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US Stocks Creep Up on Dollar Moves

Bob Pisani is off; this post was written by CNBC producer Robert Hum.

The dollar continues to be in the forefront today as stocks continue to respond primarily to currency moves.

Stocks open slightly up despite a disappointing September industrial production report (down 0.2 percent vs. up 0.2 percent consensus). Last month’s decline was the first decline in 15 months.

The poor data sent the dollar to its lows of the sessions, which helped propel stocks' rise just after the open.

The first big week of earnings commences this week with over a fifth of the S&P and over a third of the Dow reporting.

Eyes will certainly be on the market’s two biggest sectors – techs and financials – as a number of key firms in those sectors announcing their latest results throughout the week (financials – Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, American Express; techs – Apple, IBM, eBay, Seagate, Sandisk). (For real-time quotes, see stock chart below.)

Some earnings highlights this morning:

Citigroup up 2% as earnings beat estimates by a penny. It was the third straight quarter of profits for the bank as revenues were strong in consumer and investment banking/trading (up 33 percent and up 14 percent, respectively). The financial also saw lower credit loss provisions ($5.9 billion last quarter vs. $6.7 billion in prior quarter) – in fact, that’s the lowest levels since Q2 2007.

Philips Electronics falls 5 percent as a cautious tone for its revenues in the current quarter overshadowed stronger-than-expected earnings that were helped by cost cuts. The conglomerate, which makes everything from lighting to medical systems to flat-screen TVs, warned of inventor de-stocking in the current quarter due to “patchy consumer confidence and an uncertain economic climate,” particularly in the commercial construction markets.

Hasbro earnings beat estimates ($1.09 vs. $1.04 consensus) as sales slightly exceeded forecasts thanks to strong sales of toys in its preschool and boys segments. That alleviated investors concerns of sales pressures following Mattel’s report last week.

Fluor falls 4 percent after cutting its full-year earnings guidance. The construction/engineering firm had to take a $163 million charge in the third quarter due to rising costs on one of its wind projects.

Elsewhere:

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fall 2 percent after their widely-expected announcement that they are abandoning their iron-ore joint venture in Western Australia. The project faced significant headwinds from regulators since the project would have given the two mining companies one-third of the world’s iron ore output.

AGA Medical soars 41 percent after agreeing to a sale to medical device maker St. Jude Medical for $1.3 billion. The cash and stock deal will give AGA Medical shareholders a 41 percent premium on their shares and should close by the end of the year.

Northeast Utilities announced it will acquire Massachusetts electricity firm NSTAR for $4.3 billion in an all-stock deal.

(Editor's Note: a previous version of this story valued the Northeast Utilities-NSTAR deal at $9.5 billion.)

Receiving 1.312 shares of Northeast Utilities for each of their shares, NSTAR shareholders will get a 2 percent premium for their shares, but that’s still a nice price given NSTAR is trading just off its all-time high.

Quicksilver Resources jumps 14 percent after the natural gas E&P firm disclosed that the family that leads the company wants to explore taking the firm private at “a substantial premium”

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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