Mid-Day Update: Stocks Higher as Durable Goods Orders Gain; Personal Incomes Disappoint

Stocks are higher in mid-day trading while new economic data released before the holiday weekend showed durable goods orders increased while personal incomes rose less than expected.

Overseas, stocks in Asia rose and U.S. stock futures pointed higher. Global investors are looking to U.S. data Friday to continue a theme of improved conditions. Reports from the U.S. on Thursday showed a continuing downward trend for jobless claims and a rise in consumer sentiment.

Europe's debt situation continues to share the spotlight. On Thursday, Italy's Senate gave final approval to a $40 billion emergency austerity and growth package after a lengthy debate, according to media reports. Prime Minister Mario Monti had called for a confidence vote on the measures.

Data out today showed November's home sales increasing 1.6% to 315,000 - in-line with expectations, and just above the 310,000 recorded in October.

Orders for long-lasting U.S. goods rose 3.8% in November, the largest gain since July. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected durable-goods orders to rise 3.6%. Unfilled orders rose 1.3% in November, and inventories gained 0.6%. In October, there was no growth in durable-goods orders.

Personal income and consumer spending came in slightly below expectations, they both rose 0.1% in November. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected personal income to gain 0.2%, and for spending to also rise 0.2%.

There was no growth in November for the price index for personal consumption expenditures. The core inflation reading, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.1% in November, matching economists' expectations.

In company news:

ADRs of ING ( ING ) are up after the Wall Street Journal reports that the Dutch bank plans to raise 745 million euros ($974 million) after completing a debt exchange to raise capital buffers in advance of next year's stress tests from the European Banking Association.

Rambus ( RMBS ) said Thursday that it has signed a patent licensing deal with Broadcom Corp. ( BRCM ). The agreement includes a settlement of all legal claims between the two semiconductor firms. The deal lasts for five years; further financial terms were not disclosed.

Shares of Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) are higher as the New York Times reports that the oil major and its partners are squabbling with the government in Iraq over a $50 million payment that the refiners say Iraq owes them.

Shares of Citigroup ( C ) are just lower, while Reuters reports the bank has come back from a scandal in Indonesia to lead the underwriting league table for the country's international bond sales. The move has come with a specific, dedicated team that secures most of the government and state-owned deals, the report said.

Stein Mart (SMRT) reported final results for Q3, including a restatement of previously issued results. The company noted that as the result of information technology systems issues discussed in an early December release, markdowns were understated in the earnings reported on November 17. Revised net loss for the quarter was $3.1 million or $0.07 per diluted share. For the first nine months, revised net income was $14.1 million or $0.31 per diluted share.

Commodities are mixed as February gold contracts are down $2.40 to $1,608 an ounce while February crude oil contracts are up $0.29 to $99.82 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.52% to $38.48 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.87%, to $6.87.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.03% to $156.08. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.54% to $52.48. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.07% to $28.31.

Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-Dow Jones Industrial up 0.63%

-S&P 500 up 0.59%

-Nasdaq 100 up 0.55%


Nikkei closed

Hang Seng up 1.37%

Shanghai Composite up 0.85%

FTSE-100 up 1.02%

DAX-30 up 0.46%


NYSE Energy up 0.3% at 12,413.14

NYSE Financial up 0.6% at 4,100.90

NYSE Health Care up 0.5% at 7,039.18

NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 0.4% at 1,078.44


(+)BLD, +92% Inks Deal to be Bought by Forsyth

(+)RMBS, +15% Inks Licensing Deal With Broadcom

(+)SPWR, +5.8% Buying Total's Tenesol Unit,


(-)SFLY, -5.5%, Revised Q4 Guidance

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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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