Stocks are choppy and trending lower at mid-day as employment
data continues to remain in focus on a data-heavy week, culminating
in a report on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate for March
The US Department of Labor said the number of people who filed
initial jobless benefits applications declined by 6,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 388,000 in the week ended March 26. Later
today, the Chicago purchasing managers index for March and factory
orders for February will hit.
In other economic data, new orders for US factory-manufactured
goods declined by 0.1% in February, the Commerce Department
reported. Economists had expected overall US factory orders to rise
Also, the cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up to an
average 4.86% from 4.81% the week before, according to Freddie Mac,
which tracks rates. While the average rate remained below 5%, it is
well off its low of 4.17% in November. Low rates have been a saving
grace for the battered housing market, but strict underwriting
standards for mortgages have throttled many prospective buyers.
In other company news:
RXi Pharmaceuticals (
) says it will buy Apthera for approximately 4.8 million in RXII
shares. Apthera's stockholders will also be entitled to contingent
payments based on the achievement of certain development and
commercial milestones relating to Apthera's NeuVax product
Las Vegas Sands (
) is down following reports that Sands China, the company's Macau
unit, is under investigation by the Hong Kong Securities and
Futures Commission, according to a Reuters wire report. The inquiry
relates to alleged breaches of regulations, according to the
Microsoft Corp. (
) shares are tipping lower and the Silicon Vally / San Jose
Business Journal has filed a complaint against Google (
) with the European Commission, the EU's antitrust regulator. "Our
filing today focuses on a pattern of actions that Google has taken
to entrench its dominance in the markets for online search and
search advertising to the detriment of European consumers,"
Microsoft said on its company blog.
) reports Q4 EPS of $0.25, a penny shy of the Street view on
Thomson Reuters. Revenue was about $216 million, below expectations
of $221 million.
BP Plc (BP) shares are trading lower as lawyers suing the oil
giant said in a court filing that the company had used chemical
dispersants to fight last year's oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico
and should compensate the cleanup crew and residents harmed by
those toxic chemicals, according to AP.
Also, shares of Rite Aid (RAD) are down 1.9% in mid-session
trading after the drug store chain said March same store sales fell
Commodities are higher. June gold contracts are up $15, or
1.04%, to $1,440 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are up
1.95%, or $2.04, at $106.31 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.93% to
$42.46 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down $0.14,
or 1.31%, to $11.32.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.17% to
$140.30. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.32% to $60.43.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.09% to $36.93.
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