Stocks Hold Gains at Mid-Day Following Encouraging Euro-Debt Developments

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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:

Xilinx ( XLNX ) 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. ( PFE ) 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 ( ICGN ) shares.

Shares of Research in Motion ( RIMM ) 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.

Jefferies ( JEF )'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 $14.52.

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%, to $9.60.

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.



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

Referenced Stocks: ICGN , JEF , PFE , RIMM , XLNX

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