Stocks are moderately higher in mid-day trading even as new data
shows that growth in the services sector stalled in March. Deal
news--including a large acquisition in the semiconductor
sector--provided a modicum of support as investors awaited the most
recent minutes from the Federal Reserve's interest-rate setting
Federal Open Market Committee due at 2 p.m. ET.
The Institute for Supply Management's services-sector index for
March fell to 57.3 from 59.7 in February, below analysts' estimate
for a reading of 59.
Separately, House Republicans unveiled their plan to cut
government spending by $6.2 trillion over the next decade, which is
causing an uproar among Democrats and also renewing concerns about
a possible double-dip recession.
In company news:
National Semiconductor (
) hit a 52-week high after it said late Monday that Texas
) will buy the company for $25 per share in an all-cash transaction
of about $6.5 billion. Separately, NSM received upgrades this
morning from Susquehanna, RBC Capital and Citigroup.
Boston Scientific has filed an application with the Food and
Drug Administration for its "Promus Element" heart stent, which the
company hopes to introduce in the U.S. in mid-2012, a company
official said late Monday, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Diamond Foods, Inc. (
) and The Procter & Gamble Company (
) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge
the Pringles business into Diamond Foods in a transaction valued at
$2.35 billion. Diamond expects the acquisition to be accretive. It
guides for FY 2012 EPS at $2.85 to $2.98 and $3.00 to $3.10 before
costs. The Street is at $2.52.
Dutch financial services company ING Groep NV (
) has given up its resistance to the forced sale of its ING Direct
operations in the U.S., Dow Jones reports, citing Dutch daily
Financieele Dagblad. The Dutch report quotes unnamed sources
familiar with the talks. The European Commission ordered ING to
nearly halve its balance sheet by selling its global insurance arm
and some smaller banking assets, including its direct banking
business in the U.S., as a condition for receiving state funds
during the financial crisis.
Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ), the Nasdaq exchange operator, said
Tuesday it would rebalance the Nasdaq 100 effective May 2. The Wall
Street Journal reported that the rebalancing was driven partly by
the rise in Apple (AAPL) shares, which have more than quadrupled in
two years. The rebalancing will reduce the tech giant's weighting
in the index, which is currently more than 20%.
US Airways (LCC) today reported that traffic in March saw an
increase of 3.9%, attributing the growth to a sharp uptick in
In earnings news:
--KB Home (KBH) says Q1 sales were $196.9 million, below the
Thomson Reuters mean for $223.56 million. Net loss was $1.49 per
diluted share, for the three months ended February 28, 2011,
including an after-tax charge of $45.1 million to record a
valuation allowance against the net deferred tax assets generated
from the loss in the period. That is wider than the $0.71 per share
net loss a year ago.
Commodities are higher as June gold contracts are up $16, or
1.12%, to $1,449 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are up
0.01%, or $0.01, at $108.45 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.23% to
$43.36 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down $0.05,
or 0.4%, to $11.17.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.97% to
$141.21. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.38% to $61.17.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.04% to $37.96.