Market Wrap: Bernanke Affirms Low Rates; GM Invests in Europe...Again; SodaStream Goes Flat; Apple = 1/2T

February 29, 2012 5:58 PM EST Send to a Friend
Market wrap-up for February 29th

End of the Day: Dow Jones down 53.1 to 12,952.07; Nasdaq down 19.9 to 2,966.89; S&P 500 down 6.5 to 1,365.68

The following is a brief summary of events moving markets today:
  • Hmm...more jobs, you say? We'll take that into consideration: Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, in a House Finance Committee testimony, affirmed lower rates for an extended period, but noted recent improvements in economic data has prompted the Fed to monitor activity in the job and energy markets. Though Bernanke said employment growth was ahead of expectations, it was "far from normal."

    Further, Bernanke noted higher gasoline prices would continue to push inflation higher, at least in the near-term, which will crimp consumers ability to buy more goods.

    For more from the Beige Book, click here.

  • Gettin' back into Europe on the cheap (hopefully): General Motors (NYSE: GM) said it would acquire a 7 percent stake in PSA Peugeot Citro├źn at a cost of about $335 million. GM and Peugeot will look for synergies in vehicle architectures and components, as well as creating a global procurement joint venture.

    GM and Peugeot will continue to compete in many markets, though a more solidified unification might come from the partnership over time.

    Peugeot still plans to sell about $1 billion more in equities to make up for losses incurred following lighter-than-anticipated sales in Europe.

  • Feel the fizzle: Sodastream (Nasdaq: SODA) ended the session down 14.2 percent following what some might view as strong quarterly numbers and outlook. Investors were mostly concerned with unit sales, which showed slight year-over-year growth slowdown.

    In the quarter, revs were $85.69 million and adjusted earnings were 26 cents per share, versus consensus views calling for revs of 62.95 million and earnings of just 11 cents per share. For more color on the numbers, click here.

  • Another bullish economic indicator: U.S. fourth-quarter 2011 GDP was revised slightly higher today, from 2.8 percent initially estimated to 3.0 percent. Economists were looking for a flat revision at 2.8 percent.

  • Still a healthy fruit and stock: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) hit the $500 billion market cap level, the first time a company has done so since Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) in 2008. Shares ended the session 1.3 percent higher, which actually puts it about $5 billion above the half-trillion milestone.

  • Wait, what are we (net) exporting more of? Jobs, right?: The U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011, according to data from the Petroleum Supply Monthly report. Shipments outpaced imports by 439,000 barrels per day. Total crude and product imports fell 11 percent to 8.436 million barrels per day, its lowest level since 1995.

    Notably, demand for gasoline in the U.S. slipped 2.9 percent to 8.736 million barrels per day, with prices averaging $3.521 per gallon through the year.
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