The fear that gripped U.S. equity markets at the end of last
week and Monday has abated, as buyers have stepped up to the plate
for the second consecutive session, pushing the Dow up to triple
digit gains at mid-day. Muted U.S. stock futures this morning led
to a mildly positive start, despite a worse-than-expected reading
on January durable goods orders, but the release of positive
housing market data added some fuel to the recent market buying
Durable goods orders declined 5.2% in January, just above the
5.0% slump forecast by economists. According to The Commerce
Department, durable goods orders slid 5.2% due to large declines in
bookings for commercial and defense aircraft. Economists polled by
MarketWatch forecast durable goods orders would decline 5.0%.
Durable goods orders minus the volatile transportation sector
increased 1.9%, their fastest rise in over a year.
Orders for core capital goods, surged 6.3%, their fastest
increase in over two years. Shipments of core capital goods, a key
metric used to calculate quarterly economic growth, dipped 1.0%.
December durable goods orders were revised down to a 3.7% increase
from their prior reading of a 4.3% climb.
The release of January pending home sales figures earlier in the
session caused a notable bump up in market averages, with that
figure rising 4.5% from the previous month, according to the
National Association of Realtors. That trumped expectations of a
1.8% gain, with volume 9.5% above January 2012--the highest reading
since April 2010. The Association also revised December's numbers
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke was wrapping up his remarks to the House Financial
Services Committee, during the second day of his semiannual report
to Congress on the economy and monetary policy. Yesterday he urged
Congress to come up with some type of compromise to avoid automatic
Federal spending cuts due to hit on Friday.
Overseas, Asian markets were mixed to mostly higher, while
European bourses fought a strong headwind created by uncertainty
over Italy's political landscape and the region's ongoing debt
woes, posting gains across the board.
Commodities were mixed at mid-day. Oil was up fractionally after
last week's decline, up $0.13 at $92.67 per barrel. January natural
gas was up $0.0708 to $3.534 per million BTUs.
Gold futures were down $13.20 per ounce to $1,602.30, as the
yellow ore continued to wrestle with the technically critical
$1,600 level. Silver was down $0.255 to $29.065 per ounce. Copper
was down $0.0115 to $3.5715.
Here's where the markets stood at mid-day:
NYSE Composite up 68.70 (+0.78%) to 8,834.88
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 103.15 (+0.74%) to 14,003.28
S&P 500 up 13.03 (+0.87%) to 1,509.97
Nasdaq Composite Index up 31.71 (+1.01%) to 3,161.36
Nikkei 225 Index down 1.27%
Hang Seng Index up 0.25%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.86%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.97%
DAX up 0.95%
CAC 40 up 1.85%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES:
NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) up 128.99 (+1.00%) to
NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) up 37.51 (+0.70%) to
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) up 48.13 (+0.58%) to
(+) BGMD (+7.8%) said the publication of two studies
demonstrates the clinical utility of repeated galectin-3 testing as
a tool in the assessment of patients with heart failure. The
studies demonstrate that periodic evaluation of galectin-3 levels
can help clinicians identify those at greater risk of unplanned
hospital admission and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
(+) DLTR (+12.6%) reported that Q4 sales were $2.25 bln, in line
with the analyst consensus on Capital IQ. EPS was $1.01, vs.
expectations of $0.99 per share.
(+) MAKO (+12.2%) Shares jumped after company reported Q4 revs
of $30.2 mln, below the analyst consensus of $31.4 mln on Capital
IQ. Loss for the quarter was $0.13, lower than $0.14 in Q4 2011,
but missing expectations of a loss of $0.11 per share.
(-) PZZA (-8.1%) Shares slid after the company reported adjusted
Q4 2012 EPS of $0.62, vs. $0.65 per share in Q4 last year. That's
off from Street estimates of $0.76 per share for Q4. Fourth quarter
2012 revenues were $367.3 million, a 19.9% increase from fourth
quarter 2011 revenues of $306.2 million and higher than the $348
million analysts expected.
(-) FSLR (-15.9%) got pummeled after it was downgraded to a
Neutral rating from Outperform by analysts at Robert W. Baird. The
firm also reduced its price target on the stock to $25 from $30 a
(-) DWA (-3.6%) fell after the company reported a Q4 loss of
$0.98 per share, versus the Capital IQ consensus of a $0.03 loss
per share, if comparable. Revenues were $264.7 mln, versus the
analyst estimate of $213.2 mln. The company said that it recorded a
charge of about $165 million, which includes a write-down of film
costs for Rise of the Guardians in the amount of $87 million,
charges totaling $54 million related to the company's decision to
return Me & My Shadow back to development, a write-off of a
number of other development projects in the amount of $20 million
and a charge of $4.6 million related to restructuring
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