Mid-Day Update: Stocks Slip as Employment Data Disappoints; Financials Broadly Lower

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Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE down 35.83 (-0.45%) to 7,965.22

-DJIA down 44.20 (-0.38%) to 11,653.11

-S&P 500 down 5.26 (-0.41%) to 1,268.41

-Nasdaq down 11.12 (-0.41%) to 2,698.60

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng down 0.42%

Nikkei up 0.11%

FTSE down 0.58%

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy down 0.01% at 12,489.18

NYSE Financial down 0.9% at 4,984.14

NYSE Health Care down 0.55% at 6,552.35

NYSE Arca Tech 100 down 0.5% at 1,108.54

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) KBH (+4.7%) beats with Q4 sales.

(+) VRX (+1.4%) upgraded.

(+) ASTC (+18.1%) inks Navy contract.

(+) DNDN (+4%) gains ahead of Provenge conference call.

(+) F (+0.2%) reports note strong China sales in December.

(+) DO (+4.1%) upgraded.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) BBY (-0.5%) reports December revenue, maintains guidance.

(-) LIZ (-15.1%) continues evening slide that followed disappointing December results.

(-) XRTX (-13.3%) continues evening slid that followed Q4 miss.

(-) XOMA (-13.7%) continues recent decline that followed disappointing drug results.

(-) QGEN (-1.2%) downgraded.

(-) PM (-2.7%) downgraded

(-) LOCM (-24.3%) warns for Q4.

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks are retrenching in mid-day trading with the major indexes showing moderate losses, after new government data showed unemployment declining to a 19-month low, but job growth falling short of economists' projections.

The U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs in the final month of 2010 while the unemployment rate fell to 9.4%, the lowest level since May 2009, the Labor Department reported. The rate hit a recession high of 10.1% in October 2009.

Some mean economist estimates called for as many as 175,000 new jobs, so today's reading disappointed, especially after the upside surprise in the ADP private sector jobs report out earlier this week. But November and October payrolls were revised up by a combined 70,000 new jobs. Most of the hiring occurred in the fields of leisure, hospitality and health care. Leisure and hospitality added 47,000 jobs and health care employment rose by 36,000. The manufacturing sector also added 10,000 jobs, MarketWatch reported.

Bank stocks were hit hard through the first half of the session following a ruling by Massachusetts' highest court that two home foreclosures were invalid since the banks in the case couldn't show they owned the mortgages. Wells Fargo ( WFC ) shares are down 3.1%. Bank of America ( BAC ) shares are down 2.3%. Citigroup shares are down 0.8%.

In company news:

Shares of Pfizer ( PFE ) are just higher after the drug maker sued Novartis ( NVS ) Sandoz unt in federal court in Delaware, accusing the company of infringing two U.S. patents for its anti-fungal medicine Vfend, Bloomberg reports.

Shares of online retailer Amazon.com ( AMZN ) are down, despite an upgrade to "buy" from "hold" at Lazard Capital. The firm reportedly made the move citing a strong holiday season and the potential for share gains. The firm had a $225 price target on company shares.

Apple's (AAPL) approach to Laurence Tosi, the Blackstone (BX) chief financial officer, is being seen as a sign that the computer maker is looking to pick up its deal-making pace, Bloomberg reports. Tosi has a background in acquisitions. Blackstone made more than 30 purchases last year, the report said.

Radient Pharmaceuticals (RPC) says it received an order valued at more than $10 million for the company's FDA approved, Onko-Sure cancer test kits, earlier in the week. It also says it expects to officially announce whether officials at the NYSE Amex have approved a substantial debt-to-equity swap which was approved by shareholders in early December. If approval is given by the exchange, the company will eliminate and convert up to $33 million in debt and liabilities into $22 million in equity.

Google's (GOOG) Android operating system passed Apple's iPhone operating system in U.S. market share for the three-month period that ended in November, according to new figures from comScore. Apple's iPhone market share grew by 0.8% while Google's Android grew by 6.4%. Overall, Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry still dominates the U.S mobile market with 33.5% market share. Google is at No.2 with 26%. Apple now is No. 3 at 25%.

American International Group (AIG) shares are higher after the insurer, which US taxpayers bailed out, said it wants to issue 75 million warrants to shareholders this month as it seeks to regain independence, Bloomberg reports. Shareholders of record on Jan. 13 will get warrants to purchase AIG stock at $45 a share. Also, Taiwan said it would have a swift review of AIG's sale of its Taiwan-based Nan Shan Life unit.

MGM (MGM) is up after CEO James Murren said the company's hotel room revenue, convention business and gaming revenue are "starting to come back." The convention business revenue may increase by more than 30% in Q1, he said in an interview with CNBC.

Shares of Popular (BPOP) are higher following a pre-market rating change from Goldman Sachs (GS), which initiated the bank at a Buy. Goldman has a $4.25 price target on company shares.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) says it flew 6.6 billion revenue passenger miles (RPMs) in December, an 11.3% increase from the 6 billion RPMs flown in December 2009. Available seat miles (ASMs) increased 5.6% to 8.3 billion from a year ago. The load factor was 80.4%, compared to 76.2% for the same period last year. Passenger revenue per ASM is estimated to have increased approximately 5% as compared to December 2009.

Murphy Oil Corp. (MUR) is down almost 5% after saying two of its wells drilled off the Republic of Congo coast did not find commercial quantities of hydrocarbons. A third well found only deep reservoirs with some accumulation of oil and all three have been plugged and abandoned. Cost to the company, which owns a 58.8% stake in the wells, was $36 million and will be expensed in the Q4 results.

Commodities are up. February gold contracts are up $0.2, or 0.02%, to $1,372 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are up 0.39%, or $0.34, at $88.72 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.16% to $37.74 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1% to $5.94.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.01% to $133.87. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.21% to $56.86. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.39% to $28.31.



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: AMZN , BAC , NVS , PFE , WFC

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