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
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 (
) 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 (
) 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 (
) 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 (
) 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 (
) 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
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,
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.