US retreats slightly: Morning market insights

Wall Street

The New York Stock Exchange retreated slightly overnight. After nearing a four-year high in the past few months, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has slowed on the back of some negative indicators.

The US Conference Board’s consumer confidence index dropped to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in February, while reports show that the decline in housing prices may be stabilising.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 US cities has fallen 3.8% from a year ago.

“There’s maybe some short-term vulnerability, but it doesn’t really dent my longer-term optimism,” Liz Ann Sonders, a New York-based chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, told Bloomberg. Her firm has $1.81 trillion in client assets.

The biggest winner on Wall Street overnight was drug giant Pfizer (PFE:US), which was was up 1.53% to $US22.50.

Financial stocks retreated after a week of gains. Bank of America (BAC:US) fell 3.32% to $9.60 and JP Morgan Chase (JPM:US) was down 0.61% to $45.89.

The S&P500 Index was down 0.28% or 3.99 points to 1412.52.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.33% or 43.90 points to 13197.70.

The NASDAQ Index was flat at 0.07% down.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil was up 0.28% to $US107.33 a barrel overnight.

Gold was up 0.03% to trade at $US1687.70 an ounce.

The Australian dollar was weaker overnight, buying $US1.046 at 8.50am AEST.

Europe

European sharemarkets were slightly down overnight after some negative news out of the US and three days of advances.

France’s biggest oil company, Total, fell after one of its North Sea platforms failed to stem a leak for three days, reviving memories of BP’s share price devastation during the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion in 2010 which killed 11 people and  cost BP $7.8 billion in settlements. Total (FP:FP) was down 5.96% to 38.56 euros.

“Total is a heavyweight in the indexes, so it has a lot of impact,” Lionel Heurtin, a fund manager at Ofi Asset Management in Paris, told Bloomberg. “The news reminds us of BP, so it’s normal to be cautious.”

The London FTSE 100 closed down 0.56 to 5869.55.

The German DAX finished flat overnight at 0.33 points down to 7078.90.

The European Stoxx50 index was down 0.58% to 2525.21.

In London Wolseley (WOS:LN) dropped 3.33% to 2435 GB pence overnight as a result of housing news in the US. Wolseley distributes building materials to customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States.

Asset manager Schroders (SDRC:LN) was up 2.15% to 1281 GB pence.

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