Stocks have remained firm into the session's half after data showed strong sales on Black Friday surged, indicating continued improvement in the economic health of U.S. consumers. Declining borrowing costs for Spain and France also served to lift stocks. Still, new data showing new home sales last month were essentially unchanged indicated lingering weakness in the housing market.
Last week, a poor showing for Germany's 10-year bond sale rocked investor sentiment and pushed borrowing costs for Italy and Belgium higher. Still, yields on Spanish and French debt declined Monday, helping to offset the negative mood.
Also, new home sales in October moved just slightly higher, to an annual rate of 307,000. Sales for September were revised down to 303,000 from 313,000. Economists had expected sales to rise 320,000 according to a MarketWatch poll.
Black Friday sales hit a record, growing 6.6% over last year to $11.4 billion, according to ShopperTrak. Retail foot traffic climbed 5.1%. Among retail shares:
M: + 5.8%
In mid-day company news:
Apple ( AAPL ) shares are among the sector leaders this morning as new data indicates the company will likely benefit this holiday shopping season. A new report from Piper Jaffray indicates that teenagers want one product or another from the company this year, Fortune reports. According to a survey of 5,700 teenagers, 11.2% surveyed this fall identified an Apple product on their wish list, the report said.
Shares of Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) are higher as Bloomberg reports the oil major and Russian oil giant OAO Rosneft will present their offshore development plan in February. The two companies struck an exploration and development deal earlier this year.
Bristol Myers Squibb ( BMY ) and AstaZeneca ( AZN ) today announced that the European Commission has approved ONGLYZA or saxagliptin for use as a combination therapy with insulin (with or without metformin) to improve blood sugar control in adult patients with type 2 diabetes.
ADRs of Nomura Holdings ( NMR ) are higher as the bank is reportedly denying rumors that it is shuttering its investment banking operations in the U.S. The news originally cam from Dealbreaker, which reported a rumor that said big cuts could be expected by the end of the year, according to TheStreet.com.
Commodities are higher as January gold contracts are down 0.1% to $1,697 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up 0.76% to $96.90 a barrel.
In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 2.0% to $37.91 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.8%, to $7.87.
In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.9% to $166.55. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 3.0% to $56.44. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 3.6% to $31.29.
Here's where markets stand at mid-day:
-NYSE up 241.91 (+3.51%) to 7,140.17
-DJIA up 313.18 (+2.79%) to 11,544.96
-S&P 500 up 36.32 (+3.1%) to 1,194.59
-Nasdaq up 86.46 (+3.54%) to 2,527.97
Nikkei up 1.51%
Hang Seng up 1.97%
Shanghai Composite up 0.12%
FTSE-100 up 2.36%
DAX-30 up 3.79%
MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH
NYSE Energy up 3.55% at 11,788.81
NYSE Financial up 4.1% at 3,828.14
NYSE Health Care up 3.8% at 6,556.48
NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 3.6% at 1,059.49
(+) IRE (+11.2%) will sell loan portfolio to Sumitomo
(+) HBC (+5.5%) will pay up to $62.5 mln to Madoff investors
(+) AVL (+3.8%) initiated at Buy at Citigroup
(+) NFLX (+10%) upgraded to Neutral from Negative at Susquehanna
(+) CRM ( +6.2%) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham
(+) BDSI ( +9.7%) received Favorable Ruling in 588 Patent Action
(+) WYNN, (+7.9%) Upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
(+) AAPL, (+3.1%) advancing due to strong "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" sales
(+) AMZN, (+6.2%) kindle sales increased four-fold compared to last year
(+) GOOG, (+4.5%) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup;
(+) NOK, (+6.7%) signs of strong Black Friday sales in the United States.
(-) GEF, (-3.6%) Guides FY11 EPS below consensus.
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