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4:18 PM, Dec 16, 2009 --

  • NYSE up 39.3 (+0.6%) to 7,180.76.
  • DJIA down 10 (0.1%) to 10,441.
  • S&P 500 up 1 (0.1%) to 1,109.
  • Nasdaq up 5.9 (0.3%) to 2,207.


GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Hang Seng down 0.93%
  • Nikkei up 0.93%
  • FTSE up 0.65%


UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) ADBE beat Q4 expectations and set its Q1 guidance mostly in line with estimates.

(+) MSFT settles with EC over browser issue, no fine.

(+) FGXI inks deal to sell for 19.75 a share.

(+) ACHN reports positive proof of concept data for Hep C treatment.

(+) GIGM sells 60% on online gambling business.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) JOYG sees downside despite Q4 beat, guides mostly above Street view for 2010.

(-) BBY slight rebound evaporates from Tuesday slide that followed earnings; stock downgraded this morning.

(-) HLCS prices shares.

(-) HON issues mixed 2010 guidance.

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks end narrowly mixed but drifted lower after the Federal Reserve delivered a statement largely in line with Wall Street expectations. The statement did bring some new emphasis on the deadline to end emergency loan provisions. Stocks were modestly firmer ahead of the Fed meeting conclusion, getting a boost from consumer price and housing market data.

The Federal Reserve stood pat on the key points of monetary policy following its meeting Wednesday, pointing to the reluctance of businesses to hire workers as a main reason to hold rates at ultra-low levels, MarketWatch reported.

Economic conditions "are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period," the Fed said.

One change in the statement was that the Fed listed all of its emergency loan facilities and spelled out their expiration dates. None of the dates were new, but the Fed is choosing not to extend them further, MarketWatch noted.

Stocks started on firmer ground after a report showed new construction of U.S. houses rebounded in November. Starts rose 8.9% in November to a seasonally adjusted 574,000 annualized units, which was stronger than the 563,000 pace expected by economists, MarketWatch reported. This is the biggest percentage increase in starts since May. It comes after a sharp 10.1% decline in October. Starts of new single-family homes rose by 2.1% to 482,000 in November, while starts of large apartment units jumped 67.3% to 92,000. Building permits, a leading indicator of housing construction, rose 6.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 584,000. This is the highest level of permits in the past year.

A day after wholesale price data rattled inflation-watchers, the consumer side of the story looked a bit better. The consumer price index increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in November, buoyed by a 4.1% increase in energy prices. It was the fourth straight rise in the energy index and the biggest increase since August, MarketWatch reported. Taking out energy and food prices, however, the CPI was unchanged in November, following a gain of 0.2% in October. Core CPI had risen for 10 consecutive months prior to November. The increase in the overall CPI matched expectations of economists.

Meanwhile, the dollar turned higher against the yen and the euro after the Fed release.

Crude oil closed at $72.66 a barrel, up 2.8%. It earlier rose to an intraday high of $73.63 a barrel in electronic trade. That was its highest intraday level since it topped $74 a barrel on Dec. 7. Crude gained after a report showed a much bigger-than-expected drop in crude supplies but pared its gain on expectations for the end of extreme Fed stimulus measures.

The Energy Information Administration reported that crude supplies fell by 3.7 million barrels last week and distillate fuels, including heating oil dropped by 2.9 million barrels. Analysts expected a decline of 2 million barrels for crude and 750,000 barrels for distillates, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill.

As for individual movers:

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) fell after the FTC filed a suit against the chip giant, alleging that the company illegally used its dominance of the market for a decade to stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly. The move comes amid settlement talks. Shares of rival AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) rose on the news.

Overseas, the European Commission dropped its long-standing antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) after the company agreed to give users of the Windows operating system a choice of up to 12 other Web browsers. Microsoft is up fractionally out of the gate.

Source: Equities Update: Same Old Same Old, More or Less