Stocks were mixed at midday as investors digested data, earnings reports, and President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, particularly his comments on the economy.
Earlier Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported a 0.1% month-to-month increase in retail sales in January, in line with expectations. Year-over-year sales were 4.4% higher, but January gains were weaker compared with those in December. The Commerce Department also reported a 0.1% gain in December business inventories, also in line with economists' expectations, while they were 5.1% higher compared with December 2011 levels.
Separately, January import prices rose by 0.6% in January from December's reading, though not as high as the expected 0.8% gain and 1.3% lower from the same time last year. That said, it was the first increase in three months, on account of higher fuel prices. Export prices increased by 0.3% last month.
Stocks on the Move
Dean Foods (DF) reported a fourth-quarter profit of $37 million, up from the $9.9 million loss the same time last year. However, the firm's shares had plunged by 9% after the firm reported first-quarter and full-year expectations that are lower than Wall Street forecasts.
Better results in farm-machinery sales helped lift Deere's (DE) first-quarter net income by 22% year over year as well as its total revenue, with both readings beating Street expectations. The firm's full-year outlook is also ahead of expectations, as well. Shares, however, were down by 2.6% at midday.
Duke Energy (DUK) posted a 51% gain in fourth-quarter profit, which included the acquisition of Progress Energy, though full-year results were flat. Much focus going forward will be on the firm's expected board shakeup in the coming year. Shares were 0.2% lower at midday.
Comcast (CMCSA) (CMCSK) shares had jumped by more than 5% at midday after the firm reported late Tuesday that it is acquiring the remaining 49% stake in NBCUniversal it didn't already own from General Electric (GE). The move is valued at $16.7 billion and comes more than a year earlier than expected. The firm also posted an 18% gain in fourth-quarter profit, beating Street forecasts. GE shares were more than 3% higher following the announcement.
The yen strengthened in Japan Wednesday, causing the Nikkei 225 to lose 1%. Chinese markets remained closed for a holiday.
Kevin O'Shaughnessy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.