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4:17 PM, Apr 5, 2011 --

  • DJIA down 6 (-0.1%) to 12,394
  • S&P 500 down 0.2 (+0.02%) to 1,333
  • Nasdaq up 2 (+0.1%) to 2,791

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Hang Seng up 1.46%
  • Nikkei down 1.1%
  • FTSE down 0.16%%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) NSM sold for $25 a share.

(+) INTC gains on back of NSM deal.

(+) NVDA gains on back of NSM deal.

(+) AMD gains on back of NSM deal.

(+) DMND buys Pringles from PG.

(+) C upgraded.

(+) MGM upgraded.

(+) EXPE inks distribution deal with AMR.

(+) WAG reports March sales rise.

(+) CSCO initiated at Neutral rating.

(+) ARIA issues positive trial data.

(+) DELL initiated with Neutral rating.

(+) CBST upgraded.

(+,-) JPM initiated with Outperform rating.

(+) VHC inks new patent.

(+) ADI gets one upgrade, one downgrade this morning.

(+) WFC handed Outperform rating.

(+) TXN turns positive after initial decline; buying NSM.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) PG sells Pringles to Diamond.

(-) AAPL position to be resized in Nasdaq 100.

(-) LEDS misses with Q2 and guides for revenue below expectations.

(-) ING to sell ING Direct USA.

(-) AVL increases budget for metallurgical testwork.

MARKET DIRECTION

Stocks began the day in the red, muscled back to trade higher in step with tech gains as the session progressed, but again saw gains fade. The major averages end just on either side of the even line. Indications from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes that accommodative monetary policy is under review tripped up Wall Street late.

Crude futures slip 0.1% to close at $108.34 a barrel. Gold ends at a record atop $1,455 an ounce.

The Federal Reserve, at its March 15 meeting, began debating what policy needs to follow a $600 billion bond-buying program scheduled to end in June, according to minutes of that meeting released this afternoon.

A few members said economic conditions might unfold in a way that would warrant the launch of an exit plan this year, others expected ultra-easy monetary policy to be appropriate beyond 2011. Less clear, however, was whether the latter group expected to boost the bond-buying program.

Many members said they've revised up their inflation forecasts. The voices that have suggested in recent media appearances that higher interest rates may come as soon as year end or early next year were heard again in these minutes, but that comes as little surprise.

"In light of uncertainty about the economic outlook, it was seen as prudent to consider possible exit strategies for a range of potential economic outcomes," the minutes said.

At the March meeting, only a few FOMC officials said they would support ending the QE2 program early, while several said they wanted it to last until June 30 as originally planned.

Earlier, the Institute for Supply Management's services-sector index for March fell to 57.3 from 59.7 in February, below analysts' estimate for a reading of 59.

Separately, House Republicans unveiled their plan to cut government spending by $6.2 trillion over the next decade, which is causing an uproar among Democrats and also renewing concerns about a possible double-dip recession.

Tech shares, and eventually the broader stock market, gained as National Semiconductor (NSM) hit a 52-week high after it said late Monday that Texas Instruments (TXN) will buy the company for $25 per share in an all-cash transaction of about $6.5 billion. Separately, NSM received upgrades this morning from Susquehanna, RBC Capital and Citigroup.

In other company news, Boston Scientific has filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration for its "Promus Element" heart stent, which the company hopes to introduce in the U.S. in mid-2012, a company official said late Monday, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Diamond Foods, Inc. (DMND) and The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge the Pringles business into Diamond Foods in a transaction valued at $2.35 billion. Diamond expects the acquisition to be accretive. It guides for FY 2012 EPS at $2.85 to $2.98 and $3.00 to $3.10 before costs. The Street is at $2.52.

Dutch financial services company ING Groep NV (ING) has given up its resistance to the forced sale of its ING Direct operations in the U.S., Dow Jones reports, citing Dutch daily Financieele Dagblad. The Dutch report quotes unnamed sources familiar with the talks. The European Commission ordered ING to nearly halve its balance sheet by selling its global insurance arm and some smaller banking assets, including its direct banking business in the U.S., as a condition for receiving state funds during the financial crisis.

Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ), the Nasdaq exchange operator, said Tuesday it would rebalance the Nasdaq 100 effective May 2. The Wall Street Journal reported that the rebalancing was driven partly by the rise in Apple (AAPL) shares, which have more than quadrupled in two years. The rebalancing will reduce the tech giant's weighting in the index, which is currently more than 20%.

US Airways (LCC) today reported that traffic in March saw an increase of 3.9%, attributing the growth to a sharp uptick in trans-Atlantic flights.

KB Home (KBH) says Q1 sales were $196.9 million, below the Thomson Reuters mean for $223.56 million. Net loss was $1.49 per diluted share, for the three months ended February 28, 2011, including an after-tax charge of $45.1 million to record a valuation allowance against the net deferred tax assets generated from the loss in the period. That is wider than the $0.71 per share net loss a year ago.

Source: Dow, S&P Tip Lower but Chip Deal Helps Nasdaq Stay Green