Mid-Day Update: Stocks Lower After Europe Inflation Overshadows Upbeat Retail Sales, Factory Orders; Fed Meeting Minutes on Tap

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Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE down 46.05 (-0.57%) to 7,997.92

-DJIA down 9.99 (-0.09%) to 11,660.76

-S&P 500 down 6.46 (-0.51%) to 1,265.34

-Nasdaq down 22.82 (-0.85%) to 2,2668.74

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng up 0.99%

Nikkei up 1.65%

FTSE up 1.93%

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy down 0.67% at 12,555.26

NYSE Financial down 0.64% at 5,010.71

NYSE Health Care up 0.07% at 6,556.38

NYSE Arca Tech 100 down 0.81% at 1,091.22

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) BP (+2.1%) gaining but off early highs; subject of article about interest from Shell, reacting to presumed resumption of Gulf of Mexico drilling.

(+) WAG (+0.9%) added to Goldman's Conviction Buy list.

(+) XOMA (+22.6%) inks development commercialization pact.

(+) VECO (+0.9%) upgraded.

(+) PLUG (+15.9%) offers upbeat sales comments.

(+) CCL (+0.6%) upgraded.

(+) RBS (+1.1%) upgraded.

(+) DRYS (+1.5%) inks new contracts.

(+) NTWK (+2.3%) inks strategic understanding with SANY auto finance.

(+) RPC (+28%) remains active gainer over several sessions.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) NKE (-2.4%) removed from Goldman's Conviction Buy list.

(-) BGP (-9.4%) down as financial situation remains in focus; some execs leaving; gets delivery pledge from vendor.

(-) NLY (-2.6%) continues evening decline that followed planned share issuance.

(-) SJM (-3.1) downgraded, price target lowered.

(-) OPTR (-1.8%) gets orphan drug status for Fidaxomicin.

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks are mixed at mid-session after Inflation in Europe overshadowed new economic reports that saw an unexpected jump in factory orders and an increase in Christmas retail sales--both suggesting economic expansion. Investor attention will be focused on the Federal Reserve's December monetary policy meeting minutes, which will be issued this afternoon.

US retailers saw sales rise 3.6% last week compared to the year-earlier period as shoppers took advantage of post-Christmas discounts according to an index of sales released by Goldman Sachs and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

November factory orders in the US rose 0.7% compared with a forecast for a 0.1% drop. Demand for capital equipment drove gains.

At 2 p.m. ET, the Fed's December monetary policy meeting minutes will be released. Investors will be closely watching for a central bank assessment that at least matches the general enthusiasm that Wall Street has shown over the economy in recent weeks. Optimistic sentiment has sent the averages to multiyear highs without much of a consolidation phase.

In company news:

General Motors ( GM ) shares are higher after it reported a 7.5% increase in December domestic sales, lifting sales on the year to 2.22 million, up from 2.08 million last year. The automaker sold 224,185 cars and trucks. Ex discontinued brands, sales of GM's four remaining lines jumped 15.5% to 223,932 vehicles last month. Meanwhile, shares of Ford Motor ( F ) are just higher after the automaker reported that December sales jumped about 7%,

Shares of Abbott Laboratories ( ABT ) are higher even as copyright protection for the company's HIV drug Kaletra was rejected in India, which will allow other generic drug companies to manufacture copies, Bloomberg reports. The product generated about $1.37 billion in sales in 2009.

Coffee chain Starbucks ( SBUX ) is down following a Bloomberg report that says the company could miss a jump in home brewing unless it can break a pact that links it to Kraft Food's Tassimo machine, which competes with the best-selling Keurig home brewer. Under terms of the agreement, Starbucks can't put its coffee in the Keurig.

Dell Inc.( DELL ) announced Tuesday its plans to acquire information-security services firm SecureWorks, Inc. The acquisition comes three weeks after DELL's announcement that it had agreed to acquire Compellent Technologies (CML) for $820 million. Financial terms for the ShareWroks deal, however, were not disclosed.

American Express (AXP) is up as shares get support from Jim Cramer at CNBC, who named the stock as one of his Dow Leaders in 2011. According to Cramer, AXP could jump 40% to $60 by the end of 2011 in a broad based advance for financial companies, based on improved overseas growth. The stock recently reported a 17% increase in year-over-year revenues, although Cramer cautioned that AXP is still "misunderstood and underestimated."

Shares of Celgene (CELG) are down after the biotech firm said it has submitted new marketing applications for its blood cancer drugs Revlimid and Istodax, Reuters reported. Revmid--in combination with other drugs--treats multiple myloma. Istodax is for patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma.

Apple's (AAPL) iOS--the operating system for its iPhone smartphone--is still the No. 1 mobile operating system over Google's Android OS, according to the latest survey from Nielsen, as reported by Bizjournals.com Apple's iOS has 28.6% of the smartphone market. That was narrowly ahead of Research in Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry OS at 26.1% and Google's (GOOG) Android at 25.8%. Still, Google's Android is said to be the most popular among new smartphone buyers.

American International Group (AIG) shares are down after the firm received a proposal from a local Taiwan company to buy a stake in AIG's Taiwan unit, Reuters reported. AIG has been trying to sell the unit for 15 months. The proposal from home security company Taiwan Secom Group is seen as pleasing regulators but likely is contrary to what AIG is aiming to do.

BP (BP) ADRs are just higher following an earlier report from London's Daily Mail that Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) is mulling an opportunistic takeover of BP because of its vulnerability following the Gulf of Mexico spill. The report says Shell's board decided against a bid due to its concern over legal liabilities but that it remains interested in a merger.

Commodities are down. February gold contracts are down $38, or 2.66%, to $1,385 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are down 2.58%, or $2.36, at $89.19 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 2.87% to $37.93 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.48% to $6.28.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 2.11% to $135.09. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 3.14% to $58.83. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.6% to $29.20.



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.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: ABT , DELL , F , GM , SBUX

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