Stocks in Red at Session's Half; Investors Again Eying Europe, Overshadows Data
Stocks have slipped into negative territory as Europe worries return to center stage, overshadowing new data showing signs of life in regional manufacturing and a drop in first-time unemployment claims.
The U.S. Federal Reserve's Philly Fed index rose to 8.7 in October from negative 17.5 last month, MarketWatch noted in a report on the data. Economists had expected a negative 10 reading, the report said.
Also, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 6,000 to 403,000 in the week ended Oct. 15. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 409,000 from an original reading of 404,000, however. The average of new claims over the past four weeks, seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends, fell by 6,250 to 403,000, the lowest since mid-April.
Overseas, an unexpected meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other international officials in Frankfurt late Wednesday fueled worries over a potential rift between Berlin and Paris over elements of a comprehensive package of reforms expected to be presented by euro-zone leaders at a Brussels summit meeting on Sunday, news reports said. There was no official comment from the Wednesday gathering, however.
U.S. economic news helped cement those early mild futures gains, though brought little fresh hope for aggressive labor market improvement.
In other company news:
Abbott Laboratories ( ABT ) are higher on a Bloomberg report that the breakup of the drug maker into two separate firms will result in a $54 billion target for acquisitive drug makers. A Jefferies Group analyst noted that Merck & Co. ( MRK ), Roche ( RHHBY ) and Bayer ( BAYRY ) are potentially interested parties.
Shares of Apple ( AAPL ) are lower after the company reported that it held down costs for its iPhone 4S even as it made several design improvements, such as the capacity t be used with multiple wireless systems. The report cited an assessment from industry research firm IHS iSuppli.
Shares Neoprobe (NEOP) are sharply higher after it announced that its New Drug Application for Lymphoseek has been accepted for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Neoprobe submitted the Lymphoseek NDA last month.
Cisco (CSCO) is down after it today announced its intent to acquire privately-held BNI Video. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay $99 million in cash and retention-based incentives in exchange for all shares of BNI Video. The acquisition is subject to various standard closing conditions and is expected to be complete in the second quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2012.
In earnings news:
--Shares of The New York Times Co. (NYT) are higher after the media company reported Q3 EPS, excluding items, of $0.05 per share, ahead of the analyst consensus of $0.04 per share on Thomson Reuters. However, revenue came in at $537.2 million, below expectations of $541 million.
--Shares of Philip Morris (PM) are up 2.79%, or $1.84, to $67.7 after the company issued its third quarter report. The company said Q3 EPS were $1.37, ahead of analyst expectations of $1.24. Revenue rose 26.4% from the year ago period to $8.36 billion, comfortably beating estimates of $7.57 billion. The company also says it sees FY11 EPS of $4.75-4.80, higher than estimates of $4.74.
--Shares of Nokia (NOK) are higher after the mobile phone company reported a $93.1 million Q3 loss, which was less than analysts had expected, The New York Times reports. Chief Executive Stephen Elop said despite the result, the firm's sales execution and inventory situation had improved, the report said.
Natural gas futures gained after a new report showed inventories rose 103 billion cubic feet for the week ended Oct. 14, less than analysts had predicted.
Commodities are down. December gold contracts fell 2.27% to $1,610 an ounce while December crude oil contacts are down $1.27 to $86.29 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.32% to $32.87 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 1.71%, to $8.91.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 1.91% to $156.81. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.68% to $52.65. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 2.2% to $29.57.