Midday Update: Appetite for Equities Rekindled by Banking Bargains, Tame Manufacturing Data

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U.S. stocks were maintaining conservative gains on Monday, with bargain-hunting in the banking sector coupled with market-friendly manufacturing data underpins Wall Street today following two days of steep declines to finish last week.

The Nasdaq Composite was fighting to snap a seven-day losing streak, supported by a rise among chipmaker stocks and offsetting more losses for shares of biotech companies. Apple ( AAPL ) also was continuing to weigh on the markets, with the iPhone- and iPad-maker, falling for an eighth straight day - the stock's longest losing streak since July 1998.

A pair of key manufacturing indices released today both declined last month but were still above their respective 50-point thresholds indicating expansion. The purchasing manager's final manufacturing index for April was unchanged from its flash number reported earlier last month at 50.8, slipping from a 51.5 reading during March, while the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index declined to 50.8 from March's 51.8 reading, missing estimates for a smaller decline to 51.5.

Finally, constructing spending increased by a less-than-expected 0.3% during March, but February figures were revised significantly higher, climbing 1.0% instead of the 0.5% decline first reported for the metric.

In corporate news, Halliburton ( HAL ) shelved its $28 billion acquisition of Baker Hughes ( BHI ) amid regulatory and competitive challenges. Baker Hughes said it will use the $3.5 billion termination fee to buy back the company's stock.

Oracle ( ORCL ) acquired cloud-based software developer Opower ( OPWR ) for $10.30 per share, a 30% premium over Opower's closing price on Friday, and Apollo Education (APOL) received a revised buyout offer of $10 per share from a private consortium that includes Apollo Management (APO). Also, International Paper (IP) said it would buy Weyerhauser's (WY) pulp business for $1.9 billion.

The month began quietly in Europe, where auto makers led EU-zone equities to positive ground with gains subdued by a holiday in the UK and Ireland. Manufacturing indices across the continent were mixed as the German PMI was revised downward to 51.8 from 51.9 in March, but revised upward in Italy and the EU. Banks were the laggard amid expectations for the European Central Bank to continue its highly accommodative monetary policy.

Crude oil was down 78 cents to $45.15 per barrel. Natural gas was down 8 cents to $2.09 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $7.50 to $1,298.30 per ounce, while silver was down 5 cents to $17.77 per ounce. Copper was down 2 cents to $2.27 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 2.39% to $11.03 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 2.31% to $6.77. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.19% to 25.78 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.11% to $123.79. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.65% to $16.87.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 16.04 (+0.15%) to 10,452.96

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 48.49 (+0.27%) to 17,822.13

S&P 500 up 5.55 (+0.27%) to 2,070.85

Nasdaq Composite Index up 6.80 (+0.14%) to 4,782.16


Nikkei 225 Index down 3.11%

Hang Seng Index down 1.50%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.25%

FTSE 100 Index closed

CAC 40 up 0.31%

DAX up 0.84%


NYSE Energy Sector Index down 1.22%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.47%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.02%


(+) PTX (+43.98%) Reported on Friday that Point 72 has taken a 5.8% stake in Pernix

(+) OPWR (+30.38%) To be acquired by Oracle ( ORCL ) for $532 million

(+) APOL (+7.82%) Confirmed a revised buyout offer from consortium of investors for $10 per share


(-) BIND (-72.22%) Filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy

(-) NRX (-60.42%) Filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is looking to begin sale procedures under Section 363

(-) PRGN (-36.36%) Disclosed that it will file 20-F late

(-) BRCD (-12.54%) Lowered fiscal Q2 guidance below street estimates

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks
Referenced Symbols: AAPL , HAL , ORCL ,

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