Stocks have been searching for direction and trading in a sideways fashion for most of the session as some strength in the chipmaking sector is being offset by continued weakness in healthcare stocks.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the trade deficit surprised, narrowing 3.4% to $49.4B in February. Wholesale inventories rose 0.2% in February, with sales up a disappointing 0.3%.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) are on the rise for a second day in a row after the company and Apple (AAPL) announced an agreement yesterday to dismiss all litigation between them. Just hours after Apple's announcement, Intel (INTC) shared its intention to exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices. Intel said it will continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business and will continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but does not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. Near noon, Qualcomm shares are up 10.5% while Intel shares have risen 3.5%
Shares of Netflix (NFLX) have slipped fractionally after the company reported upside for Q1 and provided a mixed Q2 outlook last night. JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth raised his price target for Netflix to $450 from $435 and reiterates an Overweight rating on the shares following last night's Q1 results, stating that while the earnings report "may be controversial to some," mostly because of the light Q2 subscriber outlook, there's "much more to like here than not."
IBM (IBM) is also sliding following its own earnings report, as Big Blue reported better than expected earnings but lower than expected revenue. Of note, IBM backed its FY19 view for operating EPS of at least $13.90, which is roughly in-line with the consensus forecast. Following the report, which Citi analyst Jim Suva believes was not enough to get investors to change their view to either a more positive or more negative view, IBM shares are down 3%.
Shares of T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) are under pressure after a Wall Street Journal report suggested their merger is unlikely to be approved by the Department of Justice as currently structured. Sprint chairman Marcelo Claure has since said the article is "not accurate," while T-Mobile CEO John Legere said via Twitter that the premise of the story is "simply untrue."
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Smart & Final Stores (SFS), which jumped 20% after announcing that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by affiliates of Apollo Global (APO) for $6.50 per share in cash.
Also higher were PepsiCo (PEP) and Morgan Stanley (MS), which gained a respective 3.5% and 2% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was BNY Mellon (BK), which slid 10% after reporting lower than expected earnings and revenue for Q1.
Also lower after reporting quarterly results was PolyOne (POL), which fell 6%.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 44.55, or 0.17%, to 26,408.11, the Nasdaq was down 10.88, or 0.14%, to 7,989.34, and the S&P 500 was down 7.28, or 0.25%, to 2,899.78.