Stocks spent the morning hours in the green, though some of the wind came out of the market's sails following conflicting headlines about the status of trade talks with China. Following the reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, President Trump weighed in to reassure the market that talks are going "very well," but the averages couldn't recapture their lost momentum. Next up, investors will be waiting to hear from the Federal Reserve about its interest rate plans, both in the immediate term and for the rest of the year.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., factory orders rose 0.1% in January after December's 0.1% gain. Durable orders were revised to a 0.3% gain in January versus the 0.4% increase in the advance report.
In trade news, Bloomberg reported that some U.S. officials are concerned that China is pushing back against American demands in trade talks as progress slows toward a deal. At around the same time, The Wall Street Journal reported that trade talks between the U.S. and China are in the final stages with a target date for a deal by the end of April, about a month later than initially planned. President Trump later said while walking away from a press conference at the White House that talks with China are "going very well."
TOP NEWS: At its keynote speech at the 2019 Game Developers Conference, Google (GOOG) unveiled Stadia, its online streaming platform for video games that will allow players to stream games to play on any device with the click of a button. The service, which the company said will launch later this year, will allow players to stream top-of-the-line games graphically at the highest resolution on even the most basic of computers or mobile devices and will include full cross-platform multiplayer, split-screen multiplayer tools, according to Google. In addition, the tech giant unveiled its very own Stadia controller and announced that it has started Stadia Games and Entertainment, a first party game studio that will release games exclusively on the service. Class A shares of Alphabet (GOOGL) were 1.2% higher after the announcements, while AMD (AMD) jumped 11.8% after confirming that Google has selected AMD Radeon datacenter GPUs for its Vulkan and Linux-based Google Stadia.
Apple (AAPL) announced updates to its iMac line that it said deliver "dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance." The new 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display starts at $1,299 in the U.S. and the new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display starts at $1,799, with both available to order starting today.
Fox Corporation (FOX) announced that the company this morning became a standalone company as Twenty-First Century Fox (TFCF) completed the distribution of all issued and outstanding shares of Fox common stock to 21CF stockholders on a pro rata basis. Disney's (DIS) acquisition of 21CF will become effective at 12:02 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, March 20, the companies reported.
In other M&A news, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) announced an agreement to acquire all the outstanding shares of HFF, Inc. (HF) in a cash and stock deal with an equity value of approximately $2B.
Meanwhile, Boeing (BA) was in focus after Bloomberg reported that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has asked the department's Inspector General to conduct an audit of the approval process for Boeing's 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers were Catalyst Pharmaceuticals (CPRX) and Michaels (MIK), which gained a respective 13% and 8.5% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was DSW (DSW), which slid 12.9% after the company reported quarterly results and provided guidance for fiscal 2019 and earnings targets for 2021. The company also unveiled its new corporate name, Designer Brands Inc. (DBI). Also lower was Del Taco (TACO), which fell 6.6% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 26.72, or 0.1%, to 25,887.38, the Nasdaq gained 9.47, or 0.12%, to 7,723.95, and the S&P 500 declined 0.37, or 0.01%, to 2,832.57.