|12:31 EDT||SONC, ZIOP, BRK.A, RFMD, GS, CLMT||On The Fly: Midday Wrap|
Stocks on Wall Street were higher right out of the gate and have not moved far from their opening levels near midday. Investors received a fair amount of domestic economic data, including better than expected reports on home prices and durable goods orders. The flip side, however, was some worse than expected consumer confidence and new home sales data. Despite the mixed data, the market seems intent on closing the quarter with its gains intact as the end of the month approaches... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., overall orders for durable goods rose 5.7% in February, versus expectations for an increase of 3.9%. However, excluding transportation, orders slipped 0.5%, versus expectations for a 0.6% rise. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 8.1% in the 12 months ending in January, after rising 6.8% a month earlier. New home sales dropped 4.6% to 411K in February, versus expectations for a decline to 414K. Consumer confidence fell 8.3 points to 59.7 in March, which was worse than the expected pull back to 69.0. The Richmond Fed manufacturing survey reading of 3 for March missed expectations for it to hold at 6... COMPANY NEWS: Goldman Sachs (GS) announced that it amended its warrant agreement with Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) to settle in terms of net shares in place of a cash settlement, quoting Berkshire's Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett as having said, "We intend to hold a significant investment in Goldman Sachs." Shares of Goldman, which rose early in the session, were down fractionally near noon... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers were Sonic (SONC), which rose 8% following its earnings report, and RF Micro Devices (RFMD), which rallied nearly 6% after Oppenheimer upgraded the stock to an Outperform rating. Among the noteworthy losers was Ziopharm (ZIOP), which was downgraded by at least four analyst firms and plunged over 61% after terminating development of a cancer drug after a clinical study missed its goal. Also lower were shares of Calumet Specialty Products (CLMT), down 4% after an offering of 5.25M of its shares priced at $37.50... INDICES: Near midday, the Dow was up 74.84, or 0.52%, to 14,522.59; the Nasdaq was up 5.90, or 0.18%, to 3,241.20; and the S&P 500 was up 6.36, or 0.41%, to 1,558.05.