Stocks have reversed course and are moving into positive
territory in mid-day trading following a sluggish morning session.
The move comes after a pair of economic reports painted a positive
picture on the U.S. economic recovery.
Before the bell this morning, ADP said its December tally of
hiring shows payrolls growing by 297,000. The report may bode well
for the private sector portion of the Labor Dept.'s December jobs
report due for release early Friday.
Also released this morning, the December ISM services gauge came
in at 57.1, up 2.1 points from November and better than
MarketWatch-compiled consensus expectation among economists for
55.6. The employment sub-index decreased 2.2 percentage points to
50.5, indicating growth in employment for the fourth consecutive
month, but at a slower rate.
In mid-day company news:
Shares of Pfizer (
) are down after India's Natco Pharma asked the drug maker for
permission to sell discounted versions of its HIV medicine, the
Economic Times reported. Natco said that the medicine was too
expensive for patients in India.
) unveiled improvements to its application for the Apple (
) iPad at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, reports
MarketWatch. The application will soon be able to stream nearly
everything Comcast shows on television. Comcast originally
introduced the app in November.
Shares of American International Group (
) are advancing after the insurance giant--which is in the process
of selling assets to repay a U.S. bailout--said it received a $3
billion offer for its Taiwan unit, Nan Shan Life Insurance ,
Bloomberg reported. Yesterday, AIG shares declined after it
received a proposal from a local Taiwan company to buy a stake in
AIG's Taiwan unit. The proposal from home security company Taiwan
Secom Group is seen as pleasing regulators but likely is contrary
to what AIG interests.
Shares of BJ's Wholesale Club (
) are lower after the discounter named replacements for its
management team, as well as announcing store closures and staff
reductions in the wake of weak December sales. The company blamed
the Northeast's Christmas-week snowstorm for some of the poor
performance. Despite same store sales for the month increasing to
3.8%, it still fell short of analysts' projections for comp sales
ADRs of Bayer (BAYRY) are down after the company filed for
approval in Europe of its drug Xarelto, which is used to prevent
stroke, Reuters reported. Bayer co-developed the drug with Johnson
& Johnson (JNJ). The moved is based on promising late-stage
trial results.The drug is seen having potential annual sales of
over $2.7 billion.
Qualcomm (QCOM) shares are advancing after the chip maker
confirmed this morning that its is buying Atheros for $45 per share
in cash, representing an enterprise value of $3.1 billion. The
transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2011.
Excluding amortization of acquired intangibles, Qualcomm expects
the acquisition to be modestly accretive to earnings per share in
fiscal year 2012, the first full year of combined operations.
Citigroup (C) shares are inching higher following a Bloomberg
report that Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit--along with
Pramit Jhaveri, head of the bank's division in India-- were cleared
in a fraud probe in that country.
Mattel (MAT) shares are fractionally higher after the toy maker
today named Bryan Stockton, president of international, as new
Chief Operating Officer. Stockton, who replaces outgoing president
of MAT brands, Neil Friedman, who has been head of MAT's
international division since 2003. He joined the company in 2000 as
executive vice president of business planning and development.
Valero Energy (VLO) shuttered a 40,000 barrel-a-day refinery
along the Texas gulf coast for maintenance, Bloomberg reported. The
move is not expected to have a material impact on production.
Commodities are mixed. February gold contracts are down $5, or
0.37%, to $1,374 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are up
0.41%, or $0.37, at $89.75 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.63% to
$38.32 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2.39%
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.44%
to $134.16. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.36% to
$58.24. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.17% to $28.45.
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