US Indexes Remain Higher Into Session's Half Despite Weak Manufacturing Data; Commodities Higher

Stocks are holding most gains at mid-day after a strong start this morning saw the three major indexes top 1%, as investors largely shrugged off weak manufacturing data and opted to focus on deal news led by Google's ( GOOG ) acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings ( MMI ). Commodities, led by a 2% rise in crude oil, also rallied.

Manufacturing activity in the New York region remained below zero for the third straight month. The Empire State index fell to negative 7.7 in August from negative 3.8 in July, according to the Empire State manufacturing survey released Monday by the New York Federal Reserve. Economists expected a zero reading.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo home market index came in at 15 - flat compared to the previous month, but head of economists' consensus estimate for a reading of 13, according to MarketWatch. Prospective buyer traffic and current sales conditions - rose.

In company news:

Shares of Pfizer ( PFE ) are higher, after the pharmaceutical giant announced that it has prevailed in its Viagra patent infringement action against Teva Pharmaceuticals ( TEVA ). The court's decision, which is subject to appeal, prevents Teva from receiving approval for a generic form of Viagra until October 2019. Litigation on the same patent remains pending against other generic companies, but no trials are scheduled in those cases.

Shares of Google are seeing M&A-related pressure after the Internet giant said it will acquire Motorola Mobility ( MMI ) for $40.00 per share in cash, or $12.5 billion, a premium of 63% to the closing price of Motorola Mobility shares on Friday, Aug. 12. The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. Motorola Mobility shares surged on the news.

Impax Laboratories, Inc. ( IPXL ) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said their experimental Parkinson's disease drug IPX066 produced positive topline results in a phase III trial in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease. The companies said that IPX066 demonstrated statistically significant improvement over carbidopa-levodopa plus entacapone in reducing the percentage of "off time" during waking hours.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) is higher after billionaire investor Warren Buffett called for an immediate increase in income taxes on "mega-rich" Americans. In an article in this morning's New York Times, Buffett said households with more than $1 million in annual income and those making $10 million or more annually should pay higher taxes. Rates for almost everyone else should remain the same, he said.

Shares of Caribou Coffee (CBOU)are moderately lower after the company said a major stockholder of the company - an affiliate of Arcapita Bank B.S.C. - will sell 5.15 million shares in an underwritten public offering. The selling shareholder has also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to 772,245 additional shares of common stock to cover over-allotments, if any.

Shares of Bank of America (BAC) are higher after the bank said it has agreed to sell its credit card business in Canada to TD Bank Group and that it will exit its credit card businesses in the U.K. and Ireland. "While the credit card remains a fundamental core product for our U.S. customers, an international consumer card business under another brand is not consistent with that strategy," the company says.

Shares of Transocean (RIG) are higher on the company's plans to acquire Norwegian drilling rig operator Aker Drilling ASA at a 62% premium in a deal valued at $2.23 billion. Under the transaction, Transocean, which owned the rig at the center of last year's catastrophic U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has made a voluntary $4.83 per share cash offer for all outstanding shares in the company.

Commodities are higher. December gold contracts are up 0.4% to $1,738 an ounce while September crude oil contacts are up 2.02% to $87.05 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 1.81% to $33.83 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 2%, to $10.05.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.02% to $170. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 0.98% to $59.80. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.42% to $38.28.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.