Midday on the fly: RIM gains, Finish Line falls

Stocks are higher Friday as the market puts the finishing touches on its best quarter since 1998.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 30, 2012 1:23PM

Information provided by Theflyonthewall.com  

 

Stocks on Wall Street are higher midday Friday, looking poised to break a recent losing streak and end a strong quarter on a high note. The market opened higher but could not gather upside momentum in the first hour of the session. The averages turned mixed, with the Nasdaq moving lower and the Dow and S&P remaining in positive territory.

 

Near noon, the Dow was up 50.44, or 0.38%, to 13,196.26; the Nasdaq was up 1.29, or 0.04%, to 3,096.65; and the S&P 500 was up 4.49, or 0.32%, to 1,407.77. 

The initial reaction to the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence reading was muted, but after investors digested the data the buyers came in to push the market higher. The market is putting the finishing touches on its best quarter since 1998 and investors are now looking forward to the upcoming earnings season.

Economic events
In the U.S., personal income rose only 0.2% in February, versus expectations for a 0.4% increase. However, consumption beat estimates with a 0.8% February gain that exceeded forecasts for a 0.6% rise. The Michigan sentiment survey revealed an unusually large upward revision in the March measure to 76.2 from 74.3. The Chicago Purchasing Managers report came in a bit below expectations at 62.2, versus last month's reading of 64.0. In Europe, finance ministers agreed on a temporary boost of the region's bailout lending limit to 700 billion euros.

Market news
Shares of Research in Motion (RIMM) are up 4.5% despite reporting a loss in the fourth quarter and announcing it will no longer give quarterly forecasts. Its adjusted earnings missed Street estimates but the belief that the company may be sold, which was buoyed by statements from its CEO, has kept its stock in the green near noon.

MasterCard (MA) confirmed that it was investigating a possible breach of cardholder security at a U.S.-based payment processor, which the Wall Street Journal said may have been Global Payments (GPN). Visa (V) is reportedly also warning banks of a breach, but the company has not yet confirmed or denied. The stocks of all three were lower at midday, with Global Payments, down 9% before being halted, the hardest hit. 

Major movers 
Among the notable gainers were Threshold Pharma (THLD), after the company's TH-302 for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma received Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA, and Spanish Broadcasting (SBSA), after its earnings rose significantly from the same quarter in the prior year.

Noteworthy losers included Finish Line (FINL), after the company's Q4 adjusted earnings missed forecasts and it said it sees Q1 earnings down 30% from the prior year, and InterOil (IOC), following an update on its Triceratops-2 well.
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