Stocks Higher at Mid-Day as Europe Debt Concerns Ease; Mixed Economic Data Weighs

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Stocks are holding gains at mid-day after investor sentiment received a boost from European Union leaders on Greece's status as a eurozone member and on more aid to the debt ridden country. Weekly jobless claims data provided some downward pressure on the market, but the three major indexes remain up near, or just over 1%.

In the latest economic data, the Philadelphia Fed said its manufacturing index was -17.5 in September, the third negative reading in four months. Economists polled by MarketWatch had anticipated a -13.4 reading for September after -30.7 in August.

Also U.S. consumer prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in August, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The so-called core price index, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, increased a smaller 0.2%. Yet the core rate is now up 2.0% over the past 12 months, the first time it's hit that level since November 2008. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast CPI to rise 0.2% overall, with a 0.2% increase in the core rate.

And, new applications for unemployment compensation climbed 11,000 last week to 428,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 417,000 from an original reading of 414,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected new claims in the week ended Sept. 10 to climb to 418,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, meanwhile, rose by 4,000 to 419,500.

Across the pond, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy both said they expect Greece to remain a euro-zone member and indicated that aid pledged in the summer would still proceed.

In company news:

Shares of Google ( GOOG ) are up, while The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Yahoo ( YHOO ), Microsoft ( MSFT ) and AOL ( AOL ) plan to band together to sell ads on each other's sites in an attempt to battle the internet giant's dominance in the online advertising space.

Shares of Bank of America ( BAC ) are up 1.84% to $7.18 in morning trading, after hospital operator HCA (HCA) said it will buy back one-sixth of its stock, or 80.77 million shares from Bank of America for $18.61 each, or $1.5 billion. The repurchase transaction is expected to be completed on Sept. 21.

Meanwhile, shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are higher after Bloomberg reported that the health care products giant will face a trial in Arkansas over officials' claims in that state that J&J hid risks of its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal.

In the chip sector, Broadcom (BRCM) shares are just lower while Bloomberg reports the communications chipmaker could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of orders from Apple (AAPL) , which needs parts to fill orders for its iPhone and iPad products.

Under Armour (UA) is down after Nike (NKE) said there's "no truth" to speculation that it is considering an offer for UA, Bloomberg reports. The London Times reported earlier that NKE had been considering a possible bid for UA for the past three months and would consider paying $100 a share for the company, the story said.

Capital One Financial (COF) says credit card delinquencies rose again in August, while charge-offs in the U.S. jumped from July. Net charge-offs in August rose to 4.1% from 3.77% in July though declined to 6.21% from 6.59% internationally, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Auto-finance charge-offs rose to 1.94% from 1.79% in July.

Netflix (NFLX) says it's lowering its Q3 domestic subscriber estimates. It now sees 9.8 million streaming only subscribers, down from previous estimates for 10 million. It sees 2.2 million DVD subscribers, down from prior guidance for 3 million. It sees 12 million subscribers for both, unchanged from earlier guidance.

Commodities are mixed. December gold contracts are down 2.32% to $1,784 an ounce, while October crude oil contacts are up 0.35% to $89.20 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.49% to $34.33 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2.66%, to $9.89.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 2.13% to $173.44. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.77% to $62.05. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.32% to $38.68.



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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AOL , BAC , GOOG , MSFT , YHOO

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