Stocks Mixed As January Options Expire!
Stocks on Wall Street were mixed at midday amid a pickup in the number of prominent earnings reports and a raft of domestic economic data. The averages opened lower as traders rolled out positions ahead of options expiration. Within minutes of the open, however, the bluechip Dow had recouped its losses and moved back into positive territory, powered by a strong post-earnings jump by American Express (AXP).
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., housing starts fell 9.8% to a rate of just under 1M in December, though that decline was roughly in-line with expectations. Building permits dropped 3.0% from the prior month, versus an expected decrease of 0.3%. Industrial production rose 0.3% in December, meeting the consensus forecast of economists. The preliminary January reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 80.4, versus expectations for a 83.5 reading. JOLTS data showed job openings rose 70K in November to about 4M.
COMPANY NEWS: Intel (INTC) shares were down more than 3% near noon after the company’s fourth quarter results and fiscal 2014 guidance painted a mixed picture. Last night, the chipmaking giant reported earnings per share that just missed estimates on revenue that narrowly beat expectations and said there were signs of stabilization in the personal computer market in the quarter. However, Intel provided disappointing revenue guidance for 2014, saying it expects revenue to be flat compared to this just completed year… Among other giant corporations that reported earnings last night or this morning, American Express advanced nearly 5%, Morgan Stanley (MS) gained over 4% and General Electric (GE) slipped more than 2%.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was NII Holdings (NIHD), which surged 23% after announcing it reached a deal with Apple (AAPL) to offer Nextel customers in Brazil the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Also higher was video game maker Electronic Arts (EA), which rose 11% after its stock was initiated with a Buy rating at CRT Capital and Cowen said the video game maker has a chance of beating December quarter guidance and Street estimates given its solid December sell through. Among the noteworthy losers was Atlas Air (AAWW), which dropped 15% after reporting British Airways (BAIRY) intends to return three aircraft in April.