Often, the stock market seemingly ignores positive economic news. With U.S. existing-home sales rising to levels not seen in the past five years and prices up nearly 6% for 2012, the housing market's recovery has created a recent boom in construction hiring, showing that the sector is starting to have the impact on employment that economists have long hoped to see. Yet investors still have plenty to worry about as the debt ceiling debate crawls toward a temporary resolution and earnings season still offers the threat of volatility. As of 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) are down a nominal two points, although the broader market is up slightly.
But the downdraft in the Dow didn't pull every stock down with it. Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) soared 2.4% after beating earnings estimates in this morning's quarterly report. Despite seeing substantial losses from Hurricane Sandy, Travelers has been able to sustain increased premiums in the wake of past disasters, and favorable loss experience helped bolster results as well.
Elsewhere, R.R. Donnelley (NYSE: RRD ) is up 4%. The company didn't have any major news releases, but the stock goes ex-dividend tomorrow, and with its yield approaching 11%, savvy investors appear to be using the stock as a short-term dividend play. The company has posted a loss over the past 12 months, concerns about how long R.R. Donnelley will be able to maintain such a rich payout are likely to persist, but for now, the yield is intact.
Finally, Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA ) has dropped 6.3%, as the company said in an SEC filing that the European Medicines Agency has given it a list of outstanding issues with its obesity drug candidate, Belviq. Given concerns about tumors in rats and potential psychiatric events, European regulators want further answers before granting marketing approval for the drug in the European Union. With Arena having had to wait for the Drug Enforcement Agency before launching the drug commercially in the U.S., every delay is painful, as it gives rival VIVUS (NASDAQ: VVUS ) extra time to sell its Qsymia drug unchallenged.
The potential market for obesity drugs is massive, but so are the risks. Be sure to look at our premium research reports on Arena Pharmaceuticals and VIVUS to find out from senior biotech analyst Brian Orelli, Ph.D., what their respective strengths and weaknesses are. Don't wait -- click now for exclusive information on Arena and VIVUS today.