Stocks Holding Gains; Investors Shrug Off Lackluster Consumer Confidence Data
Stocks are rallying at mid-day after gross domestic product data was revised upward and earnings news provided further support for stocks. But lackluster consumer sentiment data weighed to the downside.
In the latest economic data, U.S. real gross domestic product rose 3.1% in the fourth quarter, revised up from the 2.8% pace reported one month ago.
But the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey registered 67.5 in the final reading for March, matching expectations. The reading was down from an initial reported level of 68.2 earlier in the month and is the index's lowest level in five months.
In company news:
Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ) announced late Thursday after market close that its Ethicon unit has issued a recall of medical drainage products because of sterility concerns. Being recalled are product lots of Blake silicone drains and silicone drain kits, Blake cardio connectors, J-Vac reservoirs and J-Vac drain adapters that were distributed between May 10, 2010 and Feb. 28.
Barclays ( BCS ) is down after The Financial Times reported this morning that regulators in the U.S. and U.K. have been investigating whether there has been a deliberate attempt by banks to skew the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, by submitting data that underestimated their actual borrowing costs. Barclays is part of their review, the article says.
Shares of SAP AG ( SAP ), Germany-based provider of licenses for software solutions, are higher after HSBC upgraded the stock to "overweight" from "neutral." Shares also got a lift after rival Oracle ( ORCL ) late Thursday posted a sharp rise in Q3 profit, topping Wall Street forecasts. For its part, Oracle said on its conference call it expects Q4 total revenue growth of 9% to 13%. Non-GAAP EPS is seen at $0.69 to $0.73 per share. The Street view is 9% sales growth and EPS of $0.66 per share.
Gulfport Energy Corp. ( GPOR ), meanwhile, is higher in regular-session trading--reversing pre-market losses--after saying it upsized and priced its previously-announced underwritten public offering of shares of its common stock.
Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI) says United States District Court for the District of Delaware has ruled that the company's generic version of Fentora infringes United States Patent No. 6,264,981 (the '981 Patent). It said that it was reviewing the court's decision and would evaluate all available options, including an appeal. The suit was brought against WPI by Cephalon (CEPH).
Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS) are down after Reuters reported that the bank slid to 10th place in deal advisory rankings--its worst showing in more than two decades. Goldman advised on $71 billion worth of deals in the first quarter the report said. By comparison, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) advised on $170 billion.
Target Corp. (TGT) is trading lower after suing a California gay marriage group in an attempt to end picketing at a San Diego store. The company said the protests are driving away customers. Target and the group, Canvass For A Cause, will face off in court today. At issue is the store's $150,000 donation to a business group backing a Minnesota Republican candidate who is opposed to gay marriage. Minnesota-based Target insists it remains committed to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Commodities are lower. April gold contracts are down $2, or 0.11%, to $1,433 an ounce while May crude oil contacts are down 0.04%, or $0.05, at $105.55 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.19% to $42.13 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up $0.06, or 0.55%, to $11.39.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.42% to $139.80. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.13% to $60.07. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 1.14% to $36.53.