Stocks are mixed at mid-day in ho-hum session that is capping
off an otherwise strong year for stocks that sent prices to
two-year highs. With no economic news scheduled for release and a
relatively slow, year-end trickle of corporate news, investors
turned to prognostication about potential stock market catalysts
for 2011 and consolidated gains.
In the latest news:
EBay Auction Co. said Friday its merger with fellow eBay Inc. (
) unit eBay Gmarket Co. has been delayed. EBay Auction said in a
regulatory filing it will later notify the market of the timeline
for the merger process. The firms were initially scheduled to merge
by Nov. 1, but eBay Auction didn't give a reason for the delay. The
two eBay units are South Korea's largest online auction Web sites,
Dow Jones Newswires reports. EBay took control of Gmarket last
Abbott Laboratories (
) is up on speculation the medical technology company will again
soon raise its dividend. According to Seeking Alpha, ABT raised its
dividend 10% to $0.44 a share in April 2010, following an 11%
increase in 2009. In fact, ABT has increased its dividend for 38
consecutive years and there's little evidence the string will snap
in 2011. The stock is currently yielding 3.7%.
Imax Corp. (
) shares are higher on reports Sony Corp (
) may be interested in acquiring the company for as much as $40 a
share. The (U.K.) Daily Mail, citing London traders, reports that
Walt Disney Co. (
) also may be interested in buying the giant-screen exhibitor.
Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) shares are alternating between trading
flat to slightly down after disclosing in regulatory documents last
night that Board Chairman Craig McCaw plans to step down at year's
end. McCaw, 61, informed CLWR executives of his plans earlier this
week. There was no disagreement, the company said. The Wall Street
Journal reported that Clearwater faces the challenges of smoothing
its relations with its parent, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and in
raising funds to build out its network. Eagle River, McCaw's
holding company, which the WSJ says owns 4% of Clearwire, nominated
Benjamin Wolff as chairman to succeed McCaw.
In banking news, shares of Deutsche Bank (DB) are higher as
Bloomberg notes that the German bank climbed three slots to become
the No. 2 global corporate bond underwriter, just under JPMorgan.
JPMorgan has sat atop that list for three years.
Pier 1 Imports (PIR) and Chase Bank USA N.A. (JPM) are revising
a 2006 marketing and services agreement for Pier 1's private label
credit card. Under the new deal, PIR will receive an undisclosed
lump-sum payment from the bank as well as ongoing payments based on
credit card sales.
Molycorp (MCP) is down after Reuters reports that the CEO said
the company is in discussions with a number of potential
joint-venture partners and customers scrambling to find other
suppliers of the critical minerals in the wake of China's supply
cut. In an interview, Chief Executive Mark Smith said the company
was "absolutely" in negotiations to reach deals similar to the ones
it announced earlier this month with Hitachi Metals Ltd and
Transocean (RIG) shares are up fractionally at mid-day, after
the offshore contract provider of oil well drilling services said a
federal panel that investigated the fatal 2005 Texas refinery blast
that ended with a $50 million fine for BP (BP) doesn't have the
authority to investigate the Gulf of Mexico disaster, Bloomberg
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is trading higher despite opening
the regular session in the red on a report that a court-appointed
receiver is trying to recover funds from the bank for victims of
Tom Petters' Ponzi scheme.
Apache (APA) and Woodside Petroleum (WOPEY) shares are trading
higher despite a Bloomberg report that the two halted Western
Australia oil field production because a tropical low system was
forecast to become a cyclone.
Commodities are higher. February gold contracts are up $13, or
0.9%, to $1,419 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are up
1.08%, or $0.97, at $90.81 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 2.18% to
$38.95 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 2.12% to
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.06% to
$138.48. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.17% to $60.67.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.4% to $30.17.