Stocks are sharply lower in mid-day trading, but off session
lows, after post-quake radiation fears in Japan, which sent that
country's main stock index down 11%, triggered a global equities
sell-off. Adding to the mix is a monetary-policy meeting by the
Federal Reserve on Tuesday due at 2:15 EST. The sell-off also sent
crude oil and gold futures plunging.
In the economic data, The Empire State index rose to 17.5 in
March from 15.4 in February. This is the fourth straight increase
and the highest level of the index since last June. The gain was a
bit less than expected. Also reported, U.S. February import prices
jumped 1.4%, driven largely by a 3.7% rise in fuel.
In company news:
Texas Instruments (
) disclosed yesterday, that after a preliminary assessment, its
manufacturing site in Miho, Japan, about 40 miles northwest of
Tokyo, suffered substantial damage during last Friday's 9.0
ADRs of Swiss pharma giant Novartis (
) are down even as the company said an experimental drug for the
treatment of myelofibrosis, a rare form of blood cancer, met the
goals of a late-stage study, which should pave the way to file the
drug for regulatory approval in the second quarter.
Former Walt Disney Co. (
) CEO Michael Eisner joined the board of IAC/InteractiveCrop (
), the Internet company that is controlled by Barry Diller, The
Wall Street Journal reports. Diller had originally hired Eisner at
Disney, the report noted. Eisner served as the CEO of Disney for
about 20 years.
General Electric Co. (
) is defending the design of the now-stricken reactor it supplied
to Japan 40 years ago, saying its containment system is safe and
reliable, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets
Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) said charge-offs fell across
the board in February as delinquencies were mostly reduced. U.S.
charge-offs -- loans banks don't think they will be able to collect
-- declined for the third straight month. The metric had fluctuated
in the latter part of 2010 after mostly dropping early last
Net charge-offs in February fell to 5.91% from 6.79% a month
earlier at Capital One's U.S. card business and declined to 5.42%
from 5.72% internationally, according to a filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission. Auto-finance charge-offs
dropped to 1.97% from 2.62%.
Bank of America (BAC) cut 100 jobs from its consumer and
small-business banking units, The Wall Street Journal reports. The
bank also intends to shutter 10% of its branches over the next few
years. Bank of America shares are down 2.6%, or $0.37, to
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) Chief Executive Leo Apotheker is planning
to push deeper into software and the growing market for cloud
computing, Bloomberg reports. At an event in San Francisco,
Apotheker said that the company is starting a cloud computing
service that allows developers to create applications, the report
SunPower (SPWRA) says Japanese suppliers have indicated that,
while certain operations are currently disrupted due to
infrastructure issues, they have not sustained major damage to
In earnings news:
--DSW (DSW) reports Q4 EPS of $0.41, up from $0.30 a year ago
but below the Street view of $0.44 per share. Sales were $468.5
mln, up from $402.6 mln last year, and ahead of the Street view of
$445 mln. For 2011, the company is forecasting EPS in the range of
$2.60 to $2.75 per share. The Street is at $2.70 per share.
--China Sky One Medical (CSKI) says Q4 sales fell 10.2% to $26.8
million from a year ago. Non-GAAP EPS fell to $0.21 from $0.47 a
year ago. The company said results were in line with its
--Williams-Sonoma (WSM) reports Q4 revenue of $1.195 bln, ahead
of the analyst consensus of $1.186 bln on Thomson Reuters. EPS was
$1.08, vs. expectations of $0.98 per share. For Q1, the company is
guiding for revenue in the range of $745 to $765 mln, vs. Street
estimates of $749 mln.
Commodities are down. April gold contracts have shed $2.86, or
2.25%, to $1,393 an ounce, while April crude oil contacts are down
2.76%, or $2.75, at $98.45 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 2.69%
to $39.81 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up $0.11,
or 1.06%, to $10.53.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 2.12%
to $135.91. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 4.08% to
$55.45. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 4.08% to $33.59.
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