Stocks quoted in this article:
Stocks are modestly higher at midday, with bulls testing the waters after Tuesday's sharp decline. Anxiety over Thursday's Greek debt swap deadline seems to have eased, after a number of major financial institutions confirmed their intentions to participate in the voluntary restructuring. An upbeat payrolls report from ADP has also boosted sentiment; ahead of Friday's marquee employment report from the Labor Department, the payroll processor announced that the private sector added a stronger-than-forecast 216,000 jobs in February. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) is attracting some attention in the tech sector, as traders eagerly await today's media event -- which is expected to feature the latest and greatest version of its market-leading tablet, rumored to be called the iPad HD. Against this backdrop, the major market indexes have erased a portion of Tuesday's losses.
At last look, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 12,834.00) has edged up 74.9 points, or 0.6%. The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,352.72) has advanced 9.4 points, or 0.7%, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 2,939.20) has added 28.9 points, or roughly 1%.
Checking in on Dow components, Kraft Foods (KFT - 37.75) is down 1.4% to pace the eight decliners, with traders responding to a negative analyst note. Bank of America (BAC - 7.92) is up 2.7% to lead the 22 gainers.
After spiking higher on Tuesday, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 19.41) has swallowed a loss of 7% this afternoon. As a result, the VIX is on track to surrender a short-lived foothold above its 50-day moving average and the 20 level.
Among equities in focus, Pandora Media (P - 10.87) has plummeted 23.8% so far today, as the Internet radio outfit's fourth-quarter results have gone over like a lead balloon. American Eagle Outfitters (AEO - 15.36) is faring much better, up about 5% on the heels of its earnings report. Ahead of today's iPad event, PlayBook creator Research In Motion Limited (RIMM - 13.09) is down 0.3%, thanks in part to an early price-target cut. Meanwhile, in the options pits, Potash Corp. (POT - 43.25) attracted the attention of put players.