Stocks began the session with modest gains as the latest round of trade talks between China and the U.S. got underway in Beijing. The averages were unable to hold their opening gains and are now mixed, but little changed. The market is receiving no help from the economic calendar, which has nothing major scheduled for release until Wednesday.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In trade news, the next round of talks are kicking off in Beijing with lower-level discussions leading to higher-ranking U.S. officials joining later in the week. Media reports have also suggested that Presidents Trump and Xi could hold a summit in the U.S. as soon as the middle of next month.
TOP NEWS: In M&A news, Morgan Stanley (MS) announced an agreement to acquire Solium Capital, a Canadian provider of software-as-a-service for equity administration, financial reporting and compliance, in a deal with a total equity value of approximately $900M. Additionally, Ingersoll-Rand (IR) announced it has made a binding offer to acquire Precision Flow Systems from its private equity fund owners for $1.45B. At the time of closing, PFS would combine with Ingersoll Rand's business that designs, manufactures, and markets pumps for specialized fluid handling applications under the ARO brand.
Restaurant Brands (QSR) reported better than expected sales and profits for the last quarter of 2018, which the company attributed to acceleration of net restaurant growth at Burger King and Popeye's and improved momentum in comparable sales at Tim Horton's.
Canaccord upgraded Tesla (TSLA) to Buy from Hold, with analyst Jed Dorsheimer stating that he believes the last two quarters and recent guidance have removed significant concerns for both production capability and profitability of the Model 3. Also, his prior corporate governance concerns have eased and he sees Tesla as having "an almost insurmountable lead in autonomous driving," the analyst added. In midday trading, shares of Tesla were higher by 3.5% following the upgrade.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was NuVasive (NUVA), which rose 15% after the Financial Times reported that Smith & Nephew (SNN) has held talks to acquire the company. Also higher was NGL Energy Partners (NGL), which gained 7% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA), which slid 6% after Aurelius Value disclosed a short position in the stock, stating in a newly published report that a recently unsealed whistleblower complaint includes "detailed allegations that Vanda has engaged in a series of fraudulent schemes, some personally orchestrated by [CEO Michael] Polymeropoulos himself, to defraud government payors." Also lower was Avaya Holdings (AVYA), which fell 11% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 10.20, or 0.08%, to 25,096.13
, the Nasdaq was up 22.52, or 0.31%, to 7,320.72
, and the S&P 500 was up 3.14, or 0.12%, to 2,711.02.