Eagle Daily Investor: U.S. Stocks Dip on European Worries; Investors Should Note Lower-than-Expected Orders to U.S. Factories; Potash Upstart Hurts Pricing Power of Big Rivals

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U.S. Stocks Decline on Concern About Europe Debt Crisis (Bloomberg)

U.S. stocks fell this morning, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declining from a five-year high, as political uncertainty in Europe fueled renewed concern about the debt crisis and American factory orders rose less than forecast. “Rising political tensions in Spain and Italy and yields, spiking to one-month highs, have caused some to take caution and profits,” said Ryan Larson, the Chicago-based head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management (U.S.) Inc.

Orders to U.S. Factories Rose Less Than Forecast in December (Bloomberg)

Investors should note that the U.S. economy is not rebounding is quickly has it had been in the early fall, with a new report showing that orders placed with U.S. factories increased less than forecast in December. The numbers reflected a drop in non-durable goods that partly countered gains in construction equipment and computers. Order bookings climbed 1.8 percent, after a revised 0.3 percent drop in November that was initially reported as unchanged, figures from the Commerce Department showed today. The Bloomberg survey median called for a 2.3 percent gain. Demand for durable goods increased 4.3 percent, little changed from a 4.6 percent gain estimated last week, while non-durables dropped 0.3 percent on declines in petroleum and tobacco.

Entrenched Potash Providers Face New Competition (Reuters)

Start-up potash miner Prospect Global Resources Inc (PGRX.O) won’t open its first mine until at least 2015, but the fledgling American company already is upsetting the multibillion-dollar fertilizer industry where a few providers control a key ingredient in the global food chain. China, with a big need for fertilizer to help feed its growing population, long has relied on Canpotex, a Canadian sales agency that supplies one third of the world’s potash. But in December, Canpotex reluctantly agreed to a six-month supply contract with China at $400 per tonne, a $70 per tonne discount from its last contract price and a steeper cut than expected. China got the reduced price partly because it used as leverage a separate 10-year agreement inked last October with Prospect.

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