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The Markets Now: Stocks Pare Losses After Weak Home Sales Report


Plus, General Electric gets downgraded by JPMorgan.

Stocks are little changed today after existing home sales decreased month-over-month. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) decreased 0.14% to 14,526.51. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) climbed 0.17% to 1,557.87, and the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.54% to 3,223.35.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported today that its National Activity Index fell to -0.23 in March from 0.76 in February. A negative reading indicates below average economic growth. The three-month moving average fell to -0.1 from 0.12 in February. Production related indicators made the only positive contribution to the index while the other three components pulled down the index. Read the full report here.

The National Association of Realtors reported today that existing-home sales decreased a monthly 0.6% from 4.95 million in February to a seasonally adjusted 4.92 million in March. Year-over-year, existing home sales increased increased 10.3% from 4.46 million in March 2012. Read the press release here.

The US Treasury announced today that it will offer $40 billion of 4-week Treasury bills tomorrow. The Treasury also reported today that it auctioned $32 billion worth of 3-month Treasury bills with a 0.050% rate with a 4.75 bid-to-cover ration and $28 billion worth of 6-month Treasury bills with a 0.085% rate with a 5.14 bid-to-cover ratio.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPl) increased 1.42% to $396.08. Apple will report quarterly earnings tomorrow.

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) jumped 4.49% to $38.88. The company reported a $18 million first-quarter loss, or $0.02 per share, versus a profit $627 million, or $0.68 per share, in the prior-year quarter. The loss includes an after-tax charge of $637 million; excluding the charge, income from operations was $624 million, or $0.67 per share. Quarterly revenue increased to $6.97 billion from $6.87 billion in the prior-year quarter.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) rose 3.91% to $30.93. CNBC reported that activist fund ValueAct Capital Management has acquired a $2 billion stake in Microsoft.

General Electric (NYSE:GE) fell 2.19% to $21.27. JPMorgan analysts cut their rating of the company from "Overweight" to "Neutral," saying the stock could no longer be called a "safety stock" because of slower industrial earnings.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) decreased 1.51% to $17.36.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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