The major averages closed higher, with the S&P nearly unchanged and the Dow managing to post a gain despite post-earnings weakness in shares of the biggest health insurer in the U.S. Meanwhile, Qualcomm (QCOM) rocketed higher after announcing a settlement deal with Apple (AAPL) that ends their long-running legal fight.
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.
Meanwhile, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business' Stuart Varney that the U.S. is making good progress "on all the key points" in its trade talks with China.
TOP NEWS: Qualcomm (QCOM) shares jumped 23.2% after it and Apple (AAPL) announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The deal involves a direct license between Apple and Qualcomm with a six year term, effective as of April 1, with a two-year option to extend. Apple will pay royalties to Qualcomm and the settlement includes a one-time payment from Apple to Qualcomm, the company stated. Shares of Intel (INTC), which also supplies chips to Apple, closed up fractionally after the news.
This morning's large cap earnings reporters included healthcare giants Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and UnitedHealth (UNH), which each raised their respective FY19 earnings outlooks. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Steven Halper said UnitedHealth reported Q1 results that he called "strong," adding that he did not hear anything "problematic" during the company's earnings call that would account for the reversal of the stock during the call and its subsequent weakness. He assumes today's weakness, with the stock sliding 4%, is related to ongoing concerns about "Medicare for All" proposals, which he views as "entirely overblown."
Bank of America (BAC) also reported this morning, posting 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.
Boeing (BA) shares closed 1.8% higher after the Federal Aviation Administration posted its Draft Flight Standardization Board Report on the company's 737, revision 17, for a second shortened comment period, with comments due April 30.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Scientific Games (SGMS), which rose just over 8% after saying it will partner with Wynn Resorts (WYNN) to launch betting and iGaming apps. Also higher was Progressive (PGR), which gained 6.9% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Wave Life Sciences (WVE), which fell 28.1% after presenting final results from a Phase 1 suvodirsen study at a Muscular Dystrophy Association meeting. Also lower was Boston Scientific (BSX), which fell 4.3% after it and Coloplast were ordered by the FDA to stop the sale of surgical mesh products indicated for the transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse in the U.S.
INDEXES: The Dow rose 67.89, or 0.26%, to 26,452.66, the Nasdaq gained 24.21, or 0.3%, to 8,000.22, and the S&P 500 advanced 1.48, or 0.05%, to 2,907.06.