Mid-Day Update: Stocks Higher as Investors Cheer Tax Cut Extensions; Government Sells Citigroup Shares

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Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE up 42.02 (+0.54%) to 7,782.71

-DJIA up 51.80 (+0.46%) to 11,413.99

-S&P 500 up 6.42 (+0.52%) to 1,229.72

-Nasdaq up 17.03 (+0.65%) to 2,611.91


Hang Seng up 0.82%

Nikkei down 0.26%

FTSE up 0.78%


NYSE Energy up 0.71% at 12,137.22

NYSE Financial up 0.42% at 4,802.59

NYSE Health Care up 0.41% at 6,348.98

NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 0.79% at 1,080.74


(+) CPST (+2.4%) inks new order

(+) STX (+2.4%) started at Buy at Citi.

(+) SGMO (+3.6%) presents positive clinical data.

(+) DG (+2%) upgraded.

(+) IPCI (+1.2%) gets ANDA for generica Focalin XR 30 mg.

(+) GOOG (+1.8%) upgraded.

(+) STEM (-0.9%) gets approval to to conduct first stem cell trial in spinal cord injury.

(+) UL (+2.8%) upgraded.


(-) BMY (-0.4%) reports with Abbott study data on mutliple myeloma treatment.

(-) AZO (-0.6%) beats Q1 estimates.

(-) SMG (-0.02) sells unit to Israel Chemicals for $270 mln.

(-) MMM (-3.0%) updates 2010, 2011 guidance in range that straddles Street view.

(-) GFI (-0.8%) upgraded.

(-) ESLR (-15.9%) announces recapitalization plan.

(-) TLB (-19.3%) issues mixed results.

(-) XING (-8.9%) reports sales drop.


Stocks are trading higher at mid-day as the Standard & Poors 500 index rose to a fresh two-year high and other indexes also logged gains. Stocks advanced following a deal between President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders that extends Bush-era tax cuts for two more years.

On Monday evening, President Barack Obama detailed a tentative deal with congressional Republicans to extend tax cuts up and down the brackets for the next two years and renew unemployment benefits for millions of people.

The news is largely moving the market in the absence of new economic reports today.

Stocks in focus include Citigroup ( C ), which is up after the Treasury Department late Monday said it had priced a public offering of around 2.4 billion shares of the financial services giant's common stock at $4.35 per share. The proceeds amount to $10.5 billion.

Also, Aetna Inc. ( AET ) shares are just higher following news the health insurer made a $500-million bid to acquire Medicity, a health information exchange technology company based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Meanwhile, Pfizer ( PFE ) shares are higher on a report that CEO Jeffery Kindler was pushed out after he refused to name a head of operations as a part of an accord by senior managers in September, Bloomberg reports. Kindler reportedly quit hours before a special board meeting to discuss his future. ( CRM ) unveiled its new service today in an effort to diversify its lineup of business software. The move also puts the company in a $21 billion database program market dominated by Oracle ( ORCL ), Reuters reported.'s traditional business is software that helps companies manage their sales and marketing activities.

Orexigen Therapeutics (OREX) shares are flat in the regular session as the company told a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel that its Contrave weight-loss drug can help patients lose weight safely, according to a Reuters report on the matter. The FDA has rejected two diet drugs this year and will likely have hard questions on the pills effect on blood pressure, pulse rates and other matters.

Shares of Barnes & Noble (BKS) are up after a Wall Street Journal report said the bookstore chain likely won't be sold for less than $20 a share. The report cited people familiar with the matter. Eight to 10 private-equity firms are deciding whether to submit second-round bids.

Meanwhile, The New York Times (NYT) is up after it says it expects Q4 print advertising revenue to improve sequentially, helping 2010 earnings top last year's. Print-advertising revenue in Q4 will decline by about 4% compared with the year-earlier quarter, the company said.

Bank of America (BAC) said that its repurposing of salespeople to modify mortgages will put pressure on revenue, according to a Bloomberg report, citing comments from CEO Brian Moynihan at an investor conference. The bank reportedly modified about 25,000 home loans in October, an increase of 52% from the prior month.

Google Inc. (GOOG) is up about 2% this morning after the online search engine company reportedly started a new translation service aimed at businesses that sell their products internationally. Google Ads for Global Advertisers was designed to help companies find customers in international markets, Google said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News. The program will be available in 43 languages. Separately, BMO Capital initiated coverage on the stock with an "outperform" rating and a $700 target.

Wells Fargo Corp (WFC) is up on reports the bank intends to soon increase its dividend and start share buybacks. "It's high time that we provide a return on (shareholder) investment," said CEO John Stumpf.

Shares of 3M (MMM) are down after the company issued guidance that disappointed the Street. The company anticipates sales of $29 billion to $30.5 billion, 3M also expects that 2011 earnings will be between $5.90 and $6.10 per share, which includes a $0.27 per share year-on-year increase in pension expense. Excluding the 2011 pension expense increase, 2011 earnings are expected to be in the range of $6.17 to $6.37 per share, an increase of 10 to 14 percent versus 2010 estimated GAAP earnings levels. The mean analyst estimate in the Thomson Reuters survey is for $6.20 per share on $29.1 billion in sales.

Commodities are down as February gold contracts are down $1, or 0.1%, to $1,415 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are down 0.45%, or $0.42, at $88.96 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 0.05% to $38.20 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 0.3% to $6.20.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.62% to $138.25. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 0.92% to $63.18. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.03% to $29.50.

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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