Stocks are mixed around the even mark at mid-day as new data
showed a rise in wholesale inventories in February indicating that
retail buyers may be curbing purchases. Adding to the mix were
hawkish comments from the Dallas Federal Reserve president and
ongoing concern following another strong earthquake in Japan.
February wholesale inventories rose 1%, matching the downwardly
revised 1% gain in January, the Commerce Department reported. Sales
by wholesalers fell 0.8% in February, while the inventory-to-sales
ratio was 1.16, Marketwatch.com reports.
Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher lobbed criticism
at the Fed's $600 billion bond-buying program. Fisher said the bank
should look at "curtailing what remains of the program," according
to The Wall Street Journal,
In company news:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (
) and Morgan Stanley (
) said Friday they have increased the size of an accelerated
bookbuilding offer to place a stake of up to 10.1% in Spanish
travel company Amadeus IT Holding SA among qualified investors, Dow
Jones Newswires reports. The move comes after both banks said late
Thursday they planned to sell a stake of up to 6.7% on behalf of
current Amadeus shareholders that they didn't identify.
NXP Semiconductors (
) is seeing aggressive upside momentum, boosted by a Reuters report
the company is in takeover talks with Intel (
). Qualcomm (
) and Broadcom (BRCM) are also reportedly in talks with the company
about a deal.
Expedia (EXPE) said its board has preliminarily approved a plan
to separate Expedia, Inc. into two publicly traded companies.
TripAdvisor, which will include the domestic and international
operations associated with the TripAdvisor Media Group, which
includes its flagship brand as well as 18 other travel media and
advertising brands, and Expedia, Inc., which will continue to
include the domestic and international operations of the company's
travel transaction brands including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, eLong,
Hotwire, Egencia, Expedia Affiliate Network, CruiseShipCenters,
Venere, Classic Vacations and carrentals.com.
Seadrill (SDRL) has through its affiliate, Sea Dragon de Mexico,
settled a final agreement with Pemex Exploracion y Produccion
(Pemex) for the provision of the ultra-deepwater semi-submersible
drilling rig West Pegasus. The five-year assignment in Mexico has a
fixed operating dayrate for the first two years, and the dayrate
will be adjusted annually thereafter based on market conditions.
Estimated contract value is approximately US$850 million (excluding
mobilization fee) assuming a constant dayrate over the five year
Shares of Novartis (NVS) are higher in as Alcon (ACL) announced
that its shareholders approved the merger of Alcon into Novartis AG
at its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders.
Shares of Procter & Gamble (PG) are lower and the consumer
products maker announced later yesterday it is conducting a
voluntary recall of ten shades of Clairol Natural Instincts in the
United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Hercules Offshore (HERO) is down just over 8% in early trading
after it said late Thursday it received a subpoena issued by the
Securities and Exchange Commission requesting the delivery of
certain documents in connection with its investigation into
possible violations of securities laws, including the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
In earnings news:
--Seagate Technology (STX) is out with certain preliminary
fiscal Q3 results. Seagate management expects to report revenue of
approximately $2.7 billion, unit shipments of 49 million and gross
margin as a percent of revenue near or slightly above the high-end
of the original outlook range of 18-19%. The Street's revenue
estimate is at $2.62 billion.
Commodities are higher. June gold contracts are up $14, or
0.97%, to $1,473 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are up
1.29%, or $1.42, at $111.72 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.34% to
$44.60 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down $0.04,
or 0.3%, to $10.59.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.73% at
$143.53. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.4% to $64.02.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.83% to $39.45.
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