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Stocks end abbreviated week in the red

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On Thursday, renewed concern over the European sovereign debt crisis overshadowed the latest “less bad” unemployment report from the Department of Labor. All three major stock indices finished the week in negative territory, with the Dow down 1.2 percent since Monday’s opening bell. The S&P sustained a loss of 0.7 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq Composite took a lighter hit of 0.4 percent.

Miami-based corporations saw their stocks finish Thursday’s trading session in the red.

Before the opening bell, investors were bombarded with several bad reports from Europe. Germany’s Economics Ministry reported that industrial output declined below January’s level by 1.3 percent in February – compared with expectations for a 0.5 percent decline. February’s construction output slowed by 17.1 percent, although Germany’s unusually cold winter deflected blame from the economy.

The yield on French 10-year bonds increased to 2.98% compared with the 2.91% yield in early March. Worse yet, the yield on Spain’s 10-year bonds rose more than 0.13% to hit 5.83% on Thursday. The Swiss franc rose above the 1.20 euro limit, which was set last September to protect the value of Swiss exports. Meanwhile, the euro continues to depreciate amid mounting concern over the European sovereign debt crisis, following the increased yields on French and Spanish bonds.

The Department of Labor’s weekly report on initial unemployment claims indicated that for the week ending March 31, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 357,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 363,000. Despite this favorable report, all three major stock indices headed into the red immediately after Thursday’s opening bell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 14 points on Thursday to close at 13,060 for a loss of 11 basis points (0.11 percent). The S&P 500 declined by only 6 basis points (0.06 percent) to finish at 1,398. The NASDAQ Composite lost 20 basis points (0.20 percent) to end the day at 3,113.

Miami-based corporations had a weak day on Thursday. Ryder System (R) escaped with the least damage, losing only 4 basis points (0.04%) to close at 53.40. Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) declined by 10 basis points (0.10%) to finish at 30.68. Royal Caribbean (RCL) sank by 50 basis points (0.50%) to close at 27.89. Lennar took the hardest hit, falling by 1.46% to end the day at 26.25.

The following companies will be playing “beat the number” on Monday, with the release of their quarterly earnings reports: Greenbrier Companies (GBX) and Zep, Inc (ZEP). Good luck!

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