Stocks Mixed at Mid-Session as President Sends Budget Proposal to Congress


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Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading as President Obama sends Congress a $3.7 trillion budget for fiscal 2012 in what is viewed to be the beginning of a protracted budget battle between the White House and congressional Republicans. The budget allocates billions of dollars for renewable energy and infrastructure projects, but makes painful cuts as well, reports say.

The president's plan maintains spending on major entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The budget includes cuts to reduce deficits by $1.1 trillion over the 10 years while increasing spending in areas such as education.

No major US economic reports are due out today.

In company news:

Shares of Merck & Co. ( MRK ) are down after the company said that it won the first state court trial over its Fosamax osteoporosis drug, which was blamed for osteonecrosis of the jaw. A jury in Atlantic City, NJ said that the drug did no cause the 67-year-old plaintiff to develop the condition. Merck has already won two of three cases that proceeded to a verdict in federal court in Manhattan.

Shares of Ely Lilly ( LLY ) are flat after the Financial Times reports the drug maker is looking to raise up to $750 million through three funds that will share drug development costs with external researchers and venture capitalists. The move is a part of an effort by drug companies to discover new ways to improve high failure rates and costs of drugs, the report said.

NVIDIA ( NVDA ) is higher on its plans to partner with Samsung Electronics to launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1, a 10.1-inch screen tablet, which will use the NVIDIA Tegra 2 mobile super chip for its Android 3.0 user interface. The companies have also announced that they will collaborate on bringing a new Android-based super phone with a dual-core CPU to consumers.

Credit Suisse Group ( CS ) ADRs are gaining after after the company agreed to issue 6 billion Swiss francs ($6.2 billion) of contingent convertible bonds, which will satisfy 50% of the contingent capital requirement under proposed Swiss rules, according to media reports.

OXiGENE ( OXGN ) is up after reporting that it has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program.

Netflix (NFLX) is firmly higher after Qualcomm (QCOM) says Android devices using the Snapdragon platform will be able stream NFLX movies and tv shows, AP reports. It said the hardware used for NFLX video decoding helps extend battery life and improve picture quality, the story said.

Shares of Citigroup (C) are down after Bloomberg reports that the bank plans to hire 20 senior corporate and investment bankers for its European team, which the is said to have been weakened by departures. Citi will add managing directors in London along with bankers in Russia, Turkey and the Middle East.

Seahawk Drilling (HAWK) is sharply lower after it said it has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to sell its fleet of offshore drilling rigs to Hercules Offshore (HERO) for $105 million. Hercules Offshore plans to buy Seahawk's assets with 22.3 million shares of its stock, $25 million in cash to retire Seahawk debt and additional cash for working capital. The sale is seen closing in Q2.

St. Joe Company (JOE) shares slip after Fairholme Capital Management LLC's Bruce Berkowitz resigned from the company's board, citing disagreements with other board members. He is JOE's largest shareholder. Berkowitz and Fairholme President Charles Fernandez also withdrew their names to be considered for election at the company's annual shareholder meeting, according to a regulatory filing.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) is seeing its shares slide 4% as the competition in the emerging market of single-cup coffee brewing segment becomes stiffer with the entry of coffee giant Starbucks (SBUX), according to Reuters. Starbucks's plan to launch its own single-serve coffee brewer, Ready Brew, will follow the end of an agreement with Kraft (KFT). Starbucks provides coffee discs for Kraft's Tassinmo one-cup home brewer.

General Electric Co. (GE) said late Sunday that it has agreed to buy the well support division of U.K. engineering firm John Wood Group PLC for around $2.8 billion in cash. GE said the deal is expected to close later in 2011. In a separate statement, Wood Group said net proceeds from the sale will be $2.6 billion and that it plans to return not less than $1.7 billion to shareholders, MarketWatch reported.

In earnings news;

--MGM Resorts International (MGM) is down after its narrowed Q4 loss, which topped the Street, failed to impress investors in the face of lower revenue at most of its properties in the weak economy.

--Shares of Valspar (VAL) are down after the company reported its financial results for the fiscal first quarter, which saw a 2% drop in net income. The decline was due to an acquisition charge and higher costs, according to the company.

Commodities are higher. April gold contracts are up $4, or 0.28%, to $1,364 an ounce while March crude oil contacts are up 0.3%, or $0.27, at $85.85 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.64% to $36.28 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 0.1% to $5.31.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.57% to $133.08. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.13% to $56.34. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 2.02% to $29.80.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
More Headlines for: CS , LLY , MRK , NVDA , OXGN

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