Midday Update: Stocks Extend Gains on Strong Auto Sales But Upside Limited By Syria, Beige Book

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Stocks are cautiously higher for the second straight day, underpinned by strong auto sales from GM ( GM ) and Ford ( F ) as well as upbeat earnings today from discount retailer Dollar General ( DG ). But the mood remains somewhat restrained by the on-going speculation over if or when the U.S. will conduct military action against Syria.

In addition, the Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book assessment of national economic conditions at 2:00 p.m. ET, with traders sure to parse its language for hints of when the central bank will begin reducing its asset purchases.

In economic news, the trade deficit in July widened to $39.1 billion from an upwardly revised deficit of $34.5 billion the month prior, both of which will likely contribute to a downward revision to Q3 GDP. Car sales from GM ( GM ), Ford ( F ) and Toyota ( TM ) were all better than expected, especially for Ford which will boost production by 7% to meet growing demand.


In Europe, indices across the continent were all pressured by the developments in the Middle East as investors nervously keep an eye on the U.S. for direction. Even as EU economic data continued to point to a broad recovery among member states, the three major indices all ended the day narrowly higher.

Crude oil was down $1.12 to $107.42 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.01 to $3.75 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $22.00 to $1,389.70 an ounce, while silver was down $0.93 to $23.51 an ounce. Copper was down $0.06 to $3.24 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.85% to $38.43 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.16% to $19.22. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.25% to 28.03 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 1.51% to $134.35. The iShares Silver Trust was down 3.00% to $22.69.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 67.18 (+0.72%) to 9,400.67

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 115.69 (+0.78%) to 14,949.65

S&P 500 up 14.81 (+0.90%) to 1,654.58

Nasdaq Composite Index up 36.20 (+1.00%) to 3,648.81

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.54%

Hang Seng Index down 0.31%

Shanghai China Composite up 0.21%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.10%

CAC 40 up 0.16%

DAX up 0.19%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.61%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 1.10%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.65%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ETFC (+8.6%) Subsidiary, E*TRADE Bank, has received regulatory approval to distribute capital to the company's parent.

(+) DG (+4.8%) The discount retailer reported 15% profit gain on strong consumable sales.

(+) CIEN (+11.1%) Ciena Corp reported Q3 earnings above analysts' expectations and forecasted a strong Q4.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) RYAAY (-9.8%) Full year profit is expected to be at the lower end of target range and full-year traffic was reduced from 81.5 million to under 81 million.

(-) LNKD (-2.4%) LinkedIn announced Tuesday that it has registered a public offering of $1.0 billion in shares of its Class A common stock.

(-) FRAN (-25.4%) Q2 results missed estimates; retailer cut guidance for 2013.



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: DG , F , GM , TM

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As of 12/26/2014, 04:15 PM


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