4 GDP and Michigan Sentiment:
  • GDP growth in Q4 2014 was unrevised in the third estimate and remained at 2.2% after increasing 5.0% in Q3. The Briefing.com consensus expected a revision to 2.4% 
    • Real final sales saw a slight upward revision to 2.3% from 2.1%, but nothing in the data altered the notion that economic growth trends slowed down significantly in the fourth quarter 
  • The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was revised up to 93.0 in the March final reading from a preliminary reading of 91.2 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a revision up to 92.0
Dow: +2.70… | Nasdaq: +12.15… | S&P: +1.85…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1405/1220. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1712/1256.

12:30PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The Dow (+0.1%) and S&P 500 (+0.1%) have returned into the neighborhood of their flat lines while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) continues holding a slim gain.

The major averages have faced a bit of a struggle due to continued weakness in the technology sector (-0.4%). The top-weighted group has slipped into the red during the first 90 minutes of the session with large cap names like Apple (AAPL 123.51, -0.73), IBM (IBM 159.44, -1.16), and Google (GOOGL 557.88, -5.76) showing losses between 0.6% and 1.1%.

In addition, the market has had to contend with relative weakness among other influential groups like financials (-0.3%) and energy (-0.5%). That being said, the largest countercyclical sector by weight-health care-remains higher by 0.9% thanks to continued strength in biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.49, +7.68) has jumped 2.3%.
Dow: +14.88… | Nasdaq: +12.69… | S&P: +2.76…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1380/1226. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1732/1217.

11:55AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices have backed away from their highs, but they continue holding the bulk of their gains.

Six of ten sectors sport gains while energy (-0.3%), financials (-0.1%), technology (-0.2%), and telecom services (-0.1%) sit in the red. Notably, the energy sector has been pressured by crude oil, which trades lower by 2.6% at $50.09/bbl. The energy component has retraced roughly half of yesterday's surge, but remains on track to end the week higher by 7.5%.

Elsewhere, Treasuries remain near their best levels of the day with the 10-yr yield down three basis points at 1.96%.
Dow: +6.87… | Nasdaq: +12.82… | S&P: +2.44…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1284/1281. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1623/1319.

11:25AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages have extended to new highs with the Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) maintaining the lead.

The Nasdaq has received support from high-beta biotechnology and chipmaker names that underperformed yesterday. The PHLX Semiconductor Index is higher by 0.5% with Skyworks (SWKS 97.70, +4.66) in the lead. The stock has added 5.0% after Northland Capital raised its price target for SWKS to $105 from $90.

Meanwhile, biotechnology has fared even better with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 348.60, +7.79) trading higher by 2.3%. Despite today's spike, the biotech ETF remains lower by 4.9% for the week.
Dow: +30.16… | Nasdaq: +21.97… | S&P: +5.37…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1355/1172. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1673/1244.

10:55AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices hover near their best levels of the session after a brief dip into the red. The S&P 500 is higher by 0.2%, but the index has made an appearance in the red as part of a move that saw the technology sector (-0.1%) turn negative. The largest component by weight-Apple (AAPL 123.93, -0.31)-trades lower by 0.3% while chipmakers display relative strength with the PHLX Semiconductor Index higher by 0.3%.

Outside of technology, only energy (-0.4%) and financials (-0.1%) trade in the red while the remaining seven groups display gains. The health care sector remains in the lead with a gain of 0.9%.
Dow: +24.06… | Nasdaq: +15.54… | S&P: +4.08…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1295/1193. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1594/1285.

10:35AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM]
  • Oil prices are pulling back this morning as supply threats in and near Yemen and its waterways appear to have eased
  • Both WTI and Brent crude oil are down as a result
  • WTI crude is currently -3% at $49.91/barrel, while Brent crude oil is -2.4% at $57.79/barrel
  • The dollar index today has been sliding lower today, which is providing strength to select commodities today
  • However, this isn't really hitting the metals markets
  • Gold, silver and copper are all in the red today
  • Natural gas futures are also in the red today, now -1.8% at $2.76/MMBtu
Dow: -8.14… | Nasdaq: +7.06… | S&P: +0.33…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1115/1357. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1420/1439.

