Stocks Mixed at Mid-Session; Positive Employment Data Provides Support

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Stocks are mixed at mid-session after new economic data showed a brighter employment picture and households in the U.S. reduced debt for the 10th straight quarter. Adding to the mix are renewed concerns over the European debt situation and a mixed bag of corporate news.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped to 421,000 last week, the second-lowest level this year, besting economists' call for 428,000 claims. The four-week average also fell to the lowest level since 2008. Also, new data from the Federal Reserve showed that household debt fell at an annual rate of 1.75% in the third quarter to $13.4 trillion, according to MarketWatch.

In company-specific news:

Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals ( TEVA ) are higher after the company said it expects its treatment for multiple sclerosis to receive approval from U.S. health regulators within two years after a clinical trial met its goal, according to a report.

Shares of Compellent ( CML ) and Dell ( DELL ) are mixed in regular-session trading afer the companies said they are in advanced discussions regarding a possible business combination involving the two companies. Earlier this year, Dell lost out to Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) in a bidding war for storage firm 3Par. Dell and Compellent have entered into an exclusive agreement to negotiate a merger in which Dell would acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Compellent at a price of $27.50 per share in cash.

Sportswear retailer luluemon athletica ( LULU ) is higher after it reported a 72% jump in profits to $96.8 million and a 56% increase in revenues in fiscal Q3. It said it expects Q4 revenues should range between $210 million to $215 million and a comp-stores increase in the high teens. Earnings per share should be in the range of $0.46 to $0.48.

State Street (STT) is down after it said it will post a Q4 loss due to sales of $11 billion of securities, but the sales will enhance its capital ratios. The company said it would record an after-tax loss of $350 million for the quarter, but operating earnings are still expected to top year-earlier results. State Street plans to sell $11 billion of U.S. non-agency mortgage-backed securities and asset-backed securities and non-U.S. mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities.

Shares of Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) are higher after the company said that talk-show host Howard Stern is staying for five more years. Stern's show will run through 2015. Under the deal, Sirius can reportedly transmit Stern's programming to mobile devices.

Breast cancer drugs from Pfizer (PFE), AstraZeneca (AZN), and Novartis (NVS) increase risks to the heart, according to a study as reported by Bloomberg. The trial found that women are 26% more likely to develop heart disease than an older therapy. The drugs are Pfizer's Aromasin, AstraZeneca's Arimidex, and Novartis' Femara.

ADRs of Infineon Technologies (IFNNY) are down even as CEO Peter Bauer said the company's sales target for the current fiscal year may be "conservative," Bloomberg reported. Infineon's chips are used in cars, mobile phones and other electronics.

Shares of Devon Energy Corp (DVN) are down after saying yesterday that capacity problems on Enbridge Inc (ENB) pipelines connecting Canada with U.S. refiners were having "a meaningful impact" on its heavy oil operations. Enbridge acknowledges some shippers have experienced disruptions while space is created in receiving tanks although a spokeswoman told Bloomberg it expects to meet apportioned nominations by month s end.

Shares of Jackson Hewitt (JTX) are sharply higher in the regular session after the company said in a SEC filing it entered into a program agreement with Santa Barbara Tax Products Group (TPG) for TPG to be the assisted refund provider at certain JTX Service locations for the 2011 tax season. The agreement is for the 2011 tax season. It says it believes that it has now secured 100% assisted refund coverage for the 2011 tax season.

Commodities are mixed as February gold contracts are up $7, or 0.51%, to $1,390 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are down 0.02%, or $0.02, at $88.26 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.21% to $37.88 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2.54% to $6.14.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.59% to $135.58. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.05% to $61.23. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.34% to $28.07.



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

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: CML , DELL , HPQ , LULU , TEVA

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