Mid-Day Update: Stocks Extend Prior-Session Gains Despite Disappointing Unemployment Data

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Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE up 87.87 (+1.16%) to 7,691.60

-DJIA up 92.10 (+0.82%) to 11,347.88

-S&P 500 up 11.67 (+0.97%) to 1,217.74

-Nasdaq up 21.69 (+0.84%) to 2,570.90

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng up 0.86%

Nikkei up 1.81%

FTSE up 2.22%

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy up 1.21% at 11,871.25

NYSE Financial up 1.64% at 4,769.00

NYSE Health Care up 0.57% at 6,326.16

NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 0.64% at 1,063.81

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) S (+3.5%) topping early volume leader boards.

(+) RNN (+20.3%) initiated with Buy coverage at Brean Murray.

(+) ANF (+10.6%) reports jump in same-store sales.

(+) WTSLA (+6.2%) gains after November sales.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) M (-1.1%) gains on November sales, earnings view.

(-) GM (-0.14%) making pension payment.

(-) INSM (-12.4%) in combination with Transave.

(-) SQNM (-3.5%) selling stock.

(-) AEO (-6%) says November same-store sales flat.

(-) KR (-9.2%) declines after results.

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks are higher across-the-board as investors mostly shrugged off pre-market news that unemployment benefits claims rose and focused instead on a jump in pending-home-sales, the Federal Reserve's move to buy Treasury debt and upbeat November same-store sales reports from retailers.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York purchased $8.31 billion in Treasury debt today as part of the Fed's controversial quantitative easing initiative to aid the struggling recovery. October pending home sales jumped 10.4%, said the National Association of Realtors. Pending-home-sales index rose to 89.3 in October from 80.9 in September.

The number of workers who filed new claims for unemployment benefits rose 26,000 last week to 436,000, the U.S. Labor Department reports. Economists had looked for a slightly smaller rise. Last's week's upwardly revised reading of 410,000 was still the lowest in more than two years. The four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure, fell 5,750 to 431,000, the lowest level since August 2008. Continuing claims rose 53,000 to 4.27 million in the week ended Nov. 20.

In company news:

Merck & Co. ( MRK ) shares are higher after the drug maker agreed to buy privately-held SmartCells for $500 million. SmartCells is developing a glucose responsive insulin formulation for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. "Through the acquisition of SmartCells we have obtained innovative technology that may enable us to develop glucose-responsive insulins," said Nancy Thornberry, a senior VP at Merck Research Laboratories, in a statement.

Morgan Stanley ( MS ) shares are higher after the bank said it is selling its 34.3% stake in China International Corp., Bloomberg reported, citing four people with direct knowledge of the talks. The sale marks the end of the bank's 15-year activity with China International, which was the first Sino-foreign investment bank.

Shares of Chevron ( CVX ) are higher in the regular session following a Reuters report saying that China petrol giant Sinopec would buy a minority stake in its deepwater gas fields in Indonesia. The deal is still subject to review by Indonesia and Chinese regulators.

Shares of Clearwire ( CLWR ) are lower after it announced that its operating subsidiary Clearwire Communications LLC plans to raise over $1.1 billion through the offering of debt securities in private placement transactions. Clearwire is moving to raise cash after it disclosed in a Nov. 4 filing that ongoing losses and funding uncertainty "raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue," as quoted by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals ( VRX ) are showing resiliency in the regular session despite yesterday's news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected Valeant's experimental epilepsy drug. The FDA cited non-clinical reasons for this action. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Valeant--which worked together on the drug--believe that these items can be addressed and the two companies are working for a timely response.

Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) shares are higher in the regular session following news that the anti-monopoly agency in Japan gave the nod to an alliance between Yahoo Japan and Google, Reuters reported. Yahoo Japan is that country's top Internet portal and said it would adopt Google's search engine, which would collectively give the companies control over nearly all Japan's domestic search market.

Janus Capital (JNS) shares are higher after the Denver-based mutual fund firm said that it is not a target in the insider trading probe the government initiated last month, Reuters reported. Last week, news that the federal government had asked Janus to deliver information for the probe had sent shares plunging.

Shares of retailers are mixed after pre-market reports from a number of big names in the group that showed an increase in November comparable-store sales. Here are a sampling of sales figures and stock movement:

--Pier 1 Imports (PIR) shares down 0.5% after reporting Q3 same-store sales increase 10.2%

--Costco (COST) shares are down 0.5% after reporting November comparable store sales increased 9%.

--Limited Brands (LTD) shares are up 0.4% after saying November comparable store sales increased 10%.

--The Wet Seal (WTSLA) shares are up 6.2% after saying November comparable store sales increased 7%.

--Macy's (M) shares are down 1.12% after saying November comparable store sales increased 6.1%.

--Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) shares are down 1.1% after saying November comparable store sales increased 23%.

--Dillard's (DDS) shares are up 6.4% after saying November comparable store sales increased 8%.

--American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) shares are down 5.8% after saying November comparable store sales dropped 4%.

--Nordstrom (JWN) shares are down 2.9% after saying November comparable store sales rose 5.1%.

--Saks (SKS) shares are up 0.8% after saying November comparable store sales rose 5.3%.

Commodities are higher. February gold contracts are up $10, or $0.74%, to $1,399. an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up 0.47%, or $0.38, at $87.13 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.54% to $37.40 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.53% to $5.79

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.82% to $136.49. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.16% to $61.58. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.69% to $28.28.



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: CLWR , CVX , MRK , MS , VRX

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