Wednesday, March 21, 2012

U.S. stock markets dow jones futures down march 21 2012

U.S. stock markets dow jones futures down march 21 2012 : U.S. stock markets swung between modest gains and losses after the open on Wednesday, following a report showing U.S. existing home sales fell more-than-expected last month. During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.1%, the S&P 500 index shed 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite index eased up 0.1%.

U.S. equities showed a muted reaction to data showing that existing home sales dipped by 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted 4.59 million units in February from an upwardly revised 4.63 million units in January.

The figure is 8.8% higher than the 4.22 million-unit level in February 2011.

The data came a day after a government report showed that number of building permits issued in the U.S. in February rose to the highest level since October 2008, while housing starts dipped only slightly.

Shares in business software giant Oracle rose 1% after reporting an 18% increase in fiscal third quarter profit, as new software sales came in at the high end of the company's forecast, offsetting a decline in hardware revenue.

Shares in Hartford Financial Services Group rallied 5.85% on reports that it is exiting the annuity business and was considering "strategic alternatives" for part of its life insurance business.

Social networking website LinkedIn surged 8.6% after Goldman Sachs upgrade the stock to a ‘buy’ and set a price target of USD135 on the stock, 32% higher from where it closed Tuesday.

Shares in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters jumped 6.2% after announcing that it was expanding its strategic relationship with Starbucks.

On the downside, oilfield service provider Baker Hughes dropped 3.9% after forecasting first quarter operating profit that came in below market expectations, as rapidly changing market conditions have hurt its pressure pumping product line in North America.

The profit warning weighed on other shares in the sector, with Schlumberger dropping 2.4% and Halliburton slumping 2.1%.

Hewlett-Packard shares were down 1.15% after confirming reports that it was merging its printer and personal computer divisions to create the Printing & Personal Systems Group, to be led by PC chief Todd Bradley.

General Mills shares dipped 0.7% after the packaged food manufacturer reported a 0.2% drop in fiscal third quarter profit, as a jump in input costs cancelled out stronger-than-expected revenue growth.

In deal news, U.S. staffing provider On Assignment soared 29.9% after it agreed to acquire privately held rival Apex Systems for USD600 million. On Assignment said it expected the deal to significantly add to 2012 earnings.

Shares in Discover Financial Services could be active, as the company was set to release company earnings after Wednesday’s closing bell.

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