Stocks are down in mid-day trading as crude oil futures topped
$105 a barrel and investors eyed February new home sales that
tumbled to a record lower. Fighting in Libya and the aftermath of
the earthquake in Japan also continued to hit stocks.
In the latest economic data, sales of new single-family homes
plunged as high unemployment and strict mortgage standards combined
to weigh heavily on purchasing activity. The Commerce Department
said new-home sales fell 16.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate
of 250,000 last month. Economists expect sales to edge up to
290,000 from 284,000 reported a month earlier.
The aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and the situation at
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant also continue to worry
investors. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average shed 1.6%, extending losses
in the final hour of trading after reports of higher-than-allowed
levels of radioactive iodine in Tokyo drinking water. European
stock averages are mostly lower in choppy trading.
Among today's movers, Adobe (
) fell after it reported an 85% rise in fiscal Q1 profit but
lowered its Q2 revenue forecast due to the Japanese earthquake.
Also, XOMA Ltd. (
) announced that its Phase 2b trial of XOMA 052 in Type 2 diabetes
patients did not achieve the primary endpoint of reduction in
glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, after six monthly treatments
with XOMA 052 compared to placebo.
In other company news:
Bank of America (
) is down on reports that regulators rejected the bank's plans to
raise its dividend. The bank said it still hopes to raise its
dividend in the second half of the year, and plans to submit a
revised proposal to regulators at the Federal Reserve, according to
a Reuters report.
Prana Biotechnology (
) says it will sell securities to institutional investors in a
private placement for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately
A$6.120 million (US$6,190,992). The closing of the offering is
expected to occur on or about March 25.
Shares of Barnes & Noble (
) are down after Bloomberg reported the company is likely to end
its months-long search for a buyer without a sale of the company,
said five people with knowledge of the bidding process.
Chinese online search provider Baidu Inc. (BIDU) aims to develop
software that lets users of smartphones and other devices navigate
and perform other activities online via a search box on the screen,
the company said Wednesday, in an indication that Baidu could be
preparing to develop an operating system to go after Google Inc.
(GOOG), according to a report on Dow Jones Newswires.
Shares of NetSol Technologies (NTWK) are logging solid gains
after the company said it has seen a noticeable increase in
activity within Pakistan's public sector, and its health and
private business sectors are also on the rise. It says it has been
invited as a pre-qualified company to tender offers for several new
In earnings news:
--Cree (CREE) drops after it cut its Q3 revenue target to a
range of $215 to $220 mln, primarily due to lower sales of LED
chips and LED components. The analyst consensus on Thomson Reuters
is for revenue of $255 mln.
--General Mills (GIS) reports Q3 sales of $3.65 bln, below the
analyst consensus of $3.68 bln on Thomson Reuters. EPS was $0.56,
in line with estimates.
Commodities are higher. April gold contracts are up $11, or
0.79%, to $1,439 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are up
0.66%, or $0.68, at $105.65 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.64% to
$42.20 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up $0.09, or
0.79%, to $11.44.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.91% to
$140.34. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.36% to $59.54.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.33% to $36.01.
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