Wall Street mixed at mid-session

The New York equities markets were mixed at midday on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.1 percent lower to 12,383.19, while the S&P 500 was fractionally lower to 1,409.38. The Nasdaq Composite, however, had overcome early declines and was 0.1 percent higher to 2,437.47. Analysts said that investors were being careful before companies begin releasing their fourth quarter earnings reports.

Retail was affected by broker sentiment. Bed Bath & Beyond added 2.1 percent to $39.68 after Goldman Sachs upgraded its recommendation to “buy” in anticipation of good quarterly results. The same broker downgraded Wal-Mart from “buy” to “neutral”, sending the discount retailer down 0.3 percent to $47.23.

Broker comment helped Apple, which added 1.1 percent to $86 after JPMorgan Securities upped its profit forecast for the first quarter for the computer maker.

Mergers and acquisitions activity played a part in moves in the oil sector. Forest Oil will buy Houston Exploration in a deal worth $1.5 billion in cash and stocks. Houston added 4.3 percent to $50.78, but Forest dropped 3.1 percent to $30.26. Meanwhile, General Electric will purchase oil and gas equipment supplier Vetco Gray for $1.9 billion. The news sent GE 0.5 percent lower to $37.39.

In the healthcare sector, medical device manufacturer St Jude Medical added 6.1 percent to $37.13 after it said its fourth quarter earnings will be higher than had been anticipated.


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