Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading after an unexpected drop in
confidence among American consumers outweighed the biggest jump in
holiday sales in five years, squelching early-session gains. Adding
to investors' concern, new data showing home prices declining in
The Case-Shiller home price index for October fell 0.8%, while
unadjusted prices in the multi-city measure fell 1.3%, the fourth
straight monthly decline in single-family home prices at almost
double the amount expected by economists.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board said its key U.S. consumer
confidence index declined to 52.5 in December on concerns about
jobs in the present and future. Economists polled by MarketWatch
had expected confidence to rise to 56.9. Confidence for November
was revised higher to 54.3 from a prior estimate of 54.1.
In company news:
Johnson & Johnson (
) and AstraZeneca (
) have ceased studies of experimental painkillers due to worries
that the drugs could raise the risk of joint damage, Bloomberg
reported. The FDA notified J&J last week that development for
the drug fulranumab had been put on hold. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca
said it had stopped early-stage research on a similar drug.
Cisco Systems (
) shares are advancing in the regular session apparently
maintaining momentum following positive remarks in Barron's last
weekend. Shares are holding near their high for the session,
climbing as much as $0.33 to $20.49 each. The financial magazine
said CSCO likely is undervalued and should rise at least a third
from current levels. Barron's also said investors have priced in
"too much skepticism" about Cisco's prospects.
Shares of Barnes & Noble (
) are lower despite a higher open after a federal judge ruled that
a lawsuit against the bookseller over its e-reader can continue.
Spring Design in Cupertino, Calif. sued in Nov. 2009, alleging that
Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader is based on misappropriated
trade secrets from its Alex e-reader. The company also claims
Barnes & Noble violated a nondisclosure agreement.
Shares of Sinovac (
) are up 2.2% at mid-day, after it said it received approval from
the China State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) to commence
clinical trials for its inactivated EV71 vaccine against Hand, Foot
and Mouth Disease.
Google (GOOG) shares are lower after Bloomberg reported the
Internet search giant is reportedly talking with educational
software companies to build a marketplace for online learning
programs. Google is reportedly hoping to lure more educational
developers with the move.
Shares of Citigroup (C) are fractionally lower following a
report that the bank is investigating employees at a branch in
north India for allegedly defrauding the bank of INR4 billion
($88.6 million), Indian news station ET Now reported, citing
unnamed sources, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Eastman Kodak (EK) has lost its early upside and is down near
1%, after the company signed a technology license agreement with
NEC Corp allowing each company to access the other's patent
portfolio. EK said it should net fresh royalty payments from the
deal, but did not disclose other financial terms.
Shares of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP) opened
lower and are down 2% at mid-day, after it received state approval
to expand its Yangzi plant in eastern China, Bloomberg reported,
citing two refinery officials. The approval comes in order for the
refiner to meet local fuel demand. The refiner, also known as
Sinopec, is looking to raise the plantÃ¢â¬â"¢s annual oil
processing capacity to 13 million metric tons a year.
American International Group Inc. (AIG) shares have pared
earlier gains and are now down just over 1% at mid-day. AIG shares
lost prior-session momentum after securing $4.3 billion in new
credit lines from commercial banks to replace its funding from the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York. AIG's property and casualty
insurance subsidiary also signed a one-year, $1.3 billion letter of
Also, shares of retailers are mostly lower in regular-session
trading despite news that 2010 holiday sales jumped 5.5
percent--the biggest increase in five years. Data from MasterCard
Advisors indicated that retail sales rose to $584 billion. In the
last holiday season, sales rose 4.1% over the prior year, Bloomberg
Among some large retail names:
--Best Buy (BBY): -0.4%
--Macy's (M): - 0.6%
--Nordstrom (JWN): - 0.4%
--Wal-Mart Stores (WMT): - +0.2%
--Target (TGT): - 0.4%
--Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY): - 0.6%
--Pier 1 Imports (PIR): - 0.6%
Commodities are higher. February gold contracts are up $22, or
1.62%, to $1,405 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are up
0.26%, or $0.24, at $91.24 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.54% to
$38.92 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 0.62% to
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.6% to
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