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.
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.
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.
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).
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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