Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Mixed; Viacom Posts Upbeat Earnings

By Jake L'Ecuyer,

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Following the market opening Thursday, the Dow traded down 0.09 percent to 16,565.78 while the NASDAQ gained 0.10 percent to 4,118.51. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.07 percent to 1,882.70.

Leading and Lagging Sectors Utilities shares surged around 0.29 percent in Thursday trading. Leading the sector was strength from Exelon (NYSE: EXC ) and PPL (NYSE: PPL ). In trading on Thursday, basic materials shares were relative laggards, down on the day by about 0.57 percent.

Top losers in the sector included Resolute Forest Products (NYSE: RFP ), Compañía de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A. (NYSE: BVN ), and KapStone Paper and Packaging (NYSE: KS ).

Top Headline Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB ) reported a 4% rise in its second-quarter profit. Viacom's quarterly profit surged to $502 million, or $1.13 per share, versus a year-ago profit of $481 million, or $0.96 per share. Its adjusted earnings gained to $1.08 per share from $0.96 per share. Its revenue rose 1% to $3.17 billion compared to $3.14 billion. However, analysts were estimating earnings of $1.05 per share on revenue of $3.19 billion. Viacom also announced its plans to buy UK's Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd for 450 million pounds ($760 million).

Equities Trading UP Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MACK ) shares shot up 64.24 percent to $7.21 after the company reported that MM-398 has achieved primary endpoint of overall survival in Phase 3 trial in post-gemcitabine metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Shares of Weight Watchers International (NYSE: WTW ) got a boost, shooting up 25.76 percent to $24.90 after the company reported upbeat first-quarter results and raised its earnings forecast for the year.

Catamaran (NASDAQ: CTRX ) shares were also up, gaining 13.59 percent to $42.88 after the company reported upbeat results.

Equities Trading DOWN Shares of American Railcar Industries (NASDAQ: ARII ) were 15.46 percent to $58.70 after the company reported weaker-than-expected Q1 results.

SLM (NASDAQ: SLM ) shares tumbled 64.08 percent to $9.25 after gaining 0.10% on Wednesday. Credit Suisse initiated coverage on SLM with a Outperform rating.

JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU ) was down, falling 11.84 percent to $11.17 after the company reported downbeat Q3 results and issued a weak Q4 forecast.

Commodities In commodity news, oil traded down 0.37 percent to $99.37, while gold traded down 1.19 percent to $1,280.50.

Silver traded down 0.99 percent Thursday to $18.99, while copper fell 0.28 percent to $3.02.

Eurozone European shares today.

The eurozone's STOXX 600 gained 0.09 percent, while U.K. shares gained 0.29 percent.

Economics Announced layoffs rose around 40,298 in April, versus 34,000 in March and compared to 38,000 in the year-ago month, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported.

US jobless claims increased 14,000 to 344,000, in the week ended April 26. However, economists were estimating claims to decline to 320,000 in the week.

US consumer spending increased 0.9% in March, while personal income climbed 0.5%. However, economists were projecting a 0.4% rise in income and a 0.6% increase in spending.

The final reading of Markit PMI manufacturing index came in at 55.40 in April, versus a prior reading of 55.40. However, economists were expecting a reading of 55.40.

The ISM manufacturing composite index rose to 54.90 in April, versus economists' estimates for a reading of 54.30.

US construction spending increased 0.20% in March, versus economists' expectations for a 0.50% growth.

The Treasury is set to auction 3-and 6-month bills.

© 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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

This article appears in: Investing , Economy , Futures
Referenced Stocks: ARII , JDSU , BVN , EXC , PPL

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