10:00AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 trades higher by 0.2% while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.4%) outperforms.

Just released, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for March was revised up to 93.0 from 91.2 while the Briefing.com consensus expected the reading to be revised up to 92.0.
Dow: +13.21… | Nasdaq: +20.56… | S&P: +3.75…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1358/923. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1636/1121.

09:40AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages shook off their pre-market weakness and opened with modest losses. The Nasdaq Composite (+0.4%) leads while the S&P 500 (+0.1%) follows not far behind with six sectors showing early gains.

Biotechnology has paced the opening rally with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 347.05, +6.24) trading higher by 1.8%. The strength has contributed to the outperformance of the Nasdaq while the health care sector (+0.9%) trades well ahead of the remaining groups.

Elsewhere, the consumer discretionary sector (+0.4%) also outperforms with retail stocks showing strength. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 99.83, +0.41) trades higher by 0.4%.

Treasuries sit near their highs with the 10-yr yield down two basis points at 1.97%.

The final reading of the Michigan Sentiment Index for March (consensus 92.0) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.
Dow: +6.57… | Nasdaq: +17.29… | S&P: +1.67…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1285/874. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1325/1364.

09:12AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -3.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -6.10. The stock market is on track for a modestly lower open as futures on the S&P 500 trade four points below fair value. Index futures held gains at the start of the night, but retreated steadily, hitting pre-market lows around 6:00 ET; however, S&P 500 futures have cut their losses in half since then.

Yesterday, the benchmark index marked its session high just below the 50-day average (2,068), but slumped into the close and settled south of its 100-day moving average (2,057), which is likely to be an area of focus once again today.

In economic data, Q4 GDP growth was left unrevised at 2.2% while the Briefing.com consensus expected a revision to 2.4%.

On the corporate front, Dow Chemical (DOW 48.40, +2.06) has jumped 4.4% in pre-market action after announcing plans to spin off its chlor-alkali and downstream derivatives business, which will be combined with Olin Corporation (OLN 34.51, +7.32). Shares of OLN are on course to open higher by 26.9%.

Treasuries hold modest gains with the 10-yr yield lower by two basis points at 1.97%.

The final reading of the Michigan Sentiment Index for March (consensus 92.0) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.

08:56AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -1.10. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -0.60. The S&P 500 futures trade one point below fair value.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed again on Friday with Japan's Nikkei (-1.0%) a notable standout to the downside following a large batch of economic data that included weaker than expected retail sales and inflation data. China's Shanghai Composite (+0.2%) registered a modest gain but increased 2.0% for the week.
  • In economic data: 
    • Japan's February National CPI +2.2% year-over-year (prior 2.4%) while Core CPI +2.0% (consensus 2.1%; last 2.2%). Tokyo CPI +2.3% year-over-year (last 2.3%) while Tokyo Core CPI +2.2%, as expected. Separately, February Retail Sales -1.8% year-over-year (consensus -1.5%; last -2.0%) and February Household Spending -2.9% year-over-year (expected -3.2%; prior -5.1%). Lastly, the Unemployment Rate slipped to 3.5% from 3.6%, as expected. 
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  • Japan's Nikkei declined 1.0% following a large batch if economic data that included weaker than expected retail sales and inflation data. Losses were registered in all sectors with the basic materials (-1.6%), industrial (-1.4%), and technology (-1.2%) sectors pacing the declines. Advantest Corp (-5.1%), Marubeni Corp (-5.0%), and Nippon Yusen KK (-4.9%) topped the list of decliners while Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co (+3.3%), Panasonic Corp (+3.2%), and Unitika Ltd (+1.9%) led the winners. Out of the 225 index members, 32 ended higher, 191 finished lower, and 2 were unchanged. The Nikkei declined 1.4% for the week. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended Friday flat with gains in the financial (+0.6%) and diversified (+0.3%) sectors helping to offset losses in the consumer non-cyclical (-1.0%) sector. China Resources Land Ltd (+5.0%), China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd (+3.5%), and Sino Land Co (+1.5%) were the best-performing stocks while Lenovo Group (-1.8%), Hengan Intl (-1.7%), and China Mobile (-1.3%) were the worst-performing issues. Out of the 50 index members, 29 ended higher, 18 finished lower, and 3 were unchanged. The Hang Seng increased 0.5% for the week. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite increased 0.2% despite a report showing industrial profits declined 4.2% in the first two months of the year versus last year. Reuters reports that was the largest drop for the period since early 2012. Real estate issues were among the leaders on Friday. For the week, the Shanghai Composite gained 2.0%.
Major European indices are mixed with France's CAC (+0.3%) trading ahead of its peers. Elsewhere, German Finance Ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe said her office has yet to receive an updated list of reforms from Greek officials and that all proposed reforms will need to be 'quantifiable.'
  • Participants received several data points: 
    • Germany's February Import Price Index +1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.7%; last -0.8%); -3.0% year-over-year (expected -3.5%; prior -4.4%) 
    • UK's March Nationwide HPI +0.1% month-over-month (last -0.1%); +5.1% year-over-year (previous 5.7%) 
    • French Consumer Confidence rose to 93 from 92, as expected 
    • Italy's January Retail Sales +0.1% month-over-month, as expected. Industrial Sales -1.6% month-over-month (previous 1.4%) and Industrial New Orders -3.6% month-over-month (prior 4.5%) 
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  • UK's FTSE is lower by 0.5% with miners leading the decline. Anglo American, Glencore, Randgold Resources, and Rio Tinto are down between 2.1% and 2.7%. Consumer names outperform with InterContinental Hotels, Barratt Developments, and Compass Group up between 1.0% and 2.7%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 0.2% with help from most components. Adidas leads with a gain of 4.9% amid upbeat analyst commentary. Utilities lag with E.On and RWE both down near 1.0%. 
  • In France, the CAC trades higher by 0.3% with consumer names and financials in the lead. Pernod Ricard, Essilor International, AXA, and BNP Paribas hold gains between 1.1% and 2.6%. Steelmaker ArcelorMittal is the weakest performer, down 2.7%.

