Stocks Choppy; U.S. Manufacturing Data Show Modest Gains, Greece Weighs

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Stocks are down in mid-day trading as investors continue to digest news that the budget approved by Greece's government came up short of austerity targets, while new data showed that U.S. manufacturing activity picked up last month, providing a modicum of support for the market.

In the latest economic news, the Institute for Supply Management reported their September manufacturing index rose to 51.6% from 50.6% in August, MarketWatch reported. While an index over 50% indicates expansion, the index is off its February peak of 61.4%. Economists polled by MarketWatch did not expect any change.

Reports Sunday said that Greece's Finance Ministry had approved a new budget for parliamentary review that falls short of austerity targets. The deficit is now expected to be 8.5% of gross domestic product in 2011, significantly higher than the 7.6% target. This could jeopardize European aid for the debt-strapped nation, according to analysis in the major news outlets.

In company news:

Eastman Kodak ( EK ) shares are still sharply higher as they bounce back from a Friday plunge that stripped half their value. The swoon came after reports the company hired a law firm specializing in bankruptcy. The company denied it has a bankruptcy plan, according to a Reuters story.

Shares of Sangamo Biosciences ( SGMO ) are down sharply as results from a mid-stage study released Monday showed the company's experimental drug SB-509 did not restore function and health of damaged nerves in the legs, according to a report in TheStreet.com.

ClickSoftware ( CKSW ) shares are up after the company today announced preliminary results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. The company says it anticipates revenues for Q3 2011 to range from $22.7 million to $23.5 million, topping the consensus of $21 million. The company also revised upward its annual guidance for full year 2011 to a range of $85 million to $87 million, compared with the previously provided annual guidance between $81.5 million and $85 million.

Shares of Pharmaceutical Product Development ( PPDI ) are sharply higher as the clinical research firm inked a deal to be acquired by the Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman for $3.9 billion, reports Bloomberg.

Coca-Cola Co. ( KO ) shares are down after JP Morgan downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "overweight." The firm cited valuation and expectations for negative earnings revisions due to currency and the challenging macro environment. The price target was lowered to $76 from $80.

Shares of Intel (INTC) are down while Reuters reports that the company has agreed to acquire Israeli mobile navigation software maker Telmap. Details of the deal were not disclosed but Israeli media reportedly said Intel is paying between $300 million and $350 million.

Barclays (BCS) and Bank of America (BAC) are looking to sell their stakes in apartment company Archstone, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Commodities are higher as December gold contracts are up 2.2% to $1,658 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are up 0.35% to $79.50 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.79% to $30.73 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.22%, to $8.98.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.92% to $161.09. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.43% to $55.98. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 3.7% to $29.97.



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: CKSW , EK , KO , PPDI , SGMO

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