Markets

Mid-Day Update: Stocks Stronger After Brief Hit Following Big Drop in November Existing Home Sales

Stocks were higher at midday, recovering from a brief hit that followed weaker-than-expected U.S. existing home sales. Energy stocks led the market higher as oil prices recovered from an 11-year low on Monday.

November existing home sales plunged 10.5% to a 4.76 million seasonally adjusted annualized pace, hitting a 19-month low and missing economists' expectations for a 5.32 million yearly pace although the National Association of Realtors blamed the weakness on new closing regulations that took effect in October.

The drop in existing home sales overshadowed the December Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, which rose to a positive 6 reading from minus 3 previously and ending a three-month negative streak.

Earlier, there was little reaction to final U.S. gross domestic product data and a home price report. GDP grew 2% in Q3, a slight slowdown from 2.1% growth in Q2 but in line with expectations. The consensus range was between 1.7% and 2.2% growth, according to data compiled by Econoday.

The October FHFA home price index rose 0.5%, just above expectations looking for a 0.4% gain. Overall, the index is up 6.1% year-over-year with all nine U.S. regions posting annual gains.

In Europe, shares were mixed in choppy, thin trade as the Christmas holiday approaches and amid ongoing worries about an oil supply glut that pushed oil prices down to 11-year lows on Monday. Miners got a boost after China pledged to reduce industrial overcapacity.

Overnight, Asian stocks rose mildly, also in light trade, on prospects of China stimulus. At a top economic conference, government officials said monetary policy must be more "flexible" and fiscal policy more "forceful" to combat slowing growth.

Crude oil was up 44 cent to $36.25 per barrel while natural gas was down 5 cents at $1.94 per 1 million BTU. Gold was off $6.70 to $1,073.90 per ounce and silver was falling 3 cents to $14.28 per ounce. Copper also was down 3 cents to $2.11 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 1.78% to $10.85 with the United States Natural Gas Fund wass down 1.75% to $7.30. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.51% to $13.83 while SPDR Gold Shares are down 0.21% to $102.93. The iShares Silver Trust is up 0.07% to $13.60.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 33.86 (+0.34%) to 10,056.89

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 107.06 (+0.62%) to 17,358.68

S&P 500 up 10.32 (+0.51%) to 2,031.47

Nasdaq Composite Index up 10.26 (+0.21%) to 4,979.19

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 0.16%

Hang Seng Index up 0.18%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.26%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.80%

CAC 40 up 0.05%

DAX down 0.09%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 1.31%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.19%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.06%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ANF (+6.3%) Named Fran Horowitz to newly created position of President & Chief Merchandising Officer

(+) MCOX (+4.9%) Agreed to go private at US$0.114 per ordinary or or US$4 per ADS

(+) F (+2.9%) Reportedly in talks with GOOGL (-0.1%) on self-driving cars

(+) AUY (+1.3%) Suspended efforts relating to monetization of Brio Gold, but said operations there are strong

(+) SYT (+2.2%) Jefferies upgraded to buy from hold

(+) CAG (+0.63%) Fiscal Q2 revenue missed views, EPS topped estimates

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) PAYX (-1.2%) Fiscal Q2 EPS topped views, sales just missed

(-) NTAP (-4.9%) Bought SolidFire storage systems for $870 million; RBC Capital downgraded stock to sector perform vs outperform, PT cut to $28 vs $38

(-) CMG (-4.3%) Hit 52-wk low after JPMorgan downgrade to neutral vs overweight, PT cut to $555 from $630; CDC reported another person falls ill with E.coli.

(-) ESRX (-1%) Predicted 2016 EPS above views

(-) RESI (-1.9%) Cuts quarterly cash dividend to $0.10 from $0.55 in previous quarter

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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