08:31AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -0.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +2.90. The S&P 500 futures trade within a point of fair value.

The third estimate of fourth quarter GDP pointed to an expansion of 2.2%, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 2.4%. Meanwhile, the third quarter GDP Deflator was left unchanged at 0.1%, as expected.

07:56AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +0.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +4.40. U.S. equity futures trade near their flat lines amid mixed action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover within a point of fair value and the benchmark index will enter today's session down 2.5% for the week.

Meanwhile, the Dollar Index (97.48, +0.04) is working on its second consecutive advance with the greenback adding 0.2% against the euro (1.0850).

Treasuries sport slim gains with the 10-yr yield lower by a basis point at 1.98%.

The third estimate of Q4 GDP will be released at 8:30 ET (Briefing.com consensus 2.4%) while the final reading of the Michigan Sentiment Index for March (consensus 92.0) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.

In U.S. corporate news of note:
  • Blackberry (BBRY 9.20, -0.10): -1.1% after beating bottom-line estimates on light revenue. 
  • Finish Line (FINL 26.00, +2.06): +8.6% in reaction to better than expected results and cautious guidance. 
  • Gamestop (GME 36.79, -2.00): -5.2% after missing estimates and guiding below analyst estimates. 
  • Restoration Hardware (RH 89.00, -4.14): -4.4% after cautious revenue guidance overshadowed a one-cent beat.
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. China's Shanghai Composite +0.2%, Japan's Nikkei -1.0%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat. 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's February National CPI +2.2% year-over-year (prior 2.4%) while Core CPI +2.0% (consensus 2.1%; last 2.2%). Tokyo CPI +2.3% year-over-year (last 2.3%) while Tokyo Core CPI +2.2%, as expected. Separately, February Retail Sales -1.8% year-over-year (consensus -1.5%; last -2.0%) and February Household Spending -2.9% year-over-year (expected -3.2%; prior -5.1%). Lastly, the Unemployment Rate slipped to 3.5% from 3.6%, as expected. 
    • In news: 
      • Japan's Nationwide CPI came in at an 11-month low, and showed no growth when adjusting for last April's sales tax increase.
  • Major European indices are mixed. Germany's DAX +0.6%, France's CAC +0.6%, and UK's FTSE -0.3%. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB +0.1% and Spain's IBEX +0.1%. 
    • Participants received several data points: 
      • Germany's February Import Price Index +1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.7%; last -0.8%); -3.0% year-over-year (expected -3.5%; prior -4.4%) 
      • UK's March Nationwide HPI +0.1% month-over-month (last -0.1%); +5.1% year-over-year (previous 5.7%) 
      • French Consumer Confidence rose to 93 from 92, as expected 
      • Italy's January Retail Sales +0.1% month-over-month, as expected. Industrial Sales -1.6% month-over-month (previous 1.4%) and Industrial New Orders -3.6% month-over-month (prior 4.5%) 
    • Among news of note: 
      • German Finance Ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe said her office has yet to receive an updated list of reforms from Greek officials and that all proposed reforms will need to be 'quantifiable.'

