US Indexes Mixed at Mid Sessions as Investors Decipher Meaning of Disappointing Economic Data; Netflix Delights


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Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading as investors parse apart disappointing employment figures from the government this morning and another deluge of earnings news. Adding to the mix was a decline in durable goods orders last month.

New applications for unemployment benefits jumped last week by 51,000 to 454,000, due in part to poor weather causing administrative backlogs in four Southern states, the Labor Department was reporting Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims in the week ended Jan. 22 to rise to a seasonally adjusted 408,000 from a revised 403,000 the week before.

Continuing claims, which reflect the number of people already receiving unemployment compensation, rose 94,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.99 million in the week ended Jan. 15. About 9.41 million Americans were getting some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Jan. 8, down 223,826 from the prior week.

Also reported, orders for U.S.-made durable goods sank in December, falling 2.5% on weaker demand for airplanes, vehicles, and computers, machinery, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Excluding transportation, orders rose 0.5%. The decrease was unexpected. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 1.0% rise in durables. This is the fourth drop in durables in the last five months. Transportation orders had the largest decline, falling 12.8%. Shipments rose 1.4% in December. Orders for core capital goods rose 1.4% in the month.

In company news:

Shares of Citigroup ( C ) are higher as the bank's Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said conditions in capital markets are very robust and the the euro has support in Europe, according to a Bloomberg note. The comments came during an interview with the news outlet at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.

ADRs of AstraZeneca ( AZN ) are higher as the company reportedly plans to buy as much as $4 billion in its stock in 2011, which is nearly twice as much as last year. The buyback comes as the company's products have had setbacks, Bloomberg notes in a report on the move. In total, the buyback plan amounted to $2.1 billion last year. In the last seven months, AstraZeneca has had regulatory roadblocks with experimental products, the report notes.

Shares of Microsoft ( MSFT ) are down as the software maker gears up to report its Q2 results in tonight's after-hours session, and analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are expecting the software giant to report a profit of $0.68 per share on revenue of $19.14 billion.

General Motors ( GM ) is withdrawing its $14.4 billion application for direct loans from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). GM cites the significant improvement in its business performance as the main reason for withdrawing the loan, underscoring its confidence in its overall progress and strong global business performance.

Shares of Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) are higher in morning trade as the company said before the opening bell that it entered into an agreement with Russia's Rosneft to develop oil and gas resources in the Black Sea. The deal was announced by Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson and Rosneft Chairman Igor Sechin, who is also Russia's deputy prime minister, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Shares of Sara Lee are flat as the company's board begins meeting to review strategic options without new bids from JBS or a group of private equity firms led by Apollo Global, Bloomberg reports, citing two people with knowledge of the matter. JBS is reportedly trying to line up financing for an offer. Apollo hasn;t yet raised its offer after its bid of $19 a share was declined as too low.

TNK-BP shareholders are moving to halt a share swap deal between BP (BP) and Russia's OAO Rosneft, according to a Bloomberg report. TNK-BP is demanding that BP show the deal to TNK-BP because the venture--to which BP is party--grants Russia's third-largest oil producer exclusive rights to pursue new opportunities in Russia, Bloomberg reports.

Netflix (NFLX) shares are sharply higher as the company issued a first-quarter forecast that bested analysts' estimates for the firm. The company said that one-third of its new customers are signing up for the $7.99 a month streaming-only plan, which the company introduced in November,

In other earnings news:

--Eli Lilly (LLY) reports Q4 EPS of $1.11 per share, a penny better than the analyst consensus on Thomson Reuters. Revenue was $6.187 billion, vs. expectations of $6 billion. For 2011, the company is guiding for EPS of $4.15 to $4.30 per share. The Street view is $4.29 per share.

--Altria (MO) reports Q4 EPS of $0.44 compared to $0.35 a year earlier and in line with the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate. Revenue falls to $5.93 billion from $6.01 billion. The Street looked for $4.27 billion. Altria also announced an additional $1 billion share buyback.

--Procter & Gamble (PG) reports Q2 core EPS of $1.13 per share, better than the analyst consensus of $1.10 per share on Thomson Reuters. Sales were $21.3 billion, in line to just below the Street view of $21.58 billion.

--Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) reports Q4 EPS of $1.47 compared to $0.36 a year earlier and topping the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for $1.27. Q4 sales and revenues were $12.807 billion, an increase of 62 percent compared with $7.898 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009. The Street expected $11.6 billion.

--Bristol-Myers (BMY) reports Q4 sales of $5.1 billion, ahead of the analyst consensus of $5.06 billion on Thomson Reuters. EPS was $0.47, a penny shy of the Street view.

--Royal Caribbean (RCL) says Q4 EPS were $0.20, better than the Thomson Reuters mean for $0.13. Sales were $1.6 billion, compared with estimates for $1.6352 billion.

--Potash (POT) says it earned an adjusted $1.77 per share in Q4 on sales of $1.81 billion. The Thomson Reuters mean was for $1.65 per share on sales of $1.62 billion.

--JetBlue (JBLU) reports Q4 earnings of $0.03 per share, vs. $0.04 per share in the year ago quarter. Revenue was $940 million, up from $833 million last year. The Street view was earnings of $0.05 per share on revenue of $961 million.

--Under Armour (UA) reports Q4 revenue of $301.2 million, better than the analyst consensus of $275 million on Thomson Reuters. EPS was $0.44 per share, including a $0.04 per share tax benefit. The Street was at $0.37 per share, ex items.

Commodities are lower as February gold contracts--still the most active--are down $13, or 1%, to $1,321 an ounce while March crude oil contacts are down 1.64%, or $1.47, at $85.89 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.93% to $36.14 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 03.1% to $5.91.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.83% to $128.76. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 2.6% to $53.67. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.31% to $26.26.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
More Headlines for: AZN , C , GM , MSFT , XOM

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