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Fed Minutes Early, but Unlikely to Have Impact

Ben Bernanke
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Ben Bernanke

Early Fed minutes: Highly doubtful it impacted trading. The early release occurred some time after 2 p.m. ET yesterday, but almost all the market's gains occurred before that.

Markets did droop a bit in the last hour, but there isn't a lot to support the idea that the comments were market negative. It was slightly more hawkish—only two were looking to extend past 2014—but that was BEFORE the recent weaker jobs numbers. So I doubt this is a big deal.

Elsewhere:

1) Healthy IPO market: Two initial public offerings priced at the high end of their ranges. Home builder Taylor Morrison priced 28.6 million shares (above the 23.8 million shares anticipated) at $22, above the $20 to $22 price range.

The real estate IPO rush started last October when Realogy, which owns Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and other real estate franchises, went public, followed on Jan. 31 this year by Tri Point Homes, the first IPO of a U.S. home builder in eight years.

And they've been successful: Realogy is up 66 percent from its $27 initial price, while TPH is up 15 percent from its $17 initial price.

There's more coming. William Lyon Homes also just filed for its IPO. It will trade under the symbol "WLH" on the New York Stock Exchange. Will likely go public in about two months ... sells in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado.

Taylor Morrison CEO Sheryl Palmer will be on "Squawk Box" after making the first trade on the NYSE floor.

Enough with the MLPs already. Another week, another Master Limited Partnership (MLP) IPO, this one KNOP Offshore Partners, which owns tankers that shuttle oil from off-shore oil fields. Priced 7.5 million shares at $21, at the high end of the price talk of $19 to $21.

This one has a dividend, of course ... a healthy 7.5 percent ... but it also has an "incentive distribution," or an additional dividend that is given to the management team if they meet certain performance standards.

The big appeal of MLPs: juicy dividends, 7.5 percent in the case of KNOP.

This is the fourth MLP IPO this year: CVR Refining (up 17 percent), SunCoke Energy Partners (up 8 percent), New Source Energy Partners (flat).

2) Fastenal reported sales lighter than expected, but the focus was on this comment from the company: "With the benefit of hindsight, we believe the economic activity of our customers slowed from January to February and slowed further from February to March." No guidance. This is one of those great leading-edge companies: It makes bolts and construction supplies used in everything.

3) Watch hospital operators: Health Management Associates down big as it cuts its full-year revenue outlook due to a drop in hospital admissions.

4) Japan and the U.S.: The new divergence? I know, the world is interconnected and no one believes in divergence, but it is rather strange: Since the middle of February, the world's stock markets have drooped ... except for the U.S. and Japan. Look at the performance of these markets since the close on Feb. 13:

S&P 500 3.2%
Japan 18.1%
France 0.4%
Germany 0.2%
Australia -1.0%
Brazil -4.3%
China -8.1% (**Mkt closed wk of Feb. 13; % Change calculated from Feb. 18 close)
Russia -9.8%

Kind of strange, no? Nice moves up in the S&P 500 and big moves in Japan, and basically flat to notably down everywhere else.


  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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