Stocks rallied in mid-session trading as investors shrugged off
disappointing data showing a decline in orders for durable goods
and a continued rise in oil, driven higher by strife in Libya and
other Middle East countries. The May crude contract topped $106 a
barrel at last check.
In the latest data released this morning, orders for U.S.
durable goods in February posted the biggest drop in fourth months,
falling 0.9% largely. Orders less the volatile transportation
sector also fell, down 0.6%, the Commerce Department reported.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch has expected orders to rise 1.5%
overall, or an even stronger 2.5% minus transportation. Separately,
first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 last
week, the Labor Department said Thursday.
First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 last
week, the Labor Department said Thursday, in another sign of a
gradually improving job market. In the week ended March 19, claims
dropped to a seasonally adjusted 382,000, and the prior week's
level was upwardly revised by 2,000 to 387,000. The four-week
moving average b useful because it smooths out unusual moves, fell
by 1,500 to 385,250, the lowest level since July 2008.
In other company news:
Shares of Amgen (
) are higher and Bloomberg reports that the biotech company may
introduce its first dividend next month as investors seek value
from the $17.4 billion in cash the company has socked away. The
move may come on April 21st at the company's investor meeting,
according to a Deutsche Bank analyst.
Wells Fargo (
) Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf said home-equity losses
remain his top concern due to lingering high unemployment in the
United States, Bloomberg reported, citing a note from Sanford
Bernstein & Co.
) is higher after closing yesterday's regular session lower. The
computer giant could continue to post sales growth of more than 50%
in the next two years, said Forrester Research Inc. CEO George
Colony in an interview with Bloomberg. Colony cited the rising
demand for devices such as the iPad as the reason. Apple sold
almost 15 million iPads in its debut year and more than 90 million
iPhones in its four-year lifespan, according to the article.
IMAX Corp. (
) is up after announcing a 75-theatre joint revenue sharing
agreement with Wanda Cinema Line Corp. IMAX also announced the
formation of IMAX China to oversee the expansion of the rapidly
growing IMAX business in the market.
Boston Scientific (
) says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the
Clik Anchor for its Precision Plus Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS)
System, the company's rechargeable SCS device for chronic pain
management. The company intends on launching the Clik Anchor at the
American Academy of Pain Medicine Annual Meeting, which begins
today in Washington, D.C.
Shares of Bank of America (BAC) are down after being reportedly
downgraded by FBR Capital to Market Perform from Outperform. The
firm also reportedly cut its price target to $15 from $18 per
Walgreen Co. (WAG) is up along with drugstore.com (DSCM), which
is soaring 111% at last check. Walgreen will buy the online
drugstore for approximately $409 million, or $3.80 per share in
cash. They expect the merger will close by the end of June.
Plains Exploration & Production (PXP) shares are higher and
Reuters reports that the company said its planned sale of its
deepwater assets in the Gulf of Mexico would be delayed as the
current regulatory environment deterred buyers.
In earnings news:
--Micron Technology (MU) reported Q2 EPS of $0.07, better than
the Street view of $0.02 per share. Sales were $2.3 billion, vs.
expectations of $2.06 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
--Shares of Scholastic (SCHL) are down after the company said Q3
sales were $393.7 million and loss per share from continuing
operations was $0.81, including one-time expenses of $0.13. The
Thomson Reuters mean was for $402.8 million and a loss, usually
less items, of $0.22.
Commodities are higher as April gold contracts are up $8, or
0.57%, to $1,447 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are up
0.35%, or $0.37, at $106.13 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.6% to
$42.36 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down $0.14,
or 1.34%, to $11.41.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.51% to
$141.06. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.63% to $61.26.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.78% to $37.12.