Stocks opened higher as the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China get set to begin in Beijing. The opening move was broad based, but the averages were unable to hold their level and then turned mixed. The indexes moved in a narrow range and for most of the day stood little changed. The market received little help from news flow as the domestic economic calendar had no major data points scheduled for release and earnings reporting has begun to slow down, though a number of big reports are expected later this week.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb sent letters to Altria (MO) and Juul Labs on the subject of youth tobacco use, saying he wants to meet with the companies "to discuss my concerns that they don't seem fully committed to their written promises about the steps they'd take to stop youth use of their products."
Additionally, Disney's (DIS) Marvel plans to produce four new animated series for Hulu, according to media reports. The four programs will focus on characters M.O.D.O.K., Hit-Monkey, Tigra & Dazzler and Howard The Duck, Hulu said. Hulu is joint-owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox (FOXA), Comcast (CMCSA), and AT&T (T).
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was NuVasive (NUVA), which rose 13% 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 6% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Activision Blizzard (ATVI), which slid 8% ahead of Tuesday's earnings report after Bloomberg reported that the game publisher will cut "hundreds of jobs" this week and amid the success of rival EA's (EA) newest battle royale game "Apex Legends." Also lower was Avaya Holdings (AVYA), which fell 12.5% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 53.22, or 0.21%, to 25,053.11
, the Nasdaq gained 9.71, or 0.13%, to 7,307.90
, and the S&P 500 advanced 1.92, or 0.07%, to 2,709.80.