Stocks rise on earnings, M&A
AOL will buy The Huffington Post. Danaher will acquire Beckman Coulter in a deal worth $6.8 billion. Humana posts a loss but raises its 2011 forecast.
By Melinda Peer, TheStreet
Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET
Stocks pushed higher as investors cheered a fresh round of deals news and signs that tension in Egypt appeared to be easing.
At 12:38 p.m., the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was up 82.7 points, or 0.6% to 12,174. The S&P 500 ($INX) was up 9.8 points, or 0.7%, at 1,320 and the Nasdaq ($COMPX) was gaining 23.3 points, or 0.8%, at 2,792.
Capital goods, conglomerates and financials were pushing stocks higher while healthcare and energy sectors were showing the mildest gains.
Bank of America (BAC), American Express (AXP), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and JPMorgan Chase(JPM) were topping the Dow, while Pfizer (PFE), Kraft Foods (KFT), AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) were the biggest laggards.
There were 833 million shares trading on the Nasdaq and 357 million shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, 74% of which were advancing while 23% were declining.
Investors were weighing news of several deals Monday, including Danaher's (DHR) agreement to buy biomedical testing equipment maker Beckman Coulter (BEC) for $83.50 a share in cash, or roughly $6.8 billion, including assumed debt. Shares of Danaher were up by 3.2% at $49.53 and Beckman Coulter's stock was trading 9.7% higher at $82.49.
AOL (AOL) agreed to acquire the online news site The Huffington Post for $315 million. As part of the deal, the site's co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington will be named president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content. Shares of AOL were down 1.1% at $21.69.
Offshore contract drilling company Ensco (ESV) agreed to acquire Pride International (PDE) for $41.60 a share in cash and stock. Pride International’s stock was trading 15.7% higher at $39.80 while Ensco’s stock was down by 4.7% at $51.83.
Shares of Chesapeake Energy (CHK) were up by 6% to $31.86 on news that it plans to sell all of its Fayetteville Shale gas assets, as well as its equity investments in Frac Tech Holdings and Chaparral Energy.
Peter Tuz, Chase Investment Counsel president, said Monday's gains were driven by the buzz surrounding the mergers.
"You're seeing companies spend their money and I think that's improving sentiment. Plus, the fact that we didn't see any deterioration in the Egypt situation over the last couple of nights is probably helping a little bit, too," Tuz said.
On Sunday, Egyptian government officials met with opposition leaders in an effort to end the nearly two weeks of political unrest that has ground normal operations to a halt in Cairo. By Monday, banks had reopened but the stock market remained closed.
In earnings news, health care benefits provider Humana (HUM) said fourth-quarter earnings fell on several expenses but raised its forecast for 2011 because of better-than-expected sales of its Medicare Advantage and stand-alone prescription plans. The stock was trading 1.9% lower at $59.38.
The market will likely focus on earnings during a session that will be light on data. Time Warner Telecom (TWTC) is slated to post a profit of 11 cents a share.
At 3 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve will issue its December consumer credit report.
In commodity markets, the March crude oil contract was trading 26 cents lower at $88.77 a barrel. The most actively traded April gold contract was up by $2.60 to trade at $1,351.60 an ounce.
The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.1%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 9/32, lifting the yield to 3.674%.
Japan's Nikkei gained 0.5%, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange fell 1.5%. London's FTSE was gaining 0.7%, while the DAX in Frankfurt was also up by 0.8%.
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First off, as people who read posts here for awhile know I railed against W's prescription drug entitlement. I knew it would cost many times what the CBO forecast (right now it is over 3x what they estimated), like Medicare is close to 20x what they estimated decades ago under LBJ...
Sorry, but being FREE means we have the right to make stupid decisions. When you give up that right you get things like Obamacare. Whereby the government decides that you MUST buy something because you are too stupid to make your own chocies and take your own risks. Hand in hand with this is the socialist idea that government MUST rescue the losers at the expense of the winners.
Healthcare CANNOT be a right unless you plan to ENSLAVE all healthcare workers. Considering the butcher of a nurse that stabbed no less than a dozen times last time I had blood drawn, this may not be a bad idea.
The easiest way to CONTROL healtcare costs is to control healthcare workers pay. That must happen given the direction we are heading.
As to my age I am 67.
So to sum up my view...
1. No one should be forced to BUY healthcare coverage.
2. Healthcare coverage is not a RIGHT.
3. If you choose not to buy coverage, DO NOT EXPECT someone else to buy it for you.
I believe you also asked me my opinion on Social Security. Being I paid into the program against my will for decades, I will of course avail myself of the return of my money. If the government had not FORCED me into the program of course I would not expect a dime.
I have tried to avoid most comments here besides an occasional slur to green bay packer fans, socialist politicians and left wing radicals, like Comrade AcriveRIA...
In a nut shell I believe in FREEDOM, and that means the ability to fail.
I applaud Volker's and your knowledge and understanding of the banking system.
But to suggest that no-one saw or could foresee the housing bubble collapse brings into question your command of the subject.
I ain't no rocket scientist, but I foresaw the collapse back as early as back in 2006 and was not privy to anywhere near as much data as the government or Fed. I had many spirited debates with a family member heavily involved in the building supply industry who viewed the boom as never ending. Quite simply, I told him that the growth in housing and pricing was unsustainable and would collapse. Two years later he acknowledged my foresight. (I also predicted the Packers win 2 months ago).
