Mid-Day Update: US Indexes Higher; Economic Data Lifts Sentiment

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Stocks are higher in mid-day trading while Wall Street bounces back after the release of economic data that suggested continued improvement in the domestic economy.

In the latest economic data, the Empire State manufacturing index posted a surprising gain, rising to its highest level in seven months, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The Empire state index rose to 9.5 in December from 0.6 in November. The index had been at or below zero since June. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected the index to rise to 3.0 in December.

However, U.S. industrial production unexpectedly dropped in November for the first time in seven months. Capacity utilization for total industry also decreased to 77.8 percent, a rate 2.0 percentage points above its level from a year earlier but 2.6 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2010) average, according to Bloomberg.


Output at factories, mines and utilities declined 0.2 percent after a 0.7 percent gain in October. Economists forecast a 0.1 percent advance, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

Meanwhile, U.S. wholesale costs climbed 0.3% in November as the price of food increased, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted a 0.1% rise. The core intermediate index, an indicator of future inflation, fell 0.4% in November.

The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, their lowest level since May 2008.

Also on the data front, The Philadelphia Fed said its index of general business activity within the factory sector rose to 10.3 in December from 3.6 in November. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected the December index to rise to just 5.0.

In company news:

Enforcement staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission may request the commissioners leading the agency that they appeal last month's rejection by a U.S. district judge of a proposed $285 million settlement with Citigroup ( C ), the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

Pfizer ( PFE ) shares are higher while Bloomberg reports that the company has now settled about half of the pending lawsuits over Prempro, its menopause drug. The company has also increased the amount of funds set aside to resolve the cases, the report said.

Coca-Cola Enterprises ( CCE ) affirmed earnings per share guidance for full-year 2011 in a range of $2.14 to $2.18 with results expected at the higher end of the range. Also, the company expects to achieve 2012 earnings per diluted common share growth in a range of 10 percent to 12 percent on a comparable and currency neutral basis.

Sinopec ( SNP ) is higher after Bloomberg reports the company has said it's "not the time" to talk about raising its joint HK$15.3 billion ($2 billion) for China Gas Holdings, even though China Gas rejected the offer yesterday for failing to reflect the company's fundamental value. According to the report, analysts believe the rejection could open the door to a rival bidder, and then Sinopec would be forced to reconsider its price.

Arch Coal ( ACI ) today announced that it was the successful bidder for the South Hilight tract, a federal coal lease in the southern Powder River Basin, which encompasses parts of Wyoming and Montana. It contains an estimated 222 million tons of minable coal reserves in Campbell County, Wyoming.

Commodities are lower as February gold contracts are down $12.50 to $1,574 an ounce while January crude oil contracts are down $0.73 to $94.22 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.82% to $36.36 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.14%, to $6.90.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.04% to $152.83. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.01% to $51.85. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.39% to $28.18.

Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE up 47.16 (0.66%) to 7,231.91

-DJIA up 99.22 (0.84%) to 11,922.70

-S&P 500 up 9.75 (0.80%) to 1,221.57

-Nasdaq up 9.09 (0.36%) to 2,548.40

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei down 1.67%

Hang Seng down 1.78%

Shanghai Composite down 2.14%

FTSE-100 up 0.63%

DAX-30 up 0.98%.

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy up 0.7% at 11,848.28

NYSE Financial up 0.9% at 3,933.85

NYSE Health Care up 1.7% at 6,839.78

NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 0.3% at 1,057.46

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) NVLS, +21.4% Sold to Lam Research for $3.3 Bln

(+) FDX, +7.3% Q2 EPS Beat, Revenue Meets, Guidance Straddles Street View

(+) RAD, +5.3% Q3 Loss is Better Than Street Estimate

(+) SONO, +26.8% to be Bought by Fujifilm for $54 Per Share

(+) VRTX, +2.5% Appoints New CEO

(+) VECO, +3.1% Initiated with a Sell at Maxim

(+) AIXG, +3.0% Initiated with a Sell at Maxim

(+) SWKS, +2.8% Upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) APKT, -3.9% Initiated with a Neutral at JP Morgan

(-) DECK, -9.8% Downgraded to Underperform from Buy at Sterne Agee



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: ACI , C , CCE , PFE , SNP

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