Daily Market Commentary for March 26, 2012
BATS Global Markets Inc.’s botched initial public offering Friday could be disastrous for the upstart electronic exchange.
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National Association of Realtors reported pending home sales dipped slightly in February as its pending home sales index fell to 96.5% during March from a revised 97.0% in January, although it's still 9.2 percentage points above its year-ago level. "The spring home buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year. If activity is sustained near present levels, existing-home sales will see their best performance in five years," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. By region pending home sales: rose 6.5%% in the Midwest, dropped 3.0% in the South, fell 2.6% in the West and fell 0.6% in the Northeast. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed while not all contracts lead to closings.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday improvement in the nation’s labor market since last fall may only be a reversal of large layoffs that hit during the recession, and further improvement may depend on faster economic growth. “We cannot yet be sure that the recent pace of improvement in the labor market will be sustained,” said Bernanke in a speech to the National Association of Business Economics. Fed Boss said that weak demand is the primary factor behind the weak labor market, not structural issues like lack of employment skills in the workforce. “What will lead to more hiring and, consequently, further declines in unemployment? The short answer is more-rapid economic growth,” Bernanke said. Bernanke and his allies at the Fed have said they expect rates to remain near zero until late in 2014 and while the drop in the unemployment rate was good news, it seemed somewhat out of sync with the overall pace of growth.
On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged medical device firm Biomet Inc. with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for bribing public doctors in Argentina, Brazil, and China. The SEC said the company continued to break the law for about a decade and was designed to win it more business. Biomet will pay more than $22 million in order to settle the charges. "Biomet's compliance and internal audit functions failed to stop the payments to doctors even after learning about the illegal practices," the SEC said. The SEC alleges that employees and managers at all levels were involved in the scheme, along with its distributors.
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