RTTNews - Following a moderately strong open on the heels of a string of positive earnings reports, stocks are mixed in mid-morning trading on Tuesday as traders are weighing testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The major averages are on opposite sides of the unchanged mark, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the red.
All eyes are on Capitol Hill, where Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is beginning his semi-annual testimony regarding monetary policy. Bernanke is expected to reveal his near-term economic outlook and his exit strategy following unprecedented government intervention in the U.S. financial system.
Early buying interest was prompted by a slew of encouraging earnings, with five Dow components reporting their quarterly results. Caterpillar (CAT), Coca-Cola (KO), DuPont (DD), Merck (MRK) and United Technologies (UTX) all revealed earnings that beat Wall Street estimates.
While Schering-Plough (SGP) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) also posted results that surpassed expectations, State Street (STT) disappointed. After the closing bell today, traders will be presented with quarterly earnings reports from Apple (AAPL), Yahoo! (YHOO) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
The major averages currently continue to turn in a mixed performance, with the Nasdaq stuck in the red. The Nasdaq is currently down 6.38 at 1,902.91, while the Dow is up 51.55 at 8,899.70 and the S&P 500 is up 0.72 at 951.85.
With the better than expected earnings from DuPont generating some buying interest, chemical stocks are seeing significant strength. The S&P Chemicals Index is currently up 2.6 percent after reaching its best intraday level in over a month.
Oil service and pharmaceutical stocks are also turning in some of the day's strongest performances, with the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index and the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index both currently up 1.2 percent.
The oil service index is extending its gains for the sixth straight session and has reached its best intra-day level in a month, while the pharmaceutical index has surged to its best level in well over six months.
Meanwhile, computer hardware and semiconductor stocks are retreating, contributing to the loss by the tech-heavy Nasdaq. The NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index are down by 1.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
The computer hardware index is pulling back off of its best closing level in over a year, while the semiconductor index is falling away from its highest closing level in over nine months.
Further, banking, trucking and commercial real estate stocks are also moving to the downside. Notably, the Kbw Banking Index is posting a loss of 2.6 percent, while the Dow Jones Trucking Index is down by 1.8 percent.
Stocks Driven By Analyst Comments
Shares of Avon Products (AVP) are rising in mid-morning dealing after being upgraded by BMO Capital Markets to Outperform from Market Perform. The stock is currently up by 3 percent, extending its gains for a seventh straight session and reaching its best intra-day level in nine months earlier in the day.
Barnes Group (B) is also gaining following an upgrade at Robert W. Baird from Neutral to Outperform. At the same time, the broker also lowered its target price on the stock to $14 from $15. Shares of the aerospace and industrial manufacturer are up by 7.5 percent, surging to their best intraday price in over a month.
On the other hand, Regal Entertainment (RGC) is sliding after BMO Capital Markets lowered its rating on the stock from Outperform to Market Perform. The stock is now down by 1.3 percent, pulling back off the two-month closing high set in the previous session.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index posted a 2.7 percent gain, China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are all moving higher, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index advancing by 1.3 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is posting a 0.7 percent gain.
In the bond markets, treasuries have jumped into positive territory amid the start of Bernanke's testimony. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.566, posting a loss of 1.9 basis points.
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