Stock Averages Straddle Flat Line During Thinly Traded Session

Includes: DIA, QQQ, SPY
by: Midnight Trader

4:13 PM, Dec 27, 2010 --

  • NYSE down 4.4 (-0.1%) to 7,920.93
  • DJIA down 18.46 (-0.2%) to 11,555
  • S&P 500 up 0.8 (+0.1%) to 1,258
  • Nasdaq up 1.67 (+0.1%) to 2,667


  • Hang Seng down 0.30%
  • Nikkei up 0.75%
  • FTSE up 0.21%


(+) CSCO gets favorable report on Barron's cover.

(+) RPRX continues sharp move from last week after submitting new data on testosterone replacement drug.

(+) APWR secures new contract.

(+) NGAS sold in stock transaction.

(+) RMBS renews pact with Renesas Electronics.

(+) AIG inks credit pact.


(-) XOMA giving back portion of last week's surge on favorable diabetes drug news.

(-) PSDV slides as FDA says New Drug App from partner Alimera Sciences cannot be approved in present form.

(-) NFLX subject of critical Barron's report.


Stock averages finish by straddling the flat line in a thinly traded post-holiday session. A Chinese rate hike initially pressured most major global stock markets Monday. The holiday week and blizzard conditions in the Northeast limited volume. Retailers fell and airlines were mixed due to the storm. Financial shares were mostly gainers.

China's central bank raised interest rates on Saturday for the second time in just over two months as a counter move to mounting inflation risks. The People's Bank of China said it will raise the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 5.81 percent and lift the benchmark deposit rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, stood at 80.34, down from 80.487 late Thursday.

Commodities finished mixed with copper futures hitting a new record and gold logging gains. Oil futures ended floor trading in the red.

Crude oil for February delivery finished down $0.51, or 0.6%, to $91 a barrel. In other energy futures, heating oil ended down 0.74% to $2.52 a gallon while natural gas fell 0.83%, to $4.04 per million British thermal units.

Meanwhile, gold notched gains while copper remained the standout in the metals market by hitting a fresh record settlement.

Gold for February delivery finished up 0.2% to $1,382.90 an ounce. In other metal futures, silver was down 0.15% to $29.28 a troy ounce while copper rose 0.41% to $4.28 a pound.

In company news:

Airline stocks are mixed in regular-session trading after bad weather on the East Coast closed airports and snarled travel around the country. Shares of AMR Corp. (NASDAQ:AMR), parent of American Airlines, were up slightly, as were shares of Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU). However, shares of Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) are down along with United Continental (NASDAQ:UAL).

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) fell after saying in a SEC filing U.S. regulators halted development of an experimental pain killer it's developing with Sanofi-Aventis SA (NYSE:SNY) after a similar treatment caused the death of bone tissue in another drug maker's study.

American International Group (NYSE:AIG) gained after it says it entered into 364-Day and 3-Year Bank Credit Facilities totaling $3 billion split evenly between the two. It also says Chartis has entered into a 1-Year $1.3 billion Letter of Credit Facility. Thirty-Six banks participated in the facilities. The facilities will be available upon the closing of the previously announced recapitalization plan with the United States Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the AIG Credit Facility Trust.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) was mostly flat as The New York Times reports that the retail giant and five other companies have invested $500 million in, a growing Chinese online retailer. The investment serves to boost Wal-Mart's presence in that region.

Cephalon Inc (NASDAQ:CEPH) fell after pre-market news that the drug maker received a second complete response letter from the FDA for its Nuvigil tablets, with the agency restating concerns about the prospective treatment for eastbound travelers with excessive sleepiness and jet lag. In its letter to the company, the FDA reiterated its previously stated concerns regarding the NUVIGIL sNDA.

PostRock Energy (NASDAQ:PSTR) was up after it says it will sell to Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR) certain assets in Wetzel and Lewis Counties, WVa, for $39.75 million. The consideration for the sale will consist of 50% cash and 50% MHR common stock.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares were down after Barron's said the stock could be poised for a drop, with the mail and online video rental service needs to soon negotiate new licensing agreements with Hollywood studios for content. Other potential worries are a recent spate of insider selling, along with the recent departure of the company's CFO, although the magazine suggests the stock could have a built-in floor - the potential that a big tech firm could jump in to buy the company.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:TEVA) fell as the company failed to get approval from U.S. health regulators for a new formulation of its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, reports Bloomberg. Teva - a maker of generic drugs - received a complete response letter from the Food and Drug Administration that indicated further study may be required. The new formulation of the drug contained a higher concentration of the medicine.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) gained on reports that it has notified Chinese suppliers that it expects to sell between 21 million and 22 million iPhones in Q1, up from a previous forecast for 19 million sales. Of those, 5 million to 6 million phone sales are expected to be to CDMA-based customers through Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ)) in North America and in Asia. Sales of GSM versions of the phone mainly in Europe, have been hiked to 14 million to 15 million, reports tech Web site DigiTimes, citing anonymous sources.