Stocks Directionless After Rally

LENNew York, March 27th,( – U.S. stocks opened flat this morning after yesterday’s rally that saw the Dow rise +160.52 points. Economic numbers indicated consumers continue confident in the economy, nevertheless, an indicator of U.S. home prices showed continued weakness.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose +2 points, or less than +0.1 percent to 13,243 after the opening, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained +9 points or +0.3 percent to 3,132 and the S&P 500 Index rose by +1 point also less than +0.1 percent to 1,417.

At midday, all major indexes continued trading higher with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by +13 points or +0.1 percent to 13,254 while the. S&P 500 Index gained +2 points or +1.0 percent to 1,418 and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up by +8 points or +0.2 percent to 3,130.

This morning, Standard & Poor’s released the Case-Schiller Composite-20 HPI, which measures single family home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. The number showed housing prices had declined by -3.8 percent in January after a -4.1 drop in December, on target with analyst estimates. Also out this morning, was the Conference Board’s index of Consumer Confidence, which came out at 70.2, in line with expectations, however the previous number was revised up from 70.8 to 71.6. 

U.S. Stocks in the News

Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN)

Shares of Miami, FL based home builder Lennar Corp. increased by +1.66 or +6.29 percent midday to $28.06 per share, after the company reported new orders for the December to February time frame had increased by 33 percent. In addition, the company reported first quarter 2012 earnings had been $15 million or $0.08 per share, compared to $27.4 million or $0.14 per share for the same period one year ago. While first quarter earnings were well below 2011’s Q1, the firm beat analyst estimates which called for earnings of $0.04 per share.

Ista Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ISTA)

Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment were up +0.66 or +7.82 percent midday to $9.04 per share, after the East Lansing, MI eye care company agreed to be taken over by eye care giant, Rochester, NY based Bausch & Lomb. The deal, which was announced late yesterday will have Bausch & Lomb acquire the company for $500 million in cash that comes to a per share price of $9.10, a premium of 8.6 percent from the stock’s Monday closing price of $8.38 per share. The deal comes after a failed $360 million bid made in January by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which withdrew their offer after Ista adopted a poison pill shareholder rights plan.

Wabash National Corp. (NYSE: WNC)

Shares of Wabash National Corp. increased by +1.11 or +11.35 percent midday to $10.89 per share, after the Lafayette, IN manufacturer of semi-trailers announced it had agreed to purchase Lisbon, WI based Walker Group Holdings LLC for $360 million. Walker Group Holdings manufactures stainless steel tanker trucks, as well as transports for the dairy, ethanol and pharmaceutical industries. Wabash is purchasing Dallas, TX based Insight Equity Holdings LLC’s interest in Walker Group. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012. 

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