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Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Open Higher; Rite Aid Posts Rise In December Sales

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Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Open Higher; Rite Aid Posts Rise In December Sales

Following the market opening Friday, the Dow traded up 0.34 percent to 17,883.08 while the NASDAQ climbed 0.32 percent to 4,751.29. The S&P also rose, gaining 0.35 percent to 2,066.11.

Leading and Lagging Sectors

In trading on Friday, healthcare shares were relative leaders, up on the day by about 0.90 percent. Meanwhile, top gainers in the sector included Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IDRA), up 6.1 percent, and Cutera, Inc. (NASDAQ: CUTR), up 7.1 percent.

Energy shares slipped around 0.37 percent in Friday’s trading. Meanwhile, top decliners in the sector included Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. - Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), down 7 percent, and Denbury Resources Inc. (NYSE: DNR), off 5.5 percent.

Top Headline

Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) reported December sales results.
Total drugstore sales for the four-week period increased 4.9 percent to $2.212 billion compared to $2.109 billion for the same period last year.

Prescription sales accounted for 64.8 percent of drugstore sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.6 percent of pharmacy sales. Same-store sales increased 5.3 percent over the prior-year period.

Equities Trading UP

Perfect World Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ: PWRD) shares shot up 20.46 percent to $18.99 after the company reported Chairman's preliminary non-binding 'go-private' offer at $20 per ADS. The company also named Yunfan Zhang as COO.

Shares of Rite Aid Corporation (NNY RAD) got a boost, shooting up 2.30 percent to $7.69 after the company reported December same-store sales. Total drugstore sales for the four-week period increased 4.9 percent to $2.212 billion compared to $2.109 billion for the same period last year.

Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE: FNF) shares were also up, gaining 3.13 percent to $35.53. Stephens & Co. upgraded Fidelity National from Equal-weight to Overweight and raised the price target from $31.00 to $43.00.

Equities Trading DOWN

MiMedx Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDXG) shares tumbled 19.44 percent to $9.29 after the company reported that it has filed a federal lawsuit against Organogenesis. The company also announced that the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the company’s sales and marketing activities.

Shares of Ballard Power Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BLDP) were down 5.97 percent to $1.86 after the company reported that it has terminated license agreements with Azure. The company said it will not achieve 2014 sales and adjusted EBITDA outlook.

Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA) was down, falling 6.29 percent to $64.51. Analysts at Pacific Crest downgraded Synaptics from Outperform to Sector Perform and removed the price target of $100.

Commodities
In commodity news, oil traded down 0.83 percent to $52.83, while gold traded down 1.02 percent to $1,172.00.

Silver traded down 0.09 percent Friday to $15.59, while copper fell 0.32 percent to $2.82.

Eurozone

European shares were higher today. The eurozone’s STOXX 600 rose 0.15 percent, the Spanish Ibex Index gained 1.48 percent, while Italy’s FTSE MIB Index jumped 1.16 percent. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.16 percent, and the French CAC 40 climbed 0.44 percent while UK shares gained 0.16 percent.

Economics

The final reading of the Markit manufacturing index slipped to 53.9 in December, versus 54.8 in November.

The ISM manufacturing composite index fell to 55.50 in December, versus a prior reading of 58.70. However, economists were expecting a reading of 57.60.

U.S. construction spending declined 0.3% to an annual rate of $975 billion in November. However, economists were estimating a 0.2% gain.

 

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