Stocks are higher at the session's half as investors eyed more
deal news and a steady stream of earnings reports issued before the
opening bell. Attention to international developments shifted from
Egypt to China, which made further moves to tighten lending
All is quiet on the economic data front with no major U.S.
economic reports scheduled for release. But the People's Bank of
China influenced trading early after it raised its benchmark
lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points, triggering concerns
about inflation, according to local media reports.
In company news:
Shares of McDonald's (
) are higher after the company said U.S. same-store sales rose 3.1%
last month, with Europe up 7% and Asia/Pacific, Middle East and
Africa up 5.2%. Microsoft (
) shares are higher on a Bloomberg report that the software giant
is planning to shake up management further as it looks to add
senior product executives with an engineering background. Personnel
changes could be announced as early as this month, the report
) has completed the sale of its shares in LUKOIL, Russia's second
largest oil firm, according to Reuters. ConocoPhillips has sold
over 6% of its LUKOIL shares in the open market since September 26,
2010 Conoco has sold over 6 percent. It announced the sale of its
entire 20% stake in LUKOIL in the summer of 2010 in order to use
the funds to buy back shares.
Shares of Citigroup (
) are near the flatline as the bank settles fraud cases brought by
borrowers who accused the bank of filing fraudulent mortgage
documents, Bloomberg reports. Citi settled or lost at least five
such claims in 2010, the report says. The most recent settlement
involved a bankrupt homeowner who contested Citi's use of a
mortgage assignment, which shows the transfer of ownership of a
mortgage, the report said.
Kindred Healthcare (
) are up sharply as the The Wall Street Journal reports that it
acquired RehabCare Group for close to $900 million in cash and
stock. RehabCare owns and operates 34 facilities, the Journal
reported. It also manages rehab services in more than 1,250
locations across the United States.
In earnings news:
--Entergy (ETR) reports Q4 earnings of $1.26 on an as-reported
basis and $1.30 per share on an operational basis. The Street view
was $1.24 per share. Revenue was $2.53 bln vs. expectations of
--Beazer Homes USA (BZH) reports a Q1 loss of $0.66 per share
compared to income of $1.17 a year earlier and deeper than the
Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for a loss of $0.46. Revenue
fell 48% to $110.3 million. The Street looked for $164.3
--Sara Lee (SLE) reports Q2 adjusted EPS was $0.24, down from
$0.27 per share in the year ago quarter. Sales were $2.3 bln, down
0.4% from the year ago period. The Street view was $0.25 per share
in earnings on sales of $2.52 bln.
--Teva (TEVA) reports Q4 sales of $4.4 bln, up 16% from the year
ago quarter but below the analyst consensus of $4.6 bln on Thomson
Reuters. Non-GAAP EPS was $1.25 per share, up from year ago levels
but below expectations of $1.28 per share.
--Toyota Motor (TM) raised its full-year operating profit
forecast to 550 billion yen ($6.68 billion) from 380 billion yen,
after it posted an April-December operating profit of 422.19
billion yen. A Thomson Reuters forecast had predicted a full-year
operating profit of 489 billion yen.
--McAfee (MFE) says Q4 sales were $550 million, more than the
Thomson Reuters mean for $545.04 million. Non-GAAP EPS were $0.67,
$0.02 below estimates.
Commodities are higher. April gold contracts are up $19, or
1.43%, to $1,368 an ounce while March crude oil contacts are up
0.38%, or $0.33., at $87.82 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.46% to
$36.83 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.72%
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.30% to
$133.39. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.09% to $57.27.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 2.65% to $29.40.