U.S. stocks fluctuated after it was reported that Attorney General William Barr said that special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation did not find sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump obstructed justice or that his campaign coordinated with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. Technology led on the downside in terms of S&P 500 sectors as Apple slumped after CEO Tim Cook took the wraps off of several new services the company is launching, including a streaming television service. Part of the decline in Apple shares may have to do with the fact that the company did not give any details about the price it plans to charge for its new original content video offering.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the Chicago Fed national activity index fell 0.04 ticks to -0.29 in February. The Dallas Fed manufacturing survey for March fell to 8.3 from a prior reading of 13.1.
In Europe, Germany's IFO survey for March was positive, with the IFO Business Climate reading of 99.6 topping the 98.5 forecast, the IFO Expectations reading of 95.6 topping the 94 consensus and IFO Current Assessment reading of 103.8 topping the expected 102.9.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Apple (AAPL) were 1.2% lower after the tech giant announced a variety of new and updated services at a company event. Among them, Apple unveiled Apple News+, a news subscription service that brings together popular magazines, newspapers, and digital publishers into a single curated experience. The company also introduced Apple Card, a new kind of credit card built into the Apple Wallet app, Apple Arcade, a video game subscription service that will feature over 100 new and exclusive games, and Apple TV+, an original video subscription service that will feature a slate of programming from creative artists including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and others.
Meanwhile, Nike (NKE) was in focus after lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted that he will be holding a press conference tomorrow to disclose a major high school and college basketball scandal perpetrated by the sneaker giant. After his tweet teasing that planned press conference, it was revealed that federal prosecutors in New York had charged Avenatti with attempting to extort millions of dollars out of Nike by threatening to release damaging information about the company. In addition, the United States Attorney's Office in the Central District of California announced that Avenatti had been arrested on federal bank fraud and wire fraud charges.
Boeing (BA) and the FAA are nearing completion on a software and training overhaul for the 737 MAX 8, The Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, Norwegian Air said it has temporarily suspended flights operated by the Boeing 737 MAX and has decided to delay potential sales of six Boeing 737-800 aircraft and use available 787 Dreamliner capacity on high-volume routes. In other aviation news, Airbus (EADSY) and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company signed a General Terms Agreement covering the purchase by Chinese airlines of a total of 300 Airbus aircraft.
Bayer (BAYRY) announced that the company and Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Janssen Pharmaceuticals have reached an agreement in principle on a $775M settlement that will resolve "virtually all" of the approximately 25,000 Xarelto claims in the U.S.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Avaya (AVYA), which surged 32.3% after Reuters reported that the company is weighing a leveraged buyout offer from a private equity firm that would value it at over $5B. Also higher was Viacom (VIA, VIAB), which gained 3.9% after it and AT&T (T) announced a renewed carriage agreement, resolving a contract dispute. AT&T shares were 1% lower after the news.
Among the notable losers was Nu Skin (NUS), which fell 3.7% after Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan downgraded the stock to Sell from Hold and cut his price target on the shares to $43 from $63. Also lower was Kandi Technologies (KNDI), which declined 11.1% after it announced an equity restructuring of its joint venture company Zhejian Kandi Vehicles.
INDEXES: The Dow rose 14.51, or 0.057%, to 25,516.83, the Nasdaq lost 5.13, or 0.067%, to 7,637.54, and the S&P 500 declined 2.35, or 0.084%, to 2,798.36.