March 5, 2021

Markets Rise, Overcoming Weak Economic Data

The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index rose for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, but gains eroded in afternoon trading.

The S.P. 500 was 0.3 percent higher — down from 0.7 percent at midday — the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite was flat.

Equities have rallied in recent weeks, with both the Dow and S.P. hitting highs as investors expect central bank stimulus measures will keep supporting market gains.

Such policies have helped spur advances of about 15 percent in major indexes this year despite data showing signs of slowing growth. Activity in New York State’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly contracted in May, falling to minus 1.43 points from 3.05, below expectations for an increase to 4 points. Another report showed that industrial production in the United States fell 0.5 percent in April, more than expected.

“It’s disconcerting that the data was so much lower than what we were looking for, but there’s no reason for investors to sell,” said Michael Binger, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments in Minneapolis. “The main things driving the market — the Fed, earnings, consumer confidence — are holding up, and people put money in the market on any down day. I still see a lot of value.”

Agilent Technologies, up 4 percent, was one of the S.P.’s top percentage gainers a day after the company posted adjusted earnings that beat expectations and doubled its stock-buyback program to $1 billion. The company also said it would cut 2 percent of its global work force.

Tech shares also got a lift from Netflix, up 3.8 percent, and Yahoo Inc, up 2.3 percent.

On the downside, Deere Company gave a cautious outlook even as earnings topped forecasts. The stock fell 4.5 percent. Deere’s decline dragged on the S.P. industrial index, which was up only 0.1 percent.

In other data released on Wednesday, the United States Producer Price Index recorded its largest drop in three years in April, falling a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent.

The N.A.H.B. Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 44 points from a downwardly revised 41 in April, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders. The May reading was above forecasts and closer to the 50 mark, which indicates builders see market conditions in a more favorable light.

Crude oil fell 1.8 percent after data showed the euro zone was in its longest recession ever, while a stronger dollar and rising American refined products stockpiles put additional pressure on prices.

The drop in crude pressured shares of energy companies, with Marathon Oil down 0.7 percent, and Cliffs Natural Resources, off 3.2 percent.

Macy’s shot up 2.6 percent after the retailer reported higher first-quarter profit and sales, and raised its quarterly dividend 25 percent.

Shares in SunPower, a maker of solar panels and solar power plants, surged 15.1 percent after the company said it expected to post an adjusted profit for the current quarter

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of European blue chip shares, which closed at a five-year high on Tuesday, paused after a report that the euro zone economy had contracted more than expected, but then resumed its climb, rising 0.7 percent at the end of the session.

China’s factory output growth was surprisingly feeble in April and fixed-asset investment slowed, rekindling fears that a nascent recovery was stalling.

Still, Asian markets closed mainly higher. The Nikkei in Japan rose 2.3 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent and the Shanghai composite was 0.4 percent higher.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Viacom Reports 20% Increase in Revenue, While Discovery Posts 9% Rise

The company, which owns the cable channels MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon and the movie studio Paramount Pictures, said that its revenue was $3.27 billion in its fiscal second quarter, up from $2.73 billion in the period a year ago. Net income for the quarter was $376 million, or 63 cents a share. That was a 53 percent gain over the same quarter a year ago, when the company had net income of $245 million, or 40 cents a share. It generally topped analysts’ expectations.

“Viacom has never been stronger financially,” Philippe P. Dauman, the chief executive, said Thursday in a conference call with investors. Mr. Dauman said that Viacom, which is controlled by Sumner M. Redstone, intended to accelerate its stock buyback program and increase its dividend by an unspecified amount. The biggest part of Viacom, its cable channel arm, remains healthy. Together, the channels exceeded $2 billion in revenue for the quarter, up 11 percent from the same quarter last year.

Mr. Dauman credited “phenomenal” ratings for several shows, chief among them “Jersey Shore,” the reality show about hard-partying young men and women that had its third season during the quarter. The season averaged about 7.7 million viewers, making it the most popular show in MTV’s history.

Mr. Dauman indicated that MTV would seek high premiums for future seasons of “Jersey Shore” and other shows.

Over all, Viacom said it had posted an 11 percent gain in domestic advertising revenues, the fifth consecutive quarter of improvement in that growth rate.

Viacom has also nurtured shows that are considered hits for its other channels: “iCarly” for Nickelodeon, “Tosh.0” for Comedy Central, “The Game” for BET. Mr. Dauman said the company was seeking ratings improvements at two other channels, VH1 and Spike, by adjusting their programming schedules. Revenue and profit for Viacom’s filmed entertainment arm fluctuate depending on the performance of its feature films and the sales of DVDs of those films.

In the quarter that ended in December, Viacom’s earnings declined in large part because of weakness in this area. But in the quarter that ended March 31, the filmed entertainment arm had $1.2 billion in revenue, up from $638 million in the previous quarter and $886 million in the fiscal second quarter a year ago.

Viacom stock was up 3.8 percent Thursday to close at $58.14, a 52-week high.

Discovery Communications, another owner of cable channels, also reported double-digit advertising gains on Thursday.

Discovery, which owns the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet among others, posted revenue of $951 million in the first quarter, up 9 percent over the same quarter last year.

Thanks in part to a one-time gain related to the formation of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network in January, Discovery posted net income of $305 million, or 74 cents per share, up from $169 million, or 39 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

International revenue grew faster than domestic revenue for Viacom and Discovery. David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery, said his company had benefited from a “continued favorable economic climate.”

Discovery shares gained 1.8 percent to close at $43.14.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b334711483f0df1bec5ad02d9e7a5604