|12:28 EDT||GALE, NLSN, RGR, ARB, GTAT, SWHC||On The Fly: Midday Wrap|
Stocks on Wall Street were markedly higher at midday as optimism surrounding the fiscal cliff negotiations continues to spur buying. Investors have been paying less attention to recent economic reports to focus instead on the fiscal cliff, as demonstrated by the NAHB Housing Market index prompting little reaction, despite its highest reading since April 2006. The averages moved to session highs following comments from both sides of Washington's negotiating table that they hope a deal can still be reached... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the National Association of Home Builders index of builder confidence increased to 47, as was forecast. Also, the current-account deficit in the U.S. narrowed in the third quarter to $107.5B from a $118.1B shortfall in the prior quarter. Economists expected the deficit would narrow to about $103B... COMPANY NEWS: Gunmakers Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger (RGR) continued their recent weakness as a Wall Street Journal cover story highlighted some of the ways American companies are distancing themselves from guns and their makers amid a public outcry in the aftermath of last week's tragedy in Connecticut. Among the recent developments underscored was the decision from private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management to put gunmaker Freedom Group up for sale... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Arbitron (ARB), up over 23% after agreeing to be bought by Nielsen (NLSN) for $48 per share in cash. Shares of acquirer Nielsen also rose about 3%. Among the noteworthy losers was Galena Biopharma (GALE), down 17% after it sold common stock and warrants to purchase additional shares in a public offering. Also lower was GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), which was downgraded at Raymond James and Stifel Nicolaus and saw its shares slide more than 12% after issuing guidance well below Street expectations... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was up 83.20, or 0.63%, to 13,318.59; the Nasdaq was up 33.89, or 1.13%, to 3,044.49; and the S&P 500 was up 11.60, or 0.81%, to 1,441.96.