Mid-Day Update: Stocks Sitting Lower as Italy Borrowing Costs Jump; Greece PM Resigns

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Stocks are lower in mid-day trading as weekend developments in the European debt drama captured investor attention. With no major economic reports due out today, Italy became the latest focus of investor concern as borrowing costs for the country surged as reports indicated that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi might step down.

So far, Berlusconi has denied he will leave. European Central Bank Governing Council member Yves Mersch reportedly told Italy's La Stampa newspaper, cited by MarketWatch, that ECB policy makers had discussed not buying Italian debt if the government fails to show that it's sticking to its economic-restructuring plans.

The yield on 10-year Italian government bonds topped 6.6%, according to FactSet Research.


Next door, Greece moved to name a new leader after Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to step down as Greece's main political parties agreed on Sunday night to form a new national unity government. In that case, Papandreou will cede power to a new leader, expected to be named on Monday. The first task of a new coalition government will be to win parliamentary approval of the debt-bailout package inked by European leaders in October.

In mid-day company news:

ADRs of BP plc ( BP ) are down while Reuters reports that the failure of the oil company's planned sale of a $7 billion stake in its Argentinian unit is renewing concern about CEO Bob Dudley's claimed turnaround group.

Apple ( AAPL ) shares are down while Barnes & Noble ( BKS ) - as expected - unveiled a Nook Tablet that will cost $249. The device enters a crowded market for tablet computers which, so far, has been dominated by Apple's ( AAPL ) iPad, which starts at $499.

Citigroup shares are down while Bloomberg reports that the U.S. lender has invested $800 million of shareholder funds in its own private equity and hedge funds. The move comes as regulators are looking to scale back the practice, the report says.

Alcatel-Lucent ( ALU ) shares are down 9.1% following WestLB's reported downgrade of shares to Sell from Reduce. ALU was also downgraded to Sell at Citigroup.

Inhibitex ( INHX ) is maintaining a firm upside and is now up 15.8 on the back of last week's hepatitis C treatment breakthrough. On Friday, the share price of the company more than doubled after it reported top-line safety and antiviral data from the first cohort of its ongoing clinical trial of INX-189, an oral nucleotide polymerase inhibitor being developed to treat chronic infections caused by hepatitis C virus.

Aaron's (AAN) was down nearly 5% as it announced that for personal health reasons Robert C. Loudermilk, Jr. has resigned his position as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. Loudermilk, Jr. also resigned from the company's board of directors.

Commodities are down as December gold contracts are up 1.62% to $1,785 an ounce while December crude oil contacts are up 1.01% to $95.21 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.74% to $36.74 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2.87%, to $8.47.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.57% to $173.52. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.01% to $62.57. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.66% to $33.74.

Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE down 43.50 (-0.58%) to 7,508.73

-DJIA down 77 (-0.65%) to 11,905.33

-S&P 500 down 10.66 (-0.85%) to 1,242.94

-Nasdaq down 30.82 (-1.15%) to 2,655.01

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei down 0.4%.

Hang Seng down 0.8%.

Shanghai Composite down 0.7%.

FTSE-100 down 0.7%.

DAX-30 down 0.4%.

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy down 0.17% at 12,567.06

NYSE Financial down 0.81% at 4,145.98

NYSE Health Care down 0.53% at 6,737.69

NYSE Arca Tech 100 down 1.23% at 1,115.47

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) TKLC (+11.6%) sold to private equity for $11 per share.

(+) INHX (+16.3%) continues upside move after Hep C breakthrough last week.

(+) VRUS (+1.9%) tracking INHX.

(+) FRPT (+31.1%) sold to GD for $5.52 per share.

(+) NFLX (+2.3%) inks licensing deal with MGM.

(+) CBRL (+4.7%) expects Q1 EPS beat.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) SOL (-5.1%) cuts outlook.

(-) FRO (-3.2%) downgraded.

(-) BBY (-2.7%) buys out mobile JV partner.

(-) ING (-4.9%) downgraded.

(-) OVTI (-14.2%) cuts revenue guidance.

(-) GD (-0.2%) gaining amid acquisition.



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 , ALU , BKS , BP , INHX

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