Asian markets traded mixed on Thursday ahead of the European Summit. The Nikkei surged 1.5% to 8874, the Kospi inched up .1% to 1819, and the ASX 200 rose fractionally. Chinese markets slumped, shrugging off a cut in the margin requirements for stock futures. The Shanghai Composite sank 1% to 2196, and the Hang Seng shed .8% to 19025.
In Europe, the major indexes traded lower amid doubts the European Summit will generate a meaningful solution to the escalating debt crisis. The DAX dropped 1.3% to 6150, the FTSE fell .6% to 5493, and the CAC40 slipped .4% to 3052.
US stocks tumbled early in the day, but a powerful late-day rally significantly trimmed those losses. The Dow closed down 25 points to 12602, after dropping as much as 176 points earlier in the day. The Nasdaq sank .9% to 2849, and the S&P 500 declined .2% to 1329. The market rallied amid hopes the EU Summit was making progress, after Angela Merkel canceled Thursday’s press conference.
The Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare in a 5-4 ruling, lifting medicaid and hospital stocks, while hurting private health insurers.
Treasuries and Commodities
Bonds rose modestly, with 10-year notes up 9/32 to yield 1.59%, and 30-year notes up 6/32 to yield 2.68%.
Energy and metal commodities skidded on growth fears. Crude oil tumbled 2.1% to 78.49, and natural gas declined 1.1% to 2.766. Silver tanked 2.2% to 26.35, gold fell 1.4% to 1556.60, and copper eased .3% to 3.341.
Investors fled to safety, lifting the US Dollar and the Japanese Yen. The Canadian Dollar led the losers, dropping .8% to 1.0332. The Australian Dollar fell .4% to 1.0038, and the Pound slipped .3% to 79.47. The Euro and Swiss Franc eased .2% to 1.2443 and .9652 respectively, while the Yen gained .3% to 79.47.
The final GDP reading for the first quarter was in line with forecasts, indicating an annual growth rate of 1.9%. Weekly unemployment claims improved by 6K to 386K, but were slightly short of forecasts for 385K.
Friday’s calendar will include Chicago PMI, personal income & spending, and consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.
Earnings are due from Constellation Brands, and KB Home.