Stocks are showing uncertainty during mid-morning trading on Friday as investors mull over a some key corporate news and look over a report on consumer confidence. Later, investors are likely to turn their attention to a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
On the corporate front, General Electric (GE) said reported first-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $0.26 per share, down 40 percent from $0.43 per share in the previous year. On average, analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.21 per share.
Meanwhile, Citigroup (C) reported a first-quarter loss available to common shareholders that shrank significantly to $0.18 per share from $1.03 per share in the year ago quarter. Total revenues for the quarter soared 99 percent year-over-year to $24.79 billion. Analysts expected the company to report a loss of $0.34 per share on revenues of $21.94 billion.
In other corporate news, Google (GOOG) said its first quarter profit rose 8.4 percent from last year, helped by higher revenue and tight cost controls. The company's quarterly earnings per share, excluding items, came in above expectations, but its quarterly revenue fell short.
Meanwhile, General Motors (GM) is coming under pressure from the U.S. government to consider ousting its GMC brand, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report specified that GMC's future is being discussed this week amid meetings of GM and auto task force officials.
On the economic front, the Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for April rose to 61.9, a substantial increase from the previous reading. Analysts expected the index to rise to 58.5 from 57.3 in March.
In other news, Fed Chairman Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a Fed conference in Washington at 12:30 PM ET today, discussing financial services for the underserved.
The major averages have shown a notable move to the downside in recent trading, falling to new lows for the session. The Dow is currently down 27.32 at 8,098.11, the Nasdaq is down 14.53 at 1,655.91 and the S&P 500 is down 2.63 at 862.67.
Gold stocks are turning in some of the market's worst performances in morning trading, dragging the Amex Gold Bugs Index down 3.2 percent. At its low for the session, the index was at its worst intraday level in almost a month.
A continued decrease by the price of gold is contributing to the weakness in the sector, with gold for June delivery currently down $7.40 at $872.40 an ounce.
More moderate weakness is visible in a variety of sectors, with some software, banking, and semiconductor stocks posting notable losses.
On the other hand, railroad and housing stocks are holding onto strong gains, with the Dow Jones Railroads Index and the Philadelphia Housing Index up 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
Stocks Driven By Analysts Comments
Charlotte Russe Holding (CHIC) is posting a gain of 4.4 percent on Friday after being upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital Markets. With the advance, the stock has risen to a seven-month high.
The upgrade came after the women's clothing retailer reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings results.
Additionally, McGraw-Hill (MHP) is posting a gain of 5.5 percent following an upgrade to Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan. The upgrade came as analysts see the stock doing well as the credit markets improve.
Meanwhile, Asbury Automotive (ABG) is suffering a loss of 6.2 percent after being downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Securities.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly higher on Friday, benefiting from the strength seen on Wall Street overnight. Nonetheless, some late-day profit taking limited the upside for the markets.
The major European markets are showing notable upward moves, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index up 1.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are posting gains of 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are posting losses for another day, driving the yield on the benchmark 10-year note up 4.5 basis points to 2.875 percent.
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