Stocks are up, with the major indexes holding gains near 1%, as
investors welcome promising developments in the European debt
crisis and shrugged off new data that confirmed continued
sluggishness in the housing market. The International Monetary Fund
also dialed back expectations for global economic growth, citing
debt as a major concern.
Earlier today, the IMF said its now projects worldwide growth of
4% in 2011 and 2012, which is down from 5% forecast in 2010. The
top priorities for the United States should be devising a
medium-term fiscal consolidation plan to make public debt
sustainable, Forbes reported.
New home construction fell 5% in August to an annual rate of
571,000, but permits rose 3.2%, the government reported Tuesday.
Housing starts in July were revised down to 601,000 from an
original reading of 604,000, according to Commerce Department data.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to
drop to an annual rate of 590,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Yet permits for new construction, viewed as a gauge of future
demand, increased to an annual rate of 620,000 from 601,000 in
July. It was the highest level since December.
Overseas, a Greek finance ministry official said the country was
close to agreement over a fresh injection of aid, according to The
Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's cut its
rating on Italy's sovereign debt by one notch to A, with a negative
outlook. The International Monetary Fund this morning slashed its
economic forecast, responding to slow private-sector demand,
sovereign debt and bank troubles, the Japanese earthquake and
Middle East unrest, according to MarketWatch.
In company news:
) says it now sees September quarter sales declining 7% to 10%
sequentially. This is a revision from previous guidance that called
for sales to be up 1% to down 3% sequentially. The Thomson Reuters
mean is for sales to be $603.23 million.
Shares of Pfizer Inc. (
) are higher amid a series of news reports on the drug maker this
morning. Earlier Dow Jones Newswires reported that the firm plans
to cut 225 jobs in France as a part of reorganization. Also, the
company said that it completed its tender offer for Icagen (
Shares of Research in Motion (
) are down as RBC Capital reportedly reiterated a Sector Perform
rating on the stock and cut his price target to $29 from $35. RBC
Capital analyst Mike Abramsky argued that the stock won't move
until the company fixes four "key issues." according to a Barron's
report on the call. The four key issues include shifting the
BlackBerry to the QNX operating system, executing better and the
board of directors providing a more active check and balance to
company management. RIM also, has a "credibility gap" with
investors due to poor forecasting, the report said.
)'s Q3 sales missed analyst expectations, while EPS were higher.
The company says Q3 sales were $509 million, below the Thomson
Reuters mean for $651.39 million. It earned $0.30 per share, a
nickel more than estimates. Jefferies shares are up 2.83% to
Carnival Corp. (CCL) is seeing gains after the cruise operator
reported Q3 EPS and revenue of $1.69 and $5.1 billion,
respectively, topping estimates of $1.63 and $4.9 billion.
Commodities are higher. December gold contracts are up 1.81% to
$1,811 an ounce while October crude oil contacts are up 1.5% to
$87.10 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.32% to
$33.73 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.72%,
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.47% to
$175.86. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 4.11% to $66.09.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.85% to $38.98.
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