Stocks are turning positive at mid-day but remain choppy amid a
spate of earnings news and disappointing housing data. Positive
consumer confidence numbers, however, are providing some support
for the broader market.
U.S. consumer confidence rose in October to 50.2, according to
the Conference Board. Economists had expected a reading of 50,
according to a MarketWatch poll. Confidence for September was
revised up to 48.6, from a prior estimate of 48.5. The barometer on
consumers' expectations rose to 67.8 in October from 65.5 in
September, while consumers' assessment of current conditions rose
to 23.9 from 23.3.
The U.S. August Case-Shiller home price index, released before
the bell, fell 0.2% but is up 1.7% in the past year.
In company news, BHP Billiton (
) plans to challenge a shareholder rights plan set up at
Saskatchewan's Potash (
) at regulatory hearing on Nov. 8, Reuters reported. BHP is looking
to suspend the plan, which has been set up as an anti-takeover
defense, commonly called a "poison pill" after BHP began a hostile
$39 billion bid for the company.
Abbott Laboratories (
) filed suit against Anchen Pharmaceuticals, a generic drug maker,
in federal court in Delaware, saying it had infringed on a U.S.
patent for Zemplar, a drug used to treat people with kidney
) is up after it says its Board approved $10 billion in additional
funds for its stock buyback program. This amount is in addition to
approximately $2.3 billion remaining at the end of September from a
prior authorization. IBM expects to request additional share
repurchase authorization at the April 2011 board meeting. It also
declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.65 per common
share, payable December 10 to stockholders of record November
) shares are sharply lower after the printer maker said its
longtime CEO Paul Curlander plans to retire in the spring of 2011,
according to a statement. Curlander will assume the role of
executive chairman. Also, Lexmark reported Q3 non-GAAP EPS of
$1.09, ahead of Street estimates of $0.98 per share. Revenue was
$1.02 billion, vs. expectations of $1.04 billion.
American International Group, Inc. (
) announced that its President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert
H. Benmosche, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing
aggressive chemotherapy. "The good news is that I feel fine, and I
continue to work according to my normal schedule. As for my
long-term prognosis I will have a better idea over the next couple
of months of what that will look like as I continue to undergo
treatment and my doctors refine their diagnosis," Benmosche
Deutsche Bank (
) is suing a former client for $1.8 million in unpaid debts, after
suffering losses on investments connected to Citigroup (
), Bloomberg reported. Chang Tse Wen is countersuing for $49
million from Deutsche Bank, saying he was induced to open a private
banking accountin in Aug. 2007 and that the bank was negligent in
its advice and made fraudulent misrepresentations, the report
) shares rose almost 3%, retreated and are advancing again, amid
speculation that Apple Inc. (
) is eying it as an acquisition, Reuters reported. Analysts
dismissed the speculation, the report said. The speculation started
with a Saturday report in Barron's that Apple, which has $51
billion in cash, is thinking about making a big acquisition.
MGM Resort International (
) is holding a fractional gain in choppy morning trade, after
Moody's Investors Service bumped up the company's rating outlook to
positive from stable and affirmed its Caa1 corporate family rating.
"The outlook revision to positive reflects the favorable impact on
MGM's liquidity following the company's recent $511 million equity
issuance and the new $500 million senior secured bond offering,"
the ratings agency said in a statement.
In the latest earnings news:
--Sherwin-Williams Co. (
) is down after flat Q3 earnings on an 8.8% increase in revenue in
the face of rising commodity costs disappointed the Street.
--Hospira Inc. (
) is higher on reported Q3 earnings of $71.4 million, or 42 cents
per share, down from $116.2 million, or 71 cents per share, last
year. Ex items, the company reported earning 74 cents a share,
ahead of the Street's consensus for 70 cents. Revenue came in at
$949.3 million, compared with $1.01 billion last year, but just
ahead of the Street's call for $944.7 million.
--Bristol-Myers Squibb (
) reported Q3 EPS of $0.59, ahead of expectations of $0.53 per
share. Sales were $4.79 billion, vs. expectations of $4.91 billion.
Looking forward, the company affirmed its 2010 EPS guidance range
of $2.10 to $2.20 per share. The Street is at $2.10 per share.
) is just higher after it reported Q3 net income of $0.43 per share
and pre-tax operating profit of $0.48, vs. Street estimates of
$0.38 per share. Revenue was $29 bln, in line with the analyst
consensus on Thomson Reuters.
--Texas Instruments (
) reported Q3 revs of $3.74 billion, better than the analyst
consensus of $3.69 billion on Thomson Reuters. EPS was $0.71 per
share, vs. expectations of $0.69 per share.
--U.S. Steel (
) reported Q3 sales of $4.5 billion, down 4% from year ago levels
but above the analyst consensus of $4.43 billion on Thomson
Reuters. Loss for the quarter was $0.35 per share, vs. a year ago
loss of $2.11 per share. The Street was expecting a profit of $0.22
) reported Q3 EPS of $0.40 compared to $0.45 a year earlier though
topping the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for $0.34. Sales
of $7 billion were up from $5.96 billion a year earlier. The Street
expected $6.72 billion. The company lifts FY EPS guidance to around
$3.10. The Street is at $3.04.
Commodities are higher as December gold contracts are up $2, or
0.18%, to $1,342 an ounce while December crude contacts are up
0.17%, or $0.14, at $82.63 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (
) is up 0.45% to $35.64 and the United States Natural Gas fund (
) is up 1.69% to $5.43.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (
) is up 0.16% to $131.06. Market Vectors Gold Miners (
) is up 0.48% to $56.01. iShares Silver Trust (
) is up 1.30% to $23.40.