Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading following positive data on
home construction and a deluge of corporate earnings. The major
equities indexes are paring some of the prior-session losses that
came after Standard & Poors' issued a negative assessment of
the US debt.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tried to calm jittery
markets this morning, assuring investors that there is "no risk"
the United States would lose its prized AAA credit rating. "No risk
of that," Geithner said about the prospect of a rating downgrade.
He also said in an interview on Fox Business News, as well as other
business news networks, that the political prospects for long-term
deficit reduction are improving.
In the latest economic data, the start of construction on new
U.S. homes rose 7.2% in March to an annual rate of 549,000, while
permits rose 11.2%, the government reported Tuesday. Housing starts
in February were revised up to 512,000 from an original reading of
479,000, according to Commerce Department data.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts
in March to climb to an annual rate of 520,000 on a seasonally
adjusted basis. Permits for new construction, viewed as a gauge of
future demand, increased to an annual rate of 594,000 from
February's upwardly revised level of 534,000. Permits for
single-family homes, which account for three-quarters of the
housing market, rose 5.7% to an annual rate of 405,000 last
in big-name earnings this morning, Goldman Sachs (
) reports Q1 revenue of $11.89 billion, down from $12.7 billion in
last year's quarter. EPS was $1.56, down from $5.59 per share in
the year ago quarter. The analyst consensus was for revenue of
$10.1 billion and earnings of $0.82 per share, according to Thomson
Also, Johnson & Johnson (
) says Q1 sales were $16.2 billion, above the Thomson Reuters mean
for $15.87404 billion. Less items, it earned $1.35 per share, above
estimates for $1.26.
In company news:
) and Nasdaq OMX (
) are now offering $42.67 a share for NYSE Euronext (
), according to reports this morning. NYX has already agreed to a
deal with Deutsche Boerse and has so far rejected any offer from
the other two ICE and Nasdaq say they have $3.8 billion in
financing for the bid, according to the report.
Gap Inc. (GPS) announced today that it will consolidate its
international operations into one division based in London, headed
by Stephen Sunnucks, whose work now encompasses all operations
outside North America. Gap hopes the move, which consolidates
company operations and franchise stores in Europe, the Middle East,
North Africa, South America and the Asia Pacific region, paves the
way for consistent operations and will accelerate business
Apple Inc. (AAPL) is up after the company reportedly sued
Samsung Electronics Co., claiming the firm copied the look and feel
of Apple's iPhone and iPad devices, according to a Reuters report
citing a lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California.
Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) shares are seeing support after the
company said the United States Patent and Trademark Office has
allowed U.S. Patent Application No. 11/010,828 entitled "Sustained
Release Aminopyridine Composition." The claims of the patent
application relate to methods to improve walking in patients with
multiple sclerosis by administering 10 mg of sustained release
4-aminopyridine twice daily.
Kodiak Oil & Gas (KOG) says it is negotiating to contract a
fourth rig for delivery in Q4. It controls a 40% to 50% working
interest in wells being drilled by a non-operated drilling rig as
part of its Dunn County, N.D. area of mutual interest with
Clearwire (CLWR) and Sprint (S) announce an amendment to their
long-term agreement that establishes new wholesale pricing terms
and provides CLWR a minimum of $1 billion from S to be paid during
2011 and 2012 for 4G wholesale services comprised of minimum usage
commitments of $300 million in 2011, $550 million in 2012 and $175
million in pre-payments for 4G wholesale services to be used in
2011, 2012 and beyond.
In earnings news:
--Forest Laboratories (FRX) says Q4 sales were $1.0919 billion,
below the Thomson Reuters mean for $1.11191 billion. EPS were
$1.12, above estimates for $1.07. FY12 sales are seen approximately
$4.5 billion and EPS between $3.60-$3.70. FY13 EPS are seen above
--Seagate Technology (STX) reports Q1 EPS of $0.21 or $0.25 on
an adjusted basis compared to $1 a year earlier and below the
Street view for $0.27. Revenue declined to $2.7 billion from $3.05
billion, about in line with the $2.66 billion expected on average
among analysts in the Thomson Reuters survey.
Commodities are higher. June gold contracts are up $1, or 0.06%,
to $1,494 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are up 0.53%, or
$0.58, at $108.24 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.16% to
$42.95 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 2.59%, to
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.27%
at $145.68. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 0.07% to
$60.79. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.05% to $42.27.