Stocks are mixed in mid-session trading following a
disappointing increase in the number of new workers filing for
jobless claims. Earnings are adding to the mix as investors await a
key report from tech bellwether Intel (
) after the bell today. Rounding out the mood-setting news for the
market is new data on U.S. wholesale prices and the trade
Overseas, the Bank of England and European Central Bank left
monetary policy unchanged. European markets have been unable to
extend yesterday's rally, as investors digest large bond issues
across the region.
The number of U.S. workers who filed new applications for
jobless benefits jumped 35,000 last week to 445,000, the highest
level in more than two months. Government official attributed the
sharp increase largely to administrative backlogs, MarketWatch
reported. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial
claims in the week ended Jan. 8 to fall to a seasonally adjusted
405,000. Last week s claims were revised up by 1,000 to
The less-volatile four-week average of new claims rose a much
smaller 5,500 to 416,500.
U.S. wholesale prices climbed 1.1% in December, largely owing to
a spike in gasoline prices, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The seasonally adjusted increase in producer prices last month was
the biggest since last January, according to government data.
Core producer prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy
categories, rose 0.2% - in line with Wall Street expectations.
The last of the trio of reports, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed
for a fourth straight month in November, defying economist
predictions for a rebound. The nation's trade deficit contracted a
slight 0.3% to $38.3 billion from a revised $38.4 billion in
October, the Commerce Department said.
In company news:
An anti-clotting medication from Merck & Co. (
), which analysts had anticipated would generate $5 billion in
sales, was stopped for patients with a previous stroke, Bloomberg
reported. The move could potentially limit the drug's use. Interim
studies suggest the medication, which prevent platelets within
blood from clumping together, is inappropriate for people who have
suffered a stroke.
) shares are higher after it announced today that it is set to open
stores in Canada beginning in 2013 after signing an agreement to
purchase 220 leases from Zellers, a unit of Hudson Bay. The
purchase agreement is valued at C$1.825 billion.
Shares of PharmAthene (
) are higher as the company announced that it recently presented
new data from its programs for anthrax anti-toxin and recombinant
Protective Antigen (rPA) anthrax vaccine. The new data presented
contributes to the company's plans of advancing its pipline and
furthering its position in biodefense, the company stated.
Marathon Oil Corp. (
) is higher following news it is moving forward with plans to spin
off its downstream business, creating two highly focused energy
companies. The spin-off is expected to be effective June 30 with
the new company trading under the "MPC" ticker symbol.
Shares of American International Group (AIG) are higher as a
Bloomberg report said that new investors in the bailed-out
insurance giant may want the firm to be ready to pick a successor.
The current CEO, Robert Benmosche, is set to begin treatment for
cancer this October. Benmosche doubled shareholders' money in his
first 17 months in office.
Shares of Oilsands Quest (BQI) are down sharply after saying a
detailed review of its core assets at Axe Lake, Wallace Creek and
Raven Ridge show the resource base in these areas could support
three projects with the potential for producing, in aggregate,
100,000 barrels a day of bitumen.
General Electric (GE) announced that it has signed a deal to buy
Lineage Power Holdings, a privately held company. The deal, which
is the latest in a string of acquisitions by GE, is valued at $520
million and is expected to help tap into the growth in data
centers, electronic devices and telecommunications, the company
Research in Motion (RIMM) is up after it said it had given a
solution ahead of a Jan. 31 target date that enables Indian
wireless carriers lawful access to consumer services including the
BlackBerry Messenger, but excludes access to corporate emails.
In earnings news,
Blackboard Inc. (BBBB) is down after moving to acquire Presidium
Inc. for about $53 million in cash, excluding transaction costs.
Blackboard previously owned a 10% equity stake in Presidium. It
also reaffirmed its Q4 and FY10 financial guidance and provided
initial financial guidance for the Q1 and FY11, saying it
anticipates a $0.24-a-share adjusted Q1 profit on about $114.1 mln
in revenues, topping the Thomson Reuters consensus for revenues but
missing EPS estimates.
Shares of Visa Inc. (V) are down moderately after the company
looks to sign three Philippine banks this year for its debit card
services. The company is refocusing its business in the Philippines
in favor of debit and prepaid cards. The move is partly because of
slow growth in the credit card business, Iain Jamieson, Visa's
country manager for the Philippines and Guam, told Dow Jones
Shares of AT&T (T) are just higher on expectations for a
$2.7 billion non-cash charge in Q4 because of a change in the way
the company recognizes gains or losses for pension and other
post-retirement benefits. It expects 2011 adjusted benefit costs to
be in line with 2010 adjusted levels.
Infosys Technologies (INFY) shares are down after it said Q3
profit was 17.8 billion rupees, below estimates for 18.2 billion,
according to a Reuters poll. It expects its dollar revenue to rise
25.7% to 26.1% in the year ending March, below analysts
expectations of 27% to 28%, Reuters reports. The revenue growth
forecast was, however, higher than the 24% to 25% rise estimated
previously by the company.
Commodities are mixed. February gold contracts are down $1, or
0.07%, to $1,385 an ounce, while February crude oil contacts are up
0.07%, or $0.06, at $91.91 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.33% to
$39.12 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.38%
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.18%
to $135.22. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.11% to
$57.26. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.93% to $28.73.
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