On Monday, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A, -0.48% BRK.B, -0.63%) is among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade. Operated by billionaire Warren Buffet, the company reported fourth quarter earnings over the weekend which were lower than forecast. The earnings were also released with Buffet’s 50th annual letter to shareholders. On Saturday, Berkshire Hathaway reported that profit in the 4th–quarter had declined 17% while operating results had improved. In terms of the Class A shares, net income declined to $2,529 per share, or to $4.16 billion compared to $3,035 per share or $4.99 billion, a year earlier. On the upside was the operating profit on the quarter which rose 5% from $2,297 per share, or $3.78 billion to $2,412 per share, or $3.96 billion. This missed analyst’ forecasts for operating profit of $2,701 per share. Also on the upside was the quarterly revenue which rose to $48.26 billion, up 3 percent. Meanwhile, the book value per share, which Buffett regards as a good measure of Berkshire's worth, rose to $146,186, up 8.3% from a year earlier. Since 1965, Berkshire has been run by Buffet and it has transformed from a failing textile company to one of the most successful conglomerates which has more than eighty operating businesses in a variety of areas such as energy, insurance, food, real estate, apparel and railroads. The company also has $117.5 billion of equity investments with over 59% in only 4 stocks including Wells Fargo & Co., Coca-Cola Co., IBM Corp and American Express Co.
As February came to a close, U.S. stocks ended the month lower with the main indices closing the week roughly where they started, yet hefty monthly gains were still booked. The main drivers for these advances on Wall Street came in response to investor hopes regarding a resolution of the debt drama in Greece, the tentative peace agreement between the Ukraine and Russia, accommodative policies from global central banks and more stable oil prices. At the close of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) declined 0.5%, or 82.04 points, to 18,132.38. This blue chip index finished the week flat yet gained 5.7 percent over the month. This marked the index’s largest percentage gain since the beginning of 2013. Also, the S&P 500 index (SPX) declined 0.3 percent, or 6.25 points, at 2,104.73, booking a loss of 0.3% over the week. Over February, the benchmark index advanced 5.5 percent marking the best monthly gain since October 2011. Also on the downside was the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) which declined 0.5 percent, or 24.36 points, to 4,963.53. With only a small gain over the week, this tech-heavy index marked a monthly gain of 7.1%, the best monthly move since the beginning of 2012.
In forex trading on Friday, the U.S. dollar (USD) traded lower. This came as a result of mixed data released out of the U.S. In their report, the University of Michigan stated that the CSI - consumer sentiment index – rose from 93.6 in January to 95.4 in February. This beat expectations for an increase to 94.0. Meanwhile, the University also said that it expects inflation for the next year to remain unchanged at 2.8 percent. Also, in a separate report, the National Association of Realtors said that pending home sales in the U.S. rose in January by 1.7 percent. This missed expectations for an increase of 2.0%. The Chicago PMI - purchasing managers' index – also declined to 45.8 in February which marked a five-and-a-half year low. In January, the reading was 59.4. Against the dollar, the euro advanced with EUR/USD up 0.20 percent and trading at 1.1220. The greenback also traded lower against the Swiss franc with USD/CHF down 0.48% to 0.9484 and steady against the Japanese yen with USD/JPY at 119.36. Also, the U.S. dollar index was down 0.23% to 95.13.
In Asian trading on Monday, crude oil prices declined. This came as investors turned their attention to demand prospects while China released positive data on the weekend which is expected to kick start the commodity’s growth. Also, on Saturday, the People's Bank of China cut its benchmark interest rate to 5.35%, down a quarter percentage point. On the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate oil futures traded at $49.35 a barrel, down 0.83 percent. Also, Brent for delivery in April advanced on Friday on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, trading at $60.05 a barrel, up $2.53, or 4.21 percent.