Markets

Midday Update: Stocks Higher On Upbeat Retail Sales

Equities held onto modest pre-market gains with all three of the major indices trading on the plus side Tuesday. Stocks tracked by the Nasdaq Composite index are posting the largest rise, led by shares of biotech companies and Intel Corp ( INTC ) after the chip-maker today picked up its second analyst upgrade in as many days. Google ( GOOG ) also is lending support to tech sector advances after its $3.2 billion purchase of Nest Labs late yesterday.

The stock market breathed a collective sigh of relief today after the Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2% in December, beating forecasts for sales to remain unchanged. But the better than expected results were tempered by a downward revision to November which went from a healthy 0.7% gain to a modest 0.4% rise.

Export prices increased 0.4% in December, the Labor Department reported, beating consensus estimates for a 0.1% rise. Import prices were unchanged compared with forecasts for a 0.4% gain. Also, business inventories continued to accelerate, gaining 0.4% in November from an upwardly revised +0.8% in October, according to Commerce Department figures.

European markets were mixed at the close, recovering early losses soon after the NY open, following the lead of U.S. equities. Overnight losses in the FTSE and DAX were attributed to Monday's pounding in the U.S. and were only slightly mitigated by better than expected economic data on UK home prices and EU industrial production. After the retail sales data, however, Europe regained its footing and pared early losses to close higher to only slightly lower.

Crude oil was up $0.55 to $92.35 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.05 to $4.27 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $0.20 to $1,251.30 an ounce, while silver was up $0.19 to $20.57 an ounce. Copper was up $0.02 to $3.33 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.52% to $32.98 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.19% to $20.99. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.57% to 22.71 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.27% to $120.69. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.36% to $19.75.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 60.84 (+0.59%) to 10,316.99

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 84.06 (+0.52%) to 16,342.00

S&P 500 up 16.43 (+0.90%) to 1,835.63

Nasdaq Composite Index up 59.82 (+1.45%) to 4,173.12

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index down 3.08%

Hang Seng Index down 0.43%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.86%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.14%

CAC 40 up 0.26%

DAX up 0.32%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.70%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.49%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.71%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) MNOV (+61.4%) Announced positive results from a study that examined the potential clinical efficacy of MN-001 for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

(+) MZOR (+7.6%) Signed an agreement to provide its Renaissance system and portfolio of disposable products to one of the largest group-purchasing organizations for hospitals, acute and non-acute healthcare facilities.

(+) AQQ (+11.9%) Will record a $2 million gain in Q1 2014 on a real estate sale in Houston, Texas.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) FULL (-4.3%) Priced a public offering of 1,650,000 shares of its common stock at a public offering price of $7.13 per share

(-) WWW (-8.7%) Reported weaker-than-expected preliminary FY 2013 results

(-) GME (-17.6%) Announced lower-than-expected guidance for Q4 and full-year 2013 EPS on slower than forecast sales of new software and lower gross margins.

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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