Stock are mixed in mid-day trading as investors digest new data
showing the economy slowed in the first quarter while weekly
jobless claims moved higher. But a rise in pending home sales in
March is lending support, with both the Dow and S&P 500
clinging to gains.
Pending home sales contracts rose 5.1% last month, sending the
National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index up to
94.1. That's 24% over last June when the index bottomed out. A
reading over 100 signals a healthy market.
But weighing on investors, real gross domestic product rose at a
1.8% annualized rate in the first quarter, down from a 3.1%
increase in the fourth quarter, due to a slowdown in consumer
spending. Wall Street was expecting a 1.7% reading. Also out,
weekly jobless claims jump 25,000 to 429,000 in the latest
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to
decline to 395,000. Claims in the prior week were revised up
slightly to 404,000. The average of new claims over the past four
weeks, meanwhile, rose by 9,250 to 408,500, the highest level since
In company news:
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (
) is higher as the FDA's Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee meets
today to review the New Drug Application (NDA) for telaprevir. The
NDA for telaprevir was granted Priority Review by the FDA, and the
FDA is expected to make a decision on the approval of telaprevir by
The boards of directors of Exelon Corporation (
) and Constellation Energy (
) confirmed late Wednesday reports that they have signed a
definitive agreement to combine the two companies in a
stock-for-stock transaction. The resulting company will retain the
Exelon name and be headquartered in Chicago.
) is up after it says its tumor-targeting, pro-drug candidate
INNO-206 has been approved for orphan drug designation to treat
patients with pancreatic cancer by the Office of Orphan Products
Development of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CYTR
holds the exclusive worldwide development and commercialization
rights to INNO-206.
Shares of BB&T Corp. (
) and PNC Financial (PNC) are higher after a Bloomberg report that
the two have shown interest in buying Royal Bank of Canada's (RBC)
US consumer bank. RBC is said to be seeking stock for its consumer
unit instead of cash, the report said, citing people with knowledge
of the matter.
Apple (AAPL) shares are lower after the computer maker purchased
the iCloud name for $4.5 million, according to the Silicon
Valley/San Jose Business Journal. The purchase is reported to be
for a cloud-based music service. The name was being used by
Xcerion, a Swedish company, for a cloud storage product until
earlier this month.
In earnings news:
--Royal Caribbean (RCL) says it earned $0.42 per share in Q1, up
from a year ago. Revenues rose to $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion a
year ago. It says full year EPS guidance has been reduced by $0.15
per share to a range of $3.10 to $3.30.
--Hercules Offshore (HERO) says Q1 net loss was $0.12 per
diluted share, on revenue of $166.2 million. The Thomson Reuters
mean was for a $0.13 loss on sales of $164.40 million.
--Viacom (VIA,VIA.B) says Q2 sales were $3.27 billion, more than
the Thomson Reuters mean for $3.00929 billion. Adjusted EPS were
$0.72, a dime above forecasts.
--Aetna (AET) says Q1 operating earnings were $1.43 per share,
above the Thomson Reuters mean of $0.97. Sales were $8.3 billion,
about in line with the FactSet Research estimate for $8.32 billion.
FY EPS are now seen between $4.20 and $4.30, above estimates for
--Procter & Gamble (PG) reports fiscal Q3 EPS from
continuing operations of $0.96, up 16% from the year-ago period but
a penny below the Street view for $0.97. Sales of $20.2 billion
rose 5%. The company guides for 2011 EPS at $3.89 to $3.94. The
Street is at $3.96.
--InterMune (ITMN) says it is not currently in discussions
regarding a sale of the company. Q1 sales rose to $6.4 million from
a year ago from $6.1 million. Net loss narrowed $0.57 from a loss
of $0.66 per share a year ago.
--Exxon Mobil (XOM) is reporting Q1 EPS of $2.14 compared to
$1.33 a year earlier and topping the Thomson Reuters mean analyst
estimate for $2.07, according to reports. Revenue of $114 billion
is up from $90 billion. The Street expected $114.9 billion.
Commodities are higher. June gold contracts are up 1.25%, to
$1,536 an ounce while June crude oil contacts are up 0.66% to
$113.50 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.44%
to $44.82 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 3.16%,
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.03% at
$149.24. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.32% to $61.81.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.57% to $47.30.
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