Markets

Mid-Day Update: Stocks Sitting Higher; Consumer Confidence Data, Europe Hopes Support

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Stocks are higher in mid-day trading with investor hopes growing for solutions to the European debt crisis as euro-zone finance ministers met Tuesday. Stateside, a mixed slate of data showed lingering weakness in housing prices while consumer confidence data blew past expectations.

Home prices fell in September, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index, which declined 0.6%. Three cities - New York, Portland and Washington D.C. - saw gains during the month.

Also, U.S. consumers are more confident as indicated by the Conference Board report Tuesday. The consumer confidence index rose to 56 this month from 40.9 in October. Economists had expected a reading of 45 for November, according to a MarketWatch poll.

After the U.S. close Monday, Fitch Ratings issued a report in which it maintained its triple-A rating on the U.S., but lowered its outlook to negative from stable. Fitch noted declining confidence that timely fiscal measures will be forthcoming after the so-called congressional supercommittee failed to agree at least $1.2 trillion of measures to cut the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years, according to news reports.

In Europe, French newspaper La Tribune, citing unnamed sources, said ratings firm Standard & Poor's could downgrade the outlook on France's AAA sovereign debt rating to negative within 10 days. Moody's Investors Service said it may cut subordinated debt ratings on some European Union banks, because it's concerned by the increasingly limited financial flexibility of many European sovereigns, MarketWatch reported.

In mid-day company news:

Shares of AMR ( AMR ) plummeted 85% after being released from halt this morning. The parent company of American Airlines announced that the company and certain of its U.S.-based subsidiaries, including American and American Eagle, has filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Banks in 15 European countries could have the subordinated debt ratings cut by Moody's Investors Service, according to a Bloomberg report. In European bank issues:

STD: +0.1%

SCGLYL -1.1%

UBS: +1.9%

Shares of Schlumberger ( SLB ) are higher as the company said that shale-gas drilling in Poland costs nearly three times as much as in the U,S., according to a Bloomberg report. Schlumberger is the worlds largest oilfield services provider.

Microsoft Corp. ( MSFT ) shares are higher after the New York Times reported MSFT and Silver Lake Partners are among several parties that intend to submit proposals for a minority stake in Yahoo Inc., citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares of Watson Pharmaceuticals ( WPI ) are higher as the company's generic version of Bayer's Yaz oral contraceptive product receives approvals from the FDA. Watson is currently involved in patent litigation with Bayer concerning this product.

Commodities are higher as January gold contracts are up 0.13% to $1,717 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up 1.1% to $99.26 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is up 1.5% to $38.40 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 1.4%, to $7.93.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.1% to $166.76. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.3% to $56.94. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.19% to $31.21.

Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE up 71.98 (+0.95%) to 7,188.53

-DJIA up 66.42 (+0.58%) to 11,589.43

-S&P 500 up 6.84 (+0.57%) to 1,199.46

-Nasdaq down 4.00 (-0.16%) to 2,523.33

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei up 2.3%

Hang Seng up 1.2%

Shanghai Composite up 1.2%

FTSE-100 up 0.1%

DAX-30 up 0.1%

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy up 1.65% at 11,936.46

NYSE Financial up 0.66% at 3,844.26

NYSE Health Care up 1.06% at 6,631.02

NYSE Arca Tech 100 down 0.22% at 1,056.59

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) YHOO (+3.4%) reportedly gets interest from private equity firm THL.

(+) HPQ (+3.2%) upgraded.

(+) MAGS (+36.6%) swings to profit.

(+) STX (+4.0%) continues evening gain; sees revenue above consensus.

(+) NVLS (+0.1) initiated with Hold rating.

(+) NBR (+1.0%) gains despite analyst downgrade.

(+) CAG (+0.9%) adds to stake in India's Agro Tech Foods.

(+) PFE (+1.9%) with BMY says FDA accepts Eliquis NDA in stroke patients.

(+) BMY (+1.6%) with PFE says FDA accepts Eliquis NDA.

(+) AZN (+1.4%) with BMY gets EU marketing approval for Komboglyze.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) RIG (-7.4%) selling shares.

(-) SUSS (-9.7%) selling shares.

(-) TIF (-9.3%) falls after Monday gain; beats with results.

(-) BECN (-7.3%) slips despite earnings beat.

(-) AMAT (-0.7%) initiated with Hold rating.

(-) KLAC (-0.4) initiated with Hold rating.

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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