|12:21 EDT||BV, ERIC, BBY, ARQL, UPIP, AXP, JCP, INFY, WFC||On The Fly: Midday Wrap |
Stocks on Wall Street were mixed at midday, with the Dow managing to cross back into positive ground near noon. The averages began the session in relatively quite fashion and traded in a narrow range throughout the morning. There was little reaction to the pre-market release of both the trade balance report for November and import and export price data for December. The focus for investors was more on the release of earnings from banking giant Wells Fargo (WFC), the first of the big U.S. banks to report... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the trade deficit grew in November to $48.7B, after analysts called for the deficit to shrink to $41.3B. However the gap's widening was driven by an increase in consumer goods imports, which is a potentially positive signal for consumer spending. Import prices decreased 0.1% in December, versus an expected increase of 0.1%, while export prices were similarly down 0.1% in the month, which matched expectations. In Asia, Japan's government approved $116B in new stimulus spending. Also, China's consumer price index grew 2.5% in December from the prior year, overshooting expectations for a less pronounced pick-up from the 2.0% growth rate of November. Producer prices, however, fell 1.9% from the prior year, which was roughly in-line with expectations... COMPANY NEWS: Wells Fargo's headline results topped expectations, as its EPS of 91c and $21.9B revenue both beat consensus. However, Wells’ Q4 net interest margin slid 10 basis points from the prior quarter to 3.56% and its stock declined 1% in midday trading... Shares of another newsmaker in the financial sector, American Express (AXP), fared a bit better, rising about 0.35%. AmEx said it plans to cut 5,400 jobs, with the largest cuts to come in its travel business. The company also said last night that cardmember spending rose 8% in Q4 and reported preliminary quarterly profit that beat Street expectations... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Best Buy (BBY), which rose over 12% after reporting its domestic same-store sales were flat during the holiday season, but also cutting its view of free cash flow for this year. Also higher were shares of Infosys (INFY), up 17% after its results and guidance topped expectations, and Unwired Planet (UPIP), up 30% after the company announced a patent purchase agreement with Ericsson (ERIC) and the stock was upgraded to Outperform at Northland. Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) sunk nearly 6% after UBS said the retailer's earnings outlook is deteriorating and downgraded the stock to Sell. Among the other noteworthy losers were ArQule (ARQL), down 15% after a Phase 2 trial for its cancer treatment failed to meet its primary endpoint, and Bazaarvoice (BV), down 11% after the Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against the company and its stock was downgraded to Market Perform at BMO Capital... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was up 6.12, or 0.05%, to 13,477.34; the Nasdaq was down 2.29, or 0.07%, to 3,119.47; and the S&P 500 was down 1.81, or 0.12%, to 1,470.31.