U.S. stocks finished with positive returns Friday as any and all negative news is completely ignored. The S&P 500 added 0.5% and NASDAQ 0.6%. In economic data new home sales came in light versus expectations but the selloff from that news lasted of all of an hour before buyers showed up. Apple continued its free fall, down another 2.4%, as its market capitalization fell below that of ExxonMobil for the first time since early 2012.
- The Commerce Department said new home sales dropped 7.3% last month to a seasonally adjusted 369,000-unit annual rate. That was below analysts' forecasts of a 385,000-unit annual pace.
- The median price for a new home rose to $248,900 in December from $245,600 in November.
Oil fell 0.1% to $95.88, gold dropped 0.8% to $1656.60, and silver sunk 1.6% to $31.21.
German stocks rose 1.4%, British stocks 0.3%, and French stocks 0.7%.
- The European Central Bank said banks that participated in long-term refinancing operations will repay next week €137.2 billion of the more than €1 trillion in loans provided in December 2011 and February 2012.
- In the U.K., the Office for National Statistics said the U.K. economy contracted 0.3% in the fourth quarter, a sharper-than-expected decline.
In Asia, the Nikkei jumped 2.9% while China dropped 0.5%. The U.S. dollar Thursday posted its biggest one day rise against the Japanese yen since October 2011. Keep in mind the Japanese are purposefully trying to devalue their currency in a "race to the bottom".
- The yen's weakness follows comments from Japanese Vice Finance Minister Takehiko Nakao who said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday that "Japan is closely monitoring developments in the currency market" and indicated that "appropriate action" would be taken if the Japanese currency resumed its strengthening trend.