Stocks are edging just higher to maintain their perch near
multi-year highs, but the market lacks conviction.
Apple Inc. (
) shares are up slightly more than 1% after the tech heavyweight
said it will pay a $2.65 a share dividend to shareholders beginning
during its fiscal Q4 starting in July. It also plans to buy back up
to $10 billion in stock.
On a conference call Monday, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook
reportedly said that "these decisions will not close any doors for
us," and that product innovation remained the company's
In a light day for economic reports, a measure of homebuilder
confidence this month was unchanged from a revised 28 reading in
February, according to the National Association of Home
Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The reading had risen
five consecutative months, reaching its best level since June 2007,
although February's advance was pared slightly from the 4-point
advance originally reported to a 3-point gain.
Experts polled by Marketwatch were expecting the index to remain
unchanged at 29. Readings over 50 indicate more builders view
conditions as good rather than poor. Later this week, new data on
housing starts during February will be released tomorrow, followed
by existing home sales on Wednesday. New-home sales figures are due
out on Friday.
In other company news, United Parcel Service (
) is paying $6.85 billion to acquire TNT Express in a deal that
will establish it as the market leader in Europe and gain access to
TNT's networks in the fast-growing Asian and Latin American
markets. Overall, global sales should top $60 billion. At last
look, UPS shares were up 3.3%.
Supermarket operator Safeway Inc (
) is now trading lower, giving back its earlier gains after
expanding its stock repurchase program by $1 billion and declaring
a regular quarterly dividend of $0.145 a share. It had about $400
million remaining under an existing buyback program. The cash
dividend is payable April 12 to stockholders of record on March
Most industry sectors in the S&P 500 are edging higher, led
again by financial stocks, up more than 1%. Material stocks also
are rising, along with tech stocks, which are getting a big boost
Commodities are mixed with gold for March delivery down 50 cents
at $1,655 an ounce while March silver is ahead 4.7 cents at $32.62
an ounce. Copper is easing from a 2.5% advance earlier today to now
trade around $3.91 an ounce, up 3.25 cents. April crude oil is up
69 cents at $107.73 a barrel.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund is up 0.34% to
$41.17 while the United States Natural Gas Fund is up 1.36% at
$18.65. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners
ETF is up 0.40% to $50.13 with the SPDR Gold Trust gaining 0.20% to
$161.625. The iShares Silver Trust is up 1.17% to $31.96.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 33.37 (+0.40%) to 8,303.77.
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 19.91 (+0.15%) to 13,252.53.
S&P 500 up 6.16 (+0.44%) to 1,410.33.
NASDAQ Composite up 21.56 (+0.71%) to 3,076.82.
Nikkei 225 up 0.12%.
Hang Seng Index down 0.95%.
China Shanghai Composite Index up 0.23%.
FTSE 100 down 0.05%.
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.33% to 13,437.14.
NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.85% to 4,885.63.
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.30% to 7,371.79.
(+) ABVT, (+13.1%) Agrees to $2.2 billion buyout by Zayo Group
(+) HPOL, (+3.3%) Begins $3 million stock buyback program; sets
new 52-week high.
(-) SGRP, (-10.0%) Q4 profit unchanged from year ago despite 26%
jump in revenues.
(-) EBAY, (-0.9%) Citigroup downgrade to Neutral from Buy,
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