Mid-way through trading Wednesday, the Dow traded down 0.16 percent to 13,329.93 while the NASDAQ fell 0.05 percent to 3,052.86. The S&P also fell, decreasing 0.27 percent to 1,442.25.
The U.S. treasury department announced this morning that it would be liquidating its position in General Motors (NYSE: GM ) over the next year and a half that it had acquired as part of the TARP program. As part of the exit, GM will purchase 200 million of the shares owned by the treasury department at a price of $27.50 per share. This lead to a rally of a little over 8 percent in early trading.
Equities Trading UP
Alterra Capital Holdings (NASDAQ: ALTE ) saw a 23.93 percent boost to $28.69 Wednesday morning as Markel announced it would buy the company for $3.1 billion.
Shares of Knight Capital Group (NYSE: KCG ) were up as well, gaining 6.01 percent to $3.53 after the announcement that Getco would acquire the company this morning.
Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ: SWHC ) traded up 8.87 percent to $8.48 after taking a beating over the past few days. The rally was a common theme across the gun stocks Wednesday morning as news of increased firearm sales in the wake of the Newton shooting Friday reached the street.
Equities Trading DOWN
Navistar (NYSE: NAV ) dropped 5.38 percent to $21.62 in early trading after the company posted a poor earnings release Wednesday morning.
Affymax (NASDAQ: AFFY ) was also down, dropping 10.00 percent to $20.07 after its drug Omontys' sales fell 23 percent in November.
Finally, Shares of Actuant (NYSE: ATU ) were down as well, falling 6.72 percent to $27.61 after posting an earnings and revenue miss before the market opening Wednesday.
In commodity news, oil traded up 2.15 percent to $89.82, while gold traded up 0.06 percent to $1,670.50.
Silver traded down 0.51 percent Wednesday to $31.09.
European markets saw a boost this morning as confidence continued to rise about a fiscal cliff deal in Washington. Leading the charge was the Spanish Ibex, up over 1.5 percent, followed closely by the Italian MIB index which was up 0.78 percent.
While a nearing deal in Washington helped fuel the rally, German business confidence lent a hand as it rose to 102.4 , forecasting future growth in the Euro zone's biggest economy.
In economic news, building permits came in at 3.60 percent, well above the anticipated 0.80 percent and the prior figure of -2.70 percent.
Housing starts were not so optimistic, coming in at -3.0 percent, below the expected -2.5 percent and well below the previous release of 3.60 percent.
MBA mortgage applications were also reported, coming in at -12.30 percent, far below the last report of 6.2 percent.
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