On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stocks opened in negative territory and have remained there throughout the morning. There has been little in the way of positive news, or much news of any type. Existing home sales data was lower than expected and oil inventory levels were higher than expected, contributing to the nearly 3% slide in benchmark U.S. oil prices. ECONOMIC NEWS: In the U.S., existing home sales dropped 3.2% in July to a rate of 5.39M, versus a consensus forecast for a sales rate of 5.51M. The FHFA home price index rose 0.2% to 234.8 in June. Crude oil inventories showed a 2.5M barrel build for week of August 19 versus consensus for a 850,000 draw. COMPANY NEWS: Pfizer (PFE) announced that it has entered into an agreement with AstraZeneca (AZN) to acquire the development and commercialization rights to its late-stage small antibiotics business in most markets globally outside the U.S. The agreement involves three approved antibiotics and two drugs in clinical trials. Pfizer made headlines recently after it agreed to buy Medivation (MDVN)... Shares of Express (EXPR) have dropped about 25% near noon after the apparel and accessories retailer reported worse than expected second quarter results and lower than expected guidance. Following the earnings release, Deutsche Bank, WedBush and Piper Jaffray were among the firms that downgraded the stock. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Lannett (LCI), which has advanced over 15% following better than expected fourth quarter results and fiscal year 2017 guidance. Also higher was OraSure Technologies (OSUR), which gained about 9% after the company announced that it has been awarded a contract for up to $16.6M in total funding to advance its rapid Zika tests. Additionally, Insys Therapeutics (INSY) rose almost 8% after the company reported that the Phase 3 trial for the buprenorphine sublingual spray met its primary endpoint. Among the noteworthy losers was Garmin (GRMN), which dropped over 5% after Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski downgraded the stock to Sell as she expects decelerating results for its Fitness and Outdoor segment to drive underperformance. The sell recommendation also comes ahead of the release of competing products from some of the company's rivals. Also lower was La-Z-Boy (LZB), which slipped almost 14% after first quarter earnings missed expectations. Additionally, New Media Investment (NEWM) slid about 6% after being downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citi. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 24.55, or 0.13%, to 18,522.75, the Nasdaq was down 6.81, or 0.13%, to 5,253.27, and the S&P 500 was down 3.51, or 0.16%, to 2,183.39.