Stocks flat as investors show caution
Gold climbs to a record $1,314.80. Hewlett-Packard's shares jump on a strong forecast. AIG finalizes its plan to repay taxpayers. BP shuffles its management.
By Melinda Peer, TheStreet
Updated at 12:56 p.m. ET
Investors have been turning to gold, a less risky asset, in response to concerns about the slow economic recovery. The December gold contract, the most actively traded gold future, hit a record $1,314.80 Wednesday and was last gaining by $1.90 at $1,310 an ounce.
Mortgage applications fell a seasonally adjusted 0.8% from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The decline was milder than the previous week's fall of 1.4%.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) were advancing 2.6% to $42.70 the morning after the company issued better-than-expected guidance for 2011. The company anticipates adjusted earnings of between $5.05 and $5.15 a share and sales between $131.5 billion and $133.5 billion, compared with analysts' estimates for a profit of $4.99 a share on sales of $131.42 billion.
Senior management at BP (BP) got a shakeup ahead of Bob Dudley's start as chief executive. Mark Bly will head BP's new safety division, and Andy Inglish will return to his role as head of the company's upstream business. BP's American depositary receipts have been climbing 1.8% to $39.99.
American International Group (AIG) is finalizing a plan to accelerate paying back taxpayers and reduce the government's majority ownership in the insurance company, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. AIG shares were up 1.4% to $37.84.
Family Dollar Stores (FDO), one of the top-performing stocks this year, said its fiscal-fourth-quarter profit was 56 cents, beating the 51-cent estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial. Family Dollar shares were gaining 2.8% to $44.56.
Borders (BGP) plans to introduce an electronic reader called the Kobo 2, a wireless device that will cost $139. Borders' shares were up 3.3% to $1.26.
Nintendo lowered its earnings and sales outlooks for the year ending March 2011, citing a swift rise in the yen, current sales performance and expected sales for the upcoming holiday season.
The Energy Information Administration said crude oil inventories declined by 500 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 24. Analysts polled by Platts had been expecting an increase of 2.2 million barrels. Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute reported an increase of 2.42 million barrels to crude oil supplies.
Crude oil for November delivery was adding $1.47 at $77.65 a barrel.
The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.4%, while the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 7/32, strengthening the yield to 2.494%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2%, and Japan's Nikkei advanced 0.7%. The FTSE in London fell 0.2%, and the DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.5%.
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[BRIEFING.COM] Since notching its intraday high around 12:00 ET, the S&P 500 has spent the past two hours slipping back to its lows. Similarly, the Dow and Nasdaq have taken a few steps back from their best levels of the day.
Although a handful of cyclical groups have been able to make a brief appearance in the black, the continued weakness in financials has prevented the broader market from catching up to the outperformers.
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