Mid-Day Update: Stocks Higher as Production Data Fails to Sidetrack Bullish Markets
Stocks were mostly higher Friday with the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 poised to close higher for a second consecutive week. Wall Street largely shrugged off below-consensus manufacturing data for January, looking at the surprise drop as negatively impacted by the severe winter weather last month. Upbeat earnings from Campbell Soup Co. ( CPB ), Hyatt Hotels ( H ) and other firms are contributing to the rebound from early weakness, although the Nasdaq Composite continues to trade defensively, with pressure on Intel ( INTC ) and Internet stocks snapping a six-day winning streak for the tech-heavy index.
Industrial production declined by 0.3% in January with weather-related declines in mining and manufacturing offsetting gains in heating demand output. The Street was looking for a modest 0.2% gain. Capacity utilization was also worse than expected, declining to 78.3% from a revised 78.9% in December, trailing the consensus estimate looking for a small improvement to 79.3%.
Import and export prices, however, were better than expected as import prices for fuel nudged overall import prices up 0.1% versus the forecast of no change. Export prices increased by a better than expected 0.2%.
Finally, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment this month remained unchanged at January's final read of 81.2. The Street was expecting to see sentiment deteriorate to 80.5.
Positive GDP data lifted all of the major European indices back to the plus side. EU-zone counties including Germany and France all reported an improvement in Q4 growth. With the political situation in Italy seemingly resolved after Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned in favor of party contender Matteo Renzi, European equities had the green light to reverse some of yesterday's losses.
Crude oil was down $0.41 to $99.94 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.03 to $4.67 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $17.60 $1,317.80 an ounce, while silver was up $0.78 to $21.18 an ounce. Copper was up $0.01 to $3.26 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.25% to $35.78 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 1.92% to $25.68. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2.12% to 26.34 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 1.28% to $127.08. The iShares Silver Trust was up 3.50% to $20.43.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 30.45 (+0.30%) to 10,259.03
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 78.39 (+0.49%) to 16,105.98
S&P 500 up 4.85 (+0.27%) to 1,834.68
Nasdaq Composite Index down 5.99 (-0.14%) to 4,234.68
Nikkei 225 Index down 1.53%
Hang Seng Index up 0.60%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.83%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.06%
CAC 40 up 0.63%
DAX up 0.68%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.83%
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.09%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.55%
(+) SYMX (+46.2%) Its SES Asia Technologies unit is forming a joint venture with Zhangjiagang Chemical MachinerycL
(+) LCAV (+25.7%) Climbs to new 52-week high after agreeing to $106.4 mln buyout from PhotoMedex ( PHMD ). LCAV shareholders will receive $5.37 a share - a 34% premium over Wednesday's close.
(+) FONR (+23.5%) Reported a 59% jump in fiscal Q2 earnings as revenue surged 83%
(-) WTW (-26.3%) Q4 EPS of $0.54 misses consensus by $0.07 per share.
(-) TRLA (-18.6%) Adjusted earnings were $0.03, missing the Street view of $0.07 per share.
(-) CIDM (-10.2%) Missed earnings estimates; Q3 loss widens year over year despite improved revenue.