Stocks Mixed at Mid-Day as Market Awaits Fed Statement; Home Sales Data Supports

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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:

Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) 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 ( PFE ) 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 ( AAPL ) 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 ( UBS ) 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. ( APA ) 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%, to $9.45.

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.



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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , APA , HPQ , PFE , UBS

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