Greece will sell about 5 billion euros of 10 year bonds (at about a 6.3 percent yield) — it is well oversubscribed. They need to refinance up to 23 billion euros of maturing debt coming in the Apr/May time frame.
1) Retail sales for February have topped expectations...this was widely telegraphed among retail stock investors in the last several days, so it's not clear there will be much of a pop in retail stocks in general.
Just a couple weeks ago, analysts fretted that many companies (Macy's, Gap, Abercrombie, Buckle, Cato, Dillards, Freds), might report flat to down February comps despite easy comparisons to the dismal February 2009 month.
It didn't happen; all of these companies have reported healthy gains.
a) How much did the winter storms impact sales? It appears to have taken off about 1 to 1.5 percentage points from sales of the exposed companies. Example: Macy's said sales were up 3.7 percent, better than 1.9 percent gain expected. If not for winter storms, same store sales would have been up 5 percent, they said. Macy's trading up 3 percent pre-open.
b) Other high end retailers did well too. Nordstroms up 10.3 percent, well above expectations of 6.0 percent gain.
c) Other than buying the high end, the discounters continued their strong showing: Ross Stores up 11 percent, double the expectations; TJX better than expected, up 10 percent vs. 8.2 consensus.
d) But even the mid-level retailers did well: Abercrombie & Fitch trading up 9 percent pre-open, again blew out expectations, sales up 5 percent vs. consensus of a decline of 7.3 percent
Limited topped 10 percent on strong sales for Victoria's Secret over Valentine's Day.
March is key, because Easter is very early in April. Again, the good news is a fairly easier comparison; many Easter sales fell into April last year.
Aeropostale announced a 3-2 stock split.
One final point: Wal-Mart increased its dividend to $1.21 from $1.09 per year. Over 60 companies in the S&P 500 have increased their dividend since the start of the year.
2) A bankruptcy judge gave the management of General Growth Properties won a four month extension to keep control of the bankruptcy restructuring. They will have until July 15 to negotiate a deal with creditors, shareholders — and other potential bidders for the company. Brookfield is seeking to invest $2.5 billion alonside General Growth's management.
This puts at least a temporary brake on Simon Property Group's attempt to buy General Growth.
By the way, GGP will once again be listed on the NYSE, beginning Friday, under the symbol GGP.
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