Markets were higher today as investors were encouraged by the
second day of testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke,
who made it clear that, while quantitative easing was not on the
table at the moment, the Federal Reserve is considering a number of
options on how to provide stimulus to the economy. Bernanke
refrained from offering any indications on what the Federal Reserve
has in mind.
Today's housing news and data also provided a boost to market
sentiment. Low interest rates continue to feed a strong demand for
refinancing as the Mortgage Bankers Association Refinance Index
soared 22.0% in July 13 week, up from a week over week loss of 3.0%
the previous week. The Purchase Index did not fare as well, posting
a loss of 0.1% compared to last week, down from a growth week over
week of 3.0% seen the previous week. These measures provide a gauge
for the demand of housing and the momentum of the economy in
general. The idea is that people must feel pretty confident in
their financial situations to buy or refinance a house.
The recent mild uptrend in housing is reflected in new
construction. The pace of housing starts in June was 760,000, up
from the previous period's 708,000 and consensus estimates of
745,000. This represents an increase of 23.6% compared to a year
ago. It is a significant measure because there is a strong ripple
effect with housing. New construction generally means construction
employment rises. New buyers will also likely contribute to economy
by purchasing new appliances, furniture, and services. This effect
is felt in the community as well.
Crude oil was up around 0.30 to near $89.50 per barrel. Natural
gas was up to around $2.88 per 1 million BTU. Gold was to $1,578.40
an ounce, while silver was down to near $27.18 an ounce. Copper was
up to around $3.47 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund is up 0.7% to near
$33.60 with the United States Natural Gas fund is up more than 3%
to near $19.70. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors
Gold Miners ETF is down 0.6% while SPDR Gold Shares are down 0.2%.
The iShares Silver Trust is down -0.3%.
Here's where the markets stood at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 28.26 (+0.36%) to 7,823.03
Dow Jones Industrial Index up 68.84 (+0.54%) to 12,875.40
S&P 500 up 7.38 (+0.54%) to 1,371.06
Nasdaq Composite Index up 29.45 (+1.01%) to 2,939.35 Â
FTSE 100 up 51.19 (+0.91%) to 5,679.46
DAX up 96.17 (+1.46%) to 6,673.81
CAC 40 up 50.76 (+1.60%) to 3,227.86
Nikkei 225 down 28.26 (-0.32%) to 8,726.74
Hang Seng Index down 215.45 (-1.11%) to 19,239.88
Shanghai China Composite Index up 7.91 (+0.37%) to 2,169.10
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 72.33 (+0.60%) to 12,087.35
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 7.59 (-0.17%) to 4,454.29
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 21.40 (+0.28%) to 7,606.60
VVUS (+14.4%, hit new year highs): Food and Drug (FDA) has
approved Qsymia as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and
increased physical activity for chronic weight management in
overweight adult patients, or patients with
an initial body mass index of 30 or greater, or 27 or greater
with at least one weight-related comorbidity, such as hypertension,
type 2 diabetes mellitus or high cholesterol.
PSTI (+11.8%): Announced that in anticipation of initiating a
Phase II study using PLX-PAD cells for the treatment of
Intermittent Claudication, the company has recently entered into a
collaborative agreement with CPC Clinical Research for services
related to enrolling and sustaining clinical sites.
INFI (+8.2%): Terminated agreements with Mundipharma and Purdue
Pharmaceutical Products. Following this termination, INFI will
regain worldwide rights for its PI3K, FAAH and early discovery
programs. In addition, Mundipharma will no longer provide R&D
funding to INFI.
ROVI (-41%, hit year lows): Downgraded to Neutral from
Overweight at JPMorgan. Price target was lowered to $17 from
BAMM (-18.3%): The Anderson family withdrew its previously
announced non-binding proposal made on April 28, 2012, to acquire
all of the outstanding shares of the common stock of the company
for $3.05 per share.
ARNA (-8%): Rival VIVUS Inc. (
) received FDA approval for a diet drug.