Major Indexes in Positive Territory as Earnings Season Presses On; Fed Beige Book on Tap

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Stocks are broadly in positive territory following upbeat earnings news ahead of key releases from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank this afternoon. The triple-digit move for the Dow Jones Industrial Average pares some of yesterday's losses and showed positive sentiment wasn't entirely sapped after bloodletting in the prior session.

The Fed Beige Book for October will be released at 2 p.m. ET. Speeches are also expected from Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

In company news, Pfizer ( PFE ) hormone replacement therapy treatment Prempro nearly doubled the risk of death from breast cancer, according to findings in a U.S. study reported by Bloomberg. The findings are the first to tie Pfizer's hormone replacement therapy to tumor mortality rate, the report said. The study comes from Women's Health Initiative.

Novo Nordisk AS ( NVO ) is up by double digits on the NYSE after federal regulators rejected a diabetes drug being developed by rivals. A diabetes injection, Bydureon, which has been jointly developed by Amylin Pharmaceuticals ( AMLN ), Alkermes Inc. ( ALKS ) and Eli Lilly & Co ( LLY ) was denied approval by the FDA for the second time Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Google's ( GOOG ) market share in China fell to its lowest level in nearly three years, Bloomberg reported, citing the Internet search company's recent dispute with that government over censorship. Google accounted for 24.6% of China's Internet search market in Q3, the report said, citing research firm iResearch Inc.

A group of lawyers who performed most of the work on lawsuits related to Merck & Co.'s ( MRK ) Vioxx painkiller litigation will get $315.3 million, Bloomberg reported, citing a judge's ruling. Other lawyers who filed suits will receive $1.24 billion, the report said. Merck won 11 of 16 Vioxx suits at trial before the company agreed to settle all remaining claims in 2007, the report noted.

Marathon Oil ( MRO ) said it took a stake in four exploration blocks in Kurdistan, making the company's first entry into Iraq, Reuters reported. The Houston-based company signed production-sharing agreements to operate and take an 80% stake in two open blocks the report said. No specific value was placed on the deal.

Earnings season pressed on before the bell this morning, moving stocks throughout the first half of the regular session.

Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. ( WFC ) are higher following the company's third-quarter earnings report this morning. The bank reported Q3 EPS of $0.60 per share, a nickel better than the Street view. Revenue was $20.87 billion, vs. expectations of $20.94 billion. "Wells Fargo continues to be one of our top picks," said Christopher Kotowski, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., in a Sept. 20 report, as reported by Bloomberg. "Near term, the continued improvement in asset quality will be the driver."

Shares of Altera ( ALTR ) are lower even after the company reported third quarter earnings results that beat Street expectations. Altera ( ALTR ), the largest U.S. tobacco company, reported Q3 EPS of 69 cents per share compared to Street estimates of 65 cents a share. Revenue of $527.5 million is higher than Street estimates of $525.98. For Q4, company sees sales growth up 3% to 6%. Profit rose by higher prices for its Marlboro cigarettes and snuff sales, Bloomberg reported. Altera shares are down 0.59%, or $0.18, to $29.32.

Abbott Labs ( ABT ) reports Q3 adjusted EPS at $1.05, just topping the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for $1.04. Sales of $8.7 billion are up from $7.8 billion. The Street looked for $8.9 billion. ABT sees adjusted 2010 EPS at $4.16 to $4.18. The Street is at $4.16.

Yahoo Inc. ( YHOO ) is higher, even though the Internet group reported disappointing revenue growth for the fourth quarter. The company expects revenue to reach between $1.125 billion to $1.225 billion, while analysts polled by Thomson Reuters on average had expected the figure to reach $1.26 billion. As a result, speculation is growing that Yahoo may consider a buyout and start discussions with private equity firms.

Airline stocks are trending higher following positive earnings numbers.

Delta ( DAL ) posted a profit of $929 million, or $1.10 a share excluding one-time items, having posted a loss of $161 million, or 19 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters on average had expected earnings of 94 cents a share.

US Airways ( LCC ), meanwhile, reported a profit of $243 million, or $1.23 a share, which was above the $1.17 a share expected by analysts.

Commodities are higher as December gold contracts rose $7, or 0.52%, to $1,343 an ounce while November crude contacts are up 1.85%, or $1.47, at $81.65 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is up 2.02% to $35.32 and the United States Natural Gas fund ( UNG ) was up 0.62% to $5.64.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD ) is up 0.76% to $131.10. Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ) is up 1.54% to $55.37. iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ) is up 1.75% to $23.24.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities


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