|12:27 EDT||SNTS, RSH, GIVN, EXPR, FB, LULU, TGT, AAPL||On The Fly: Midday Wrap|
Stocks on Wall Street were lower at midday but off early lows as investors digested a batch of mixed domestic economic data. Retail sales were stronger than expected in December and inflation, as measured by the producer price index, was cooler than expected. However, manufacturing in the New York region contracted in January for the sixth straight month. Fears about the impact of the ongoing debt ceiling debate flared again after President Obama and Fed Chairman Bernanke both spoke about it yesterday and ratings agency Fitch warned that the U.S. could lose its top credit rating if its spending issues were not addressed... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the January Empire State Manufacturing Survey from the New York Fed rose slightly to -7.78 from last month's -8.10 reading, but missed forecasts for a rise to 0.00. The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.5% in December, versus the expected increase of 0.2%. Producer prices fell 0.2% during last month, versus the expected decrease of 0.1%. Business inventories grew 0.3% in November, matching expectations. In Europe, Germany's statistics office said the nation's economy grew by 0.7% in 2012, but its gross domestic product declined 0.5% in Q4. However, the euro zone recorded a higher than expected trade surplus in November thanks to surging exports and flat imports... COMPANY NEWS: Apple (AAPL) narrowly avoided closing below $500 yesterday, but has spent all of today's session below that level amid some conflicting analyst commentary. Research firm Nomura lowered its estimates and price target for Apple, while Sterne Agee, Jefferies and RW Baird all made positive comments... Facebook (FB) shares rose about 1% ahead of its press event, scheduled for 1 pm ET, for an as yet unnamed product or feature it is building... Radioshack (RSH) shares, which had initially moved higher after the company said it is terminating a mobile partnership with Target (TGT), slid over 3% near noon... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers were Express (EXPR), up 22% after raising its Q4 and FY12 EPS views, and Santarus (SNTS), up over 9% after getting FDA approval for a drug and guiding to revenue above the Street's expectations. Among the noteworthy losers was lululemon (LULU), which slid more than 6% after providing disappointing revenue guidance. Also lower were U.S.-listed shares of Given Imaging (GIVN) which dropped over 11% after the company said it is no longer considering a sale or merger and that its controlling shareholder plans to seek and consider a sale of its stake... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was down 5.33, or 0.04%, to 13,501.99; the Nasdaq was down 10.65, or 0.34%, to 3,106.85; and the S&P 500 was down 1.53, or 0.10%, to 1,469.15.