Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading while earnings
disappointments - particularly from Apple (
) - 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
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,
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,
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:
In other company news:
Shares of pharmaceutical maker Bristol-Myers (
) inched higher even as the company was initiated with a "sell" at
MKM Partners. The firm set a price target of $26. Shares remained
Shares of Visa Inc. (
) 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. (
) 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.
Amazon.com Inc. (
) 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
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
--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%,
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.
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