|12:18 EDT||MMSI, WBMD, FIRE, AIG, FRO, ARUN, HPQ||On The Fly: Midday Wrap |
Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday, bouncing back from two down days fueled by worries that the Fed may pull back on its easing actions sooner than expected. European markets were helped by a better than expected German business confidence survey, despite some other downbeat data and forecasts, and U.S. markets followed their lead. Also helping the Dow was better than expected earnings from two of its members... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., no market moving economic data was reported. In Germany, Federal Statistics Office data confirmed an earlier flash estimate that the nation's GDP shrank 0.6% from the prior quarter in the last three months of 2012. However, the Ifo Institute business confidence reading rose to 107.4 from 104.2 in January, beating expectations for a 105.0 February figure. Also in Europe, the European Commission lowered it forecast for gross domestic product in the 17-nation region, estimating now that GDP will fall 0.3% this year. The EC predicted in November that the region's economy would grow 0.1% in 2013... COMPANY NEWS: Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) surged 9% higher and led the Dow Jones Industrial Average after its Q1 results topped estimates on both the top and bottom lines. HP's earnings guidance for the current quarter was also better than expected. Also reporting better than expected results, and seeing its shares rise, was fellow Dow component American International Group (AIG). The insurer's operating earnings were better than forecast and its stock advanced over 2%... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the other notable gainers following their earnings reports were WebMD (WBMD), up 24%, Aruba Networks (ARUN), up 21% and Sourcefire (FIRE), up 14%. Among the noteworthy losers was Merit Medical (MMSI), which fell 19% and was downgraded at Raymond James following its quarterly report. Also lower were shares of Frontline (FRO), which declined nearly 14% after the company provided preliminary Q4 earnings, said it expects the following quarter's operating results to be lower and announced it will will not pay a dividend for Q4... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was up 69.34, or 0.50%, to 13,949.96; the Nasdaq was up 17.80, or 0.57%, to 3,149.29; and the S&P 500 was up 7.59, or 0.51%, to 1,510.01.