The three major US equities indexes opened flat this morning following a poor report on durable goods orders (more coverage here) and a new low for the Case-Shiller home price index (more coverage here). The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 70.8 in February, well above expectations of 62.5, and that has stirred up some buying (more coverage here). Crude oil prices are also falling on the weakness in durable goods orders. In the first 45 minutes of trading, the DJIA is down about 1.3 points at around 12,980, the Nasdaq Composite is up 8 points at around 2,974, and the S&P 500 is up less than 1 point at around 1,368.
There are several stocks trading more heavily than usual this morning, and also experiencing large gains or drops in share prices. These include the Alimera Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: ALIM), Tibet Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: TBET), Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP), Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX), and Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL).
Alimera is up about 67% at $3.85. Volume is already nearly 10x the daily average of about 256,000 shares traded. The eyecare drug maker received a positive outcome from a European regulatory body for its ILUVIEN treatment.
Tibet Pharma is up about 34% at $2.01. Volume is already 20x the daily average of 106,000 shares traded. The drug maker is being taken private by its CEO and chairman for $3/share.
Office Depot is up nearly 17% at $3.52. Volume is already higher than the daily average of around 4 million shares traded. The office supply retailer reported better-than-expected earnings and revenues this morning..
Pacific Ethanol is down more than -24% at $1.22. Volume is already nearly 1.5x the daily average of around 6.6 million shares traded. The ethanol maker’s reported earnings fell short of expectations last night. More coverage here.
Apollo Group is down nearly -11% at $45.80. Volume is already nearly 4x the daily average of around 1.8 million shares traded. The for-profit education company lowered its forecast for enrollment and earnings this morning.