Stocks Lower at Session's Half as Europe Debt Regains Focus; Commodities Lower

Stocks are lower in mid-day trading, with the major indexes paring some gains from last week, as hope waned that there would be a quick fix to the debt crisis weighing on the European Union. Also adding to the negative sentiment was a weaker-than-expected reading on a key manufacturing index.

Stocks had gained last week on optimism that European leaders were making tangible progress toward a comprehensive solution to the sovereign debt crisis there. Stock averages logged gains of some 5% to 7% last week.

However, comments from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble indicated that EU leaders are unlikely to find a permanent solution to the debt crisis at their summit this weekend, MarketWatch reported.

Stateside, the Empire State index fell below zero at negative 8.5 in October, only slightly better than the negative 8.8 in September, according to the Empire State manufacturing survey released Monday by the New York Federal Reserve. This is the fifth month in a row that the index has been below zero. Economists expected a reading near negative 5.

In company news:

Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) shares are higher after the company said it has sold more than 4 million new iPhones in the first three days since the new model went on sale. The rate is more than twice the previous iPhone 4 model's 1.7 million sales last year. The iPhone 4S went on sale Friday in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Britain. Sprint Nextel Corp. is also selling the phone, according to the AP.

Shares of Anadys Pharmaceuticals ( ANDS ) are surging today after the company inked a deal to be acquired by Roche ( RHHBY ). Under the terms of the merger agreement, Roche will commence an all cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Anadys at USD 3.70 per share.

Western Digital ( WDC ) is down after it announced that it has extended the suspension of its operations in Thailand. Over the weekend, rising water penetrated the Bang Pa-in Industrial Park flood defenses, inundating the company's manufacturing facilities there and submerging some equipment.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals ( VRTX ) is down after data from IMS Health showed that sales of the company's hepatitis C drug Incivek in the first week of October were relatively flat over September.

Shares of Krispy Kreme (KKD) are down, paring pre-market gains, after the company announced today that it has signed a new development agreement with its franchisee in the United Kingdom under which the franchisee has agreed to open an 35 new locations in the UK over the next six years.

Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. (EK) are higher after it licensed a portion of its patents to big-screen movie specialist Imax Corp. (IMAX), in a deal that will provide it with some extra cash while it works to complete a large patent sale that is crucial to its turnaround. The company issued a statement this morning.

In other earnings news:

--Citigroup (C) reported Q3 earnings of $1.23 per share, up 74% from prior year levels of $0.72 per share. Revenue was $20.8 bln, up slightly from last year's Q3. The analyst consensus was $0.81 per share in earnings on revenue of $19.24 bln.

--Halliburton (HAL) reported earnings of $683 million, or 74 cents per share, compared with $544 million, or 60 cents per share last year, a 26% gain. Ex-items, income was 94 cents per share. The Street was looking for a consensus 91 cents. Revenue jumped 40.4% to $6.55 billion, ahead of the Street's consensus for $6.35 billion.

--Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) shares are down after the discount broker said third-quarter sales were $1.18 billion, lower than the Street view for $1.19 billion. The company also reports EPS of $0.18, missing analyst estimates for $0.19.

--Hasbro, Inc. (HAS) reports Q3 EPS of $1.27 compared to $1.09 a year earlier and three cents short of the Thomson Reuters mean analyst estimate for $1.30. The company reported 5% net revenues growth to $1.38 billion compared to $1.31 billion in the third quarter 2010. The Street expected $1.45 billion.

Commodities are down. December gold contracts are down 0.17% to $1,681 an ounce while November crude oil contacts are down 0.22% to $86.65 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.03% to $33.52 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 0.94%, to $8.96.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.05% to $163.48. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 1.58% to $57.05. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 0.99% to $31.03.

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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