Stocks are hitting session highs at mid-day as investors
decipher a mixed set of new data that showed the economy expanded
faster than originally thought in Q3, but still short of
economists' expectations, while home prices in the U.S. have lost
traction. A mixed round of retail earnings also are tempering
gains, while crude oil futures top $90 a barrel.
New data showed the U.S. economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate in
the third quarter, an upward revision that still came in below
market expectations. In November, the U.S. Commerce Department said
the economy grew in Q3 at an annual rate of 2.5%. Economists polled
by MarketWatch had expected the revised figure to be up 3%.
Meanwhile, sales of existing homes rose 5.6% to 4.68 million,
which is a seasonally adjusted number, according to the the
National Association of Realtors. Still, sales remained 27.9% below
last year's levels and under the 5.26 million in June during a key
homebuyer tax credit. Also, U.S. home prices fell 3.4 percent in
October from a year earlier, the Federal Housing Finance Agency
reported, and mortgage applications were also down last week.
In Wednesday company news:
Shares of Johnson & Johnson (
) are down after a group of shareholders accused the company's
directors of ignoring red flags signaled production problems that
led to government investigations of manufacturing glitches,
Bloomberg reported. The shareholders are asking J&J to pay
damages and improve its corporate governance and internal
procedures. J&J has been buffeted by a series of product
recalls over the last year.
) is working on a version of its Windows operating system for
devices such as tablet computers, Reuters reports. The company
reportedly also said that its Windows Phone 7 software is making
inroads into the smartphone market. The software giant will unveil
a version of its software that runs on processor designed by
UK-based ARM Holdings (
) instead of Intel (
Deutsche Bank (
) is down after agreeing Tuesday to pay $553.6 million to settle
federal charges connected to its role in tax shelters that enabled
high-wealth individuals in the United States to avoid hundreds of
millions of dollars in U.S. taxes.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) is down this morning after
reworking the Phase II trial of Telaprevir and VX-222, two
investigational drugs to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV). Also,
Threshold Pharmaceuticals (THLD) is up near 9%, after it says early
Phase 1 clinical trial results of TH-302 in patients with advanced
leukemia were positive.
Shares of Teradata (TDC) are down as the company says it will
acquire privately-held Aprimo--a cloud-based software marketing
company--for $525 million, according to a company statement. The
move will help Teradata to better compete with rival IBM (IBM),
which bought Teradata's rival Netezza Corp in September for $1.7
Bank of America (BAC) shares are higher as investors shrug off
several negative news, one of which involves WikiLeaks. The
organization's founder said he has major revelations that could
lead to the head of a large U.S. bank to resign, TheStreet.com
reports. There has been speculation that Bank of America is a
WikiLeaks target. Also, a report in The New York Times accuses Bank
of America and JPMorgan Chase (JPM), or their contractors, of
breaking into people's homes.
Retail earnings were plentiful last night and this morning,
The Finish Line Inc. (FINL) is down sharply after it reported Q3
results that beat Street estimates by $0.03, with Q3 earnings of
$0.08 a share on $260.9 million in revenues. Sales for the athletic
shoe store chain rose 8.7% over year-ago levels, topping consensus
analyst opinion by $21.8 million. Same-stores rose 4.5%.
Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. (WAG) is higher reported Q1 profit
of $0.62, beating Street consensus by $0.08. Sales for the quarter
rose 6% to $17.3 billion, same-store sales rising 0.8%. "We
continue to make solid progress on our key initiatives," CEO Greg
Nike Inc (NKE) shares are down after reporting future sales rose
11%, or as much as 2% below Wall Street expectations for the key
sales metric. Overall, the shoe manufacturer said Q2 earnings
reached $0.94 a share -- beating analyst estimates by $0.06,
according to Reuters -- while the $4.84 billion in revenues for the
quarter beat forecasts by about $30 million.
Shares of Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) are down sharply after American
Airlines pulled its flights from the company's travel booking Web
site, Reuters reported. The move comes after a judge in Illinois
denied a request for an injunction seeking to prevent that
Shares of Exco Resources (XCO) are up fractionally in the
regular session on news the company is acquiring Marcellus Shale
properties from Chief Oil & Gas for $459.4 million. The
companies are closing the transaction into an escrow account
pending receipt of a third-party wavier, expected by
Commodities are mixed. February gold contracts are down $1, or
0.04%, to $1,388 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are up
0.61%, or $0.54, at $90.36 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.52% to
$38.49 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.36%
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.04% to
$135.38. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 0.23% to $60.41.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.10% to $28.67.