Friday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The major stocks were trading higher Friday after an encouraging report on the overall economic activity. As of 12 p.m.:

DIJA: +0.39% to 15293.31 S&P 500: +0.45% to 1657.97 NASDAQ: +0.48% to 3481.72
Gold: -2.64% to 72.16 Oil: +0.45% to 22.26 U.S. 10-Year: +3.75% to 19.35

Here are three stories helping shape the market on Friday afternoon:

1. Consumer Sentiment Hits Highest Level Since July 2007: Despite an overall sluggish economy, consumer sentiment in the United States reached its best level in almost six years.

According to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary reading, consumer sentiment in early May rose to 83.7, compared to 76.4 in April. This is the highest level for the index since July 2007. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a modest increase to 77.9. In fact, the preliminary reading beat every estimate in the survey… (Read more.)

2. What Happened at the IRS, and Is Obama Accountable? Last week, Lois Lerner, who leads the Exempt Organizations Division at the IRS, issued an apology admitting that the agency had engaged in “inappropriate” targeting of conservative 501c(4) groups during the 2012 election. According to Lerner, lower-level IRS employees pursued additional review of groups containing keywords like “tea party” or “patriot” that were suspected of violating the conditions necessary to qualify for tax-exempt status.

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An audit released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on May 14 determined that “early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to review for indications of significant political campaign intervention”…(Read more.)

3. Is Amazon Guilty of Exploiting the British Tax Rulebook? Just following Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) denial of the claim that its business is disguising the way it operates in order to minimize its U.K. tax bill, Internet retailer Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) tax affairs are now back under the spotlight. Reuters reported Friday that the British Parliament will re-summon Amazon to clarify how its U.K. activities warrant its low corporate income tax bill.

Because Amazon claims that it operates a single European business out of Luxembourg, rather than a multinational structure of independent subsidiaries in different countries, it believes it should only pay taxes in Luxembourg… (Read more.)

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