Stocks are mixed at mid-day as investors and elected officials
alike mutter a four-letter word: Jobs, or lack thereof. Optimism
over the last two days gave way to uncertainty following a
government report that showed unemployment rising to 9.8%--the
highest rate since April.
Before the bell, the U.S. Labor Department reported non-farm
payrolls rose by 39,000 in November, far lower than the 155,000
gain expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch and the
upwardly revised figure of 172,000 jobs gained in October.
The unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 9.8% in November from
9.6% in October according to a separate survey of 60,000
households. Economists had been expecting the unemployment rate to
Retailers lost 28,000 jobs in November. Many economists had
expected shops to add workers for the holiday season. The factory
sector lost 13,000 jobs. Temporary help services and health care
added jobs. The government sector shed 11,000 jobs in November.
Overseas, China said today that it will now follow a prudent
monetary policy compared with its previous moderately loose stance.
The change could pave the way for more interest rate increases,
lending controls and less growth.
In company-specific news:
Shares of Merck & Co. (
) and GlaxoSmithKline (
) are just lower after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory
panel recommended against wider use of two prostate drugs made by
the two drug makers. The panel said there was no benefit to
exposing men to drugs that may ultimately lead to more deadly
cancers being missed, according to a Reuters report on the
Shares of Level 3 Communications (
) are higher after the company said that Comcast (
) is attempting to protect its cable TV business by levying a
charge against Level 3 for delivering movies and other content to
its customers. Level 3 provides broadband service to Netflix (
) and other companies.
Orexigen Therapeutics (OREX) shares are down sharply in Friday
pre-trade after U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff questioned
whether the firm's new diet pill Contrave is effective. Contrave
reportedly satisfied only one of two recommended measures of
effectiveness in the FDA studies and the drug was linked to more
cases of high blood pressure, psychiatric side effects, dizziness
and kidney dysfunction.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) remains down almost 1.5% after the trustee
overseeing the distribution of assets remaining from Bernie
Madoff's Ponzi scheme filed suit last night against the bank,
seeking $6.4 billion. Chase was Madoff's long-time bank and the
trustee contends it should have known the convicted financier was
stealing investor monies. JPM officials dismiss the allegation as
"irresponsible and overreaching."
Marvell Technology (MRVL) shares are down in regular-session
trading after the company was downgraded to "neutral" by Goldman
Sachs (GS), which cited Marvell's limited exposure to the tablet
market and slowing growth at its partner, Research in Motion
(RIMM). Goldman has a $22 target on Marvell.
Shares Walter Energy (WlT) are just higher at mid-day after
announcing plans this morning to buy Western Coal Corp (WTN.TO) in
a $3.3 billion deal, bringing together American and Canadian coal
producers with a combined capacity of 385 million tons of coal.
Citigroup (C) brought former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez
on board as the vice chairman of the firm's institutional clients
group, Bloomberg reports. The move comes following news that the
bank--which is more than 10% owned by U.S. taxpayers--was close to
hiring Peter Orszag, the former White House budget director.
Shares of Ascent Media (ASCMA) are sharply higher in the regular
session after it said it sold its content distribution business for
$113 million to privately owned media service provider Encompass
Digital Media. The deal is seen closing in Q111. The deal comes
after the company sold its AMG Creative Services and Media Services
units to Deluxe Entertainment Services Group last month for $68
Meanwhile, shares of Big Lots Inc. (BIG) are lower after the
retailer said third-quarter profit fell 42% from last year,
earnings missed the Street by a penny and the company lowered
guidance for the full year.
DryShips (DRYS) is up after it says its wholly-owned subsidiary
Ocean Rig UDW intends to offer through a private placement
approximately $500 million worth of shares of Ocean Rig's common
stock. The offering is expected to close in December.
Commodities are just higher as February gold contracts are up
$18, or 1.27%, to $1,407 an ounce while January crude oil contacts
are up 0.26%, or $0.23, at $88.23 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.45% to
$37.94 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.51%
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.54% to
$137.28. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.68% to $62.82.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 2.08% to $28.51.
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