Breaking Stock Market and Financial News

Flash manufacturing PMI at 11-month high, while services PMI slips to 15-month low

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:52

So-called flash readings of manufacturing and services activity went in different directions in December. The flash U.S. manufacturing PMI rose to 55 from 53.9 in November, while the flash U.S. services activity index fell to 52.4 from 54.5. Any reading above 50 indicates improving conditions. A flash reading is based on 85%-90% of total PMI survey responses each month. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the surveys point to an economy growing at annual rate of just over 2% in the fourth quarter.

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U.S. retail sales surge; weekly jobless claims fall

Top Reuters News - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:47
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in November as the holiday shopping season got off to a brisk start, pointing to sustained strength in the economy that could pave the way for further Federal Reserve interest rate hikes next year.

Casa Systems sets IPO terms, to sell 6 million shares at $13 a pop

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:45

Casa Systems Inc., a maker of broadband connectivity software and data services, set terms for its initial public offering on Thursday, saying in a regulatory filing that it plans to offer 6 million shares at $13 a pop. The company will use the $68.9 million in proceeds (after expenses) for working capital or general corporate purposes, including possible acquisitions. Shares will start trading later Thursday on Nasdaq, under the ticker symbol "CASA". Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Raymond James and Stifel were lead underwriters on the deal, with Macquarie Capital, Northland Capital Markets and William Blair acting as co-managers.

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Alabama Senate race winner urges Republican rival to 'move on'

Top Reuters News - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:40
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Alabama Democrat Doug Jones, who won a bitter fight for a U.S. Senate seat this week, called on his Republican opponent to concede the race and help heal the Southern state after a deeply divisive contest.

Disney-21st Century Fox deal to form box-office powerhouse that's 'hounded' by regulators: analyst

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:38

Walt Disney Co.'s deal to buy 21st Century Fox Inc. could create box-office powerhouse, said analyst Rich Tullo of Midtown Partners & Co., and also helps add content to Disney's over-the-top (OTT) initiative. Tullo said that, although he doesn't cover either company on a research basis, from the perspective of 2017 box office to date, a combined Disney and Fox looks like "an NBA superteam" on paper. He said nine out of the top 20 box-office hits so far this year were produced by either Fox or Disney, and once Disney's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is released, it will likely be 10 out of 20. "Merging the media assets of 21st Century Fox and Disney is a lot like the story of the fox and the hound," Tullo wrote in a note to clients. "[T]he combined assets will be better able to schedule blockbusters, have much greater pricing power with SVOD services, MVPDS and in negotiating media ad buys." The bad news, Tullo said, is that "we think a combined company could be hounded by regulatory, union and consumer pushback." 21st Century Fox's stock rose 0.5% in morning trades as Disney shares climbed 0.8%. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.3%.

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U.S. stocks open higher as market eyes Disney-Fox megadeal

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:32

U.S. equities opened higher Thursday as investors digested the news of a Walt Disney Co. purchase of parts of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock. The megadeal includes Twentieth Century Fox's film and television studio and its cable TV businesses. The S&P 500 rose 2 points, or 0.1%, to 2,665, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 54 points, or 0.2%, to 24,640. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 11 points, or 0.2%, to 6,887.

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PayPal stock rises as analyst cheers Venmo opportunities

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:24

Shares of PayPal Holdings Inc. gained 0.5% in premarket trading Thursday after an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets named the payment-processor a "key idea" for 2018. KeyBanc's Josh Beck is upbeat on the company's efforts to monetize its Venmo peer-to-peer payment platform by letting users pay for e-commerce items using the Venmo app. " The Pay with Venmo opportunity brings in incremental customers with higher profit margins and is well positioned to scale," he wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. Beck has a $90 price target on PayPal shares. His other "key idea" in payments is Vantiv Inc. , as he sees opportunities for the company to drive better-than-expected synergies from its Worldpay deal. PayPal shares have gained 88% so far in 2017, while Vantiv's stock is up 23%. The S&P 500 also rose 23% in that time.

