Midday on the fly: Avon climbs, Groupon falls

Stocks are at session highs after better-than-expected manufacturing reports in the U.S. and China.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 2, 2012 1:15PM
Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com

Stock futures were a bit lower in pre-market trading Monday on renewed concern the eurozone has fallen into a recession after manufacturing data there disappointed.

The averages opened lower in what looked like a rocky beginning to the second quarter of trading. The averages soon found a level, however, where they sat and then built from. Construction spending for the month of February showed a decline, which analysts had not predicted. The ISM manufacturing report, though, was slightly ahead of expectations and the prices-paid report was also better, giving investors a reason to buy into the market. The averages soon turned positive and now stand near fresh recovery highs.

Near noon, the Dow was up 61.15, or 0.46%, to 13,273.19; the Nasdaq was up 23.58, or 0.76%, to 3,115.15; and the S&P 500 was up 10.71, or 0.76%, to 1,419.18.

Economic events
In the U.S., the ISM manufacturing reading was 53.4, versus the expected 53.0. Construction spending in February was down 1.1%, versus the expected increase of 0.6%. In China, an "official" reading of the nation's PMI rose 2.1 points to 53.1, in contrast to a previous "flash" reading of the PMI from HSBC, which had declined. In Europe, Markit's Eurozone manufacturing PMI fell to 47.7 from 49.0, which was in line with a preliminary reading.

Market news
Shares of Avon Products (AVP) are off their opening highs, but still up about 13% to $21.81, after the company said that it rejected the "unsolicited indication of interest" from France's Coty, which raised its bid for Avon to $23.25 from $22.25.

Express Scripts (ESRX) was given the green light from the FTC to complete its $29.1 billion acquisition of Medco Health Solutions (MHS).

Major movers
Among the notable gainers were Theravance (THRX), following the announcement that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will raise its stake in the company to 26.8% with the purchase of 10M shares, and Towerstream (TWER), after Canaccord raised its price target on the stock to $7.60 from $4.60 citing the company's first Wi-Fi agreement with a national carrier.

Noteworthy losers included Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (KERX), after the company announced that its perifosine X-PECT trial missed its primary endpoint, and Groupon (GRPN), after it lowered its guidance and announced weakness in its internal controls after the close on Friday.


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