The major averages are fractionally higher at midday as the volume of earnings reports begins to pick up and investors pore over the announcements and associated calls for clues about the health of the economy following recent signs from central banks around the world that they are becoming more concerned about growth.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., industrial production fell 0.1%, with capacity slipping to 78.8% in March, which was disappointing compared to expectations. The NAHB housing market index rose 1 point to 63 in April.
TOP NEWS: This morning's large cap earnings reporters included Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and UnitedHealth (UNH), which each raised their respective FY19 earnings outlooks, and Bank of America (BAC), which posted better than expected adjusted earnings and lower than expected Q1 revenue.
AT&T (T) announced an agreement to sell its minority stake in Hulu back to the streaming video joint venture. The transaction valued Hulu, which is owned by Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA), at $15B, with AT&T's 9.5% interest valued at $1.43B.
Expedia Group (EXPE) announced a definitive agreement to acquire Liberty Expedia Holdings (LEXEA, LEXEB) in an all-stock transaction. Liberty Expedia's principal asset is approximately 23.9M shares of Expedia Group. Under the terms of the agreement, each holder of Liberty Expedia Series A common stock and Series B common stock will receive 0.360 of a share of Expedia Group common stock. As a result of this transaction, former holders of Liberty Expedia common stock are expected to own, in the aggregate, shares of Expedia Group common stock representing approximately 14% of the total number of outstanding shares of Expedia.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Scientific Games (SGMS), which rose 7% after saying it will partner with Wynn Resorts (WYNN) to launch betting and iGaming apps. Wynn Resorts was 1% higher after the news. Also higher was Progressive (PGR), which gained 6% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Wave Life Sciences (WVE), which fell 29% after presenting final results from a Phase 1 suvodirsen study at a Muscular Dystrophy Association meeting.
Also lower was WestRock (WRK), which fell 7% after BofA Merrill Lynch analyst George Staphos cut his price target on the stock, citing "disappointing" March containerboard industry data points.
INDEXES: Near midday,
the Dow was up 37.25, or 0.14%, to 26,422.02, the Nasdaq was up 29.15, or 0.37%, to 8,005.16, and the S&P 500 was up 3.15, or 0.11%, to 2,908.73.