|12:09 EDT||GES, SVU, BX, SCHL, HPQ, DELL, ACAD, CSCO, ORCL||On The Fly: Midday Wrap|
Stocks on Wall Street were lower at midday as Europe's woes continue, though purchasing managers' indexes for the U.S. and China were strong. Amidst the backdrop of ongoing negotiations in Cyprus and a wealth of economic data from around the globe, the major averages slumped at the open and have been range-bound ever since... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., jobless claims rose 2K from the prior week to 336K, a bit below the forecast for an increase to 340K. The FHFA home price index for January rose 0.6% from the prior month, versus expectations for a 0.7% advance. The leading economic indicators rose 0.5% for February, versus expectations for an increase of 0.4%. Existing home sales rose 0.8% in February, versus expectations for a 1.6% monthly increase. The Philly Fed manufacturing survey reading for March came in at +2.0, versus expectations for a -3.0 reading. Markit's preliminary U.S. purchasing managers' index for March came in at 54.9, nearly matching the 54.8 consensus forecast. In China, HSBC's preliminary PMI reading for March was 51.7, which compares to a 50.4 final reading for February. In Europe, Markit's flash composite PMI for services and manufacturing fell to 46.5 in March from 47.9 in February. Also, the European Central Bank said it will cut Cypriot banks off from emergency funds after this Monday, March 25, unless a bailout agreement is struck with the EU and IMF... COMPANY NEWS: Oracle (ORCL) shares fell 8% and were downgraded at CLSA and Evercore following the company's disappointing earnings report. Oracle may also risk losing its president Mark Hurd, according to a report from Fortune. The publication said Blackstone (BX) is seriously considering a bid for Dell (DELL) and one of the PE firm's top choices to run Dell, assuming it chooses to bid, would be Oracle's Hurd... Cisco (CSCO) was by far the Dow's worst performer, sinking over 3% following Oracle's report and after FBR Capital downgraded Cisco to an Underperform rating in a note to investors earlier today... Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) raised its regular dividend by 10% after shareholders failed in an attempt to remove the company's two longest-serving directors at its annual meeting, held last night... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was SuperValu (SVU), which rose more than 6% after it completed the sale of several of its chains to a private equity firm consortium in a deal valued at $3.3B, including $100M in cash and $3.2B in debt assumption. Also higher were shares of ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (ACAD), up 29% after presenting detailed results from a Phase III study of its treatment for Parkinson's disease psychosis. Among the noteworthy losers following their earnings reports were Scholastic (SCHL), which fell 14%, and Guess (GES), which declined nearly 5%... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was down 35.83, or 0.25%, to 14,475.90; the Nasdaq was down 20.01, or 0.61%, to 3,234.18; and the S&P 500 was down 4.80, or 0.31%, to 1,553.91.