Stocks are higher across-the-board as investors mostly shrugged
off pre-market news that unemployment benefits claims rose and
focused instead on a jump in pending-home-sales, the Federal
Reserve's move to buy Treasury debt and upbeat November same-store
sales reports from retailers.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York purchased $8.31 billion in
Treasury debt today as part of the Fed's controversial quantitative
easing initiative to aid the struggling recovery. October pending
home sales jumped 10.4%, said the National Association of Realtors.
Pending-home-sales index rose to 89.3 in October from 80.9 in
The number of workers who filed new claims for unemployment
benefits rose 26,000 last week to 436,000, the U.S. Labor
Department reports. Economists had looked for a slightly smaller
rise. Last's week's upwardly revised reading of 410,000 was still
the lowest in more than two years. The four-week average of initial
claims, a less-volatile measure, fell 5,750 to 431,000, the lowest
level since August 2008. Continuing claims rose 53,000 to 4.27
million in the week ended Nov. 20.
In company news:
Merck & Co. (
) shares are higher after the drug maker agreed to buy
privately-held SmartCells for $500 million. SmartCells is
developing a glucose responsive insulin formulation for the
treatment of diabetes mellitus. "Through the acquisition of
SmartCells we have obtained innovative technology that may enable
us to develop glucose-responsive insulins," said Nancy Thornberry,
a senior VP at Merck Research Laboratories, in a statement.
Morgan Stanley (
) shares are higher after the bank said it is selling its 34.3%
stake in China International Corp., Bloomberg reported, citing four
people with direct knowledge of the talks. The sale marks the end
of the bank's 15-year activity with China International, which was
the first Sino-foreign investment bank.
Shares of Chevron (
) are higher in the regular session following a Reuters report
saying that China petrol giant Sinopec would buy a minority stake
in its deepwater gas fields in Indonesia. The deal is still subject
to review by Indonesia and Chinese regulators.
Shares of Clearwire (
) are lower after it announced that its operating subsidiary
Clearwire Communications LLC plans to raise over $1.1 billion
through the offering of debt securities in private placement
transactions. Clearwire is moving to raise cash after it disclosed
in a Nov. 4 filing that ongoing losses and funding uncertainty
"raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue," as quoted
Meanwhile, shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (
) are showing resiliency in the regular session despite yesterday's
news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected Valeant's
experimental epilepsy drug. The FDA cited non-clinical reasons for
this action. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Valeant--which worked
together on the drug--believe that these items can be addressed and
the two companies are working for a timely response.
Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) shares are higher in the regular
session following news that the anti-monopoly agency in Japan gave
the nod to an alliance between Yahoo Japan and Google, Reuters
reported. Yahoo Japan is that country's top Internet portal and
said it would adopt Google's search engine, which would
collectively give the companies control over nearly all Japan's
domestic search market.
Janus Capital (JNS) shares are higher after the Denver-based
mutual fund firm said that it is not a target in the insider
trading probe the government initiated last month, Reuters
reported. Last week, news that the federal government had asked
Janus to deliver information for the probe had sent shares
Shares of retailers are mixed after pre-market reports from a
number of big names in the group that showed an increase in
November comparable-store sales. Here are a sampling of sales
figures and stock movement:
--Pier 1 Imports (PIR) shares down 0.5% after reporting Q3
same-store sales increase 10.2%
--Costco (COST) shares are down 0.5% after reporting November
comparable store sales increased 9%.
--Limited Brands (LTD) shares are up 0.4% after saying November
comparable store sales increased 10%.
--The Wet Seal (WTSLA) shares are up 6.2% after saying November
comparable store sales increased 7%.
--Macy's (M) shares are down 1.12% after saying November
comparable store sales increased 6.1%.
--Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) shares are down 1.1% after
saying November comparable store sales increased 23%.
--Dillard's (DDS) shares are up 6.4% after saying November
comparable store sales increased 8%.
--American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) shares are down 5.8% after
saying November comparable store sales dropped 4%.
--Nordstrom (JWN) shares are down 2.9% after saying November
comparable store sales rose 5.1%.
--Saks (SKS) shares are up 0.8% after saying November comparable
store sales rose 5.3%.
Commodities are higher. February gold contracts are up $10, or
$0.74%, to $1,399. an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up
0.47%, or $0.38, at $87.13 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.54% to
$37.40 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.53%
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.82% to
$136.49. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.16% to $61.58.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.69% to $28.28.
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