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Stocks In The Red Monday Morning; Barnes & Noble Up 60% -- U.S. Commentary

Stocks are down slightly in early dealing Monday morning, trimming some of last week's solid gains. There was little reaction to figures from the Commerce Department showing U.S. workers took home more pay in March.

Wall Street followed European stocks lower after 16 Spanish banks were downgraded on concerns about the nation's economy. Spain fell back into recession in the first quarter due to severe austerity measures.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has slipped 4.5 points to 13,223.70. The S&P 500 has lost 3 points to 1,400. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 5 points to 3,063.

In corporate news, shares of Barnes & Noble have surged 60 percent on news that Microsoft Corp. is making a $300 million investment in a newly formed Nook unit.

Health care stocks are the only S&P sector in the green this morning.

Merck (MRK) has won the latest round in its patent suit against Mylan. A U.S. court has ruled that a patent for drug maker's Zetia and Vytorin cholesterol drugs is valid.

Watson Pharmaceuticals reported a significant increase in first-quarter profit, as new generic drug launches and improved overseas performance helped grow revenues substantially.

NYSE Euronext revealed disappointing results for the first three months of the year. The financial exchange operator said net profit plunged 44 percent to $87 million. Weak trading volume, particularly in the derivatives market, hurt results. The company was also hit by charges related to the termination of a proposed merger.

Earnings were higher at Anheuser-Busch InBev. The brewer said earnings climbed 75 percent to $1.69 billion. The company was helped by higher revenue and lower finance costs. Volumes rose 1.8 percent for the first quarter, with a strong performance in Latin America.

Chinese solar products maker LDK Solar Co., Ltd. reported a significant loss for the fourth quarter compared to a profit last year, as weak market demand led to lower selling prices. Shares were off 8 percent.

Also moving lower are shares of insurer Humana. The company reported a decline in first-quarter profit that missed analysts' estimates, as medical costs increased. The company raised its full-year earnings outlook, citing favorable prior-period medical claims reserves development.

by RTT Staff Writer

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