Stocks trimmed some of the gains they saw in early trading trading, but remained firmly in positive territory at midday.
The S&P 500 was rising by 8 points to 1,888, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 91 points to 16,079 and the Nasdaq was ahead 10 points to 4,498.
Asia’s indices all closed the day higher even though the Chinese gross domestic product rose by 6.8 percent for 2015. While the rate of growth sounds impressive, it’s the worst economic growth since 1990 for China. So, there are expectations that the country’s government will provide more stimulus to boost the economy. Meanwhile, Europe has followed Asia’s lead with major indices closing higher as mining stocks got a lift from China.
By midday, Tiffany & C0.’s stock was still selling off by over 5 percent to $64.35 after the luxury jeweler cut its earnings forecast after reporting holiday sales that did not shine. Net sales fell 6 percent to $961 million during the holidays as the company struggled with weak tourist shopping and a strong dollar. Tiffany’s also doesn’t expect things to improve anytime soon and that net earnings in the fiscal year ending this month will drop 10 percent.
Michael Kors Holdings shares were higher by 10 cents to $35.70 after Piper Jaffray upgraded the stock to neutral from underweight. An analyst for the bank wrote, “We see overall comps in the negative 6 percent range, anticipate tight expense control, and see the potential for further geographic licenses to come back in-house. In addition, we believe the company has continued to execute against its buyback.” The bank did not change its earnings estimates.
Chico’s FAS Inc. has completed the sale of its Boston Proper catalogue to Brentwood Associates. Chico’s did not disclose the terms of the sale agreement. The specialty retailer said in November that it was selling the business so it could focus on it other brands which include Chico’s, White House | Black Market and Soma intimates. Chico’s stock is down slightly by 5 cents to $10.09.
Sally Beauty was downgraded to equal weight from overweight by Morgan Stanley. Analysts at the bank noted that they expected limited downside, but because of a lack of catalysts decided to move to the sidelines for now. Sally Beauty stock is flat at $26.04.
Bon-Ton Stores Inc. retired its remaining mortgage loan facility by using some of the money available through its revolving credit facility. The stock popped over 2 percent in early trading to $1.56 on the news, but turned negative by over 1 percent to trade near $1.50. The mortgage loan had a principal outstanding amount of $102.4 million and was secured by 12 properties.