Stocks were little changed during a quiet New Year's Eve trading session as the S&P 500 ended the year with a nearly 30% advance. One of the main tailwinds for the market's recent rally, the "phase one" trade deal with China, will soon be completely out of the way as a catalyst with President Trump tweeting that he plans to sign the pact on January 15. However, the Fed is still very dovish and hopes are for the economy to pick up steam in 2020. One of President Trump's advisers, Peter Navarro, sounded particularly bullish this morning during an interview on CNBC, predicting that the Dow could rise from its 2019 closing point of just below 28,500 to 32,000 by year end.
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.
Carlos Ghosn, the ousted head of the carmaking alliance of Renault (RNSDF) and Nissan (NSANY) who was awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, arrived in Lebanon through Turkey, though it is unclear as to how he left Japan, The Wall Street Journal reported. In a statement, Ghosn, who holds Lebanese citizenship, said, "I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed. I have not fled justice-I have escaped injustice and political persecution."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Hudson's Bay (HBAYF) chairman Richard Baker and his partners have approached minority shareholders, including Catalyst Capital Group, about potentially raising their offer to take the Canadian retailer private. Baker and a group of allies have floated the idea of raising their offer to around C$11 a share from C$10.30, according to Bloomberg.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Neovasc (NVCN), which rose almost 37% 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 49.4% 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 20.6% 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: The Dow fell 106.82, or 0.37%, to 28,538.44, the Nasdaq gained 26.61, or 0.30%, to 8,972.60, and the S&P 500 advanced 9.49, or 0.29%, to 3,230.78.
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