Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - April 28

Consumer Confidence Jumps in April - The U.S. consumer confidence index jumped to 39.2 in April from 26.9 in March, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The 12.3 point gain in the index was the fourth-largest ever in the 32-year history of the survey. Economists were expecting the index to rise about five points to 30.5. Consumers were a little happier about the present situation than they were in March, but the big improvement came in the expectations index, which surged to 49.5 in April from 30.2 in March, the biggest increase since the fall of Baghdad in the spring of 2003.

Home Price Decline Slowing - Home prices fell 2.2% in 20 major cities in February after a 2.8% decline in January, according to the Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's. Prices in 20 cities are down 18.6% in the past year, compared with a 19% drop in the 12 months ending in January. It was the first time in 16 months that the decline in prices did not set an annual record. Prices fell in all 20 major cities in February, led by a 5% drop in Cleveland.

Valero Income Up 18% on Gasoline - Valero Energy said first-quarter net income rose 18% to $309 million, or 59 cents a share from $261 million, or 48 per share. The year-ago period included a pre-tax benefit of $101 million, or 12 cents a share for an insurance recovery. Operating income rose 7% to $507 million on "higher refining margins on gasoline and secondary products such as fuel oil, asphalt, and petroleum coke," the company said. Valero reported lower refining operating expenses due primarily to lower energy costs. Revenue fell to $13.8 billion from $27.9 billion, while total costs and expenses dropped to $13.3 billion from $27.5 billion. Analysts expected Valero to earn 53 cents a share, according to a survey by FactSet Research.

Treasurys Up, Oil and Metals Fall on Swine Flu - US Treasurys were up in morning trading as a safe haven for the growing concern of the Swine Flu. Oil fell close to 2% again today over fears that the illness will curtail international travel and oil demand. Meanwhile gold and copper were also down on the news. Gold was being sold to raise cash according to many analysts, while copper was down on fears that the ramped up international stimulus plans would be slowed by an outbreak.

Airlines Fall on Swine Flu - Just as oil fell, airlines also dropped on the Swine Flu news. The most profitable flights for airlines are international flights, so a decrease in international travel could potentially hurt the bottom line. The restrictions into and out of the various countries will play a part.

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