Choppy, choppy, choppy. No other way to describe it. There's plenty of good — and bad — news today, which is one reason for the trendless market.
1) Fertilizer prices recovering? Good! A Russian potash producer, one of the world's largest, announces it will be seeking to raise prices about 6 percent due to rising demand — but mostly in India and Brazil. Fertilizer companies rise in the U.S.
2) Greece under control: good! Spain: we don't know! We don't know!
More handwringing as Spain sinks into the close, down 2.3 percent and near a six month low. Rumors that Spain's debt rating was under review by Moody's denied by Moody's. Next it's Portugal, next it's Latvia, next it's Ireland, next it's Sacramento, next it's...shut up already.
3) Copper falls below $3 a pound to a 10-week low: bad! Ample supplies, perceptions that China is putting the brakes on, and worries that today's ADP and ISM non-manufacturing indicates slower than expected growth in U.S. brings copper down more than 3.5 percent.
4) Ryder surprises with an earnings miss and disappointing 2010 guidance: bad! The problem: Ryder is one of the biggest truck leasers; there is a huge inventory of trucks to lease, and demand remains weak.
5) News Corp., Time Warner join others in raising dividends: good! They're part of what looks like a trend: since December, 2009, there have been 37 dividend increases, and just 1 decrease, according to Standard and Poor's. And there should be more coming: February is traditionally the busiest month for dividend increases.
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