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Stock Market Update for 1/23/2012

January 23, 2012

Shares Higher On Wall Street As Traders Eye Europe stock market update

Stocks have gained ground in early trading on Wall Street. Strength in Europe has helped give shares a boost, despite a negative reaction to earnings from Halliburton and to news of a leadership change at Research In Motion.

Dow is up 12.94 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,733.42. The Nasdaq has climbed 16.65 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,803.35. The S&P 500 is higher by 5.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,321.31.

Investors are focused on Europe today. The European markets shrugged off early weakness and are moderately higher. Banks have rallied after the Financial Times reported that France and Germany would likely seek easing of bank capital rules. The U.K. is up 1 percent. Germany is higher by 0.9 percent. France is posting a gain of 0.6 percent.

Finance ministers from euro-zone member states meeting in Brussels, a day before the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting, to discuss new budget rules to tackle the region’s debt crisis. The ministers will also resume talks on Greek debt after negotiations between Athens and its private-sector lenders were adjourned late Friday.

Shares of oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (HAL) are Down nearly 4 percent.

The company reported a sharp rise in its fourth-quarter profit, driven by strong revenue growth amid increased drilling activity. Both adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations and quarterly revenues topped analysts’ expectations. The company said it expects activity increases to continue through 2012. However, shares rallied last week, and traders are taking profits in Monday’s early trading.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM, RIM.TO) announced that its Co-Chief Executive Officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have stepped Down after about two decades at the helm of the company. They are succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Thorsten Heins as President and CEO, effective immediately.

Shares are Down 7 percent amid disappointment that the company chose an insider as its new top executive.

Independent oil and gas company Apache Corp. (APA) said it has agreed to acquire privately-held Cordillera Energy Partners III LLC for $2.85 billion in cash and stock, in a deal that more than doubles its acreage in a highly liquids-rich fairway in the Anadarko Basin. The sellers include EnCap Investments, other institutional investors and Cordillera management.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a statement saying that the Chevy Volts and other electric cars do not seem to pose a greater risk of fire than gas automobiles.

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