Stocks looked poised for a significant bounceback from some oversold conditions, but the major averages weakened as the trading day advanced and finished out with only modest gains. Some of the recent worries about global growth may have receded a bit, if bond yields are any indication, and investors continue to look for news on U.S.-China trade talks, which are set to resume, to provide further direction on whether it is time to step back in and buy.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., housing starts fell 8.7% month-over-month to a 1.16M rate in February, which was below the consensus forecast. Building permits dropped 1.6% to a 1.296M rate, which was also worse than expected. The Case Shiller 20-city home price index for January dipped 0.22% to 212.41. The FHFA home price index rose 0.6% to 271.95 in January. Richmond Fed manufacturing index fell 6 points to 10 in March, as projected. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index declined in March to a worse than expected reading of 124.1.
TOP NEWS: Apple (AAPL) was in focus after the company introduced a subscription video service, a subscription news service, a subscription gaming service, and a physical Apple Card at a Services event held yesterday. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that a U.S. trade judge has determined that Apple infringes a Qualcomm (QCOM) patent and recommended an import ban on certain iPhones. ITC Judge MaryJoan McNamara said she would be recommending an import ban on some types of iPhones made in China, according to Bloomberg. Apple shares were just over 1% lower following the news, while Qualcomm rose 2.4%.
Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) jumped 22% after the home goods retailer saw a group of activist investors announce the nomination of sixteen independent candidates for its board. The group, made up of Legion Partners Holdings, Macellum Advisor, and Ancora Advisors, said they believe the company has the potential to earn more than $5 in EPS annually over the next few years "with the right board and management team in place." Later on, CNBC reported that many private equity firms have considered and passed on an acquisition of Bed Bath & Beyond.
Carnival (CCL) fell 8.7% after the cruise line operator reported better than expected results for the first quarter, but cut its full year 2019 adjusted earnings per share outlook, citing a drag from currency and the price of fuel.
Additionally, Ford (F) shares were 2.9% higher after Bloomberg reported that the car maker may close down two of its three assembly plants in Russia as part of a restructuring to its money-losing business operations in the country.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Viacom (VIAB), which rose 7.6% after the New York Post reported that the company and CBS (CBS) are preparing to restart merger talks and determine who will become CEO of the entity after Viacom settled a contract dispute with AT&T (T). CBS shares were 3.9% higher after the report.
Among the notable losers was Criteo (CRTO), which slid 17.2% after at least three Wall Street analysts downgraded the stock, citing uncertainty over potential measures by Google (GOOGL) to restrict advertising targeting across its marketing platform, including its Chrome browser. A 5.5% slide in LiveRamp (RAMP) shares was also attributed to Google worries driven by a report in Adweek.
INDEXES: The Dow rose 140.90, or 0.55%, to 25,657.73, the Nasdaq gained 53.98, or 0.71%, to 7,691.52, and the S&P 500 advanced 20.10, or 0.72%, to 2,818.46.