Mid-Day Update: Stocks Moderately Lower; Apple Extends Slump, Weighing on Tech Sector, Nasdaq Composite


U.S. stocks are drifting lower today after a meeting last night between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner again appeared to highlight a lack of progress in resolving a dispute over tax hikes and spending cuts slated to take effect in 2013. This has overshadowed positive economic news here and abroad. Industry groups in the S&P 500 are roughly split between winners and losers, with technology stocks leading the declines, including a 3% slide for Apple Inc ( AAPL ) shares after UBS cut its price target for the company by $80 to $700, citing a weak debut for its iPhone5 line in China this week. Commodities are mostly higher.

Consumer prices fell in November for the first time in six months, indicating U.S. inflation pressures were muted and allowing the Federal Reserve to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy. The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index dropped 0.3% in November with a sharp decline in gasoline prices offsetting increases in other areas. Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected consumer prices to fall 0.2%.

A separate report showed manufacturing is growing at its swiftest pace in eight months. Industrial production expanded 1.1% last month after a revised 0.7% fall in October, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected output to gain by 0.3% last month, after October's previously reported 0.4% drop.

Meanwhile, data out of China was encouraging for its key trading partners, including the U.S., and for the prospects for global growth. The preliminary December reading was 50.9 for a purchasing managers' index released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics, beating estimates.

The positive manufacturing data out of China was supporting commodity prices today. Crude oil for January delivery is up 77 cents to $86.66 per barrel. January natural gas is down 4 cents to $3.30 per 1 million BTU. February gold is flat at $1,696.80 per ounce while March silver is up 3 cents to $32.38 per ounce. March copper is up a penny at $3.67 per pound.

Among energy ETFs , the US Oil Fund is up 4 cents to $31.62 and the US Natural Gas Fund is down 19 cents to $18.83. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF is up 13 cents to $46.47 and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF is down 21 cents at $164.16. The iShares Silver Trust is down 0.26 cents at $31.27.

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

NYSE Composite Index down 3.44 (-0.04%) to 8,334.88

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 23.13 (-0.18%) to 13,147.59

S&P 500 down 4.81 (-0.34%) to 1,414.64

Nasdaq Composite Index down 15.90 (-0.53%) to 2,976.26


Nikkei 225 Index down 0.05%

Hang Seng Index up 0.71%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 4.32%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.13%


NYSE Energy Sector Index down 54.22 to 12,468.16

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 3.61 to 4,960.18

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 19.21 to 7,938.29


(+) FUBC, (+3.2%) Authorizes stock buyback of up to 1.7 million shares - equal to 5% of its currently outstanding shares.

(+) ALU, (+11.2%) Inks $2.1 billion debt financing deal with Credit Suisse ( CS ) and Goldman Sachs ( GS ), allowing the communications equipment company to move forward with its restructuring plans.

(+) NIHD, (+7%) Board Chairman Steven Shinder named interim CEO, replacing Steven Dussek, who stepped down to pursue other opportunities.

(+) ALXA, (+9.9%) European health regulators recommend approval of the company's Adasuve drug candidate to control agitation in adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.


(-) SLB, (-61.%) Expects earnings per share to fall by 5 to 7 cents in the fourth quarter because of contractual delays in Europe, Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States and weaker- than-expected onshore U.S. and Western Canadian drilling.

(-) PAY, (-3.5%) Q4 earnings of $0.76 a share were in-line with forecasts but revenue of $489 million comeS up $6.2 million short. Sees Q1 EPS of $0.70 to $0.73, trailing the Street view by at least $0.02. Guides FY13 earnings, revenue in-line with analysts.

(-) ZQK, (-15%) Q4 earnings of $0.07 a share miss by $0.02. Sales rise 2.5% year over year to $558.97, also trailing the analyst consensus by $7.18 million.

(-) BBY, (-15%, closer to year lows) Company extends deadfline for former CEO and company founder Dick Schultze to make a bid for the consumer electronics retailer.

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: AAPL , CS , GS

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