Stocks Higher in Mid-Day Trading as Investors Eye Housing Data, G-20, Earnings

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Stocks are broadly higher at mid-day after positive housing data adds to positive sentiment from the G-20 Summit over the weekend amid a continuing steam of relatively upbeat earnings reports.

In the latest round of economic data, the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes climbed 10% in September--the second month of gains in a row--MarketWatch reported. Sales last month rose 10% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million, from a downwardly revised 4.12 million in August, the report said.

Home sales have declined 37.5% from their peak annual rate of 7.25 million sales in September 2005 but are up compared with July's rate of 3.84 million sales, the lowest in 15 years.

Also, the G-20's joint communique Saturday buoyed investors. It said a global economic recovery is underway but uneven, and warned of the need to move toward more "market-determined" currency exchange rates, according to news reports.

In company news, Novartis' ( NVS ) Menveo vaccine prompted an immune response to four strains of a disease that causes meningitis, Bloomberg reported, citing a study. The finding potentially shows there could be protection against brain and spinal cord infections, the report said. The vaccine met goals set for a late-stage study in infant meningococcal disease, the report said.

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc ( ARNA ) is on the rise after CEO Jack Lief said he sees a way forward to gain FDA approval for the company's diet drug Lorcaserin. Over the weekend, Arena said that the FDA rejected the drug amid safety concerns, particularly regarding its cancer risk. Still, in a conference call, Lief said that Arena will continue to work for ways to get the drug on the market.

Privacy regulators in Italy ordered Google ( GOOG ) to ensure its Street View photo-collecting automobiles are clearly marked and that their itineraries are publicized, Reuters reported. Google must publish three days in advance in which locality, including which area of a large city, the cars will be operating. The report is the latest in a saga for the Internet search giant, which has faced privacy concerns over its Google Maps service in several European countries over the past year.

Las Vegas Sands ( LVS ) is up after Barron's says it may gain as the gaming market expands in Singapore. LVS recently opened the Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore.

Harman International ( HAR ) is higher after it says it plans to invest another $100 million to bolster its manufacturing and research capabilities in the People's Republic of China. It will partner with the northern city of Dandong to create two new manufacturing operations with a total joint investment of some $50 million.

BP ( BP ) said Monday it has agreed to sell interests in four mature producing deepwater oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico to Marubeni Oil & Gas for $650 million in cash. BP acquired the interests in the fields - Magnolia, Merganser, Nansen and Zia - from Devon Energy earlier in 2010 as part of a wider acquisition of assets in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and Azerbaijan, the oil giant said. Dependent on regulatory approval, the parties anticipate to complete the deal in early 2011.

Shares of Assured Guaranty ( AGO ) are sharply lower after Standard & Poor's removed its AAA rating on Monday and assigned the bond insurer a rating of AA-plus, Reuters reported. S&P gave Assured a stable outlook and cited a depleted demand for bond insurance, the report said.

CommScope Inc. ( CTV ) is sharply higher on news the telecommunications equipment manufacturer said it is in talks to be bought out by the Carlyle Group. The private equity group may by all outstanding shares in CommScope for $31.50 a share, marking a 36% premium over the company's closing price Friday.

Office Depot Inc ( ODP ) is higher on news that CEO Steve Odland will step down next month after settling improper disclosure charges with the SEC last week. Meanwhile, the office supply retailer also posted preliminary third quarter results that exceeded analysts' expectations. The company will be reporting its full results Wednesday.

In the latest earnings news:

--RadioShack ( RSH ) reported Q3 EPS of $0.37 per share, two cents ahead of the Street view. Sales were $1.05 billion, vs. expectations of $1.03 billion.

--Invesco ( IVZ ) reported Q3 adjusted EPS of $0.39, ahead of the Street view of $0.35 per share. Revenue was $953 million, vs. expectations of $966 million.

--DSP Group ( DSPG ) reported Q3 revs of $65.1 million, in line with the analyst view on Thomson Reuters. EPS was $0.27, vs. expectations of $0.20 per share. For 2010, the company is guiding for revenue in the range of $222 to $226 million, vs. Street expectations of $239 million.

--Sykes ( SYKE ) expects preliminary Q3 revenue in the range of $304 to $306 million, up from a prior guidance range of $296 to $301 million and better than the analyst consensus of $297 million on Thomson Reuters.

Commodities are higher as December gold contracts are up $13, or 0.97%, to $1,338 an ounce while December crude contacts are up 1.04%, or $0.86, at $82.55 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is up 0.42% to $35.64 and the United States Natural Gas fund ( UNG ) is down 2.23% to $5.21.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD ) is up 0.76% to $130.71. Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ) is up 1.53% to $55.73. iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ) is up 1.23% to $23.04.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities


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