Mid-Day Update: Stocks Trending Water Ahead of First Holiday Weekend of Summer

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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 2007.

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 exchange-rate flexibility.

In company news, VeriFone Systems ( PAY ) 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 ( DCTH ) 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. ( FRO ). 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 ( SFL ), Navios Maritime Partners L.P. ( NMM ) 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 12,513.37

S&P 500 up 2.30 (+0.17%) to 1,322.97

NASDAQ Composite Index up 0.06 (+0.00%) to 2,839.44

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

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

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) BLOX (+2.1%) Q3 EPS, revenues beat estimates; guides Q4 above Street.

(+) 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 online.

(+) UPI (+14.9%) Two new R&D initiatives expanding neuromodulation technology.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) TLB (-38.7%) Breaks off buyout talks with private-equity fund.

(-) ROSG (-15.3%) Plans to sell 570,000 shares in registered direct offering.

(-) NYMT (-4.3%) Launches public offering of 4 million shares.



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: DCTH , FRO , NMM , PAY , SFL

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