Stocks Lower as China Data Weighs; Unemployment Claims Flat

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Stocks are lower in mid-day trading as economic data from China and bank earnings hit investor confidence. Unemployment claims stateside remained level with the previous week, providing no lift for stocks through the first half of the trading day.

China's customs bureau reported exports rising 17.1% last month compared to the same period last year. That was less than expected.

The Labor Department reported that about 400,000 people filed new applications for unemployment benefits last week, keeping claims at a level typically associated with weak hiring trends. Initial jobless claims inched down by 1,000 last week to 404,000, the Labor Department reported. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 405,000 from an original reading of 401,000. The average of new claims over the past four weeks fell by 7,000 to stand at 408,000, marking the lowest level since mid-August.

Before the bell, JPMorgan Chase ( JPM ) reported third quarter earnings of $1.02 per share, including items, vs. the Street view of $0.91 per share, which generally excludes items. Revenue was $24.4 billion, better than the analyst consensus of $23.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. Still, profit fell 4% on higher non-interest cost, which drew investor attention. Shares are down over 5%.

In company news:

BP ( BP ) is developing four new oil and gas projects that together will involve a total investment of nearly 10 billion pounds ($15.7 billion) in the U.K. oil industry over the next five years, MarketWatch reports.

AOL ( AOL ) CEO Tim Armstrong has been meeting with top shareholders in the past couple of weeks to push the idea of a sale to Yahoo ( YHOO ) that could wring up to $1.5 billion of cost savings, Reuters reports, citing sources with knowledge of the discussions. AOL shares are up over 6%.

ISTA Pharmaceuticals ( ISTA ) shares are down 5% after the company said top-line results from the second of its two Phase 3 studies to evaluate the short-term safety and efficacy of two concentrations of REMURA in alleviating the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease showed REMURA was highly effective in treating a sign and symptom of dry eye but was not statistically significantly better than placebo in the entire patient cohort.

British banks are struggling in after Fitch downgrades Lloyds (LYG) and RBS (RBS) to A from AA-, putting Barclays' (BCS) AA- rating on negative watch.

CBS (CBS) and Warner Bros. Television Group's joint-venture, The CW, announced today that it has entered a licensing agreement with Netflix (NFLX) granting the video rental company the rights to stream more than 700 hours of previous-season CW shows, as well as future programs. NFLX and CBS shares are mixed.

In other earnings news:

--Safeway (SWY) says Q3 EPS were $0.38, above the Thomson Reuters mean for $0.35. Sales were $10.1 billion, topping estimates for $9.86 billion. Identical-store sales, excluding fuel, are expected to be approximately 1.0% for the year.

--Clearwire (CLWR) says Q3 sales are expected to be approximately $332 million, compared with the Thomson Reuters mean for $322.08 million.

Commodities are down. December gold contracts are down 1.06% to $1,664 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are down 1.75% to $84.07 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.46% to $32.44 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 1.4%, to $8.68.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.94% to $161.73. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 2.42% to $56.01. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 3.08% to $30.79.



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: AOL , BP , ISTA , JPM , YHOO

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