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Market Update

Stocks on Wall Street Search Direction, Small Business Confidence Rises

Author: Nichole Harper
Last Update: 11:52 AM ET March 12 2013

11:40 AM New York Market indexes in New York traded slightly higher as the S&P 500 index inched closer to its all-time high. U.S. Treasury is scheduled to sell $32 billion of debt today and Italy attracted more than expected demand for its bond auction but at a higher yield.

Stocks traded sideways in early trading in New York after mixed economic news and a rise in small business sector confidence.

The narrow index of 30 stocks, Dow Jones Industrial average extended gains for the seventh day in a row and the broader S&P 500 index inched closer to its all-time record high.

The National Federation of Independent Business said its small business optimism index increased to 90.8 in February from 88.9 in January.

However, its index of expected business conditions remained deep in recession and more businesses reported a decline in sales than reporting increase.

The Treasury is scheduled to sell $32 billion of 3-year notes with the results to be announced after 1 p.m. ET.

Treasury Department is also scheduled to release its monthly budget for February at 2 p.m. ET with the economists expecting the deficit to decline to at least $210 billion from January deficit of $238 billion.

Markets in Europe struggled after Italy and Spain placed more bonds and manufacturing output declined in the U.K. in January.

Manufacturing output declined 1.5% in January from the previous month.

Separately, German economy ministry said the economy is on the verge of recovery on the rising confidence in the euro zone and signs of improving conditions in the global economic conditions.

In the first debt auction after the election, Italy attracted higher than expected demand for its bonds despite the political uncertainty.

Ital sold 7.75 billion euros of 12-month bonds that averaged yield of 1.28% from the yield of 1.094% in the previous auction. Italy is scheduled to sell 7.25 billion euros of bonds tomorrow.

Spain following its announcement for the 2013 debt strategy said it plans to sell three longer-dated bonds this week. The unscheduled bond auction would not have a specific size target but will take advantage of the recent bond market rally.

Stocks in Review

Apple Inc (AAPL) dropped 1.7% after Lazard lowered its price target for the stock to $420 from $500. The stock has been under pressure but had gained in recent months after traders speculated on special dividend and the release of new wireless services linked products.

Costco Wholesale Corp (COST) gained 2.3% after the wholesale club reported fiscal second quarter earnings ahead of expectations and the company also reported strong increase in membership fees.

The club operator also raised its annual membership fees for most U.S. and Canadian members by 10% on November 1, 2011.

Red Hat (RHT) declined 3.5% after Citigroup lowered its views on the company outlook.

VeriFone Systems (PAY) increased 5% after the maker of card payment systems said its chief executive officer, Douglas Bergeron agreed to step down after 12 years of service.

Yum Brands (YUM) gained 2.4% after the operator of fast food chains said same-store sales in the first quarter at its China location declined less than expected. Yum is trying to win its KFC customers back in China after negative publicity linked to tainted chicken supply.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc