Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Mixed


Stocks finished mixed Monday, despite lower oil prices, as

markets consolidated the gains of the past two weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 3.77 points, or 0.04%, to 10,391.31. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 1.28 points, or 0.11%, to 1,164.89. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.31 points, or 0.02%, to 2,039.25.

According to Standard & Poor's market analyst Paul Cherney, stocks are consolidating recent gains. "The markets are not displaying the ability to trend higher or lower, just sideways."

This week's key event is the Federal Open Market Committe (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday. Economists expect the Federal Reserve to raise its key interest rate by 25 basis points, to 2%. The median estimates now indicate the FOMC won't be taking a break in December and will continue removing accommodation at both Wednesday's meeting and December's, pushing the Fed funds target rate to 2.25% at yearend, says Action Economics.

Later in the week, there will be plenty of economic reports to watch. Tuesday brings wholesale inventories and sales, followed by the trade report on Wednesday. Weekly jobless claims will be released Thursday, with a report on October retail sales, University of Michigan consumer sentiment, and business inventories coming on Friday.

On the earnings calendar, look for Cisco Systems (CSCO

), Liberty Media (L

), Progressive (PGR

), Marsh & McLennan (MMC

), and May Department Stores (MAY

) to report results on Tuesday; Starbucks (SBUX

) and Federated Department Stores (FD

) on Wednesday; and Dell (DELL

), Agilent (A

), Target (TGT

), Kohl's (KSS

), and Tiffany (TIF

) on Thursday.

In the energy markets Monday, December NYMEX crude oil, which has been in a downtrend since hitting $55.57 on Oct. 25, was off 57 cents to $49.04, following a report indicating that hedge funds and long term speculators have bailed out of the market. Rising enegy inventories have weighed heavily on the market.

In corporate news, Microsoft (MSFT

) announced it resolved all antitrust claims concerning Novell (NOVL

), and Novell's NetWare product. Microsoft will pay Novell $536 million in cash. Microsoft shares remained steady, while Novell was up by 9.3%.

Pixar's (PIXR

) new film The Incredibles posted a blockbuster $70 million opening weekend, on par with the opening of its earlier hit Finding Nemo. Bank of America says it expects this film to fall short of Nemo's gross, however, and kept the stock's neutral rating. Pixar shares fell 6.2%.

CIBC World cut estimates for Krispe Kreme (KKD

), posting the stock's estimated value at $8 per share. CIBC World maintained Krispy Kreme's rating at sector underperform. Shares traded down 2.4%.

Medarex (MEDX

) announced that it will develop and commercialize its new drug, MDX-010, which treats a variety of melanoma. The drug is currently in phase III of clinical development. Medarex was up 8.8%.

Taser International (TASR

) shares surged 16% after the Transportation Security Administration announced it would approve onboard use of TASER brand energy weapons for major international airlines.

Clothing retailer Limited Brands (LTD

) raised its 2005 fiscal year guidance as a result of current business trends. Shares traded 4.5% higher.

Sappi (SPP

) posted lower earnings per share as higher operating costs offset a 9.9% revenue rise. The pulp and paper maker added that it will be difficult to acheive a positive first quarter in 2005. Shares traded 8.4% lower.

Treasury Market

Treasury finished lower Monday as traders plan for a Fed rate hike later in the week, says Action Economics. The benchmark 10-year note yield rose 3

basis points Friday, to 4.22%.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar, which was hammered last week, was higher Monday as some European officials voiced concern about the higher euro. Gold was lower as the dollar recovered.

World Markets

European stock markets finished mixed Monday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was down 25 points, or 0.5%, to 4,715 following reports that October factory prices rose at the fastest pace in 9 years and housing price inflation accelerated.

Germany's DAX index gained 5 points, or 0.1%, to 4,068 as oil prices declined a bit and a report showed German commercial vehicle sales rising 7% in October. In Paris, the CAC 40 index fell 4 points to 3,776.

In Asia, the markets finished mixed on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 78 points, or 0.7%, to 10,984, as exporters experienced losses related to weakening dollar. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 67 points, or 0.5%, to 13,561.


Later, Baby
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