On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday

The Fly

Stocks began the session with modest losses, putting their five-day winning streak in jeopardy. The market drifted for the opening 30 minutes but moved to the upside following the surprisingly better than expected consumer confidence reading. The averages have continued to gain upside momentum and are near their best levels at midday, keeping the S&P on track for its best performing week in five years. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., import prices rose 1.0% in January, while export prices increased 0.8%, both of which were above expectations. Housing starts climbed 9.7% to a 1.33M unit rate in January while building permits rose 7.4% to a 1.4M unit rate. the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose 4.2 points to 99.9 in the preliminary February reading. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of Dow member Coca-Cola (KO) were up 1% at midday after the beverage giant reported sales that beat analyst expectations for its most recent quarter. Also of note, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said on the company's Q4 earnings conference call that 2018 is "shaping up to be stronger" than 2017... Meanwhile, food and condiments maker Kraft Heinz (KHC) is down 4% after reporting fourth quarter sales and profits that fell short of consensus forecasts. Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees said as part of the report that "there's no question that our financial performance in 2017 did not reflect our progress or potential," such as improvements in many of its businesses and accelerations in some of its business investments... CBS (CBS) shares initially looked set to advance today following the company's earnings report last night, though they turned lower as the morning progressed. The stock is down about 2% near noon despite the company's better than expected revenue and earnings as the primary focus of investors remains a potential re-merger with Viacom (VIAB). MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Blue Apron (APRN), which added another 8% to its post-earnings rally of the last several sessions after Northcoast analyst Charles Cerankosky upgraded the stock to Neutral from Sell. Also higher after reporting quarterly results were MuleSoft (MULE) and DDR Corp. (DDR), which gained a respective 16% and 5%. Among the notable losers was Pacira (PCRX), which fell 16% after an FDA advisory panel voted against recommending a nerve block indication for its Exparel product. Also lower after reporting quarterly results were Arista Networks (ANET), Cohu (COHU), and Sleep Number (SNBR), which fell a respective 19%, 16%, and 8%. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 166.91, or 0.66%, to 25,367.28, the Nasdaq was up 31.22, or 0.43%, to 7,287.65, and the S&P 500 was up 15.91, or 0.58%, to 2,747.11.