Breaking Stock Market and Financial News

DuPont's stock surge helps push Dow industrials into positive territory

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 12:08

DuPont & Co.'s stock surged $3.04, or 3.9%, in midday trade Wednesday, enough to push the Dow Jones Industrial Average into positive territory, after The Wall Street Journal reported that European regulators were set to clear the chemical company's merger with Dow Chemical Co. . The stock's price gain was adding about 21 points to the Dow, which was up 9 points. That compares to the S&P 500's 0.2% decline and the Dow Jones Transportation Average's 1.3% drop. Dow Chemical's stock rallied 4.1% in midday trade. The Dow and DuPont merger deal is on track to win regulatory approval from the European Union's antitrust regulator before the April deadline, after the company offered earlier this month to sell some businesses, according to the WSJ report.

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First Solar stock gets a downgrade from Credit Suisse

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:50

Shares of First Solar Inc. fell more than 7% on Wednesday as analysts with Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to their equivalent of sell, from hold. The timing on several of the company's projects this year poses risks to estimates, and next year's projects seem "unlikely to support" earnings growth, the analysts said in a note. The analysts also lowered their price target on the stock to $29, from $30, implying a 12% downside to Wednesday's prices. First Solar late Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that beat Wall Street expectations.

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S&P upgrades Alphabet ratings to AA-plus on strong operating performance

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:22

Standard & Poor's on Wednesday upgraded Alphabet Inc.'s corporate credit rating to AA-plus from AA and said the outlook is stable, citing the Google parent's improving operational performance of the past few years. The rating is the second highest in S&P's scale, just below the coveted AAA rating. The move "reflects Alphabet Inc.'s consistently strong operating performance, despite a challenging and evolving digital advertising market, while it continues to maintain a conservative financial policy and strong liquidity profile," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst David Tsui. The company has a leading position in desktop and mobile search ad markets, robust technology and user data and the intellectual and financial capital to allow it to exploit new opportunities and defend itself against new competitors, said Tsui. With about $90 billion of revenue in 2016, the company is much bigger than its nearest competitor in online search and display advertising, he added. Alphabet's most active bonds, the 1.998% notes due to mature in August of 2026, were last quoted at about 93 cents on the dollar, according to MarketAxess.

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Euro pares loss after French politician Bayrou backs Macron

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:02

The euro on Wednesday was paring its loss against the dollar following reports that French centrist politician Francois Bayrou will not run for president and instead back Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate. The shared currency was changing hands at $1.0543, after trading below $1.05 ahead of the news. Analysts have said the euro could fall to $1.03 if the prospects for populist Marine Le Pen becoming the country's next president keep strengthening. Macron is believed to have a good chance of beating Le Pen if a second round of voting were needed.

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Matson's stock tumble pressures Dow transports to a triple-digit loss

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:28

Shares of Hawaii-based ocean shipping company Matson Inc. tumbled 10% toward a 7 1/2-month low in morning trade Wednesday, pressuring the Dow Jones Transportation Average to underperform the broader stock market by a wide margin, after a disappointing fourth-quarter report and outlook. Matson reported late Tuesday revenue that topped expectations but missed on profit, and said first-quarter ocean transportation income is expected to be less than half of what it was a year ago. The stock's price drop of $3.63 shaved about 22 points off the Dow transports. The index was down 100 points, with 19 of 20 components losing ground, compared with a 2-point, or less than 0.1% decline, in the Dow Jones Industrial Average . Among the other biggest decliners within the Dow transports, shares of United Parcel Service Inc. slid 1.7%, of JetBlue Airways Corp. shed 1.6% and of CSX Corp. gave up 1.4%. The lone gainer was Expeditors International of Washington Inc.'s stock , which tacked on 0.5%.

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Fannie, Freddie losses continue after court ruling

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 09:58

Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac saw further pressure Wednesday, a day after the two over-the-counter stocks plunged in the wake of a federal appeals court upholding a decision that investors could not sue to overturn the sweep of the mortgage buyers' profits to the U.S. Treasury. Fannie shares were recently down 4% and Freddie Mac was down about 1%.

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Amazon offers one-day discount after record Harris poll result

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 09:51

Amazon.com Inc. said Wednesday that it is offering an $8.62 discount on all purchases of $50 or more after the company earned a record score of 86.27 in this year's Harris Annual Corporate Reputation Poll. The company ranked number one in the poll for the second consecutive year, and the score is a record high for the 18-year history of the poll, the company said. The Harris Poll surveyed more than 23,000 Americans on areas including products and services, emotional appeal and financial performance. Amazon shares are down 0.2% in Wednesday trading, but up 52.7% for the last year. The S&P 500 index is up 21.3% for the past 12 months.

