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Midday Market Update

Stocks Mostly Lower; Data, Fed in Focus

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U.S. Market    
Stocks were mostly lower today after data and as the market continued to process the Fed’s surprise announcement yesterday that is not going to taper its bond-buying program.

Initial unemployment claims came in at 309,000 last week, up from 294,000 the week before. The Labor Department said the number may still be artificially low due to computer system conversions in California and Nevada. The less volatile four-week moving average dropped 7,000 to 314,750. 

Existing home sales rose 1.7% in August to 5.48 million according to data released by the National Association of Realtors.  Sales were up 13.2% year-over-year and are now at the highest level since February 2007. Economists had expected a slight decline in sales from July levels.

The Philly Fed Business Index, which measures Mid-Atlantic business activity, rebounded to 22.3 in September from 9.3 in August.  Analysts had thought the index would come in at 9.0. 

At midday the Dow was off 0.2%, the S&P 500 was down 0.1% while the Nasdaq was unchanged.

Stocks on the Move
 Oracle (ORCL) reported fiscal-first quarter results late Wednesday. The quarter showed  several bright spots, although continued weakness in the hardware segment and tepid quarterly guidance are not altogether encouraging. Total software revenue (which represented 53% of quarterly revenue) grew 6.5% versus the prior year. Excluding the impact of acquisitions, hardware revenue declined 13% versus the prior year. Shares were down less than 1% at midday.

Shares of  Wells Fargo (WFC) were down 1% after the firm said that it is cutting 1,800 jobs from its mortgage unit. The cuts come on top of headcount reductions in August as the bank adjusts to lower mortgage volumes caused by the rise in interest rates. 

Foreign Markets
European shares rallied today after the Fed’s decision not to taper its quantitative-easing program. In late trading, the FTSE 100 and Paris CAC were each up 0.9% while Germany’s DAX was up 0.7%.

Asian markets also rose on the day. The Shanghai CompositeHang Seng and Nikkei 225 were up 0.3%, 1.7% and 1.8% respectively. 

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