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Mid-Day Update: Stocks Soaring Amid Positive Signs on Employment Trends, General Motors IPO

Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE up 133.16 (+1.78%) to 7,623.15

-DJIA up 172.25 (+1.56%) to 11,180.13

-S&P 500 up 19.30 (+1.64%) to 1,197.99

-Nasdaq up 46.67 (+1.90%) to 2,522.83

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng up 1.82%

Nikkei up 2.06%

FTSE up 1.34%

MID-DAY NYSE INDEX WATCH

NYSE Energy up 1.99% at 11,704.94

NYSE Financial up 1.83% at 4,785.83

NYSE Health Care up 1.39% at 6,391.22

NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 2.63% at 1,028.73

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ATI (+2.4%) upgraded.

(+) FCEL (+2.3%) inks new order.

(+) MOT (+2.3%) firm as analyst iniates at Buy.

(+) LTXC (+30.9%) to merge with Verigy ( VRGY ) in stock deal.

(+) BKE (+6.5%) beats with earnings, declares special dividend.

(+) EXEL (+26%) reports positive interim data on prostate cancer drug.

(+) DLTR (+1.5%) beats with results, guidance.

(+) DRYS (+10.4%) adds to evening gains that followed earnings.

(+) QCOM (+0.8%) upgraded.

(+) SPWRA (-1.4%) guides for revenue miss.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) ALU (-1.5%) downgraded.

(-) HUM (-2.7%) guides below Street.

(-) WLT (-0.5%) offers to buy Western Coal.

(-) SHLD (-6%) disappoints with results.

(-) F (-1.9%) cuts stake in Mazda.

(-) AEZS (+2.2%) gains on study data.

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks have rebounded smartly through the first half of the regular session with the three major indexes up, or nearly up 2%. General Motors' (GM) initial public offering, combined with data showing an improving labor market and easing concerns about the Irish debt crisis are driving investor optimism.

In employment, a report showed jobless claims rose 2,000 to 439,000 in the latest week, smaller than the Street expected. However, Reuters notes that the less-volatile four-week moving average fell 4,000 to 443,000, hitting a fresh two-year low. Continuing claims dropped 48,000.

In the day's biggest headline, shares of General Motors (GM) advanced as high as 9.1% during its first day of trading since filing for bankruptcy last year, marking the end of almost 100 years on the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. Treasury and other GM owners sold $15.8 billion in common shares at an IPO price of $33, the second-largest U.S. IPO on record, the report said.

The Philly Fed’s business outlook survey rose to 22.5 from 1.0 in October, the highest reading since December 2009. The survey tracks manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area. Indexes for new orders and shipments also improved and labor market conditions showed improvement as well. Separately, the Conference Board said this morning its leading economic index rose 0.5% in October. Economists were looking for a slightly better gain of 0.6%. The Board said the data, overall, suggests a slight pickup in the economy after the first of the year.

Officials from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are expected to start talks in Dublin on potential aid. Central Bank of Ireland Governor Patrick Honohan said Dublin was likely to tap a loan worth tens of billions of euros that's expected to be made available following negotiations with the EU and the IMF, MarketWatch reported.

In other company news, the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer from Research in Motion ( RIMM ), which is meant to compete with Apple's ( AAPL ) iPad, is already getting corporate customers before its debut, reports Bloomberg. SunLife Financial, an insurer, has agreed to buy 1,000 PlayBooxs. Also, a Canadian unit of INB Groep ( ING ) said it has committed to purchasing the device.

Laboratory Corp. of America ( LH ) received approval from U.S. antitrust regulators to buy Genzyme Genetic Counseling, a unit of biotech firm Genzyme (GENZ) for $925 million in cash, reports Reuters, citing an approved deal list issued by the Federal Trade Commission. The deal comes as Genzyme is fending off a $18.5 billion hostile takeover bid from France's Sanofi Aventis (SNY).

Charles Schwab (SCHW) made a revised settlement of a lawsuit that alleges it misled customers about risks associated with a bond mutual fund that dropped in value. The settlement would resolve claims by YieldPlus investors who said they lost $970 million because of the fund's exposure to mortgage-related securities. Schwab had withdraw from an earlier $235 million settlement, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Health (CAH) is up after it said it will buy Kinray for $1.3 billion cash. Cardinal Health expects the transaction to be neutral to slightly accretive to non-GAAP earnings in fiscal 2011, depending on the timing of the closing. The company estimates accretion in fiscal 2012 of at least $0.12 in non-GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations, including the impact of amortization of intangibles. It plans to complete the transaction by the end of the calendar year or early in 2011.

Citigroup (C) may need to refile affidavits in foreclosure cases that got underway before the bank changed its procedures and as other banks stopped and rechecked their procedures, Bloomberg reported. The bank is reviewing 10,000 affidavits that were completed before it completed a reorganization of the process in February, the report said.

Shares of FuelCell Energy (FCEL) are higher following earlier news it announced a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project will demonstrate the efficiency, reliability and ultra-clean benefits of a fuel cell power plant to the U.S. Army for a minimum of fourteen months, the company said.

Ford Motor Co. (F) is down after saying it intends to sell about 70% of its stake in Japanese auto-maker Mazda Motor Corp. The companies, however, plan to continue their strategic alliance. Once the stock sale is completed, Ford expects to own about 3.53% of Mazda, down from its current 11.06% stake, and become the fourth largest shareholder in the firm.

In other earnings news:

--Dollar Tree (DLTR) shares are higher on an earlier report from the company that its Q3 EPS came in at $0.73, compared to the Street estimates of $0.62 per share. Sales were $1.43 billion compared to the analyst consensus of $1.38 billion on Thomson Reuters.

--American Eagle (AEO) reports Q3 EPS Of $0.29, matching the Street view. Sales were $752 million, ahead of expectations of $749 million.

--GameStop (GME) says Q3 sales were $1.90 billion, below the Thomson Reuters mean for $1.94963 billion. Less items, EPS were $0.38, a penny ahead of forecasts.

Commodities are higher. December gold contracts are up $20, or 1.5%, to $1,357 an ounce while January crude contacts are up 1.5%, or $1.23, at $81.67 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.67% to $35.31 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2.01% to $5.61

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 1.53% to $132.38. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 2.34% to $59.40. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 4.96% to $26.24.

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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