Barefoot Investor: March 2012

Global stocks rose and the dollar rallied broadly on Friday after a robust U.S. labor market report beat expectations and provided another sign the world's biggest economy is recovering.

Strong acceptance from private creditors for a Greek bond swap averted a messy default and added to a slightly bullish mood, but the losses forced on the debt holders also triggered the payment of insurance contracts.

A ruling by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association that a credit event had occurred cut into gains on Wall Street and pared losses in the bond market. The euro fell further, but the announcement was widely expected and the single currency snapped back to recoup rebounded a tad.

U.S. employment grew solidly for a third straight month in February as employers added 227,000 jobs to their payrolls, the Labor Department, even though the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

The data offered encouragement for those who see the U.S. economy moving into a more sustainable stage of recovery that could lead the Federal Reserve to drop its easy money stance earlier that the market now perceives.

The dollar hits its highest level against the yen in nearly 11 months and rallied broadly against other currencies, while safe-haven government debt prices fell. Gold reserved early sharp losses to rise nearly 1 percent in heavy trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 14.08 points, or 0.11 percent, at 12,922.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 4.96 points, or 0.36 percent, at 1,370.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.92 points, or 0.60 percent, at 2,988.34.

For the week, the Dow fell 0.4 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent and Nasdaq gained 0.4 percent.

Three years ago on Friday marked the depth of market lows brought on by the financial crisis. The S&P 500 now is trading at levels last seen in June 2008, before Lehman's collapse later that fall spent markets into a downward spiral. It is still 200 points below its all-time high set in October 2007.

European shares rose, supported by the U.S. labor market report. Data from the United States and emerging markets has become a key driver for European companies, which face lackluster domestic growth, as underscored by Friday's weaker-than-expected industrial output from France, Italy and Britain.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of top regional shares closed up 0.4 percent at 1,079.37 points.

The U.S. data lifted the dollar broadly to multi-month highs against other currencies and initially pushed commodity prices lower. Crude oil futures later rebounded, as the data countered dollar pressure and fading euphoria over Greece's debt swap. (Reuters)


Ho Wah Genting Bhd (HWGB), SKP Resources Bhd, Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd(MSC), GEFUNG HOLDINGS BHD and DIJAYA CORPORATION BHD were among the stocks selection for next monday in Malaysia.

A news report said Yunnan Tin had plans to buy HWGB’s tin mining business for US$75 million.

Meanwhile, The Edge weekly reported that the emergence of Dyson, the British innovative designer of electrical appliances, as a major new customer has launched a strong stream of earnings for SKP Resources.

MSC will rope in Optima Synergy Resources Ltd as a joint venture partner to undertake tin mining operations in Indonesia. MSC signed a strategic alliance agreement with Optima Synergy, which is owned by Indonesian shareholders. The deal will allow Optima Synergy to acquire up to 23% of MSC’s unit Bemban Corp Ltd for US$1.38 million, according to MSC. Bemban in turn has a 75% stake in PT Koba Tin which has secured a mining contract from the Indonesian government.

Gefung will not go ahead with the proposed joint venture for a mixed development project on 50.74 acres of land in east of Jakarta. Gefung said the company and PT Greenworld Development “could not reach an agreement on the terms and conditions for the proposed project, the parties have mutually agreed to terminate the MoU with immediate effect”.

The Edge weekly reported that judging from the present share movement, investors seem cautious about Dijaya’s proposal to acquire 73 properties from major shareholder Tan Sri Danny Tan and family for an indicative consideration of RM948.7 million, mostly via the issuance of loan stocks. (The Edge)


Japan's Nikkei share average slipped for a second day on Tuesday as investors bagged profits on blue chip stocks following February's 10.5 percent rally, although some attractive valuations and a softer yen supported sentiment. The benchmark Nikkei closed 0.6 percent lower at 9,637.63 after losing 0.8 percent on Monday. Mid-last week, the index touched a 7-month high of 9,866.41.

March, the final month of Japan's fiscal year, tends to be the strongest month for the Nikkei, with an average monthly rise of 1.43 percent for the index between 1972 and 2011. Reflecting that, the Nikkei volatility index, a fear gauge, fell 2.8 percent on Tuesday. The lower the volatility index, the higher the risk appetite.

China-related shares extended losses for a second session, with the Nikkei China 50 index down 1.4 percent after the world's second-largest economy cut its 2012 growth target to an 8-year low of 7.5 percent, as Beijing looks to reduce its reliance on external spending and foreign capital.

Among China-related shares, construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd slid 2.3 percent and industrial robot maker Fanuc Ltd shed 2.5 percent.

The Nikkei has risen 14 percent so far this year, boosted by a run of U.S. economic data suggesting a robust recovery and accommodative policies by global central banks that have pushed investors back into risk assets.

Market participants said that domestic institutional investors' selling had capped recent gains.(Reuters)


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