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Midday Market Update

Stocks Head to the Black

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U.S. Market    
Stocks were up at midday as increasing economic optimism gained some footing. 

U.S. import prices fell 0.5% last month from March's reading, in line with economist expectations, with the cost of oil falling. Year-over-year import prices were down by 2.6%. The latest statistics are indicative of a tepid inflationary environment. U.S. export prices fell by 0.7% in April. 

Weekly retail sales according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Redbook Research were mixed last week. 

Separately, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia chief Charles Plosser stated today that he wants the Fed to pare its bond-buying process, even as soon as its June policy meeting. 

The Dow was up 0.5% at midday. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were 0.8% and 0.7% higher. 

Stocks on the Move
After  Dell's (DELL) inquiry into the legitimacy of Carl Icahn and Southeaster Asset Management's proposed takeover of the tech firm, the latter two parties offered 12 nominees, including Icahn himself, who they would appoint to Dell's board. A special committee on Dell's board can reject the offer, which could result in a proxy fight between Dell and its suitors. Shares were 0.6% lower at midday. 

In a separate proxy fight, activist investor Elliot Management proposed that  Hess' (HES) board is reconfigured and merged to include current Hess members and Elliot nominees. This is the latest move in a series of offers and counteroffers between the two parties. Shares were 2.2% higher at midday. 

 BlackBerry (BBRY) shares were down by 3.5% at midday after the firm revealed its new Q5 smartphone intended for emerging markets that will operate the BlackBerry 10 platform. It is also expanding its BBM messaging service to Android and iOS platforms.  

Foreign Markets
Asian stocks were down, with the Shanghai Composite losing 1.1%. The Nikkei 225 fell by 0.2%, and the Hang Seng was 0.3% lower. 

Stocks in Europe moved upward, following a strong start in U.S. markets. The FTSE 100 was 0.8% higher. The Paris CAC was up 0.7%, and the DAX had gained 0.5%. 

Kevin O'Shaughnessy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.