Mid-Day Update: Stocks Sitting Higher as Europe Hope Rises; ISM Services Index Falls

Stocks are higher at the session's half as optimism grows over the potential that European leaders will reach an agreement on the debt crisis there. Meanwhile, new data showed slowing in the U.S. service sector along with slipping orders for durable goods, which served to check any Europe-inspired gains.

In U.S. economic data, new orders for factory goods fell 0.4% in October following a drop of 0.1% in September, according to the Commerce Department. That met economists expectations Durable goods orders fell 0.5%.

Also, the Institute for Supply Management services index fell to 52% last month from 52.9% in October. Economists had expected a reading of 54%, according to a MarketWatch poll. The reading was the worst since January of 2010, MarketWatch noted.

Overseas, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is set to propose a $40 billion slate of austerity and growth measures that will cut Italy's debt, notes Bloomberg in a report. Also, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed a news conference where the two leaders pushed a plan for better enforcement of the eurozone's deficit rules. European banks traded higher:

RBS: +5.9%

UBS: +1.7%

DB: +1.4%

CS: +3.0%

BCS: +2.0%

In mid-day company news:

Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) shares are higher as the U.S. oil major is expected to sign a pact on liquefied natural gas with Qatar tomorrow, Bloomberg reports. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson and Qatar's Minister of Energy and Industry Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada will be on hand for the signing, the report said.

Affymax ( AFFY ) shares rallied nearly 20%, the most in 16-months after U.S. regulators announced that AFFY's experimental anemia medicine works as well as treatments marketed by Amgen Inc. ( AMGN ) and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ) for patients with chronic kidney disease, as reported by Bloomberg.

Shares of Citigroup ( C ) briefly crossed $30 a share as the bank made gains topping 6% on optimism about perceived progress in solving Europe's debt crisis.

Shares of Abbott Laboratories (ABT) are flat while Miles White, the company's chief executive officer, said he is looking to invest more in research and development in emerging markets, according to a Bloomberg report. The comments came at a pharmaceutical industry conference.

Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) shares hit a new 52-week high of $36.90 before slipping back after the Board of Directors released the names of the the people who will run its future global snacks and North American grocery companies. As previously announced, the company expects to complete the spin-off by the end of 2012.

SAP AG (SAP) and SuccessFactors, Inc. (SFSF) announced Saturday they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. A subsidiary of SAP will offer to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of SuccessFactors for $40.00/per share in cash, representing an enterprise value of approximately $3.4 billion. SFSF shares are up 51.8%.

Commodities are higher as February gold contracts are down 0.59% to $1,741 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up 0.54% to $101.50 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.49% to $39.22 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 3.35%, to $7.64.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 0.38% to $169.18. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.94% to $58.80. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.36% to $31.76.

Here's where markets stand at mid-day:

-NYSE up 121.95 (+1.64%) to 7,575.61

-DJIA up 145.28 (+1.21%) to 12,164.70

-S&P 500 up 19.96 (+1.6%) to 1,264.16

-Nasdaq up 42.44 (+1.91%) to 2,669.28


Nikkei up 0.6%

Hang Seng up 0.7%

Shanghai Composite down 1.1%

FTSE-100 up 0.7%

DAX-30 up 0.9%


NYSE Energy up 1.92% at 12,693.01

NYSE Financial up 2.34% at 4,147.28

NYSE Health Care down 1.01% at 6,826.01

NYSE Arca Tech 100 up 2.03% at 1,120.31


(+) ULTI, (+6.3%) Downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity

(+)LLEN, ( +5.0%) Inks Joint Sale Deal with China Chengtong Metal

(+)GM, (+2.6%) Initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray

(+)SFSF, (+51.2%) Co. to be acquired by SAP for $40 Per Share

(+)TIVO,( +3.5%) Initiated with a Buy at UBS

(+)CLF,(+4.6%) Announced Anticipated Production Curtailment at Empire Mine

(+)AEO, (+3.4%) Upgraded to Equalweight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley

(+)DG, (+1.6%) Beats With Q3 Results, Raises FY View, Sets Buyback


(-)SAP, (-1.0%) Acquiring SuccessFactors

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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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