Stocks are mixed at mid-session after Inflation in Europe
overshadowed new economic reports that saw an unexpected jump in
factory orders and an increase in Christmas retail sales--both
suggesting economic expansion. Investor attention will be focused
on the Federal Reserve's December monetary policy meeting minutes,
which will be issued this afternoon.
US retailers saw sales rise 3.6% last week compared to the
year-earlier period as shoppers took advantage of post-Christmas
discounts according to an index of sales released by Goldman Sachs
and the International Council of Shopping Centers.
November factory orders in the US rose 0.7% compared with a
forecast for a 0.1% drop. Demand for capital equipment drove
At 2 p.m. ET, the Fed's December monetary policy meeting minutes
will be released. Investors will be closely watching for a central
bank assessment that at least matches the general enthusiasm that
Wall Street has shown over the economy in recent weeks. Optimistic
sentiment has sent the averages to multiyear highs without much of
a consolidation phase.
In company news:
General Motors (
) shares are higher after it reported a 7.5% increase in December
domestic sales, lifting sales on the year to 2.22 million, up from
2.08 million last year. The automaker sold 224,185 cars and trucks.
Ex discontinued brands, sales of GM's four remaining lines jumped
15.5% to 223,932 vehicles last month. Meanwhile, shares of Ford
) are just higher after the automaker reported that December sales
jumped about 7%,
Shares of Abbott Laboratories (
) are higher even as copyright protection for the company's HIV
drug Kaletra was rejected in India, which will allow other generic
drug companies to manufacture copies, Bloomberg reports. The
product generated about $1.37 billion in sales in 2009.
Coffee chain Starbucks (
) is down following a Bloomberg report that says the company could
miss a jump in home brewing unless it can break a pact that links
it to Kraft Food's Tassimo machine, which competes with the
best-selling Keurig home brewer. Under terms of the agreement,
Starbucks can't put its coffee in the Keurig.
) announced Tuesday its plans to acquire information-security
services firm SecureWorks, Inc. The acquisition comes three weeks
after DELL's announcement that it had agreed to acquire Compellent
Technologies (CML) for $820 million. Financial terms for the
ShareWroks deal, however, were not disclosed.
American Express (AXP) is up as shares get support from Jim
Cramer at CNBC, who named the stock as one of his Dow Leaders in
2011. According to Cramer, AXP could jump 40% to $60 by the end of
2011 in a broad based advance for financial companies, based on
improved overseas growth. The stock recently reported a 17%
increase in year-over-year revenues, although Cramer cautioned that
AXP is still "misunderstood and underestimated."
Shares of Celgene (CELG) are down after the biotech firm said it
has submitted new marketing applications for its blood cancer drugs
Revlimid and Istodax, Reuters reported. Revmid--in combination with
other drugs--treats multiple myloma. Istodax is for patients with
peripheral T-cell lymphoma.
Apple's (AAPL) iOS--the operating system for its iPhone
smartphone--is still the No. 1 mobile operating system over
Google's Android OS, according to the latest survey from Nielsen,
as reported by Bizjournals.com Apple's iOS has 28.6% of the
smartphone market. That was narrowly ahead of Research in Motion's
(RIMM) Blackberry OS at 26.1% and Google's (GOOG) Android at 25.8%.
Still, Google's Android is said to be the most popular among new
American International Group (AIG) shares are down after the
firm received a proposal from a local Taiwan company to buy a stake
in AIG's Taiwan unit, Reuters reported. AIG has been trying to sell
the unit for 15 months. The proposal from home security company
Taiwan Secom Group is seen as pleasing regulators but likely is
contrary to what AIG is aiming to do.
BP (BP) ADRs are just higher following an earlier report from
London's Daily Mail that Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) is mulling an
opportunistic takeover of BP because of its vulnerability following
the Gulf of Mexico spill. The report says Shell's board decided
against a bid due to its concern over legal liabilities but that it
remains interested in a merger.
Commodities are down. February gold contracts are down $38, or
2.66%, to $1,385 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are
down 2.58%, or $2.36, at $89.19 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 2.87%
to $37.93 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down
0.48% to $6.28.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 2.11%
to $135.09. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 3.14% to
$58.83. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.6% to $29.20.