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Google Brain co-founder teams with Foxconn to bring AI to factories

Top Reuters News - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:22
(Reuters) - Andrew Ng, co-founder of some of Alphabet Inc -owned Google's most prominent artificial intelligence projects, on Thursday launches a new venture with iPhone assembler Foxconn to bring AI and so-called machine learning onto the factory floor.

Nucor's stock drops after downbeat profit outlook

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:12

Shares of Nucor Corp. dropped 2.4% in premarket trade Thursday, after the steelmaker provided a downbeat profit outlook for the fourth quarter, citing the continued negative impacts of imports. The company said it expects earnings per share of 50 cents to 55 cents, excluding impacts of federal tax legislation. The FactSet EPS consensus was 76 cents, up from 34 cents a year ago. Nucor said through the first 10 months of 2017, total steel imports have increased 19.4% from the same period last year, and accounted for a 28% share of the U.S. market. The company said it was encouraged by the progress made in the prosecution of trade cases, but said the process was still slower than what it feels is appropriate. The stock has tacked on 3.9% year to date through Wednesday, while the SPDR Materials Select Sector ETF has climbed 20% and the S&P 500 has gained 19%.

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Micron stock rises after MKM says 'favorable supply/demand environment' to continue

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:00

Shares of Micron Technology Inc. rose 0.9% in premarket trading Thursday after an analyst at MKM Partners raised his price target to $54 from $52, citing "largely favorable" memory trends. MKM's Ruben Roy also raised his 2018 earnings estimates given strong server demand and a better mobile landscape. He thinks average selling prices for DRAM will rise 5% in the November quarter and 3% in the January quarter. "We believe that the continued favorable supply/demand environment will extend into 2018 and this, coupled with continued cost reduction catalysts specific to Micron, should ultimately yield multiple expansion," he wrote. Micron reports results for its November quarter on Tuesday, Dec. 19, after the market close. Micron shares have gained 92% so far in 2017, while the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is up 36% and the S&P 500 Index is up 19%.

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Valeant's stock drops after J.P. Morgan turns bearish

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:57

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. dropped 4.3% in premarket trade Thursday, after the drug maker was downgraded at J.P. Morgan, which cited valuation and concerns over patent losses and debt levels. The rating was cut to underweight, after being at neutral for the past 18 months. The stock price target was raised to $12, which is 46% below Wednesday's closing price of $22.05, from $10. The stock has soared 92% since the company announced the divestiture of "female Viagra" on Nov. 6 and reported third-quarter results on Nov. 7. "While Valeant has made progress stabilizing its core operations and addressing near-term debt liabilities, the company still faces significant patent erosion over that that will results in a step down in 2018 [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization]...and muted recovery off of these levels," J.P. Morgan analysts wrote in a note to clients. They said current debt leverage "remain challenging" at about 7-times, well above the "ideal intermediate range" of 4-times to 5-times. Valeant's stock has run up 51.9% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF has gained 12.5% and the S&P 500 has climbed 18.9%.

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China says war must not be allowed on Korean peninsula

Top Reuters News - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:55
BEIJING (Reuters) - War must not be allowed to break out on the Korean peninsula and the issue must be resolved through talks, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday, while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the danger of "sleepwalking" into conflict.

U.S. import prices leap 0.7% in November on higher fuel costs

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:48

The U.S. import price index jumped 0.7% in November, once again spurred by rising oil prices. Excluding fuel, import prices were unchanged, the government said Thursday. The increase in import prices over the past 12 months rose to 3.1% from 2.3%. If fuel is omitted, the increase in import prices over the past year was a scant 1.4%. Higher import prices add to picture of slowly rising inflation in the U.S., though much of the gain lately has been driven by fuel. Earlier this week a pair of measures for consumer and wholesale prices also rose.

