Stocks are making modest gains this morning on news the Greek parliament voted to pass an austerity package. Although highly controversial in Greece, the austerity measures – which include privatizing government assets and cutting public sector wages – are intended to help the cash-strapped country avoid a sovereign debt default.
Back home, Wall Street is modestly up on news that one of the largest banks in the U.S., the Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), has made a multi-billion dollar settlement relating to the sale of its toxic mortgage-backed securities. On this optimism, several stocks are hitting 52-week highs, including South American companies Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao (NYSE: CBD) and Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (NYSE: SQM), also known as Soquimich.
However, a limited number of stocks are falling to 52-week lows, including airline company AMR Corp (NYSE: AMR).
A full report follows below.
Stocks hitting 52-week highs
Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao (NYSE: CBD), a Brazilian superstore akin to Walmart (NYSE:WMT), is up over 6% so far this morning. CBD stock rallied on news that French retail giant, Carrefour (CASP.PA), is interested in merging its Brazilian assets with CBD. The deal would give Carrefour a 50% cut into one of the world’s largest and fastest growing food markets. However, rival French retail group, Casino Guichard-Perrachon already owns a stake in CBD and is, therefore, bitterly opposed to the move. The deal will likely play out over the weeks to come.
Sociedad Quimica Y (NYSE: SQM): The Chilean chemicals and fertilizer company has risen about 3.5% this morning. The stock appears to have overcome technical resistance around $63 and is pushing higher on strong momentum.
Highway Holdings (NASDAQ: HIHO): The Chinese metal fabricator and electronic equipment manufacturer has sparked up over 31% in morning trading after reporting exceptionally strong fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2011 results. Fourth-quarter revenue increased 31.8% to $7.9 million, while fourth-quarter earnings soared almost five-fold to $0.21 per share. Similarly, fiscal-year sales rose 43.3% to $31.1 million and fiscal-year earnings rose nearly four times to $0.44 per share.
Stocks hitting 52-week lows
Webmd Health Corp (NASDAQ: WBMD): The web-based health internet provider has coughed up over -2% so far this morning. The stock has been on shaky ground since last Friday, when competing service provider Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced it is stopping its web-based health service known as (plainly enough) Google Health.
Amr Copr (NYSE: AMR): The airline carrier best known for its principal subsidiary, American Airlines, has dipped nearly -1.5% in morning trading. The stock is facing downward pressure as oil prices – and therefore fuel costs – climb higher.
Knight Capital Group (NYSE: KCG): The New Jersey-based regional investment brokerage firm has slipped nearly -0.5% so far this morning. The stock has been in a downtrend since May and seems to be succumbing to technical vulnerability.
As of this writing, Deborah O’Malley did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.