Stocks edge higher despite weak economic data
New York • U.S. stocks were slightly higher in midday trading Wednesday, recovering a portion of the losses they posted the day before, as investors set aside two disappointing economic reports.
Monsanto jumped after the company announced a big stock buyback plan and posted earnings that beat analysts' estimates. CBS and other broadcasters rose after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of them over a startup Internet company in a closely watched copyright case.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 24 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,839 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,954 and the Nasdaq composite rose eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,359.
BROADCAST BOOST: CBS and other TV companies advanced after the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo would have to pay them when it takes television programs from the airwaves and allows subscribers to watch them on smartphones and other portable devices. CBS rose $2.53, or 4 percent, to $61.37 and Walt Disney, which owns ABC, rose $1.18, or 1.4 percent, to $83.86. TV station owners also rose. Sinclair Broadcasting jumped $4.14, or 15 percent, to $33.38.
THE ECONOMY: In a revised estimate, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy shrank at annual rate of 2.9 percent in the first three months of the year. Two-thirds of the downward revision reflected a decline in health care spending. The Commerce Department also said orders for long-lasting goods sank 1 percent in May as demand for military equipment fell sharply.
THE CONTEXT: Investors weren't fazed by the government's downward revision of GDP in the first quarter, noting that many investors have already attributed weakness in the U.S. during the first three months of the year to unusually harsh winter weather.
"We need to be looking toward earnings season next month, not at a report from three months ago," said Anastasia Amoroso, a global market strategist with J.P. Morgan Funds.
OIL EXPORTS: Two energy companies, Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products, rose following a Wall Street Journal report that said the U.S. government was loosening a longstanding ban by letting two companies sell a certain kind of unrefined American oil internationally. The newspaper said the Obama administration would allow foreign buyers to purchase a type of ultralight oil known as condensate, which can be turned into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
Pioneer rose $9.35, or 4 percent, to $231.00 and Enterprise rose 99 cents, or 1 percent, to $77.08.
FERTILE SOIL: Monsanto's earnings fell more than 5 percent but its overall results still beat analysts' estimates. The company, which sells corn and soybean seeds, also announced plans to spend up to $10 billion on buying its own stock. Monsanto rose $6.10 to $126.73.
RIPPED PAGES: Barnes & Noble jumped $1.26, or 6 percent, to $21.83 after the bookseller said it would become two publicly traded companies, one focused on retail bookselling and one on its Nook Media business, which sells electronic reading devices.
BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which falls when prices rise, dropped to 2.55 percent from 2.58 percent late Tuesday. Crude oil rose 16 cents to $106.19.