The broad indices ended mixed, even though the Nikkei 225 rose 4.71% after Japan revised its first-quarter gross domestic product higher. The Japanese economy grew by an annualized 4.1% versus the original estimate of 3.5%, according to the country's Cabinet Office.
The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was up 0.6% to close at 61.93, after Standard & Poor's affirmed its "AA+" long-term and "A-1+" short-term credit ratings for the U.S. and raised its long-term rating outlook on the country to "stable" from "negative," to indicate the ratings agency's "view that the likelihood of a near-term downgrade of the rating is less than one in three."
"We believe that the U.S. monetary authorities have both the strong ability and willingness to support sustainable economic growth and to attenuate major economic or financial shocks. As a result, we expect the U.S. dollar to retain its long-established position as the world's leading reserve currency," S&P said in a statement.S&P said there were "tentative improvements in two areas. First, "Republicans and Democrats did reach a deal to smooth the year-end-2012 'fiscal cliff', and this deal did result in some fiscal tightening beyond that envisaged in [a similar agreement in 2011], by allowing previous tax cuts to expire on high-income earners. The second development cited by S&P was the major contribution to the U.S. Treasury coming from dividends paid by Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), together known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs. Fannie and Freddie were taken under government conservatorship in September 2008. Under the GSEs' revised bailout agreements, all profits, beyond $3 billion minimal capital buffers apiece, are paid to the government. Dividends paid to the government by the GSEs have led the Congressional Budget Office to lower its estimates of future federal budget deficits. S&P said it expects "the U.S. general government deficit plus non-deficit borrowing requirements to fall to about 6% of GDP this year (down from 7%, in 2012) and to just less than 4% in 2015."
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