Markets

Midday Update: Stocks Inching Higher After Mixed Data, Sliding Oil Price Encourages Caution

Stocks were struggling to erase losses on Monday tied to another down day for oil prices as Wall Street weighs mixed economic data against the possibility for the Federal Reserve raising interest rates next month following hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials last week and an upward revision to Q4 GDP on Friday. The 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 were split equally between winners and losers this afternoon, with energy stocks being the laggard and the consumer sector maintaining a modest gain.

The economic calendar kicked off this week with an above-consensus gain in February personal income of 0.2% and in-line 0.1% increase in spending. And although January personal income was left unchanged with a 0.5% rise, personal spending was revised lower to a 0.1% advance from original reports of a 0.5% gain.

The price component of the data also was disappointing as the core price index increased 0.1%, compared with estimates looking for a 0.2% gain while the year-over-year index dropped to 1.7% from 1.8%, slipping farther away from the Fed target of a 2.0% rise.

Meanwhile, pending home sales improved dramatically last month with the index climbing 3.5% to a 109.1 readomg, more than twice expectations for a gain of 1.5%, and more than offsetting a downward revised 3.0% decline in January.

Other data today included the U.S. trade deficit in goods widening to $62.86 billion from a $62.23 billion deficit, and a better-than-expected improvement in the Dallas Fed manufacturing index to negative 13.6 in March from negative 31.8 reading during the prior month, beating estimates of a negative 26.0 score.

European markets are closed for the Easter holiday.

Crude oil was down 34 cents to $39.12 per barrel. Natural gas was down 1 cents to $1.87 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $1.90 to $1,219.70 per ounce, while silver was up 5 cents to $15.25 per ounce. Copper was up 2 cents to $2.25 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 1.09% to $9.95 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.16% to $6.41. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.39% to 19.19 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.21% to $116.58. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.49% to $14.50.

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

NYSE Composite Index up 17.29 (+0.17%) to 10,103.90

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 47.05 (+0.27%) to 17,562.78

S&P 500 up 4.31 (+0.21%) to 2,040.25

Nasdaq Composite Index up 3.84 (+0.08%) to 4,777.35

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Nikkei 225 Index up 0.77%

Hang Seng Index down 1.31%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.73%

FTSE 100 Index down 1.49%

CAC 40 down 2.13%

DAX down 1.71%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES

NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.51%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.34%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.15%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ALDR (+47.08%) Phase 2 trial of migraine meets primary and secondary endpoints

(+) ACAD (+22.01%) Meeting with FDA on Tuesday regarding UPLAZID treatment for Parkinson's disease-related psychosis

(+) LEU (+8.41%) Signed a $2.3 million contract for uranium centrifuge work at Oak Ridge National Lab

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) VSCP (-10.49%) Biotelemetry ( BEAT ) to buy VirtualScopics for $15.5 million

(-) P (-9.74%) CEO Brian McAndrews to be replaced by founder Tim Westergren, Mike Herring named CFO and Sara Clemens as COO

(-) EGRX (-4.45%) Bendeka failed to gain seven-year orphan-drug exclusivity status from FDA

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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