News Column

Daily Wrap: Stocks surge; S&P snubs bunny's daddy

August 18, 2014

By Jim Gallagher, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Aug. 18--TODAY'S INDEXES -- Dow Industrials 16839 +176

S&P 500 1972 +17

Nasdaq 4508 +43

STOCKS RALLY: Good news from wars overseas outweighed bad news from Ferguson today as the Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.06 percent.

The S&P 500 gained 0.85 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.97 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose 0.05 points to 2.39 percent.

Traders were encouraged by news that Ukraine and Russia made progress toward a possible truce, and that Kurdish and Iraqi forces retook a critical dam. The price of Brent Crude hit a 14-month low and gold fell for a second straight session.

The Euro Stoxx, a gauge of large-company stocks in the Euro zone, gained 1.32 percent.

CHEAP STORE SELLS DEAR: There's big money in selling stuff cheap. Dollar General Corp. today offered $9.7 billion for Family Dollar Stores. That set off a bidding war for Family Dollar, which had agreed to an $8.5 billion buyout by Dollar Tree Inc. last month.

A DOG IS MUCH CHEAPER: The cost of raising a child rose 1.8 percent this year to $245,340, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's its estimate for raising a kid to adulthood in a middle-class family. Housing is the biggest cost, at 30 percent of spending, followed by child care. This year's increase was the lowest since 2009.

BUILDERS CONFIDENT: Builders are smiling again after wringing their hands with worry earlier this year. The National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo measure of builder confidence rose to 55 in July from 53. The July reading is the highest in seven months.

A reading above 50 means that builders see conditions as good.

S&P SNUBS ENERGIZER: Standard & Poor's says it is keeping Energizer Holdings on credit watch for a possible downgrade. The rating agency is worried by Energizer's plan to divide itself into two independent companies, spinning off its household products segment. "Though we don't know how the independent companies will be capitalized, we believe Energizer holdings' competitive position and scale could diminish following the spin-off of one of its divisions," said S&P.


Brown Shoe 3.29 Reliv International -3.14

SunEdison 2.95 Allied Healthcare -2.48

American Railcar 2.81 Stereotaxis -1.67

THE DAY AHEAD: Inflation will make the morning headlines. Economists expect to learn that the consumer price index rose a scant 0.1 percent in July, following a 0.3 percent rise in June. That would put prices up 2 percent for the preceding 12 months.

Analysts are expecting more good news on housing, with housing starts expected to show an 8.1 percent gain for July following June's 9.3 percent decline.

Jim Gallagher is a reporter for the Post-Dispatch


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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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