|12:34 EDT||VIA.B, NTAP, WMT, DMND, VIA, BP, TZYM, PETM, TGT||On The Fly: Midday Wrap|
Stocks on Wall Street were lower again at midday as disappointing guidance from the world's largest retailer weighed on the Dow and sentiment in general. The averages opened slightly higher on light volume, which was not an inspiring bounce following a 1200 point sell-off. The averages soon after crossed into negative territory but remained in a narrow range for most of the morning. The selling picked up as the European market closed, matching the daily process seen in the past several sessions... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims jumped by 78,000 from the prior week to 439,000. Analysts had forecast a smaller rise to 375,000 and the steep climb in claims was partially attributed to Superstorm Sandy. Consumer prices rose 0.1% overall in October, versus the expected increase of 0.1%, while the core reading was up 0.2%, versus the expected increase of 0.1%. The NY Fed Empire State Survey for November had a -5.22 reading, versus the expected -8.00. The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Survey had a reading of -10.7, versus the expected +2.0, but the results were also influenced by the recent storm that hit the region. In Europe, Eurostat data showed the Eurozone fell back into recession in the third quarter, as gross domestic product in the 17-country bloc fell 0.1% in the quarter after declining 0.2% in the prior one... COMPANY NEWS: A number of retailers reported quarterly results last night and this morning, but none had a bigger impact on market sentiment than Wal-Mart (WMT). Wal-Mart's earnings beat consensus in the just completed quarter, but its earnings view for the upcoming holiday quarter trailed the Street, sending shares of the Dow component down nearly 4%. Conversely, Target (TGT) shares advanced over 2% after its current quarter earnings and its forecast for next quarter's profit beat expectations... BP (BP) agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history for the Deepwater Horizon accident. The company said the aggregate amount of the settlement is about $4.5B, with payments scheduled over a period of six years, which is expected to result in an increase of approximately $3.85B to the $38.1B charge it took against income as of the end of September... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was NetApp (NTAP), up almost 11% after its earnings beat expectations and shares were upgraded at Raymond James. Also higher after their quarterly reports were PetSmart (PETM), up over 5%, and Viacom (VIA, VIA.B), which rose more than 3%. Among the noteworthy losers was Tranzyme (TZYM), which plunged 75% after announcing a Phase 2b trial of a drug did not meet its primary endpoint. Also lower were shares of Diamond Foods (DMND), which saw Barclays slash its price target on shares to $12 from $25 after the company restated its results for the first three quarters of its fiscal year. Diamond Foods' stock fell 22% near midday... INDICES: Near 12:30 pm ET, the Dow was down 61.49, or 0.49%, to 12,509.46; the Nasdaq was down 19.04, or 0.67%, to 2,827.77; and the S&P 500 was down 7.37, or 0.54%, to 1,348.12.