On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stock futures were higher during the early session, leading the broader market to start the day at new all-time highs. The move up has been broad-based, as each of the 10 S&P sectors is higher. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Markit's manufacturing PMI fell 0.7 points to 54.3 in the flash February reading, erasing January's 0.7 point rise to 55.0. In Asia, Japan's all industry activity index declined at a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in December, which was more than expected. In Europe, the overall flash composite index of services and manufacturing activity in the Eurozone spiked to 56.0 in February, the highest reading since April 2011. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of Kraft Heinz (KHC) and Unilever (UN) are down about 3.5% and 8%, respectively, near noon after the companies announced in a joint statement that the former has "amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies." This comes just few days after Kraft, which is partly owned by 3G Capital Partners and Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B), confirmed that it was working on a deal to acquire Unilever. Speculating on what the bid withdrawal news could mean for Kraft Heinz and its part owners 3G and Berkshire, the Financial Times argued that the Brazilian investment firm could set its sights on Mondelez (MDLZ). The company's shares jumped almost 5% amid the takeover speculation, and after the maker of Oreo cookies and Triscuits reaffirmed its 2017 outlook and talked about its new, healthier product line-up while presenting at an industry conference... Retail is in focus, as Wal-Mart (WMT) rose over 3% after the world's largest retailer reported better than expected earnings for the quarter and announced its largest domestic same-store sales increase since July 2012. Shares of Macy's (M) were flat near midday after the company's fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share beat estimates. However, the department store chain reported weaker than expected revenue and gave a disappointing outlook. Meanwhile, Home Depot (HD) is up almost 1% after the retailer announced fourth quarter sales and earnings that topped consensus expectations, buoyed by a healthy housing market. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Restaurant Brands (QSR), which advanced almost 7% after the owner of Burger King agreed to acquire Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (PLKI) for $79.00 per share in cash, or $1.8B. Popeyes' shares jumped over 19% following the news. Also higher was Community Health (CYH), which rallied 30% after reporting better than expected fourth quarter results. Additionally, Tronox (TROX) rose about 29% after saying it is acquiring the TiO2 business of Cristal, announcing its intent to begin a process to sell its Alkali business, and reporting better than expected quarterly results. Among the noteworthy losers was Trevena (TRVN), which slid almost 35% after announcing oliceridine Phase 3 data. Also lower was Momenta Pharmaceuticals (MNTA), which slipped 13% after the company disclosed that its generic Copaxone 40mg ANDA will be delayed by an FDA warning letter at its fill-finish manufacturing partner, Pfizer (PFE). INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 84.71, or 0.41%, to 20,708.76, the Nasdaq was up 13.47, or 0.23%, to 5,852.05, and the S&P 500 was up 10.05, or 0.43%, to 2,361.21.