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4:38 PM, Mar 18, 2010 --

  • NYSE down 30.6 (0.4%) to 7,443.57.
  • DJIA up 45.5 (0.4%) to 10,779.
  • S&P 500 down 0.4 (0.03%) to 1,166.
  • Nasdaq up 2 (0.1%) to 2,391.


GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Hang Seng down 0.25%
  • Nikkei down 0.95%
  • FTSE up 0.07%


UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) NKE gains on earnings beat.

(+) GES rises on earnings beat.

(+) TEVA in deal to buy ratiopharm.

(+) DPTR inks deal to sell 37.5% interest in Vega area assets.

(+) FDX gains after mostly upbeat outlook.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS


(-) SASR pricing shares.

MARKET DIRECTION

The DJIA edged higher in Thursday's regular session trade, its eighth consecutive day of gains, while the Nasdaq clawed higher and S&P 500 slipped modestly.

Stocks moved in choppy trading Thursday despite supportive U.S. economic data and a solid yearly outlook from FedEx (NYSE:FDX). Investors may be booking some profits after a recent winning streak.

U.S. jobless claims fell by 5,000 in the latest week. Also out, U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in February, while the core CPI - which excludes food and energy prices - rose 0.1%. Both were as expected.

The Philadelphia Fed index rose to 18.9 in March from 17.6 in January, versus expectations of an increase to 17.8.

Employment indicators strengthened in March, but orders, shipments and inventories slipped. For the fourth straight month, more firms reported adding to their workforce than reported job cuts, Marketwatch.com reports.

A widely watched index of leading economic indicators rose 0.1% in February compared with an 0.3% gain in January, matching economists' estimates and marking 11 consecutive gains.

FedEx (FDX) reports Q3 earnings of $0.76 per share, better than the analyst mean of $0.72 per share on Thomson Reuters. Revenue was $8.7 bln, vs. the Street view of $8.37 bln.

For Q4, the company is guiding for earnings of $1.17 to $1.37 per share, vs. the Street view of $1.26 per share. For FY 2010, the company sees earnings in the range of $3.60 to $3.80 per share, vs. prior guidance of $3.45 to $3.75 per share. The Street is at $3.63 per share.

Despite the positive news, stocks struggled to move decisively into the green, likely due to profit-taking. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained in eight straight sessions and for 12 out of the last 14 trading days. European shares pulled back from annual highs, while Asian shares were lower.

Growing indications that Greece may turn to the International Monetary Fund rather than fellow euro-zone nations for support helped drag the euro lower, as well as share prices for lenders including National Bank of Greece (NYSE:NBG), which will be reporting results after the Athens close, MarketWatch said.

A firmer dollar and data showing a build in crude inventories weighed on crude prices. Crude closed lower.

Also partly weighing on market sentiment, Citigroup cut its stance on the global financial sector to "neutral" from "overweight."

Banks were, however, mixed. FBR downgraded HSBC Holdings (HBC) to Market Perform from Outperform. The broker said it continues to believe in the prospects for medium-term growth and U.S. recovery at the bank, but added it feels that market will require more evidence before they are priced into HSBC's stock, MarketWatch reported.

In company news, Teva (NYSE:TEVA) said it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Ratiopharm, Germany's second largest generics producer and the sixth largest generic drug company worldwide, for an enterprise value of Euro 3.625 billion. The transaction is subject to certain conditions including relevant regulatory approvals. On a pro forma basis, the combined company would have had 2009 revenues of $16.2 billion. Teva expects to complete the transaction by year-end 2010.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) was up after an earnings beat last evening.

Delta Petroleum (DPTR) soared after the company said it entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Opon International LLC to sell a 37.5% non-operated working interest in the Company's Vega Area assets located in the Piceance Basin for total consideration of $400 million.

It is expected that $225 million of the total consideration will be used by
Delta for the development of the Vega Area over the next three years. Delta
intends to use the remainder of the total consideration for its balance sheet
obligations and general working capital purposes.

Delta has also agreed to issue to Opon at closing, warrants to purchase 13.3
million shares of Delta common stock at $1.50 per share and 5.7 million shares
at $3.50 per share.

GameStop (NYSE:GME) was up after the company said Q4 sales were $3.52 billion, above the Thomson Reuters mean for $3.44542 billion. Comparable store sales decreased 7.9%. EPS were $1.29, a penny ahead of expectations.

Source: Stocks Pause Recent Run, But DJIA Extends Streak