Stocks Mixed as Tech Leads; Investor Look Ahead to Fed Minutes Release

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Stocks are mixed to lower in mid-day trading on Chin's move to tighten lending, while M&A action continues to dominate headlines through the first part of the day--particularly among the health care and consumer products sectors.

Also on the radar, the Federal Reserve's minutes from the September meeting of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, which are due at 2 P.M EST. There are growing expectations that Fed policy makers could move as early as November to ramp up the quantitative-easing program.

Topping the M&A action, King Pharmaceuticals ( KG ), a maker of pain drugs said it had agreed to be bought by Pfizer ( PFE ) for $3.6 billion in cash, or $14.25 per share. The deals is expected to be accretive to PFE's adjusted diluted EPS by approximately $0.02 annually in 2011 and 2012, and approximately $0.03 - $0.04 annually from 2013 through 2015.

Also in Pfizer news, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Pfizer appeal that leaves intact a ruling to let 123 women who developed breast cancer sue in Minnesota state court, reports Bloomberg. Pfizer sought in its appeal to reinstate a federal trial court ruling that dismissed 116 of the plaintiffs because their claims had duplicated others filed perviously.

In other M&A news, Avon Products Inc ( AVP ) is higher amid rumors that the comestics retailer may be bought out by L'Oreal SA (OR). According to Britain's Daily Mail, L'Oreal could offer $44 a share for the company, which marks a 33% premium over Avon's closing price Monday, valuing the company around $19 billion. The daily also said that Avon is attracting interest from other companies as well.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. ( LGF ) is down on a possible deal with MGM that has the blessing of investor Carl Icahn, who has been pursuing his own takeover of Lions Gate. Lions Gate said the combined company would be owned by its shareholders and by MGM's creditors, including Icahn. Terms have not been disclosed, but the deal would give MGM's lenders 55% of the company, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, Google ( GOOG ) and Japanese trading firm Marubeni Corp. will form a joint venture to develop an undersea power cable network along the U.S. Eastern seaboard, according to MarketWatch and other news outlets, citing a press release on Marubeni's web site. The joint venture will include participation by Swiss investment fund, Good Energies Investment Corp. The venture involves some $6 billion in funding commitments

Ray Lane, Hewlett-Packard's ( HPQ ) chairman-designate, said the new CEO of the technology giant Leo Apotheker, is a principled leader and said that Mark Hurd, HP's former CEO, showed a lack of integrity that led to his resignation, reports Bloomberg, citing a public letter from Lane. "HP's Board turned to a principled leader of outstanding personal and professional integrity," Bloomberg quoted Lane as saying in his letter. "Mr. Hurd violated the trust of the board by repeatedly lying to them in the course of an investigation into his conduct."

Citigroup ( C ) shares are higher on news it has stopped using a foreclosure law firm in Florida that is being investigated by the state's attorney general. The law offices of David J. Stern PA are coming under scrutiny for allegedly using improper documentation to speed up the process to seize homes.

Nike ( NKE ) shares are higher on word the athletic apparel maker may become the official apparel maker for the National Football League starting in 2012, CNBC reported, citing sources. The agreement would last for five years and be subject to owner approval, the report said.

Apache Corp. ( APA ) said it had completed a $3.25 billion deal to buy BP's ( BP ) natural gas assets in western Canada, reports Reuters. The move is part of a continued effort by BP to sell up to $30 billion in assets to pay for costs related the damaged Gulf of Mexico well that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

GlaxoSmithKline plc ( GSK ) is down onconcerns that its ovarian cancer drug Hycamtin may be toxic to bone marrow when added to initial chemotherapy treatment, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Separately, Glaxo is seen as one of four major pharmaceutical companies bidding for India's Paras Pharmaceuticals, according to the Business Standard. Initial bids were around $600 to $700 million, according to the report.

In earnings news, Intel ( INTC ) earnings are due after the closing bell today. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are forecasting the chip-maker to come in with a profit of $0.50 per share on revenue of $10.99 billion. The company has beat with earnings over the last four quarters. Guidance will be scrutinized for any details on how Intel plans to integrate the recently purchased security software firm McAfee.

Commodities are lower as December gold contracts fell $5, or 0.38%, to $1,349 an ounce while November crude contacts are down 0.39%, or $0.33, at $81.88 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is flat at $35.60 and the United States Natural Gas fund ( UNG ) is down 1.04% to $5.69.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD ) is down 0.55% to $131.56. Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ) is down 1.08% to $56.79. iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ) is down 0.53% to $22.66.



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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