Mid-Day Update: Wall Street Bobs Amid Positive Housing, Consumer Data - Pares Gains Following Bernanke Speech


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U.S. markets were mixed Tuesday mid-day after investors hurdled global economic turmoil in the pre-market session and focused on a slew of positive economic reports. While stocks initially surged as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Capital Hill defended the Fed's bond buying program and low interest rates, the major indices see-sawed at mid-day.

Overseas, markets crashed after an Italian election pointed toward a narrow victory for the center-left coalition in the latest election. If this result holds, fears are that political gridlock in the Italian Senate could derail the country's austerity measures, and spread economic turmoil through the entire euro zone. The election jarred U.S. stocks Monday as the Dow and S&P bottomed at their biggest single day declines of the year.

At home, the Case-Shiller index showed housing prices increased 6.8% year-over year, notching higher than expectations. The FHFA housing price index was also up month over month, above Street estimates.

In corporate news, Home Depot ( HD ) increased near the stock's 52-week high after the home retailer reported strong year-end results, reflecting a housing rebound. The company reported a 7% gain in same-store sales for Q4.

JPMorgan ( JPM ) said it is trimming about 4,000 jobs, or about 1.5% of its workforce.

Consumer confidence rose in February. The Conference Board's index showed that confidence jumped to 69.0 from 58.6 in January. Economists had pegged the index to touch 62.3.

The Commerce Department reported a rise of 15.6% in new home sales last month to an annual rate of 437,000, the highest mark since July 2008 and above economist forecasts for a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 384,000.

U.S. sectors were mixed Tuesday mid-day, with cons. non-cyclical, energy, financial, healthcare and transportation in the red.

Commodities were mixed at mid-day. Crude oil for April delivery was down $0.11 to $93 a barrel. March natural gas was down $0.007 to $3.41 per 1 million BTU. In metals, April gold futures were up $2.40 to $1,589.00 per ounce. March silver was down $0.137 at $28.85 per ounce in electronic trade. March copper was down $0.002 at $3.54 per pound.

Here's where the markets stood at mid-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) up 56.79 (+0.41%) to 13,840.96

S&P 500 (^INX) up 0.64 (+0.04%) to 1,488.49

Nasdaq Composite Index (^IXIC) down 0.63 (-0.02%) to 3,115.62

NYSE Composite (^NYA) down 2.43 (-0.03%) to 8,716.97


Nikkei 225 Index down 2.26%

Hang Seng Index down 1.32%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 1.40%

FTSE 100 Index down 1.35%

DAX down 2.29%


NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) down 10.47 (-0.20%) at 5,296.01

NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) down 25.69 (-0.20%) at 12,739.96

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) down 33.03 (-0.40%) at 8,323.03


(+) SLCA (+25.94%, below new 52-week high) Reported Q4 net income of $0.41 per basic and diluted share, compared with net income of $0.20 per basic and diluted share for the same period in 2011, and topping estimates of $0.32. Revenues totaled $118.8 million for Q4 compared with $83.6 million for the same period in 2011, an improvement of 42.1%, and surpassing expectations of $108.7 million.

(+) AUXL (+2.82%, near 52-week low) Reported Q4 revs of $172.5 mln, in line with the analyst consensus on Capital IQ. EPS was $1.83, vs. expectations of $1.71 per share on a normalized basis and GAAP EPS of $1.84 per share, according to Capital IQ.

(+) ARWR (+11.53%, near 52-week low) Published the latest results on the study of its RNAi-based candidate ARC-520 in the Journal of Molecular Theory. Data from ARWR's latest study demonstrated multi-log reductions in hepatitis B viral DNA and proteins lasting over 30 days after a single injection in animal models.


(-) FSGI (-23.37%) Entered into definitive stock purchase agreements with institutional investors as part of an approximate $90 million recapitalization.

(-) HSII (-20.29%, near 52-week low) Reported a Q4 GAAP loss of $0.02 per share, ex one-time items, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.18. Revenues were $103.87 mln, versus the analyst estimate of $109.56 mln.

(-) VSI (-18.92%) Reported Q4 2012 adjusted net income was $0.40 per share, up from $0.31 a year prior and on par with the $0.40 per share analysts expected. Net sales in Q4 2012 were $218.9 million compared to $214.9 million in the same period of the prior year, and lower than the $223.9 million analysts had expected.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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