Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading as uncertainty surrounding
the euro-zone re-emerged and investors weighed whether a long-term
solution to the sovereign debt problem is at hand or not. A decline
in durable goods orders - a leading indicator - also weighed on
investor sentiment, although mortgage applications ticked
U.S. orders for durable goods dipped 0.1% in August as demand
fell for primary metals, motor vehicles and large defense products
excluding aircraft, the Commerce Department said. Economists
surveyed by MarketWatch had expected orders to rise by 0.4%. The
closely followed core capital orders reading, which gives a better
read on trends in the private sector, rose 1.1%; economists
expected a decline. In addition, shipments of core capital
equipment goods, which the government uses to help calculate gross
domestic product, rose 2.8% last month. Orders for July, which rose
4.1%, were unchanged.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted
index of mortgage applications, rose 9.3% for the week ended Sept
23. The refinancing applications index rose 11.2%, while home
purchase applications rose 2.6%.
Investors are awaiting parliamentary votes on proposed changes
to the euro-zone bailout fund, known as the European Financial
Stability Facility. Finland's parliament voted in favor of the
changes today. Germany's Bundestag will vote on Thursday,
In the commodities space, crude oil futures fell Wednesday after
a two-day rally that moved the lead contract back above $80 a
barrel. November futures are off 0.4% to $84.15 a barrel in
electronic trading. On Tuesday, crude posted its biggest one-day
gain in four months.
In company news:
Shares of Merck and Sanofi-Aventis are higher after Bloomberg
reported the two companies' cervical-cancer vaccine is more cost
effective than a competing drug from GlaxoSmithKline (
). The report cites researchers from the U.K.'s Health Protection
Shares of Chevron (
) are higher after Reuters reported that the U.S. oil major said it
had resumed operations on its Main Pass crude oil gathering system
in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast. The system had been shut down
earlier this month after the discovery of a leak.
Tyson Foods (
) shares are down after the food products maker said late Tuesday
that it is recalling about 131,300 pounds of ground beef over
worries it may be contaminated with e.coli, according to a
Shares of Amazon (
) are higher after the company unveiled its tablet computer. The
7-inch device will run a version of Android and will retail at
$199, according to Bloomberg.
Imperial Holdings Inc. (
) has shed nearly two-thirds of its market value after analysts
socked the company with downgrades on the heels of an FBI raid on
the company's Boca Raton, Fla., offices as part of a federal
The company revealed the raid and federal search warrant in a
statement and said the investigation is related to its life finance
business. It said its structured settlement business is not
affected. Chairman and CEO Antony Mitchell and President and Chief
Operating Officer Jonathan Neuman were also identified as targets
of the investigation.
Commodities are down. December gold contracts are down 0.86% to
$1,638 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are down 1.81% to
$82.94 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.27%
to $31.97 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down
0.95%, to $9.42.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.15%
to $158.78. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.26% to
$56.40. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 4.3% to $29.83.
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