Dow tries to make it a clean sweep for the bulls this week, but Middle East news could create problems for stocks. Oil prices have moved higher this morning, but a surprise jump in existing home sales has offset the bad news. Several biotech stocks are seeing large moves today including Amgen (AMGN) and ImClone Systems (IMCL).
AMGN shares are down five percent after the company announced that it would discontinue a clinical trial that would add Vectibix to a chemotherapy program. However, what is bad news for AMGN has been good news for IMCL, which makes a competing drug. IMCL shares are up nearly 13 percent in midday trading.
Oil prices are higher today, trading above $62 a barrel. News that 15 British sailors were taken captive by Iranian forces has created a lot of tension. Right now, stocks are not showing a lot of concern about the problem, but if it escalates, it could create a lot of problems for stocks and oil prices.
Existing home sales rose unexpectedly in February by 3.9 percent to a annualized rate of 6.69 million units. Expectations were for a reading of just 6.35 million units. Despite all the talk about problems in the housing sector due to the subprime debacle, existing home sales have risen for the past three months. However, inventory of unsold homes rose to 6.7 months, up a tenth from January. The median price of a home fell 1.3 percent to $212.800.
Citigroup (C) is in the news today after the Wall Street Journal reported that there are groups inside the company that want Citigroup to make a bid for ABN Amro (ABN). Right now, ABN is in merger talks with Barclays. ABN shares have risen 2.4 percent on the news.
In earnings news, Nike (NKE) announced that profits rose 8 percent. However, the maker of athletic shoes and gear stated that margins in the current quarter and year would be flat to slightly down. This news led to drop of more than two percent in NKE shares with the stock trading near $106.
The week has definitely gone to the bulls with the Dow ($INDU) rising every day this week. However, there are plenty of wildcards that could impact trading, including the economy and the Middle East crisis. Nonetheless, it is obvious that traders want to push stocks higher at the moment.
Senior Staff Writer & Options Strategist
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