Midday Update: Stocks Treading Water But Remain Cautiously Optimistic Before Fed-Speak
Equities are in a holding pattern today, consolidating at Friday's highs and the financial markets waiting for clarification of Federal Reserve policy from a trio of Federal Reserve hawks on today's lecture circuit. Although November non-farm payrolls indicated that the jobless rate is getting closer to the Fed's target rate of 6.5%, there is still debate over when the Fed will respond - with the consensus being a January 2014 taper. If Fed Presidents Bullard, Lacker and Fisher continue to urge caution against tapering until more convincing data is released, the financial markets will get the green light to extend Friday's gains into new record territory.
Several proposed mergers also are giving stocks a very modest boost today, leading with the long-awaited merger of American Airlines and US Airway ( LCC ), Sysco ( SYY ) and US Foods, WhiteWave Foods ( WWAV ) and Earthbound Farm, and Covidien ( COV ) and Given Imagining ( GIVN ).
European stocks have mostly recovered in tandem with the U.S. markets after being down for most the overseas session following bearish EU-zone data. Despite better-than-expected Chinese trade data, Europe lost ground early from weak German industrial production, a below-consensus rise in Swiss retail sales and a decline in EU investor confidence. The UK FTSE and German DAX have since recovered to close with very slim gains.
Crude oil was down $0.05 to $97.60 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.07 to $4.19 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $6.70 to $1,235.80 an ounce, while silver was up $0.25 to $19.77 an ounce. Copper was unchanged at $3.55 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.10% to $35.01 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 1.39% to $20.45. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 4.22% to 21.55 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.62% to $119.29. The iShares Silver Trust was up 1.39% to $19.02.
Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 20.17 (+0.20%) to 10151.38
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 17.42 (+0.11%) to 16037.62
S&P 500 up 4.47 (+0.26%) to 1809.73
Nasdaq Composite Index up 6.87 (+0.19%) to 4069.39
Nikkei 225 Index up 2.29%
Hang Seng Index up 0.29%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.05%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.11%
CAC 40 up 0.11%
DAX up 0.25%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.01%
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.90%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.11%
(+) HIHO (42.1%) Received three tooling orders designed to produce plastic components for printers offered by "a leading U.S. printer company."
(+) ROSG (+12.3%) New York State Department of Health has given Rosetta Genomics conditional approval for the Rosetta Kidney Cancer Test for testing on patient samples from the State.
(+) SYY (+13.1%) Agreed to acquire privately held food distributor US Foods for about $3.5 billion excluding debt.
(-) LAYN (-8.1%) Reports Q3 revenue of $216.5 mln, down from $281.3 mln in the year ago quarter and below the analyst consensus of $244.6 mln on Capital IQ. Pre-tax loss was $0.99, vs. year ago income of $0.38 per share.
(-) PGEM (-4.1%) Downgrades by Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to Neutral.
(-) MCD (-1.0%) Reported an 0.8% decline in its U.S. business