Stocks Off Lows as Fed Paints Bleak Jobs Picture; Factory Orders Top Street


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Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading as a downbeat assessment of the U.S. employment picture from the Federal Reserve and continued worries about the possibility of a Greek default combined to weigh on investor sentiment for the second session in a row. Still, better-than-expected factor orders provided somewhat of a floor on bear market.

Factory orders fell 0.2% to $451 billion in August, the Commerce Department reported. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a 0.3% drop. July's gain was revised lower to a 2.1% gain from an initially reported 2.4% gain. In August, shipments fell 0.2%, unfilled orders rose 0.9% and inventories increased 0.4%.

Also, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, said "recent indictors, including new claims for unemployment insurance and surveys of hiring plans, point to the likelihood of more sluggish job growth in the period ahead." The comments come ahead of the all-important non-farm payroll report for September, which is due Friday.

U.S. stocks followed declines in Europe, which fell after euro-zone finance ministers signaled last night that they will take a decision on whether to disburse more aid to Greece later in October than previously suggested, MarketWatch reported.

The ministers also indicated that private bondholders may have to take bigger losses on debt holdings as part of the second Greek bailout. The news -- which came after the Greek government admitted Sunday that it won't meet its deficit-reduction targets -- only served to escalate worries that Greece may default on its obligations.

In company news:

Somaxon Pharmaceuticals ( SOMX ) are maintaining some gains after it announced late yesterday that after a meeting with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) relating to the over-the-counter (OTC) development program for Silenor, the FDA provided clinical and regulatory guidance that the company believes provides a clear path forward toward an OTC version of Silenor.

Bank of America ( BAC ) shares hit yet another 52-week low as President Obama derided the bank's move to charge consumers a $5 fee to use a debit card for purchases, according to a CNBC report. "This is exactly why we need this Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that we set up that is ready to go," President Obama is quoted as saying.

Shares of Ford Motor Co. ( F ) are building on prior-session declines despite news this morning that the automaker reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with the United Auto Workers, the Associated Press reports. The union has planned a press conference to disclose some details of the pact later on Tuesday. The UAW's union leaders plan to vote on the contract, covering 41,000 of Ford's workers.

Yahoo ( YHOO ) shares are firm amid continued takeover discussions involving the company. Bloomberg News is reporting that Alibaba Group, private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, and Russian venture company Digital Sky Technologies are in talks for a joint bid for Yahoo.

Shares of Kohl's ( KSS ) are higher as the company said it anticipates hiring more than 40,000 associates nationwide this holiday season, up approximately 5% from last year due to store growth in 2011. In addition, the company anticipates hiring approximately 2,500 seasonal positions at distribution centers and more than 500 seasonal and full time credit operations positions.

State Street is down after it announced today that it has acquired Complementa Investment-Controlling AG, an investment performance measurement and analytics firm based in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Commodities are down. December gold contracts are down 2.14% to $1,621 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are down 0.64% to $77.02 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.01% to $30.04 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 0.73%, to $8.94.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.8% to $158.07. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 3.73% to $52.42. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 1.39% to $29.11.

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) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
Referenced Symbols: BAC , F , KSS , SOMX , YHOO

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