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Apple will begin shifting employees to new campus in April

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 09:37

Apple Inc. will open its new spaceship-like corporate headquarters to employees in April. The company, which has dubbed the facility Apple Park, said the 175-acre campus will be ready to be occupied within two months. The company will move more than 12,000 employees there over six months in 2017, while construction on non-core buildings and landscaping will continue through the summer. The 2.8 million-square-foot building features curved class and solar panels that will enable much of the facility to operate on renewable energy. It will also include a 1,000-seat auditorium for the company to host future flagship product events. The announcement comes as Apple stock trades at all-time highs, despite decelerating iPhone sales. Its shares ticked 0.14% lower to $136.50 in morning trade Wednesday after notching an all-time high of $136.70 on Tuesday. Its shares have gained 22.3% in the past three months and 41% in the past year, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average , a 30-member index of which Apple is a part of. The Dow is up 9% in three months and 25% in the past year.

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Texas Roadhouse's stock tumbles, but analyst still suggests waiting for better levels to buy

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 09:36

Shares of Texas Roadhouse Inc. tumbled 9.7% in morning trade Wednesday to a 3 1/2-month low in the wake of disappointing fourth-quarter results, with Canaccord Genuity saying investors should still wait before investing in what it believes offers consumers the "best value" in casual dining. The restaurant chain reported late Tuesday earnings, revenue and same-store sales that missed expectations, and provided a disappointing same-store sales outlook for the current quarter. Analyst Lynne Collier at Canaccord reiterated her hold rating and $42 stock price target, which is nearly 3% below current prices. "While we continue to believe that [Texas Roadhouse] offers consumers the 'best value' in casual dining and believe that...some of the [same-store sales] pressure is transitory, we would look for a better entry point before becoming constructive on shares," Collier wrote in a note to clients. The stock, which is now 14% below the Dec. 9, 2016 record close of $50.20, has gained 17% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has climbed 21%.

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U.S. stocks open lower, threaten to halt record ascent

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 09:31

U.S. stocks opened marginally lower on Wednesday as the three main benchmarks struggled to continue their run of records amid a pullback in oil prices. The S&P 500 index slipped three points, or 0.1%, to 2,362.34. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 27 points, or 0.1%, to 20,712. The Nasdaq Composite Index retreated 10 points, or 0.2%, to 5,856. U.S.-traded crude-oil futures slipped 1.5% to $53.54 a barrel in recent trade, weighing on energy stocks. Shares of Toll Brothers Inc. jumped after the company posted a fall in profit and revenue. First Solar Inc. shares fell, even though the company posted adjusted earnings and sales that beat expectations. Shares of TJX Cos. rose after the off-price retailer's fourth-quarter earnings and sales beat expectations. Investors are now looking ahead to the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting, which they will scrutinize for clues about the central bank's plans for raising interest rates and unwinding its balance sheet.

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TJX shares rise after earnings beat

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:54

TJX Cos. shares rose 1.6% in Wednesday premarket trading after the off-price retailer announced fourth-quarter earnings and sales that beat estimates. TJX stores include T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods. Net income was $677.9 million, or $1.03 per share, up from from $666.5 million, or 99 cents per share, last year. The FactSet consensus was $1.00. Sales were $9.47 billion, up from $8.96 billion last year and ahead of the $9.44 billion FactSet consensus. Same-store sales increased 3%, beating the FactSet consensus for a 2.6% increase. TJX plans to increase the quarterly dividend by 20% to 31.25 cents per share for common stock declared in April 2017, payable in June 2017. The company also announced a stock repurchase program of about $1.3 billion to $1.8 billion during the fiscal year ending Feb. 3, 2018. There's $1.8 billion remaining in the existing fiscal 2017 repurchase program. For the first quarter, TJX sees EPS in the range of 76 cents to 78 cents compared with 76 cents last year and below the 81-cent FactSet consensus. The company expects wage increases to hurt EPS growth by 3%. TJX shares are up 4.4% for the past year while the S&P 500 index is up 21.6% for the same period.

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CVS says it has removed artificial trans fat contributor from all exclusive store brands, in advance of mid-2018 deadline

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:53

CVS Health Corp. said early Wednesday that the company has removed partially hydrogenated oils from all exclusive store brands, or over 600 snack and groceries, in advance of the Food and Drug Administration's mid-2018 deadline. The company said that since January, all CVS-developed snack and grocery products have been free of artificial trans fats. The FDA said in June of 2015 that partially hydrogenated oils, which are a primary dietary contributor to processed foods' artificial trans fat, are not "generally recognized as safe" in human food and needed to be removed from products. CVS shares have lifted 8.4% over the last three months, compared with a 5.7% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Carnival Corp.'s Chinese joint venture to order first cruise ships built in China

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:15

Carnival Corp. said Wednesday that its joint venture in China has agreed to order the first cruise ships built in China for use in the Chinese market. The agreement is an update to terms of the September 2016 agreement between Carnival and China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC) The deal is for two ships, which will be built by CSSC and Italy-based Fincantieri S.p.A. with the first expected to deliver in 2023. There's an option for four additional ships. The joint venture, announced in 2015, includes plans to launch a cruise brand in China using ships purchased from Carnival's existing fleet and then to add Chinese-built ships to accelerate growth and meet increasing demand. Carnival holds a minority interest in the venture. Carnival Corp. shares are little changed in premarket trading, and up 16.4% for the last year. The S&P 500 index is up 21.6% for the last 12 months.

