Midday Update: Stocks Rally Following Peaceful Crimean Vote, Upbeat Production Data

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Stocks were off their best levels of the day, running into resistance after new housing data disappointed traders, but were still holding onto significant gains in a relief rally triggered by a peaceful vote on Crimean succession. After losing ground for four consecutive days last week, a short-covering rally at Monday's open drove the Dow Industrials Index up more than 200 points, with better than expected manufacturing data amplifying the upward momentum.

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders improved in March but fell short of Street expectations. The National Association of Home Builders index notched up to 47.0 from 46.0 the month prior but trailed forecasts for a more robust gain to a 50.0 reading - which is index demarcation between a positive or a pessimistic outlook on the housing market.

Stocks advanced at the open after industrial production overcame the lingering impact of adverse winter weather for a 0.6% improvement in March, the Federal Reserve reported, beating estimates for a 0.2% gain. January was revised upward as well, from a negative 0.3% reading to a 0.2% decline.


Capacity utilization this month was reported as better than expected, inching higher to 78.8 from a 78.5 reading in February, also beating the market consensus looking for 78.6. The manufacturing component rose 0.8%, topping estimates for a 0.3% gain and much better than the 0.8% contraction in January.

In the New York Federal Reserve District, business conditions improved slightly in March, with the Empire State business conditions index rising to 5.61 from 4.48 but below forecasts for a rise to 7.0.

In Europe, stocks rallied on geo-political developments and strength in U.S. markets while European inflation data raised odds for another cut in EU-zone interest rates. All three major European bourses are holding impressive gains with Germany's DAX outperforming.

Crude oil was down $1.14 to $97.75 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.09 to $.49 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $1.30 to $1,377.60 an ounce, while silver was down $0.02 to $21.39 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $2.95 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 1.21% to $35.10 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 2.66% to $25.11. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.13% to 27.34 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.35% to $132.64. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.53% to $20.51.

Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 93.20 (+0.91%) to 10,378.29

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 187.65 (+1.17%) to 16,253.32

S&P 500 up 18.74 (+1.02%) to 1859.84

Nasdaq Composite Index up 46.34 (+1.09%) to 4,291.73

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 0.35%

Hang Seng Index down 0.30%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.96%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.78%

CAC 40 up 1.31%

DAX up 1.38%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.42%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.87%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.99%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) HTZ (+5.08%) Plans to spin off equipment rental business

(+) YHOO (+4.00%) Alibaba begins process of IPO

(+) AMCN (+14.50%) Reverses losses from Friday on disappointing earnings

(+) MNGA (+33.33%) Will unveil its liquid biomass technology solution at the upcoming 7th Annual International Biomass Conference & Expo.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) HNR (-6.45%) Reported a net loss of $122.7 million, or $3.02 per diluted share vs estimates for a gain of $0.10 per share

(-) ICPT (-11.95%) Reported mixed Q4 and full-year 2013 earnings, as well as releasing results for its Phase 3 POISE trial..



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

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