You and Volker are correct that that the economy and banking are complex. But there is one thing I caution academics on and that is not getting too caught up in the minutia or you may no longer able to see the forest through the trees.
Big businesses are not hiring enough new workers to make any significant improvement in the unemployment rate. Future employment gains will have to come from the small business sector. The vast majority of stimulus money has been directed toward large businesses, which are hoarding it or using it for M&A activities.
Lower corporate tax rates, paid for by eliminating corporate welfare and special loopholes, would give more money to small businesses, which do not benefit from most tax loopholes and subsidies.
If congress would change the way in which health care is funded from employer-based to either a single payer system, like they have in Canada, or to individually paid health insurance, it would eliminate a major drag on small business profits.
And what about creating a Build America bond program specifically to help fund innovation and small businesses?
Most of the new jobs and innovation in this country have traditionally been created by small businesses. With a relatively level playing field and better funding options, I think we could see an explosion of new businesses and innovation over the next few years.
VolkerFan, a couple of questions...
To your knowledege, has ther ever been hyper-inflation where the government did not vastly increase the money supply?
I am convinced that the FED is on course to monitize our debt. Congress seems unwilling to balance the budget. Liberals want to tax the rich, so they can continue spending money we don't have.
We don't have a taxing problem, we have spending problem. W was bad, and Obama worse.
At what point do we just throw in the towel and lop of a few zeros on our currency ala Brazil?
Has anyone ever done a long term study on the effects of printing money. I.E. how long does it take 5% increase in the money supply to result in a 5% across the board price increase.
Seems to me there is a direct correlation behind the printing of money and price increases.
Government printing of money is just another tax levied on all of us.
Keynesian economics is all about inflating away debt.
That Groupon Ad sure was tastless.
And I have to agree, most of the other ads were pretty lame.
"Government printing of money is just another tax levied on all of us.
Keynesian economics is all about inflating away debt."
You must not understand the fine details either. Obviously, anyone who does not agree with what the Fed is doing does not understand the "hideously complex" fine details of their brilliancy. Sure they missed the entire prelude to the .com bust, the housing bust and the world's economic financial meltdown. But hey, like Fatazz states - The Fed is constantly carrying on studies evaluating every important aspect of the economy. With all these studies going on I'm sure they will get it right this time.
thanks for the acknowledgement and the "predicting mantle"- now everyone will be gunning for me!
It sure looked like it was going to be a blowout 1/st half, but Steelers sure gave me chest pains in the 2nd and delvered an exciting finish.
Dow 12500 by June 30, 13500 by Dec 31 (and I'm sure I'll be sweating a few quarters between now and then).
true...but if you look at leading indicators and even your own business, you can get a sense if things are getting better of worse. We saw the wheels coming off in 2006. (Tied to housing).
2009 was a panic, and the decline was obviously oversold by 20%. So that was easy money for anyone with a brain and a little guts.
With corp earnings up and sitting on piles of cash, and a lot of pent up consumer demand and postponed capital improvements, the spigots are just being turned back on.
We're in a slow recovery. Everyone is obsessing on unemployment - a lagging indicator.
2011 will be a good year for most sectors. Consumer discretionary and capital goods mfgrs especially. Might be a small corection along the way, but it will recover and market will go up.
Housing will lag (very labor intensive, by the way and a contributor to the slow employment recovery) but eventually that wil come back too. We're building too few homes now.
I think fears of QE2 setting off inflation are unfounded. Excess capacity will keep inflation in check.
Smart $$ looks for early indicators in funny places. Heard Greenspan watched underwear sales.
I'll be wary, if you promise to be weary.
Alot of dates to worry about..11/11/11/ 12/12/12. 12/21/12, Friday the 13th, my wife's birthday, my anniverary ...
Just trying to devine the meaning of they year of the Rabbit. Fast and dodgy, or hiding in a hole? That crazy wabbit.
I'l add that date idea to my bag of prognostication tools, along with the goat entrails, pig knuckles and phases of the moon.
I see another prediction I made that unemployment would decline 9% was already "achieved", Didn't think i wanted to claim that one because that number will be revised. I don't trust how it is calculated. I fear it dipped because so many people either froze or died of hunger, that the workforce merely contracted via attrition. But I'm sure Fatcat and his survey of the homeless under that bridge has some insight into that.
I just know I would not want to have to play the Steelers in a best of 7. They are a tough team but the Packers continued to show their resiliency.
QE2 is a $600 billion program scheduled to be spread out over 6-7 months. Originally, the idea was to purchase about $100 billion in bonds every month or so, not sure if they've stuck with that plan. I'm also not sure if they buy throughout the month or just load up once or twice, possibly sometime around the bond auctions.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages posted solid gains ahead of tomorrow's policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 rallied 0.8%, while the Russell 2000 (+0.3%) could not keep pace with the benchmark index.
Equity indices hovered near their flat lines during the first two hours of action, but surged in reaction to reports from the Wall Street Journal concerning tomorrow's FOMC statement. Specifically, Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath indicated that the statement ... More
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