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Argos Therapeutics cancer treatment study recommended to be discontinued for futility

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:10

Argos Therapeutics Inc. said an independent data monitoring committee recommended the Phase 3 trial of its treatment for renal cell carcinoma be "discontinued for futility," based on an interim data analysis. The committee said the study as unlikely to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in overall survival, which is the study's primary endpoint. "We are extremely disappointed with these results, which included seventy-five percent of the targeted events needed to permit the primary analysis and assessment of overall survival in the study," said Argos Chief Executive Jeff Abbey. Argos said it will determine the next steps for the treatment after it discusses the data with the Food and Drug Administration. The stock, which is currently halted for news until 8:30 a.m. ET, has lost 12% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 7.4%.

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Facebook may stream some MLB games this season

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:00

Facebook Inc. is in discussions with Major League Baseball to stream some games in the upcoming season, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters citing people close to the matter. The deal would mark the latest effort by sports leagues to use social media as a way to reach new viewers, particularly those in younger demographics who continue to cut the proverbial cable cord. In 2016, Twitter Inc. struck a similar deal to stream NFL Thursday Night Football games. According to Bloomberg, the MLB deal would also include one game a week. Shares of Facebook traded around $133.60 in premarket trade Wednesday, outperforming the S&P 500 . They've gained 10% in the past three months and 25% in the past year, while the index has increased 7% in three months and 22% in a year.

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Aetna enters $3.3 billion accelerated share buyback program

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 07:51

Aetna Inc. said Wednesday it has entered an accelerated share buyback with two dealers to repurchase shares worth $3.3 billion. The health insurer said it will execute the deal under its existing authorization and fund it with available cash. The company will pay $1.65 billion to each dealer on Wednesday and will receive an initial delivery of 10.4 million shares of its common stock. Shares were not yet active in premarket trade, but have gained 18% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 21.6%.

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Parker Drilling's stock sinks after public stock offering

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 07:49

Shares of Parker Drilling Co. plunged 13% in premarket trade Wednesday, after the provider of drilling services to the energy industry launched a public offering of 12 million shares of common stock. That would boost the number of shares outstanding, currently at about 125.2 million, by nearly 10%. The company said it also granted the underwriters of the offering options to buy up to an additional 1.8 million shares, and that it launched a public offering of $50 million worth of convertible preferred stock. Parker Drilling plans to use the proceeds from the offerings for general corporate purposes. On Tuesday, the company said it ended 2016 with $210 million in total liquidity. The stock has soared 90% over the past 12 months, while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF has climbed 24% and the S&P 500 has rallied 22%.

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Assured Guaranty boosts dividend by nearly 10%

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 07:29

Assured Guaranty Ltd. said Wednesday it will raise its quarterly dividend by 9.6% to 14.25 cents a share from 13 cents a share. The credit enhancement company's new dividend will be payable March 22 to shareholders of record on March 8. Based on Tuesday's stock closing price of $41.36, the new annual dividend rate implies a dividend yield of 1.38%, compared with the aggregate S&P 500 dividend yield of 2.01%, according to FactSet. Assured Guaranty's stock, which was still inactive ahead of the open, has soared 71% over the past 12 months while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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SpaceX delays delivery to international space station after GPS error: Report

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 07:29

SpaceX has been forced to delay a shipment to the international space station after a navigation error, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The problem with the GPS arose as the supply ship, called the Dragon, was less than a mile from the orbiting outpost, the AP reported. SpaceX said the problem can be resolved before another attempt to delivery supplies on Thursday, said the AP.

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GPS maker Garmin shares jump 6% premarket as earnings blow past estimates

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 07:19

Garmin Ltd. shares jumped 6% in premarket trade Wednesday, after the company blew past earnings estimates for the fourth quarter and offered upbeat guidance for 2017. The GPS maker said it had net income of $136.6 million, or 72 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $132.4 million, or 70 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to 73 cents, well ahead of the FactSet consensus of 58 cents. Sales rose to $860.8 million from $781.4 million, also ahead of the FactSet consensus of $793 million. Growth was driven by strong sales in the company's outdoor, fitness, marine and aviation segments, Chief Executive Cliff Pemble said in a statement. For 2017, the company is expecting adjusted EPS of $2.65 and sales of about $3.02 billion. The current FactSet consensus is for 2017 EPS of $2.66 and $2.97 billion. Shares have gained 23% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 21.7%.

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