Stocks are mixed in mid-day trading as investors take a breather from a week full of earnings reports and economic data. Throughout the week, choppy trading prevailed largely due to conflicting news on the economy's direction.
"There are still a lot of fundamental issues in the economy," David Hefty, chief executive at Hefty Wealth Partners, told MarketWatch. "The banking sector, mortgages, inflation in emerging markets, deflation here, a mini-currency crisis -- those issues are weighing on everybody's minds."
At the same time, a series of high-profile earnings beats lifted investors' outlook and proved to be an equal driver in trading.
In company news, Safeguard Scientifics ( SFE ) says its partner company Clarient ( CLRT ) will be bought by GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company ( GE ), via a public tender offer at $5 per common share and $20 per preferred share, payable in cash. The transaction values CLRT at $587 million. The completion of the transaction is subject to certain conditions, and is expected to close in late 2010 or early 2011.
American International Group Inc ( AIG ) is rising after the IPO of its Asian unit, AIA Group Ltd, raised a record $17.8 billion on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. AIG sold 7.03 billion shares in AIA, which marks a 58% stake in the company. The AIA shares will be trading in Hong Kong on Oct. 29.
Warner Chilcott ( WCRX ) rises after it says the FDA approved LO LOESTRIN FE to prevent pregnancy. LO LOESTRIN FE is an oral contraceptive that offers women the lowest dosage of estrogen of any oral contraceptive currently available in the U.S. market, it says.
A nasal flu vaccine developed by AstraZeneca ( AZN ) has been recommended for approval in Europe, Reuters reported. The vaccine will initially be used for children and is unlikely to go on sale until 2012. The European Medicines Agency said Friday it has issued a positive opinion for Fluenz, the report said.
Hewlett-Packard Co. ( HPQ ) launched a tablet computer that runs Microsoft Windows and is targeted at business customers, Reuters reports. The $799 tablet, called the slate, reportedly attempts to replicate the experience on a PC in a tablet form, the report says. The $799 price is more expensive than the lowest version of Apple's ( AAPL ) iPad tablet, which launched earlier this year.
The U.S. Justice Department dismissed a criminal case against UBS ( UBS ), which required the bank to admit that it helped American citizens evade taxes, Bloomberg reported. Prosecutors said that UBS--Switzerland's larges bank--had complied with an 18-month agreement it had signed in February of last yea, which dictated that UBS pay $780 million and admitted to assisting in tax evasion from 2000 to 2007, Bloomberg reported.
China offshore oil producer Cnooc ( CEO ) and Ghana National Petroleum Corp. reportedly made a $5 billion bid for Ghana-based assets of Kosmos Energy, Bloomberg reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter. The bid is all cash and fully-financed, the report said.
In the latest earnings news:
--Baidu.com Inc ( BIDU ) is rising on Nasdaq after the Chinese Internet group reported third quarter results that beat expectations and a number of brokerages raised their price targets for the company.
--Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc ( CMG ) is surging after the restaurant group reported strong third quarter results.
--Schlumberger ( SLB ) is up after it says Q3 sales were $6.85 billion and adjusted EPS were $0.71. Analysts had expected EPS of $0.70, adjusted.
--SanDisk Corp. ( SNDK ) is higher after the company beat Q3 earnings estimates because of a jump in revenue and better margins.
--Amazon.com ( AMZN ) shares have moved higher in the regular session after starting on a downward trend in pre-market trading. The online retailer announced earnings that beat Q3 expectations and setting its Q4 revenue outlook mostly above the Street view.
Commodities are mixed. December gold contracts are down $1, or 0.08%, to $1,325 an ounce while November crude contacts are up 0.46%, or $0.37, at $80.92 a barrel.
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