U.S. stocks are little changed at mid-day, swinging a few points
either side of even in light pre-holiday trading as positive
economic data at home fights for dominance with fears of a global
slowdown and European debt woes. Industry sectors in the S&P
500 are split between winners and losers, with energy and financial
stocks posting the best gains while shares of mining and materials
company are down moderately despite small gains for metals and
other commodities today. Consumer stocks also are performing
relatively well with sentiment data rising to its best levels since
Stocks briefly ticked higher after a gauge of consumer attitudes
climbed to its best level in over four years. The Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index climbed to
a final 79.3 reading for May, up from 76.4 last month and topping
the preliminary 77.8 reading reported earlier this month. Experts
polled by Bloomberg, on average, had expected the final reading to
match the preliminary 77.8 call.
Americans' perceptions of both current and future conditions
rose, with current sentiment rising to 87.2 from 82.9 the prior
month. The index of consumer expectations six months from now,
often seen as a measure of consumer-spending trends, increased from
72.3 in April to 74.3 this month, its highest reading the highest
since July 2007.
Traders, however, still are having a difficult time shaking
concerns over global growth and Europe's debt crisis. News Spain's
Catalonia state is having problems selling new debt had stocks
retreating this morning, with Reuters quoting Deputy Prime Minister
Soraya Saenz de Santamaria that the Spanish government is analyzing
"with all caution" requests from regional governments to help them
regain access to capital markets.
Also today, the U.S. Treasury Department again declined to
formally accuse China of currency manipulation while still
asserting the yuan remains "significantly undervalued." The
department is continuing to "closely monitor" the value of the yuan
compared to the dollar and other currencies, according to the
Treasury's semi-annual report to Congress on exchange-rate
policies. It also will press for changes that yield more
In company news, VeriFone Systems (
) shares are down 15% after Q2 profits for the electronics-payments
company declined 42% from year-ago levels on higher acquisition and
restructuring costs. The firm also gave Q3 and FY12 guidance that
lagged consensus estimates.
Delcath Systems (
) shares plunged nearly 37% and hit a new year low $1.46 today
after the medical device and drug company announced plans for a
public offering of stock and warrants. It did not specify how many
shares will be sold although the offering is authorized under the
company's Feb. 6 shelf registration allowing it to sell up to $100
million of debt and equity.
Proceeds will be used to further develop and commercialize
DCTH's so-called chemosaturation system, designed to administer
large doses of chemotherapy and other therapeutic agents to
diseased organs or tissues. Its initial focus is treating primary
and metastatic liver cancers.
Shipping stocks are sailing today following an encouraging
earnings report by Frontline Inc. (
). The supertanker company rose as much as 15% after posting an
unexpected $0.09 a share Q1 profit, which included a $15-million
gain from asset sales, and FRO executives saying they anticipate Q2
operating results will top the prior quarter. Shares of Ship
Finance International Ltd (
), Navios Maritime Partners L.P. (
) and Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. (OSG) are up at least 3%
today, including a near 8% advance for SFL.
Commodities are mostly higher. Crude oil for July delivery is up
33 cents at $90.99 a barrel while June natural gas is down 8.2
cents at $2.565 per 1 million BTU. June gold is up $8.20 to $1,565
an ounce with July silver adding 13.3 cents to $28.32 an ounce.
July copper is up 2.3 cents at $3.4525.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil fund is up 0.18% to
$34.32 and the United States Natural Gas fund is down 2.93% to
$18.27. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners
ETF is up 0.07% to $44.66 while SPDR Gold Shares are up 0.47% to
$152.12. The iShares Silver Trust is up 0.22% to $27.50.
Here's where the markets stand this afternoon:
NYSE Composite Index down 0.87 (-0.01%) to 7,551.48
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 16.38 (-0.13%) to
S&P 500 up 2.30 (+0.17%) to 1,322.97
NASDAQ Composite Index up 0.06 (+0.00%) to 2,839.44
Nikkei 225 up 0.20%
Hang Seng Index up 0.25%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.74%
FTSE 100 down 0.01%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.21% to 11,514.77
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.28% to 4,244.14
NYSE Healthcare Index up 0.33% to 7,130.02
(+) BLOX (+2.1%) Q3 EPS, revenues beat estimates; guides Q4
(+) CHK (+3%) Carl Icahn said to own 4% stake; Blackrock buys
another 4 million shares.
(+) GNOM (+23%) No real news but plenty of takeover chatter
(+) UPI (+14.9%) Two new R&D initiatives expanding
(-) TLB (-38.7%) Breaks off buyout talks with private-equity
(-) ROSG (-15.3%) Plans to sell 570,000 shares in registered
(-) NYMT (-4.3%) Launches public offering of 4 million
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