Stocks are off session lows but still mixed at mid-day, despite
new data released before the bell that showed new claims for
unemployment benefits fell and that the country's trade deficit
contracted. Several reports blamed a combination of factors for the
day's bearish sentiment including a strengthened dollar and new
troubles for Dow component Boeing (
For its part, Boeing is down after several reports that the
emergency landing on Tuesday of a test flight of a 787 Dreamliner
followed a fire that knocked out some of the all-electric jet's
systems, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Also, the dollar index is at its highest level since the end of
October, MarketWatch reports.
The number of workers who filed new claims for unemployment
benefits fell 24,000 last week to 435,000, the federal government
reported Wednesday, continuing a recent see-saw pattern that's
given mixed signals about the U.S. labor market. Economists polled
by MarketWatch had expected initial claims to fall to a seasonally
adjusted 450,000 in the week ended Nov. 6.
Also reported, the nation's trade deficit contracted 5.3% in
September to $44.0 billion from $46.5 billion in August, the
Commerce Department said. The government initially pegged August's
deficit at $46.3 billion. Analysts surveyed by MarketWatch had
expected the deficit to narrow to $45 billion in September.
In company news, BJ's Wholesale Club (
) rises after The New York Post reports that the company is
considering hiring an adviser to review options including a
potential sale to a leveraged-buyout firm. The story cited people
close to the company.
) shares are down ahead of a highly anticpated report from that
company's Chief Executive John Chambers. The maker of computer
networking equipment is expected to report strong results results
for Q1, according to Reuters. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters
are expecting the company to report a profit of $0.40 per share on
revenue of $10.74 billion.
Merck & Co. (
) is gearing up to report results from an advanced trail of a drug
that combats heart disease by raising good cholesterol levels in
the blood, according to a Bloomberg report. The article notes that
Pfizer had abandoned a similar drug four years ago. The new
treatment, if effective, would be the biggest advance in heart
disease in the 20 years since arrival of statins, a group of drugs
including Pfizer's Lipitor.
Shares of foreclosed property insurer Assurant (
) traded down by double digits following an article in American
Banker that noted "evidence of abuses" in the industry.
Shares of Bionovo (
) are higher in pre-market trading as the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration approved the clinical development plan for a drug to
treat hot flashses related to menopause. The drug, called Menerba,
is also being investigated for possible uses to treat breast
cancer, the report says.
Research in Motion (
) is planning a foray into the ever-crowded tablet market after the
company said it will begin selling the BlackBerry PlayBook for less
than $500, suggesting RIM is looking to take on Apple's (
) iPad, Bloomberg reported. The iPad currently starts at $499 for a
model with 32 gigabytes of storage. RIM follows Hewlett-Packard (
), Motorola (
) and Samsung, all of which moved into the tablet market following
Apple unveiling the iPad.
Dutch financial services firm ING Groep (
) said it is taking steps to prepare its U.S-based insurance unit
for an initial public offering, according to a Bloomberg report on
the matter. Already, ING rose in European trading after it said it
plans to bring accounting and hedging practices for variable
annuity products more in line with its U.S. peers, the report
An anti-corruption watchdog group in Brazil has called on
Petroleo Brasileiro (
) to stop construction on projects at two refineries on charges of
over billing, according to a Reuters report. In a report released
yesterday, the group said that the Brazilian refiner had paid too
much for goods and services in its upgrade of the plant.
Limelight Networks Inc (
) is up more than 4% on speculation that the network services
provider has won business from Netflix Inc. (
), beating out Akamai Technologies Inc (
). Akamai currently provides Netflix with its video streaming
technology. Netflix has not commented on the rumors.
Lions Gate (
) shares are lower after the film studio said it swung to a
second-quarter loss because of debt payment charges and higher
costs. The studio has been in a battle over the last year trying to
fend off a hostile takeover bid from activist investor Carl Ichan,
Reuters reported. Lions Gate posted a loss of $29.7 million, or 22
cents per share, for its fiscal second quarter. That is compared
with a net profit of $31.7 million, or 27 cents per share, a year
earlier. Still, the independent studio said it is on track to make
its fiscal 2011 target of $75 million in earnings, the report
In other earnings news:
--Smart Technologies Inc (
) is down as it reported second quarter profit falling as income
tax more than doubled. The digital whiteboard maker was also
bearish on its outlook for the latter half of 2011.
) reported a swing to a Q3 profit and raised its guidance. The
department store chain reported earning $10 million, or 2 cents per
share, compared with a loss of $35 million, or 8 cents per share, a
year ago. Ex items, the department store chain earned 8 cents per
share. Analysts' consensus view was for 5 cents. Revenue rose 6.6%
to $5.6 billion, while analysts were looking for $5.56 billion,
according to a Thomson Reuters poll.
--Polo Ralph Lauren (
) says Q2 sales were $1.5 billion and EPS were $2.09. The Thomson
Reuters mean was for $1.71 per share in earnings and $1.48 billion
) says it is lowering its full-year guidance due to Q1 results that
were weaker than originally planned and the company's current
outlook for the remainder of the year. It attributes its change in
guidance to increased promotional spending that resulted in
lower-than-planned purchases of its soup by U.S. consumers, amid
weak economic conditions and intense competitive pricing
Commodities are mixed as December gold contracts are down $14,
or 1%, to $1,396 an ounce while December crude contacts are up
1.13%, or $1, at $87.72 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (
) is up 2.38% to $37.93 and the United States Natural Gas fund (
) is down 1.08% to $5.97.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (
) is up 0.61% to $136.42. Market Vectors Gold Miners (
) is up 2.63% to $61.24. iShares Silver Trust (
) is up 2.33% to $26.79.