Major U.S. stock indexes are moderately lower at the session's
halftime after a surprise interest rate hike by the Chinese
government and a blizzard on the East Coast combine to weigh on
equity prices and trading volume.
With no economic data due, investors focused on a relatively
thin stream of company news during the holiday week.
In the latest company news:
Airline stocks are mixed in regular-session trading after bad
weather on the East Coast closed airports and snarled travel around
the country. Shares of AMR Corp. (
), parent of American Airlines, are up slightly as are shares of
Delta Airlines (
). However, shares of Alaska Air Group (
) are down along with United Continental (
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (
) is just lower after it said in a SEC filing U.S. regulators
halted development of an experimental pain killer it's developing
with Sanofi-Aventis SA (SNY) after a similar treatment caused the
death of bone tissue in another drug maker's study.
American International Group (AIG) is up after it says it
entered into 364-Day and 3-Year Bank Credit Facilities totaling $3
billion split evenly between the two. It also says Chartis has
entered into a 1-Year $1.3 billion Letter of Credit Facility.
Thirty-Six banks participated in the facilities. The facilities
will be available upon the closing of the previously announced
recapitalization plan with the United States Department of the
Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the AIG Credit
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) shares are flat as The New York Times
reports that the retail giant and five other companies have
invested $500 million in 360buy.com, a growing Chinese online
retailer. The investment serves to boost Wal-Mart's presence in
Cephalon Inc (CEPH) shares are down after pre-market news that
the drug maker received a second complete response letter from the
FDA for its Nuvigil tablets, with the agency restating concerns
about the prospective treatment for eastbound travelers with
excessive sleepiness and jet lag. In its letter to the company, the
FDA reiterated its previously stated concerns regarding the NUVIGIL
PostRock Energy (PSTR) is up after it says it will sell to
Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR) certain assets in Wetzel and Lewis
Counties, WVa, for $39.75 million. The consideration for the sale
will consist of 50% cash and 50% MHR common stock.
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) shares are down after Barron's said the
stock could be poised for a drop, with the mail and online video
rental service needing to soon negotiate new licensing agreements
with Hollywood studios for content. Other potential worries are a
recent spate of insider selling, along with the recent departure of
the company's CFO, although the magazine suggests the stock could
have a built-in floor -- the potential that a big tech firm could
jump in to buy the company.
Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) shares are lower as the company
failed to get approval from U.S. health regulators for a new
formulation of its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, reports
Bloomberg. Teva--a maker of generic drugs--received a complete
response letter from the Food and Drug Administration that
indicated further study may be required. The new formulation of the
drug contained a higher concentration of the medicine.
Apple (AAPL) is down fractionally but moving off its early low
of $321.52 on reports that it has notified Chinese suppliers that
it expects to sell between 21 million and 22 million iPhones in Q1,
up from a previous forecast for 19 million sales. Of those, 5
million to 6 million phone sales are expected to be to CDMA-based
customers through Verizon Communications (VZ)) in North America and
in Asia. Sales of GSM versions of the phone mainly in Europe, have
been hiked to 14 million to 15 million, reports tech Web site
DigiTimes, citing anonymous sources.
Commodities are mixed as February gold contracts are up $1, or
0.10%, to $1,382 an ounce while February crude oil contacts are
down 0.54%, or $0.49, at $91.02 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.26%
to $38.88 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down
1.25% to $5.54.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.18% to
$134.90. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.30% to $59.11.
iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.24% to $28.55.