Stocks are having a quiet morning of trading, which is not surprising ahead of the New Year's holiday, but equities have had a stellar run in 2019, with year-to-date gains of about 31% for the S&P 500, 24% for the Dow, and over 37% for the Nasdaq. President Donald Trump tweeted earlier that he will be signing the "phase one" trade deal with China on January 15 in a ceremony that will take place at the White House, adding that at "a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two," but the market is taking that in stride as expected.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Case Shiller's 20-City home price index increased 0.09% to 218.43 in October, while the FHFA home price index rose 0.2% to 280.2 in October. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index slipped to 126.5 in December from an upwardly-revised 126.8 reading for November.
In China, the National Bureau of Statistics' manufacturing PMI was unchanged at 50.2 in December, though it held over the 50 expansion mark for a second straight month.
The official services PMI fell short of consensus expectations with a reading of 53.5.
TOP NEWS: Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) announced that the company, through one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries, proposes to join a consortium led by Tencent Holdings to acquire a 10% equity stake in Universal Music Group, or UMG, from its parent company, Vivendi (VIVHY), at an enterprise value of EUR 30B. Tencent Music proposed to invest up to a 10% equity interest in the consortium, which will also have the option to purchase an additional 10% equity stake in UMG at the same enterprise value as in the transaction pursuant to the terms of the transaction documents. Prior to the closing of the transaction, Tencent Music and UMG also intend to enter into a second agreement that grants Tencent Music an option to acquire a minority equity stake in UMG's Greater China business, the companies noted.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Neovasc (NVCN), which rose 70% after the company announced its submission of a Premarket Approval application to the FDA for its Neovasc Reducer medical device for the treatment of refractory angina.
Also higher was FuelCell Energy (FCEL), which gained 43% after the company announced the start of commercial operation of the 2.8 megawatt fuel cell project located at the city of Tulare, California's waste water treatment facility.
Among the noteworthy losers was Core Laboratories (CLB), which fell 22% after the company lowered its guidance for both Q4 of 2019 and Q1 of 2020 and also announced a 55% reduction of its quarterly dividend.
Also lower was EyeGate Pharmaceuticals (EYEG), which slipped 17% after it entered into a definitive agreement with certain institutional investors to purchase 500,000 shares of the company's common stock at a purchase price of $10.00 per share in a registered direct offering priced at-the-market under Nasdaq rules.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 34.12, or 0.12%, to 28,428.02, the Nasdaq was flat at 8,945.98, and the S&P 500 was down 3.77, or 0.12%, to 3,217.52.