Stocks Lower at Mid-Day as Investors Shrug Off Positive Consumer Confidence Data

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Stocks are lower at mid-day as investors fret about economic and monetary issues at home and abroad. The Chinese government indicated it would continue to restrict monetary policy even with a host of recent measures to contain inflationary forces there. The concern over the economy trumped new data that showed consumer outlook at a five-month high.

Consumer confidence rose in November for the first time in three months--a sign that gains in employment and wages are beginning to show in attitudes of Americans. Consumer confidence--as gauged by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey--rose to 69.3, in line with a median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That is the highest level since June.

Also, European leaders tried to quell unrest among holders of Irish sovereign debt, saying that any mechanism to impose losses on bondholders would only apply to debt issued after mid-2013.

The Irish finance ministry on Friday denied speculation the European Union has prepared an 80 billion euro ($109.1 billion) bailout plan for Ireland, a news report said.

In company news, Intel ( INTC ) is higher after the chip maker said it will raise its dividend by 15% to 18 cents per share from 15.75 cents starting with Q1, 2011. The move comes after Cisco Systems Inc. ( CSCO ) weighed on tech stocks with a weak forecast, suggesting a continued sluggish economy. In contrast, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said in a statement his company "remains on track to have our best year ever."

Roche Holdings' ( RHHBY ) drug Avastin did not get approval from the U.K. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for use along with chemotherapy against colorectal cancer, Bloomberg reported. The new information submitted to the agency did not provide enough evidence to recommend the drug as a cost-effective treatment, the report said, citing the agency.

Yahoo ( YHOO ) shares are down as the company said reports that it will cut 20% of its staff are "misleading and inaccurate" Bloomberg reported. "Yahoo is always evaluating expenses to align with the company's financial goals," said Charles Sipkins, a spokesman for the Sunnyvale, California-based company, as quoted by Bloomberg. "However, a 20% reduction in Yahoo's workforce across the board is misleading and inaccurate."

Human Genome Sciences Inc ( HGSI ) is down as the FDA raises questions about the safety and effectiveness of its lupus drug Benlysta. An advisory panel will be meeting Tuesday (Nov. 16) to discuss whether or not to allow the drug developed jointly with GlaxoSmithKline plc ( GSK ) to go on the market. But the medical review released Friday stated that Benlysta produced a "somewhat marginal efficacy" compared to those treated with placebos. In addition, the agency raised concerns about infection risks and adverse neuropsychiatric effects.

Mizuho Financial Group ( MFG ) said it would purchase a 2% stake in BlackRock ( BLK ) for $500 million and bumped its forecase for full-year profit as debts fall, according to a Bloomberg report. Mizuho will buy 3.07 million shares of BlackRock for $163 each. The move is part of Mizuho taking advantage of attempts by bailed-out U.S. banks to sell assets that aren't crucial to their businesses.

Walt Disney Co. ( DIS ) is higher after the media giant said its capital expenditure will increase by $1 billion in 2011 and it topped the Street on Q4 earnings.The company reported Q4 earnings falling to $835 million, or $0.43 a share, down from $895 million, or $0.47 a share a year ago. Ex items, the company reported $0.50 a share, topping analysts' consensus call for $0.46 a share. Sales slid 1.3% to $9.74 billion while analysts were looking for a consensus $9.95 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

In other earnings news:

--California Pizza Kitchen Inc. ( CPKI ) is lower as the restaurant group swung to the red in the third quarter and projected a weak fourth quarter.

--Microsemi Corp. ( MSCC ) is up sharply after the chipmaker reported fourth quarter results that beat analysts' expectations and projected strong first quarter results.

--Caribou Coffee Co. ( CBOU ) is on the rise as the coffee retailer reported Q3 results that beat expectations.

Commodities are lower. December gold contracts are down $26, or 1.84%, to $1,377 an ounce while January crude contacts are down 2.63%, or $2.28, at $85.53 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is down 2.67% to $36.83 and the United States Natural Gas fund ( UNG ) is down 2.60% to $5.52.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD ) is down 2.73% to $133.90. Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ) is down 2.69% to $60.12. iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ) is down 5.42% to $25.63.



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


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