Markets

Mid-Day Update: Stocks Edging Higher; Chinese Data, Italian Downgrade Limit Advance

U.S. stocks were mixed at mid-day, with indexes hovering on either side of even. Light pressure stems from weakness in China overnight after retail sales and industrial production missed expectations and inflation jumped. Italian debt also was downgraded by Fitch Ratings, hurting sentiment.

Over the past hour, the S&P 500 rose to its highest intraday level since mid-October 2007 at 1,553. The S&P 500's highest ever intraday mark is 1,576.09 and its record closing high stands at 1,565.15, both set in the first half of October 2007.

China's industrial production increased 9.9% during the first two months of the year, less than the 10.6% gain projected in a Bloomberg survey, government data showed on Saturday. Retail sales rose 12.3%, also trailing economists' estimates, separate figures showed.

In Europe, German exports rose more than economists forecast in January, data showed. Exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, advanced 1.4% from December, compared with the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey for a 0.5% increase.

Commodities are mixed. Crude oil for April delivery is down 67 cents to $91.28 per barrel. April natural gas is up a penny to $3.64 per 1 million BTU. April gold is up $1.90 to $1,578.80 per ounce while May silver is down 10 cents to $28.85 per ounce. May copper is up a penny to $3.52 per pound.

Among energy ETFs , the US Oil Fund is down 19 cents to $32.86 and the the US Natural Gas Fund is up 3 cents to $20.04. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF is down 14 cents to $36.97 and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF is up 13 cents to $152.84. The iShares Silver Trust is down 12 cents to $27.88.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 11.43 (+0.13%) to 9,065.88

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 23.93 (+0.17%) to 14,421.00

S&P 500 up 1.33 (+0.09%) to 1,552.51

Nasdaq Composite Index down 1.29 (-0.04%) to 3,243.08

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.53%

Hang Seng Index down 0.1%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.35%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.15%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.07% to 13,178.63

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.36% to 5,549.17

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.32% to 8,626.81

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ESYS, (+32.9%) Fiscal Q3 net income climbs to $0.18 per share, up from a $0.07 gain in the year-ago quarter. Quarterly sales rise 43% year over year to $7.45 mln. There were no analyst estimates available for comparison.

(+) SCR, (+14.5%) Receives $528-mln proposal led by company founder and CEO Jinsheng Ren and Assure Ahead Investments Ltd to acquire the 47.3% of the company's stock they currently don't own, for $9.56 per American Depositary Share in cash.

(+) GNW, (+6.7%) Highlighted in weekend's Barron's article, with the story concluding things are improving at the insurance carrier since the January arrival of CEO Thomas McInerney. The story pegs shares nearly doubling in price to $18 or more, with growth led by resurgent mortgage market.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) CSIQ, (-10.2%) Reports Q4 non-GAAP loss of $1.01 per share, $0.06 a share wider than consensus estimates. Revenue fell 38% to $294.8 mln, also missing the median estimate.

(-) DKS, (-9.3%) Posts Q4 earnings of $1.03 per share, up from a $0.88 per share during the same quarter last year but trailing the analyst consensus by $0.03. Sales rise 12% to $1.8 bln, in line with the Street view.

(-) ACFN, (-6.2%) Said its DSIT Solutions Ltd. subsidiary received multiple orders totalling $3.2 mln from an undisclosed navy for a number of the company's AquaShield Underwater Security systems.

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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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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