Mid-Day Update: Markets Up as Bernanke Hints at Stimulus, But Stays Mum on Details; Housing Data Provides A boost

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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:

US MARKETS

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

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

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

UPSIDE MOVERS

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.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

ROVI (-41%, hit year lows): Downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan. Price target was lowered to $17 from $46.

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. ( VVUS ) received FDA approval for a diet drug.



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.

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.


This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: VVUS

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