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Stocks Near Even as Investors Weigh China Bank Policy, Irish Debt Crisis

By: MT Newswires
Posted: 11/19/2010 12:18:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: AIB;BMY;DX;GOOG;PFE

Stocks are trading in a narrow range around the even mark, as China moves to tighten its money supply to cool the economy and control inflation and new concerns surface over efforts to quell the Irish debt crisis, which are off-setting supportive earnings and M&A speculation.

China's central bank hiked the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 50 basis points. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, facing global criticism for the Fed's latest bond-buying program to recharge U.S. growth, tossed his own criticism back at Beijing's policy to undervalue its currency against the dollar.

Meanwhile, the dollar is moving higher against a basket of foreign currencies. The U.S. Dollar Index ( DX ) is up 0.28%, or $0.03, to $10.66.

In company news, Google ( GOOG ) shares are off session lows but still in negative territory after Bloomberg reported the the Internet search company agreed to improve its handling of data to prevent a repeat of the accidental collection of information from wireless networks by its Street View vehicles. The agreement ends the privacy investigation in the U.K., that country's privacy regulator reportedly said..

Shares of Pfizer ( PFE ) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY ) are down following news the two stopped a trial of their experimental blood thinner after incidents of increased bleeding in patients outweighed benefits for patients who recently had a heart attack, or bad chest pain. The drug--named apixaban--is being tested to stop heat complications in patents with acute coronary syndrome.

Allied Irish Banks ( AIB ) ADRs are trading lower after it said deposits declined 17% this year as customers pulled money out amid the ongoing debt crisis in that country and around Europe. Deposits at the bank--Ireland's second largest--declined by about $17.8 billion euros since the beginning of the year. The bank said it is increasing its reliance on monetary authorities amid the challenging funding conditions.

Boston Scientific (BSX) shares are higher after the company's chief executive said he hoped to convince investors that it can increase profitability over the next two years, Reuters reported, citing the company's first analyst meeting in four years. "Sales can't grow much more than single digits," said CEO Ray Elliott. "The same is not true for profitability."

Del Monte Foods (DLM) is higher on reports KKR (KKR) is preparing an $18.50 a share offer for the company. Sources say the firms have been talking for some time and were hoping to wrap up the deal before Del Monte reports its quarterly earnings on Dec. 2.

Shares of General Motors (GM), which provided lift to the market yesterday, traded down less than $1 from its $33 IPO price yesterday. GM advanced as much as 9.1% during its first day of trading since filing for bankruptcy last year. The U.S. Treasury and other GM owners sold $15.8 billion in common shares at an IPO price of $33 each, which was the second-largest U.S. IPO on record.

KeyCorp (KEY) shares are down following news the bank--the second largest in Ohio--has appointed Beth Mooney CEO. She is the first woman to lead a Top 20 U.S. bank, reported Bloomberg. Mooney was the vice chairman of KeyCorp and head of community banking.

ExxonMobil (XOM) put a crude oil unit at its Trecate refinery in Italy "back in operation" after a fire more than two months ago, Bloomberg reported. The plant is slowly resuming normal production, repairs are completed, technical checks have been made and controls have been put in place, the report said.

In other earnings news:

--Cost Plus (CPWM) says Q3 sales were $194.6 million, a 7.3% increase from a year ago. Net loss was $0.38 per share, down from a loss of $1 a year ago. Q4 sales are seen between $324 million to $330 million. EarningsWhispers says the consensus is for $329 million.

--Dell (DELL) is higher after the computer maker late Thursday reported its Q3 profit more than doubled and revenue surged to $15.4 billion from $12.9 billion.

--Foot Locker (FL) is higher fueled by Q3 net income of $52 million, or $0.33 per share, easily beating an adjusted $16-million gain last year. The Street view was for a $0.17 per share profit, according to

Thomson Reuters. (CRM) reported Q3 non-GAAP EPS of 32 cents a share compared to Street estimates of 31 cents a share. The company reported revenue of $429 million compared to Street estimates of $410.46 million. Non-GAAP diluted EPS in Q4 is expected to be in the range of approximately $0.27 to approximately $0.28. The Street is at 28 cents a share.

Commodities are lower as December gold contracts are down $2, or 0.13%, to $1,351 an ounce while January crude contacts are down 0.75%, or $0.60, at $81.82 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.41% to $35 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 1.4% to $5.85

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.12% to $131.93. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.42% to $59.28. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.11% to $26.32.