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While the US equities markets are down substantially this year, most commodities continue to rise. Wheat which was last year's winner (up 77% in 2007) continues to soar, is already up another 20% YTD and trading near its 52 week high. Oil, on the other hand, is down 8% YTD after gaining 57% last year.
Here is a table of some leading commodities and how they have performed on a YTD basis, in 2007 and since their 52 week high.
Will Valentine's Day help Hershey? According to the Discover Card survey 49% plan to buy their Valentine candy or chocolate, and 33% of women hope to receive chocolate for Valentine's Day.
Will a surge in sales for Valentine's Day help Hershey? Hershey reported lower earnings on January 24th missing by a penny, and broke a 14-year trend bullish short term trend due to higher energy and commodity costs.
Historically, from Jan, 1993 - Jan, 2006, Valentine's is a good time to buy Hershey stock for a short term hold (slightly more than 3 weeks). It is up 100% of the time by an average move of 6% in that time period (Q4 earnings report in Jan - Valentine's Day) based on data from LIM and MarketEdge.
Hershey has raised the wholesale price of its candy twice in the last year on rising costs of cocoa and milk and stating that it is more exposed to these price increases than competitors Mars and Nestle (NSRGY).
Cocoa is at near 5-year highs, and it is up nearly 15% in 2008 alone, and 44% over the last 12 months. Sugar is up almost 11% in 2008, and is up over 15% over the last 12 months.
The ECB decided to hold its main rate at 4% today, while the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have been cutting rates. Like the Fed, the European Central Bank is caught between inflationary pressures and a slowing global economy.
In January, the Fed cut rates to 3.0%. Today the Bank of England lowered its rate to 5.25%, while the ECB kept its rate at 4%. Here is a chart of the ECB vs. the Fed for the past 10 years. Notice that the ECB tends to lag the Federal Reserve both in easing and tightening. It also has kept within a tighter range than its US counterpart.
CISCO SYSTEMS (CSCO)
Dominant maker of computer networking equipment. Bellwether tech company.
The U.S. dollar showed strength on Tuesday against almost all major currencies as the currency market absorbed the dismal ISM data and looked towards a slowdown in Europe. There are increasing indications that the ECB may follow the U.S. Fed and also cut rates, if not Thursday, than possibly in the 2nd quarter.