Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading as investors nervously await
the U.S. Federal Reserve's mid-afternoon policy statement and
whether it will announce additional measures to boost the economy.
Also, new data showed existing home sales last month rose more than
expected, providing modest lift for stocks.
August existing home sales rose 7.7% to a five-month high. The
National Association of Realtors reported that sales rose to a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million, up from an
unrevised reading in July of 4.67 million and above the 4.8 million
that economists polled by MarketWatch had anticipated.
The Federal Reserve's afternoon announcement, which several
analysts on Wall Street believe will reveal additional measures to
lift a sluggish economy, has captured the global investing world's
attention today. Europe is trading lower, led by banking share
weakness, as investors there also anxiously await news on Greece
progress. Asian markets gained. The Fed's policy statement expected
at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Overseas,, a statement from Greece's Ministry of Finance cited
"satisfactory progress" made in a second conference call on Tuesday
between Greece's deputy prime minister and finance minister,
Evangelos Venizelos, and the heads of the so-called Troika -- the
European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary
Fund -- Tuesday evening
In company news:
) shares are higher after Bloomberg reported that the company's
board is considering ousting Chief Executive Leo Apotheker. The
board is said to be looking at Meg Whitman, former candidate for
California governor and eBay CEO.
Shares of Pfizer (
) are down also on a Bloomberg report that the drug maker is
looking to cut its workforce in Spain by 11%, or 220 employees. The
move is due to the financial crisis in Europe and Spanish
regulatory measures to cut pharma spending, the report said.
Shares of Apple (
) are up after Goldman Sachs reportedly raised its price target on
shares to $520 from $480, while reiterating a "conviction buy"
rating on the stock.
Swiss bank UBS AG (
) is up after reports in Swiss media claimed that Chief Executive
Oswald Gruebel has lost the confidence of the bank's board and has
been ousted. The move was triggered by a staggering $2.3 billion
loss, allegedly at the hands of a rogue trader. The search for a
replacement is already underway, according to Swiss business weekly
Bilan. The bank has not commented on the report. Gruebel's fate
will be announced at the end of a board meeting in Singapore on
Thursday or Friday, according to another report.
Shares of Apache Corp. (
) are higher after the company said it will pay $1.75 billion for
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s (XOM) U.K. North Sea assets, including the
Beryl field and associated properties. In a statement, Apache said
that at the end of 2010, the properties had proved reserves
estimated at 68 million barrels of oil equivalent. The deal
increases Apache's North Sea production by 54% and proved reserves
by 44%. Apache said it would fund the deal with cash on hand.
Commodities are mixed. December gold contracts are down 0.54% to
$1,799 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are up 0.97% to
$87.75 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.47% to
$33.92 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.63%,
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.4%
to $175.08. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.98% to $66.27.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.06% to $39.24.