|12:30 EDT||PCP||On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday|
Stocks on Wall Street began the session in positive territory for the fifth time in the past six sessions. The move came amid lower than expected manufacturing data and industrial production figures in the U.S. and a report on Chinese GDP growth that matched expectations. Although the averages remain higher near midday, the market is well off its highs as investors await the release of the Fed’s Beige Book report. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the Empire State manufacturing report had a reading of -1.19, versus expectations for a 7.17 reading. Industrial production fell 0.6% in March, versus expectations for a 0.3% decline. Capacity utilization came in at 78.4% during the month, versus the 78.6% that was forecast. NAHB's homebuilder confidence index climbed to 56 in April, versus expectations for a reading of 55. The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its Beige Book at 2 pm EDT this afternoon. In China, the nation's GDP grew at a 7.0% rate in Q1, which met expectations but was the lowest level of quarterly growth since 2009. A number of March data releases came in below expectations in China, including reports on industrial production, retail sales and fixed investments. In Europe, the European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged. COMPANY NEWS: The European Commission announced it has opened a formal investigation of whether Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) conduct in relation to its Android mobile operating system as well as applications and services for smartphones and tablets has breached EU antitrust rules. The Commission also sent a Statement of objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area by favoring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. For its part, Google's SVP of Google Search Amit Singhal said the company "respectfully but strongly" disagrees with the need to issue a statement of objections and looks forward to making its case... After Intel (INTC) reported results that were in-line with its preannouncement and estimated that its 2015 revenue would be roughly flat year-over-year, shares rose 4.5%. However, analysts disagreed on the company's ability to meet its revised outlook, with Wedbush upgrading the stock to Outperform from Neutral, but Citi saying that the company's guidance was too bullish and keeping a Neutral rating on the shares. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Celsion (CLSN), which gained 20% after the company announced interim data from its ongoing open-label Phase 2 DIGNITY Trial of ThermoDox in recurrent chest wall breast cancer. Also higher was gunmaker Smith & Wesson (SWHC), which gained 13% after raising its guidance, citing orders throughout its fiscal fourth quarter that have been stronger than originally anticipated. Among the noteworthy losers was Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), which dropped 19% after agreeing to merge with Nokia (NOK) in an all-share transaction that values Alcatel-Lucent at EUR 15.6B on a fully diluted basis. Also lower were shares of Precision Castparts (PCP), which fell 3% after the company issued fourth quarter guidance, said it was making headcount reductions and the stock was downgraded at DA Davidson. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 56.39, or 0.31%, to 18,093.09, the Nasdaq was up 24.52, or 0.49%, to 5,001.81, and the S&P 500 was up 9.80, or 0.47%, to 2,105.64.