Monday, March 16, 2015 – Friday, March 20, 2015
On Monday, the Empire State manufacturing survey for March was released, dropping by 11% and particularly weak with respects to new orders. Industrial production for February was up a weak %.1 and the capacity utilization rate fell slightly to 78.9%.
On Tuesday, housing starts for February fell an unexpectedly sharp 17% to 897,000 units. However, building permits were up 3% to a little over 1 million units.
Wednesday was the big day everyone was waiting for, the Fed finished its meeting and issued a statement without the word “patient”, implying that interest rate increases were coming soon. However, the statement maintained a dovish tone stating “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting.”
In a news conference, Fed Chair Yellen said they are still looking for improvement in the labor market and higher inflation before raising the federal funds rate. Markets quickly shot up on the news, however, the dollar index slumped as much as 3% in a strong selloff.
On Thursday, jobless claims for the week ending March 14 were virtually unchanged, up 1,000 to 291,000. Crude futures fell more than 3% to below $44 a barrel after news from OPEC raised fears of oversupply.
On Friday, stocks open sharply higher as the dollar show signs of weakness. Now let’s take a look at some stocks.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) shares slumped more than 3% at the start of the trading Monday after investment bank Evercore downgraded the online video streaming company from “hold” to “sell” and also slashed the company’s price target to $380 from $450. The downgrade was due to increased competition in the industry from existing and emerging distributors.
General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) saw its stock steadily increase this week following an announcement last Sunday stating that the company will sell its consumer-lending business in Australia and New Zealand to a group of investors in a transaction worth approximately $6.3 billion. The investing group consists of global investment firm Varde Partners based out of Minneapolis, KKR & Co. and Deutsche Bank.
Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT) stock slumped on Wednesday after the company issued a recall for more than 6.5 million boxes of their Macaroni & Cheese following reports from customers that found small metal fragments inside. Thus far, no injuries have been reported but Kraft recommended that consumers should return the product to the store where it was purchased for an exchange or refund.
Herbalife, Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) surged more than 12% Wednesday after the nutrition company won a dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a shareholder alleging that he lost money following the accusations made by hedge-fund manager William Ackman. Ackman claims Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, however, a U.S. District Judge in Los Angeles stated that the shareholder did not present credible evidence showing that Herbalife misrepresented itself.
March 20, 2015 Weekly Stock Market Wrap-up:
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX)
General Electric Company (NYSE: GE)
Kraft Foods Group Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT)
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF)