Wall St. pulls back from record; utilities slump

2016-07-05 09:09:36

NEW YORK U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as investors engaged in profit-taking to pull major indexes from record levels, while the trend of modest moves and low volume continued heading into the final trading day of the year.The day's losses were broad, with each of the ten primary S&P 500 sectors in negative territory. Utilities .SPLRCU - 2014's best sector performer - led the decline with a drop of 2.1 percent. Equities have enjoyed a solid rally of late, buoyed by strong economic data and the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to be "patient" about raising interest rates. The S&P 500 gained nearly 6 percent over the prior eight sessions and managed to score its 53rd record close of the year on Monday.The speed and scale of the rally provided incentive to take profits, and amplified volatility is possible this week with many market participants out for the holiday, which dampens volume. The stock market will be closed on Thursday for the New Year's holiday."It wasn’t going to take much to prompt the decline, it’s probably more resting than anything else. We’ve had a pretty significant move higher," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco. "We’ve marched straight up from 1,970 or so to about 2,100 so it’s only natural that we are going to get a little bit of a pullback here."The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 55.16 points, or 0.31 percent, to 17,983.07, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 10.22 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,080.35 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 29.47 points, or 0.61 percent, to 4,777.44.In the latest economic data, consumer confidence rose slightly less than expected in December, while U.S. single-family home price appreciation slowed less than forecast in October. NeuroDerm Ltd (NDRM.O) soared more than 193 percent to $18.14 on heavy volume after it said data from a mid-stage study suggested that a higher dose of its Parkinson's drug could provide an alternative to treatments that require surgery. Civeo Corp (CVEO.N), which provides temporary housing for oilfield workers and miners, late Monday slashed its workforce and forecast revenue could fall by one-third as slumping crude prices force oil producers to cut costs. The stock plunged 52.6 percent to $3.92 on volume of about 56.2 million shares, the most active day in its history. Volume was light, with about 4.42 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, well below the 7.06 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,806 to 1,262, for a 1.43-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,671 issues fell and 1,031 advanced for a 1.62-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.The benchmark S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 107 new highs and 39 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Wall Street opens lower on Brexit hangover

2016-06-27 16:14:24

Wall Street opened sharply lower on Monday, led by financial stocks, as investors tread cautiously after a vote for Britain to end its European Union membership on Friday damaged confidence and sparked a massive equities selloff.The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 141.52 points, or 0.81 percent, at 17,259.23, the S&P 500 .SPX 15.22 points, or 0.75 percent, at 2,022.19 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC 43.33 points, or 0.92 percent, at 4,664.65. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Wall St. marches ahead as Britain votes on EU

2016-06-23 18:11:46

The three major U.S. stock indexes recorded their biggest percentage gains in a month on Thursday as Britain seemed to swing toward remaining in the European Union, a scenario that would avert a possible financial crisis. Markets across the globe have been rattled over the past two weeks as investors speculated about the consequences of Britain's exit from the European union, including the unraveling of the bloc. The "Remain" camp has found 52 percent favor, according to an Ipsos MORI poll conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday. The final result of the referendum will be known on Friday.U.S. markets also took solace in Fed Chair Janet Yellen's two-day testimony this week when she expressed optimism about the economy and downplayed the chances of a recession this year. "Regardless of the outcome in the UK, we will see a relief rally in the U.S. today and tomorrow," said Mohannad Aama, managing director, Beam Capital Management in New York. "I think we'll continue to go up tomorrow even if a "Leave" vote prevails because there's a lot of money in the sidelines ... and that will be routed to safer havens and that includes U.S. stocks." The sterling hit a year-high on Thursday while gold, which had gained favor amid uncertainty in the past month, fell to a two-week low. Oil prices rose despite a smaller-than-expected draw on U.S. crude as appetite for risky assets increased on better odds for Britain to remain in the EU. [O/R]CBOE Volatility Index .VIX, the market's measure of turbulence, fell 13.42 percent to 18.33, compared to its long-term average of 20.At 10:48 a.m. ET (1448 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 130.98 points, or 0.74 percent, at 17,911.81. The S&P 500 .SPX was up 15.09 points, or 0.72 percent, at 2,100.54. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 37.82 points, or 0.78 percent, at 4,871.13.The major S&P sectors were led by a 1.44 percent rise in the financials index .SPSY. JPMorgan (JPM.N) and Citigroup (C.N) were the top gainers in the sector, which had only three stocks in the red. Utilities .SPLRCU were down 0.15 percent. Markets were also buoyed by data that pointed to a resilient labor market. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week to a near 43-year low.Micron Tech (MU.O) jumped 9 percent to $13.86 after Susquehanna raised rating to "positive" from "neutral". The stock was the biggest percentage gainer among S&P components. Macy's (M.N) rose 4.7 percent after Terry Lundgren said he would step down as CEO next year.Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,442 to 426. On the Nasdaq, 2,077 issues rose and 508 fell.The S&P 500 index showed 41 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 13 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

Wall St. ticks up on economy bets; Brexit fear ebbs

2016-06-22 02:30:39

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, led by gains in technology shares as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was optimistic about the economy and played down the risk of a recession, while concern over the upcoming British referendum remained subdued.Yellen, however, warned that the British vote on Thursday on whether to stay in the European Union, alongside a U.S. hiring slowdown, posed risks to the economic outlook.The British pound earlier brushed $1.48 to hit its highest level in nearly six months versus the U.S. dollar GBP=, as markets continued to price in the momentum toward a vote to remain in the EU."The biggest issue in the market is clearly the upcoming vote in the UK. The sentiment swings back and forth and right now it is swinging toward 'remain' and that is giving support," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 24.86 points, or 0.14 percent, to 17,829.73, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 5.65 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,088.9 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 6.55 points, or 0.14 percent, to 4,843.76.Microsoft (MSFT.O) led the S&P advance with a 2.2 percent gain followed by Apple's (AAPL.O) 0.8 percent rise. As part of its biannual monetary policy report, the Fed warned U.S. stock market valuations are "well above" their median over the past 30 years, the strongest such assessment in years. "The model they use may be useful in long periods of time, but hasn't proved to be useful in the short run," Meckler said, as he pointed to the low returns investors get from Treasury yields and a near-zero return on cash that is partly due to Fed policies."They inflated the asset class (stocks) and then they say, ‘Gee, it’s inflated’." The S&P 500 is trading at about 16.5 times expected earnings, above the 30-year median of 14.6 times, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.The energy sector .SPNY led gains on the S&P 500 with an advance of 1.1 percent despite declines in crude oil futures.Drugmaker Celgene (CELG.O) was the biggest weight on the S&P with a 2.4 percent decline to $96.86. Traders said they were fielding questions on Tuesday about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is intended to control costs under the Medicare government health program; analysts say creation of the IPAB board could be triggered as soon as this week. United Continental (UAL.N) rose 3.4 percent to $44.86 after the airline operator laid out plans to generate an extra $3.1 billion in operating income per year by 2018.Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of 1.30-to-1 while on the Nasdaq a 1.35-to-1 ratio favored decliners.The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 57 new lows.About 6.2 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.83 billion daily average over the past 20 sessions. (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Meredith Mazzilli)

Pfizer walks away from $118 billion AstraZeneca takeover fight

2016-06-14 22:25:50

LONDON/NEW YORK Pfizer abandoned its attempt to buy AstraZeneca for nearly 70 billion pounds ($118 billion) on Monday as a deadline approached without a last-minute change of heart by the British drugmaker.The decision ends a month-long public fight between two of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies that sparked political concerns on both sides of Atlantic over jobs and corporate tax maneuvers.British rules now require an enforced cooling-off period. AstraZeneca could reach out to Pfizer after three months and Pfizer could take another run at its smaller British rival in six months time, whether it is invited back or not.Pfizer's move came two hours before a 5.00 pm (1200 ET) deadline to make a firm offer or walk away, under UK takeover rules. Its decision to quit the stage, at least for now, had been widely expected after AstraZeneca refused its final offer of 55 pounds a share."Following the AstraZeneca board's rejection of the proposal, Pfizer announces that it does not intend to make an offer for AstraZeneca," Pfizer said in a short news release.The biggest U.S. drugmaker promised it would not go hostile by taking its offer directly to AstraZeneca shareholders, leaving the fate of what would have been the world's largest ever drugs merger in the hands of its target, whose board would have had to make a complete U-turn to get a deal done."We continue to believe that our final proposal was compelling and represented full value for AstraZeneca based on the information that was available to us," said Ian Read, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive.Pfizer's final offer was at a price that many analysts and investors had previously suggested would bring AstraZeneca to the table for serious negotiations. But in rejecting an earlier offer of 53.50 pounds as undervaluing the company, the British group indicated it needed a bid more than 10 percent higher, or at least 58.85 pounds per share, for its board to consider a recommendation.Pfizer had urged AstraZeneca shareholders to agitate for engagement and several expressed disappointment at its intransigence, although others - encouraged by AstraZeneca's promising drug pipeline - backed the firm's standalone strategy.AstraZeneca Chairman Leif Johansson welcomed Pfizer's decision to back down, which he said would allow the British company to focus on its growth potential as an independent company.What happens next will depend upon whether AstraZeneca's share price deteriorates in the coming weeks and how hard its shareholders push for it to revisit a deal with Pfizer. BlackRock, AstraZeneca's biggest shareholder, backed the board's rejection of Pfizer's 55 pounds a share offer, but urged it to talk again in the future.POLITICAL OPPOSITIONThe proposed transaction ran into fierce opposition from politicians in Britain, Sweden - where AstraZeneca has half it roots - and the United States over the likelihood that the marriage would lead to thousands of job cuts.Ultimately, it was price and the lack of room for eleventh-hour maneuvering by Pfizer that killed the deal. Pfizer had several reasons for taking aim at AstraZeneca for what would have been its fourth mega-merger in 14 years.Highest on the list appeared to be Pfizer's desire to take part in a recent trend of so-called tax inversions, under which it could reincorporate in Britain and pay significantly lower corporate tax. Pfizer would also be able to use tens of billions of dollars it has parked overseas, avoiding high U.S. taxes for repatriating the huge cash pile.Pfizer also had its eye on a promising portfolio of drugs in AstraZeneca's developmental pipeline, especially several potentially lucrative cancer medicines.It was this pipeline that AstraZeneca management used to make its case for Pfizer significantly undervaluing the company.Chief Executive Pascal Soriot went as far as making a 10-year forecast for a 75 percent rise in sales by 2023."As we said from the start, the pursuit of this transaction was a potential enhancement to our existing strategy," Pfizer's Read said. "We will continue our focus on the execution of our plans, bringing forth new treatments to meet patients' needs and remaining responsible stewards of our shareholders' capital."The merger would have restored Pfizer as the world's largest drugmaker by sales, a position it relinquished to Swiss-based Novartis when billions of dollars in annual revenue evaporated after its top-selling cholesterol fighter Lipitor began facing generic competition in 2011.(Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)

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