US Indexes Mixed, Trending Lower at Session's Half, Commodities in Red


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Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading while earnings disappointments - particularly from Apple ( AAPL ) - keep significant gains in check. The market did see some support by better-than-expected housing starts. Elsewhere, talk of a bolstered European bailout fund also served to buoy sentiment.

Reports from the U.K. indicated that European leads are looking to leverage their bailout fund and that Germany and France had agreed to a plan to expand the fund to $2.67 trillion euros, MarketWatch reported.

In data released this morning, U.S. consumer prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in September, while so-called core prices rose a lesser 0.1%, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. The core data, which posted its smallest increase since March, strips out volatile food and energy costs and is a touch lower than the expected 0.2% increase. In a related report, the government said average hourly wages adjusted for inflation fell 0.1% in September, seasonally adjusted.

Housing starts surged a stronger-than-expected 15% in September to the highest level in one-and-a-half years, according to data released Wednesday, aided by increased demand for rental stock as well as rebuilding after Hurricane Irene, MarketWatch reported.

The Commerce Department said starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 658,000, which also is 10.2% above the September 2010 reading and the best level since April 2010. Single-family starts rose a more modest 1.7% to 425,000, which is only a two-month high. The less-volatile building permits figures declined 5% to 594,000, and single-family permits eased 0.2%.

Homebuilder shares are higher:

KBH: +6.7%

LEN: -0.6%

DHI: +0.9%

TOL: +1.2%

HOV: +1.1%

In other company news:

Shares of pharmaceutical maker Bristol-Myers ( BMY ) inched higher even as the company was initiated with a "sell" at MKM Partners. The firm set a price target of $26. Shares remained fractionally higher.

Shares of Visa Inc. ( V ) are down today after the company announced that its board of directors had declared a 47% increase in the quarterly dividend aggregate amount on its class A common stock. CEO Joseph Saunders lauded the move, saying it was apart of the company's commitment to return value to shareholders, according to reports. The quarterly dividend increase raises the annual dividend rate from $0.60 per share to $0.88 per share.

Ford Motor Co. ( F ) shares are higher after the company said its principal union, The United Auto Workers, overwhelmingly approved a new four-year labor contract. The contract will cut union members in on profit-sharing instead of pay raises, while Ford also promised $4.8 billion in new investments in U.S. plants that will add 5,750 new jobs. Inc. ( AMZN ) has been losing ground steadily since the opening bell, down more than 2%, despite announcing that it had expanded its license agreement with the national public broadcasting system (PBS) for more content.

In earnings news:

--AAPL late Tuesday reported Q4 revenue of $28.27 bln, below the analyst consensus of $29.68 bln on Thomson Reuters. EPS was $7.05 per share, vs. expectations of $7.39 per share. For Q1, the company is targeting revenue of about $37 bln and EPS of about $9.30 per share. The Street is at $36.7 bln in revenue and earnings of $9.01 per share.

--Abbott Laboratories(ABT) reports Q3 EPS of $1.18, a penny ahead of the analyst consensus on Thomson Reuters. Sales were $9.8 bln, vs. estimates of $9.63 bln. Separately, the company said it will separate into two publicly traded companies in the medical products and research-based pharma fields. ABT shares are trading near 3% higher.

Commodities are down. December gold contracts fell 0.45% to $1,645 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are down 0.14% to $88.22 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.53% to $33.97 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 0.34%, to $8.75.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.05% to $159.80. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 3.65% to $54.65. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.59% to $30.52.

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: AAPL , AMZN , BMY , F , V

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