Stocks Weather Consumer Sentiment Dip on Retail Sales, Google Earnings Strength

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Stocks have pared some early gains but are still higher after new data showed a decline in consumer sentiment. That dampened some of the enthusiasm after a strong opening thanks to better-than expected retail sales and strong earnings from Google ( GOOG ).

The October Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index fell to 57.5 from 59.4 in September. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a slight rise to 59.7.

Also this morning, a news report showed that U.S. retail sales roses 1.1% in September, the largest increase in seven months. Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 0.6%.

After the market closed yesterday, Google ( GOOG ) reported Q3 earnings of $9.72 per share, better than the analyst consensus of $8.74 per share on Thomson Reuters. Revenue was $7.51 billion, excluding traffic acquisition costs, ahead of the Street view of $7.21 billion. That has sent the stock up more than 6%.

Meanwhile, finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading industrialized and developing economies will meet in Paris to take up the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis.

Overseas, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces a confidence vote in his government on Friday. Investors are also digesting news that Standard & Poor's Ratings Services late Thursday lowered its long-term credit rating on Spain to AA-minus from AA, citing heightened risks to the nation's growth prospects due to high unemployment.

In company news:

Teva ( TEVA ) has swung to positive territory after it announced today that it has completed its acquisition of Cephalon ( CEPH ). The combined company will have a presence in over 60 countries.

Ameriprise Financial ( AMP ) is reportedly upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette. The price target is $61. Ameriprise Financial shares are up over 2%.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) are firm after the company was reportedly initiated with a "buy" at ISI Group. The firm set a price target is $32. The stock topped out at $26.34 before backing off to trade up over 1%.

Shares of UBS (UBS) are lower in the regular session after Fitch Ratings cut the bank's long-term issuer default rating to A from A-plus. The ratings agency also warned of possible rating cuts for other European lenders, including Deutsche Bank (DB), according to several reports.

Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) are higher in mid-day trading while Bloomberg reports the U.S. oil major, along with Chevron (CVX) are building plants next to certain of their oil refineries to take advantage of demand for lubricants. Lubricant consumptionis seen expanding four times faster than oil consumption, the report says.

In other earnings news:

--Mattel Inc.'s (MAT) reported Q3 net income of $300.8 million, or 86 cents per share, compared with $283.3 million or 77 cents per share last year. Earnings matched the Street, according to a FactSet poll. Revenue rose 9% to nearly $2 billion from $1.83 billion a year ago, beating the consensus view for $1.97 billion.

Commodities are up. December gold contracts are up 0.41% to $1,676 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are up 0.42% to $86.54 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 2.57% to $33.49 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 4.96%, to $9.11.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.30% to $162.78. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.28% to $57. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.23% to $31.01.



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: AMP , CEPH , GOOG , HPQ , TEVA

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