Mid-Day Report

Despite a modest gain in construction spending, the markets plummeted during the midday as the nation's manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in nearly a year. The Dow skidded 198 points to 13,067 while Nasdaq plunged 50 points to 2602.

On the upside

Akeena Solar (Nasdaq: AKNS) engaged Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE: STP) to distribute Akeena's Andalay product line in Europe, Japan and Australia.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) will pay Millennium Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MLNM) $40 million for reaching an overseas sales goal for the blood cancer treatment Velcade.

Motley Fool named Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) the best stock for 2008 after a change in management.

On the downside

VeriFone Holdings (NYSE: PAY) is unable to complete its annual report by the extended deadline of January 14 because the company is uncertain when its financial restatements of the first three quarters of the fiscal year will be finished.

J. P. Morgan analyst Charles Grom downgraded BJ Wholesale Club (NYSE: BJ) saying that sales are expected to weaken in 2008.

Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Ginocchio downgraded Harte-Hanks (NYSE: HHS) due to its struggling shopper unit.

In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of 5 to 3 on the NYSE and by more than 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks plunged 13 points to 753.

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