Stocks on Wall Street were lower at midday following a number of domestic economic reports. The averages dipped at the outset in a continuation of yesterday’s moderate sell-off, though the market found a level about a half hour into the session and has been range bound since that point... ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims rose 20K to 362K last week, coming in above the consensus forecast for 355K claims. The headline consumer price index was flat in January, versus expectations for 0.1% increase, while the "core" rate climbed 0.3%, which was above the 0.2% forecast. Markit's "flash" purchasing managers' index for the U.S. for February came in at 55.2, versus forecasts for a 55.5 first look for the month. The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing survey fell to -12.5, versus expectations for it to rise to +1.0. Existing home sales for January increased 0.4% to a 4.92M pace, versus an expected decline of 0.8%. The leading economic indicators rose 0.2% to 94.1 in January, in line with expectations. In Europe, the composite services and manufacturing PMI for the shared currency nations fell to 47.3 in February from 48.6 in January, missing forecasts for an improved reading... COMPANY NEWS: Wal-Mart (WMT) confirmed its February sales started off weak, as leaked in internal emails reported by Bloomberg last week. The telegraphed bad start was reflected in the company’s worse than expected forecast for the coming quarter, but earnings in the holiday quarter that just ended beat consensus. The company raised its dividend by 18% as well and shares of the Dow member reacted favorably, rising about 2.5% to lead the DJIA... Coca-Cola (KO), another Dow component, also increased its dividend by 10%, though investor reaction was more muted. Coke shares were up fractionally in midday trading after the announcement... MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers were ParkerVision (PRKR), which jumped 37% after the company said it received favorable patent in patent claim construction ruling in a suit with Qualcomm (QCOM), and Repros Therapeutics (RPRX), which rose 32% after it said the FDA recommended it complete its study of Androxal. Among the noteworthy losers was VeriFone (PAY), which sank 39% after the company's preliminary Q1 results and preliminary Q2 guidance fell below expectations and the stock was downgraded by at least five firms. Also lower were shares of several semiconductor makers, including RF Micro Devices (RFMD) and Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), which fell following downgrades at Raymond James and the announcement of a new class of chips from Qualcomm... INDICES: Near noon, the Dow was down 59.72, or 0.43%, to 13,867.82; the Nasdaq was down 29.41, or 0.93%, to 3,135.00; and the S&P 500 was down 9.25, or 0.61%, to 1,502.70.
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