S&P sees mild weekly gain, Nasdaq outperforms as biotech shines
The S&P finished the week mildly higher than where it began though the Nasdaq had a winning week as the bounceback in mega-cap tech names continued and the biotech sector saw new found strength. MACRO NEWS: In the U.S., the current account deficit widened $2.8B to $116.8B in the first quarter, though that was not as wide as the nearly $124B deficit that was forecast by economists polled by Bloomberg. Existing home sales bounced 1.1% to a 5.62M rate in May, which was a little better than projected. New home sales rose 2.9% to a 610,000 home rate in May following big upward revisions in the prior three months that made for a strong report. Initial jobless claims rose 3,000 to 241,000 in the week ended June 17. The FHFA home price index rose 0.7% in April to 248.2. The leading index rose 0.3% to an all time high of 127.0 in May. Markit's flash composite PMI for June came in at 53.0, down from 53.6 in May... In Europe, the U.K. and EU commenced formal Brexit negotiations. Emmanuel Macron's party secured a solid majority in the French parliament, although this was largely expected. The flash manufacturing PMI came in better than expected at 57.3, but services fell short of the consensus forecast with a reading of 55.7... In Asia, Japan's manufacturing flash PMI for June fell to 52 from 53.1 in May. COMPANY NEWS: Many biotech and pharmaceutical stocks outperformed the broader market this week amid reduced anxiety around White House drug control actions. In a report published Tuesday, the New York Times said a draft of an executive order on drug prices "is light on specifics" but clear in its philosophy that easing regulatory hurdles for the industry is the best path to get prices down. Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges attributes the recent strength in the biotech sector to a lessening of the perceived fears of pricing regulations and a favorable tone from the FDA. However, he believes the sector could advance at least 15% more, as he foresees more positive operating results and still expects more industry consolidation. Among large cap biotech names, Porges maintains Outperform ratings on Regeneron (REGN), Celgene (CELG), Vertex (VRTX) and Alexion (ALXN)... Hospital stocks and shares of health insurers were strong on Thursday after Republican leaders in the Senate released a draft of their proposed bill to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "ObamaCare." Hospital operators that saw strength include HCA Holdings (HCA), LifePoint (LPNT) and Tenet Healthcare (THC)... The Federal Reserve released results of its supervisory bank stress tests, finding that all 34 participating bank holding companies exceed the minimum requirements in the hypothetical stress scenario. Several of the biggest financial institutions that participated include Bank of America (BAC), Citi (C), Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan (JPM), Morgan Stanley (MS), and Wells Fargo (WFC), though the bigger news for those mega-cap banks will be next week's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, or CCAR, announcements, which will determine how they can increase dividends and buy back stock... Boeing (BA) kicked off the Paris Air Show with a number of announcements, including several new orders and the official launch of the 737 MAX 10 aircraft. By the end of the show, Boeing said commercial customers announced incremental orders and commitments during the week for a total of 571 Boeing airplanes, valued at $74.8B at list prices... American Airlines (AAL) disclosed that state-owned Qatar Airways has expressed its interest in acquiring an approximately 10% stake in the U.S. air carrier... Shares of Nike (NKE) advanced 2% on Wednesday after Goldman Sachs analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann and NPD Group's Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell pointed to signs that the sportswear giant and Amazon (AMZN) could be nearing a direct-sales deal... Intel (INTC) shares dipped about 1% that day, and AMD (AMD) shares rose by over 10%, after the latter announced the launch of its EPYC series data center processors. Analysts were upbeat on the processors and several mentioned the increased competitive threat they represent to Intel's data center business... In M&A news, EQT Corporation (EQT) announced an agreement to acquire Rice Energy (RICE) for total consideration of approximately $6.7B in cash and stock. EQT will also assume or refinance approximately $1.5B of net debt and preferred equity. Novadaq Technologies (NVDQ) agreed to be acquired by Stryker (SYK) for $11.75 per share in cash. Private equity firm Pamplona Capital Management announced a deal to buy Parexel International (PRXL) for $88.10 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $5B, including Parexel's net debt. According to The Wall Street Journal, Pamplona beat out Parexel rivals, including LabCorp (LH) and Icon (ICLR), with a higher offer... Oracle (ORCL) jumped about 8.5% on Thursday and saw many Wall Street firms raise their price targets on the stock following the company's report of better than expected Q4 results. Among other companies that announced quarterly results this week, La-Z-Boy (LZB) and Red Hat (RHT) advanced immediately following their reports, while Steelcase (SCS), Accenture (ACN), Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and BlackBerry (BBRY) declined. INDEXES: The Dow gained about 0.05% to close at 21,394.76, the S&P 500 rose about 0.2% to close at 2,438.30, and the Nasdaq advanced about 1.8% to close at 6,265.25.