Stocks Rally as Retail Sales Top Street; Deal Activity Also Adds Lift

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Stocks are rallying at mid-day, following the release of government retail sales figures that declined less than economists had expected. Deal activity is lending support as well as the belief by some analysts that the market is oversold.

In the latest economic news, US retail sales fell 0.2% last month to $387.1 billion according to the Commerce Department this morning. The data showed the first decline after 11 straight months of gains. But figures still topped economists' call for total sales to fall 0.7% in May, according to a MarketWatch. Without a 2.9% drop in motor vehicle sales, retail sales increased 0.3%.

Also, the US Labor Department reported wholesale prices rose 0.2% last month. That is the slowest clip in the last 10 months. Economists had predicted an increase of 0.1% for overall producer prices, MarketWatch reported.

In company news:

Shares of JC Penny (JCP) jumped after the Wall Street Journal noted that the retailer hired Ron Johnson, who runs Apple's ( AAPL ) retail stores, as its new president and, eventually, CEO. The reported cited people familiar with the situation.

Google Inc. (GOOG) is higher after it said it plans to invests up to $280 million to help homeowners supplement energy costs with solar panels fitted to their homes. The panels won't cost homeowners anything upfront, but they must pay for the power produced by the panels. The panels must be installed by SolarCity, which is being financed by the Internet giant. A typical rooftop solar system costs $25,000 to $30,000, according to the AP.

McGraw-Hill (MHP) firms after it says it hired Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC to pursue the divestiture of its Broadcasting Group.

Pacira Pharmaceuticals ( PCRX ) is down by double digits after it says the FDA extended the Prescription Drug User Fee Act goal date for its review of the new drug application for EXPAREL by three months. The new PDUFA goal date is October 28. The FDA requested additional information from PCRX, which the company has submitted. The FDA determined that this information constituted a major amendment.

Ford Motor ( F ) is higher after declining 1.6% Monday. The company was ordered to pay damages of $2 billion to thousands of its dealers after an Ohio judge's ruling last Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Headlines today focus on European moves, including a $1.2 billion investment in its Spanish plant to launch two new models. Other reports say the company plans an expansion at its Kocaeli, Turkey, plant and will add 200 jobs in Germany.

Shares of Bank of America ( BAC ) are down after a Department of Housing and Urban Development regional inspector general said the bank "significantly hindered" a federal review of its foreclosure practices. The accusation comes as a part of a wider lawsuit filed last December over mortgage modification programs. CNBC quoted William Nixon, an assistant regional inspector general for HUD, as saying "our review was significantly hindered by Bank of America's reluctance to allow us to interview employees or provide data and information in a timely manner."

Commodities are higher. August gold contracts are up 0.06%, to $1,517 an ounce while July crude oil contacts are up 0.85% to $98.13 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.7% to $38.91 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.68%, to $11.70.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD ) is up 0.11% at $147.95. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.6% to $53.36. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.89% to $34.17.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , BAC , F , GLD , PCRX

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