05:49AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -4.30. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -4.50.

05:49AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Nikkei...19285.63...-185.50...-1.00%.  Hang Seng...24486.20...-10.90...0.00%.

05:49AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] FTSE...6878.48...-16.90...-0.30%.  DAX...11849.85...+6.20...+0.10%.

04:10PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended Thursday with modest losses after climbing off their opening lows. The S&P 500 shed 0.2% and settled below its 100-day moving average (2,057) while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) underperformed.

Equity indices could not avoid registering their fourth consecutive decline, but they were able to avoid settling on their lows. Still, the benchmark index will enter the Friday session down 2.5% for the week.

The market began the day under pressure after overnight reports revealed that coalition forces from ten countries, led by Saudi Arabia, carried out air strikes against rebel forces in Yemen. This followed yesterday's reports indicating Yemen's President Hadi fled his country by sea.

The news gave a boost to the dollar, but the yen also rallied against its peers, which signaled caution among participants in the foreign exchange market. The Dollar Index (97.36, +0.38) gained 0.4% as the greenback spiked 0.8% against the euro, sending the single currency from a morning high near 1.1050 to 1.0880. For its part, the dollar/yen pair slipped 0.3% to 119.20 after testing the 118.50 level in the morning.

In addition, the latest developments in the Middle East led to concerns about potential disruptions to the energy market. As a result, crude oil surged 4.6% to $51.43/bbl. However, the energy sector (-0.2%) could not make it out of the red.

Meanwhile, the remaining cyclical sectors ended in mixed fashion. Consumer discretionary (-0.6%) and industrials (-0.3%) underperformed while materials (+0.2%) and technology (+0.1%) registered slim gains.

In the technology sector, large cap names like Apple (AAPL 124.24, +0.86), IBM (IBM 160.59, +1.39), and Oracle (ORCL 42.99, +0.06) gained between 0.1% and 0.9% while Accenture (ACN 94.17, +5.69) and Red Hat (RHT 75.36, +6.91) posted respective gains of 6.8% and 10.1% after beating estimates.

The tech sector managed to turn positive despite notable weakness among chipmakers that sent the PHLX Semiconductor Index lower by 1.4%. The industry group struggled after SanDisk (SNDK 66.20, -14.97) lowered its Q1 revenue guidance below analyst estimates.

Elsewhere, another high-beta group-biotechnology-pressured the market in the early going, but was able to return near its flat line by the end of the session. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 340.81, -0.49) will enter tomorrow's affair down 6.8% for the week.

Treasuries spent the day in a steady retreat from their early morning highs. The benchmark 10-yr yield spiked eight basis points to 2.01%.

Today's participation was above average with more than 808 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data was limited to weekly initial claims, which declined to 282,000 from last week's unrevised 291,000 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 290,000.

After three weeks above 300,000, the 4-week moving average for initial claims has dropped below that threshold, suggesting the claims level is reestablishing a trend below 300,000.

Tomorrow, the third estimate of Q4 GDP will be released at 8:30 ET (Briefing.com consensus 2.4%) while the final reading of the Michigan Sentiment Index for March (consensus 92.0) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.
  • Nasdaq Composite +2.7% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +2.3% YTD 
  • S&P 500 -0.1% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -0.8% YTD
Dow: -40.31… | Nasdaq: -13.16… | S&P: -4.90…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1215/1576. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1200/1838.

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