Mixed news on the economic front sent stocks lurching early today. Industrial production in the U.S. rose as a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed regional manufacturing jumped at its fastest clip since mid-2010. But general concerns about Europe still linger, and although the positive economic reports were enough to send the broader market slightly higher, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 18 points to 12,860 at around 10:45 a.m. EST.
Among Dow stocks, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) was virtually unchanged. The company announced a deal with Kellogg (NYSE: K ) to sell its Pringles snack food unit for $2.7 billion. The move was necessary after a proposed agreement with Diamond Foods fell through after accounting problems forced P&G to look elsewhere. The deal will substantially boost the size of Kellogg's international snacks business.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) fell slightly after NBC Universal partner Comcast reported earnings. Comcast's cable unit posted fairly strong performance, but NBC Universal fell short, as revenue at the unit increased less than 1% for the quarter and operating cash flows fell almost 7%. A lot will be riding on this year's broadcast of the London Olympics, which involves huge costs and is always a bit of a gamble for the media giant.
Finally, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) was down 0.6%. Rival Deere announced earnings that beat estimates, as record income for U.S. farmers helped drive sales. Although Caterpillar focuses on construction and mining equipment, it too is sensitive to global economic trends similar to those that drive agriculture.
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