Stocks are higher at the session's half, snapping a four-session
losing streak so far in a cautious rally. The gain comes a day
after the S&P 500 closed at its lowest level since March and
has fallen 4.9% since the start of May. A speech by Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke late in the session could sway trading.
Early analysis suggests the Fed chief will support continuing
current interest rates and possibly back more economic stimulus
given May's weak employment report. But he faces opposition.
Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said
he would oppose any effort at the central bank to launch another
round of asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, or QE3.
Fisher said during an appearance on CNBC that the Fed has
already filled the economy's gas tank and now investors and
businesses have to step on the pedal. The weak May unemployment
report was not a game-changer, and growth should pick up in the
second half of the year, he said.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets
Wednesday in Vienna. Some OPEC officials reportedly believe prices
are too high and threaten the global economic recovery, according
to the Associated Press. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest
exporter, has indicated prices should be between $70 and $80 a
barrel, although other exporters want prices between $100 and $120
In company news:
Shares of Medco Health Solutions (
) are higher in after-hours trading as Bloomberg reports the
pharmacy benefits manager may be seeking acquisitions to make up
for lost sales. An $11 billion contract with UnitedHealth Group (
) expires after 2012, the report noted. UnitedHealth is currently
reviewing the contract.
McDonald's Corp. (MCD) is higher after a Janey Capital Markets
analyst dropped his estimate on May U.S. same-store sales, but
tempered that with a raised June estimate and positive comments
about overall trends. He reiterated his "buy" rating. Analyst Mark
Kalinowski said he expects a 2.8% increase in U.S. same-store sales
in May, down from his previous estimate for a 3% gain. But he sees
June sales rising 2.6%, up from a previous guide for a 2.5%
increase based on survey results.
) shares are higher after it said it has filed a Notice of
Discovery with the Minister for Energy of Ghana for the Paradise-1
exploration well in the Deepwater Tano / Cape Three Points license,
offshore Ghana. The well encountered an estimated 490 net feet of
oil and gas condensate pay over three separate intervals.
) is higher after Citigroup raises its price estimate to $33 from
$29, citing positive industry trends that should benefit margins,
Skyworks Solutions (
) is sharply higher after it affirmed its outlook for above market
growth, excluding its recently announced acquisitions. It sees $345
million in revenue with non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of
$0.46 for the current quarter. The Thomson Reuters mean is for
sales of $345.27 million and EPS of $0.46. It says it is on a path
to approach a $1.5 billion revenue run rate with $2.00 in
annualized non-GAAP diluted EPS in the September quarter.
General Motors (GM) briefly bounced into the red after opening
higher, but has rebounded, up near 1%, after Chief Executive Daniel
Akerson raised concerns today about unemployment and the weak
economic recovery. The U.S. Treasury Department still holds a 32%
stake in GM, which was forced into bankruptcy reorganization during
the financial crisis.
Liberty Media (LCAPA) reported today that The Bank of New York
Mellon (BK) Trust Company, N.A. has appealed the Delaware Court of
Chancery's ruling that the pending split-off of the Liberty Capital
and Liberty Starz tracking stock groups will not constitute a
disposition of all or substantially all the assets of Liberty
Mediaunder the indenture governing its public indebtedness.
Commodities are lower. August gold contracts are down 0.53%, to
$1,539 an ounce while July crude oil contacts are down 0.62% to
$98.40 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.36%
to $39.30 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down
0.37%, to $12.18.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.35%
at $149.95. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 0.29% to
$54.66. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.39% to $35.85.