Stocks have pared some earlier losses but are still in negative
territory following new data that show a mixed picture of the U.S.
economy, while Europe's debt worries continue to roil
Certain analysts had credited yesterday's late recovery in U.S.
stocks to a decoupling of U.S. and European markets. But Europe
continues to overshadow, as questions remained about whether
European Union officials will have to bail out Spain, Portugal and
other euro members following approval of a financial aid package
for Ireland over the weekend.
In the newest economic data, the Standard & Poor's
S&P/Case-Shiller index was disappointing. The widely watched
index fell 0.6% in September from August. Eighteen of the 20 cities
recorded monthly price declines with prices falling faster in the
nation's largest cities.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index came in at
62.5 in November, better than the 60.0 reading economists were
projecting. Also, the Conference board reported its November
reading of consumer confidence came in at 54.1, better than
economists' forecast of 52.5.
In company news, Google Inc. (
) is near a deal to acquire closely held online discounter Groupon
Inc. for as much as $6 billion, the New York Times reported on its
website late Monday, citing people with direct knowledge of the
matter. A deal in the $5 billion to $6 billion range would be the
largest acquisition ever for Google, and could be inked as soon as
this week, though there remained some risk the talks could fall
apart, the report said.
American International Group (
) shares are down following a report that the insurance giant is
planning to sell bonds for the first time since the government
bailed the company out in 2008. Proceeds from the sale will be used
for general corporate purposes.
) shares are down down fractionally after promoting president
Kenneth Frazier to be the new CEO. Frazier comes to the post having
made his reputation at the drug giant as general counsel having
negotiated a mountain of litigation following the withdrawal of its
Seagate Technology (
) shares are down after the company said its board of directors
terminated discussions with private equity firms regarding a going
private transaction. Also, Seagate management said it believes that
the demand for hard disk drives has improved, and the current
expectation for the total available market in the December 2010
quarter is approaching 170 million units.
Shares of UnitedHealth Group (
) are just higher after the insurance giant projected enrollment
growth of up to 2.5% across its health insurance plans in 2011,
Reuters reported. UnitedHealth projected growth in benefit plans
excluding any acquisitions of up to 830,000 members, making the
total 33.64 million.
Bank of America (BAC) shares are down after a Bloomberg report
that a former bank employee in New Jersey said the bank regularly
kept mortgage promissory notes after loans were bundled into bonds
and sold to investors. Securitization contracts require the
documents to be transferred to the trustee. The testimony, which
came in the form employee's personal bankruptcy case, could give
ammo to homeowners and investors as the battle banks over defaulted
Shares of Lowe's Companies (LOW) are just higher after the
hardware and home-improvement chain reiterated its prior sales and
earnings guidance for the 2010 fiscal year. Total sales are
expected to increase 3% to 4%, with EPS in the range of $1.37 to
$1.40 per share. The Street view is 3% sales growth and EPS of
$1.41 per share. The guidance came at a company analyst
Shares of Seadrill (SDRL) are down after the company said Q3
earnings per share are $0.85, better than the Street view of $0.79
per share. Revenue was $1.075 billion, in line with the analyst
consensus on Thomson Reuters. Also, Bloomberg reported that
Seadrill and other companies such as DryShips (DRYS) have ordered
20 deepwater rigs and shallow water rigs since BP's (BP) Gulf of
Barnes & Noble (BKS) said Q2 sales were $1.9 billion,
missing the $1.98 billion Wall Street analysts were expecting,
according to Thomson Reuters. It lost $0.22 per share, wider than
forecasts for an $0.08 loss. It sees Q3 earnings between $0.90 to
$1.20 per share, below Wall Street's forecast of $1.29.
Commodities are mixed. February gold contracts are up $18, or
$1.34%, to $1,386. an ounce while January crude oil contacts are
down 0.75%, or $0.64, at $85.09 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.92%
to $36.44 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down
1.38% to $5.72
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.44% to
$135.43. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.38% to $59.68.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 3.5% to $27.48.
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