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Apple introduces Final Cut Pro update with support for 360-degree VR editing

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:47

Shares of Apple Inc. are up 0.1% in premarket trading Thursday after the company announced an update for its Final Cut Pro X video-editing software. The new version supports "360-degree VR video editing" and high-dynamic range (HDR) video. It also has new advanced color grading tools. Apple announced earlier this week that its iMac Pro, which starts at $4,999 and is aimed at professional editors, would go on sale Thursday. Apple shares have gained 49% so far in 2017, compared with a 24% rise for the Dow Jones Industrial Average .

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Sears shares jump after DieHard brand launches on Amazon

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:42

Sears Holdings Corp. shares jumped 8.2% in Thursday premarket trading after the retailer announced that the DieHard brand launched on Amazon.com Inc. The line of products on the site now includes jump starters, battery chargers and maintainers. Passenger car tires and automotive batteries will be available early 2018. Sears announced that it would sell Kenmore brand appliances on Amazon this summer. Sears shares are down 62% for the past year while the S&P 500 index is up 18.2% for the period.

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Global stocks edge up amid central bank bonanza

Top Reuters News - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:41
LONDON (Reuters) - World shares eked out modest gains on Thursday as cautious comments on inflation from the U.S. Federal Reserve gave investors pause on a day packed with central bank decisions in Europe.

Do not expect postcard-sized tax return from Republican plan: experts

Top Reuters News - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:23
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Since mid-2016, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has carried around a "postcard" that he has said shows how easy it will be for Americans to file their taxes once Republicans are finished their tax overhaul.

Criteo stock plunges on lowered outlook following Apple's iOS update

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:21

Shares of ad-retargeting firm Criteo S.A. fell 12% in premarket trading Thursday after the company dramatically lowered its 2018 revenue forecast due to changes Apple Inc. made to its mobile operating system. Apple's new iOS 11.2 software "disables the solution that some companies in the advertising ecosystem, including Criteo, currently use to reach Safari users," according to a release from Criteo. The company projects this change to reduce 2018 revenue by 22%, excluding traffic acquisition costs, if the firm can't effectively work within the new iOS landscape. Management had previously projected a 9% to 13% "net negative impact." Criteo said that it had a new solution "under development" but also that "its effectiveness cannot be assessed at this early stage." Criteo shares are down 23% this year, while Apple's stock is up 49%. The S&P 500 Index has gained 19%.

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21st Century Fox's stock turns lower; Disney's buyout bid price is below latest close

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:17

Shares of 21st Century Fox Inc. turned lower in premarket trade Thursday, as Walt Disney Co.'s effective per-share buyout bid for the TV and film studios company represented a discount to recent prices. The buyout deal calls for 21st Century shareholders to get 0.2745 of Disney shares for each 21st Century share they own. Based on Wednesday's stock closing price of $107.61, that values 21st Century shares at $29.54 each, which is 9.8% below Wednesday's closing price of $32.75. The stock had initially rallied to be up as much as 2.9% in the premarket. The buyout deal is valued at $52.4 billion, excluding debt, while the per-share bid of $29.54 would imply a market value for 21st Century of $54.72 billion. As part of the deal, 21st Century said it would spin off certain assets, including Fox Broadcasting network and stations and Fox News Channel. 21st Century's stock has soared 31% since The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 6 that Disney had held talks to buy 21st Century Fox's cable-TV networks, international distribution operations and movie and television studio. The buyout bid is 18% above the Nov. 3 closing price of $24.97. 21st Century shares have gained 17% year to date through Wednesday, while Disney's stock has edged up 3.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed 24%.

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Take-Two Interactive to create publishing label called Private Division

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:11

videogame maker Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said Thursday it is creating Private Division, a new publishing label comprised of popular games as a way to bring new titles from top independent developers to market. "Private Division is a developer-focused publisher that empowers independent studios to develop the games that they are passionate about creating, while providing the support that they need to make their titles critically and commercially successful on a global scale," the company said in a statement. The new label will publish new titles including the previously announced "Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey" from Panache Digital Games, a studio led by Patrice Desilets, creator of the Assassin's Creed franchise. Take-Two shares were not yet active premarket, but have gained 119% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 19%.

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