Equities Slightly Lower at Midday
15-Feb-13 13:00 ET
[BRIEFING.COM] At midday, equities are registering slim losses and the S&P 500 is off by 0.1%. The major averages climbed higher in early trade, but were unable to hold their gains into the afternoon.
The session started on a positive note amid generally upbeat economic data. The February Empire Manufacturing Survey rose to 10.0 from its prior reading of -7.8. The report was a positive surprise as the Briefing.com consensus expected the survey to come in at 0.0.
In addition, the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan Sentiment Survey was reported at 76.3, ahead of the 73.5 expected by the Briefing.com consensus.
The upbeat consumer sentiment survey has helped discretionary stocks outperform during today's trade. The SPDR Consumer Discretionary Select Sector ETF (XLY 51.05, +0.17) is adding 0.3%, and the ETF represents the top performing sector. Apparel manufacturer V.F. Corp (VFC 157.89, +5.08) is rising 3.3% after reporting mixed earnings. The company beat on the bottom line, but its revenue fell short of the Capital IQ consensus estimate. Although the company reported a generally positive quarter, its full-year guidance was below analyst expectations.
On the downside, the energy sector is the weakest performer and SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE 78.38, -0.97) is down 1.2%. The sector is seeing broad weakness as crude oil trades lower as well. The energy component is off by 1.8%, trading at $95.55.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 12.53, -0.13) is nearing fresh session highs after notching a session low at 12.24 during morning trade.
Comments from the G20 summit taking place in Russia have begun making the rounds. Earlier, Jens Weidmann of Germany's Bundesbank said the euro is not overvalued and the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is not talking down the common currency. Meanwhile, Mr. Draghi said euro exchange rate is not a policy target for the central bank.
Looking at the day's remaining economic data, January industrial production decreased 0.1%, which was worse than the 0.2% uptick that had been expected by the Briefing.com consensus. Meanwhile, capacity utilization hit 79.1%, which was better than the 78.9% expected by the Briefing.com consensus. Lastly, net long-term TIC flows showed an inflow of $52.3 billion in foreign funds into USD-denominated assets during November.