S&P little changed as investors await more news on Iran
Wall Street's major averages appeared poised to start the week with a drop, extending Friday's losses that had been triggered by escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. However, stocks have been able to gather themselves after hitting some early session lows and have turned mixed, with the Dow lower, Nasdaq higher and S&P 500 little changed as investors keep their eyes on headlines, and President Trump's Twitter account, for more on developments in the Middle East.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Markit's services PMI rose to 52.8 in the final December print, up 1.2 points from the 51.6 reading in November and above the 52.2 preliminary December figure.
TOP NEWS: O-I Glass (OI) shares are up 9% after the company announced earlier that its wholly owned subsidiary, Paddock Enterprises, has voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to "equitably and finally resolve" all of its current and future asbestos-related claims. The company's legacy asbestos-related liabilities are isolated within Paddock, structurally separating them from the company's glass-making operations, which remain under O-I Group, the company explained.
Yum! Brands (YUM) announced an agreement to acquire The Habit Burger Grill (HABT) for $14 per share in cash, or a total of approximately $375M. Yum CEO David Gibbs, who will be adding the Habit brand to a stable that already includes Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, said, "We've emerged from our three-year transformation stronger and in a better position to accelerate the growth of our existing brands and leverage our scale to unlock value from strategic acquisitions."
In other M&A news, Xerox (XRX) confirmed in a press release that it has obtained $24B in binding financing commitments from Citi, Mizuho and Bank of America to complete its "value-creating" proposed combination with HP Inc. (HPQ).
Class A shares of Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) were 2% higher near midday on Monday after Pivotal Research analyst Michael Levine upgraded the stock to Buy on the belief shares will outperform the other large cap Internet names in 2020 as estimates move higher.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was SmileDirectClub (SDC), which rose more than 15% after announcing the launch of an end-to-end solution and a suite of oral care products available exclusively at Walmart (WMT) U.S. stores and Walmart.com.
Also higher was Plug Power (PLUG), which gained 13% after announcing an order for hydrogen fuel cell deployments valued at more than $172M from an unnamed Fortune-100 customer.
Among the notable losers was Virtu Financial (VIRT), which slid 4% after Goldman Sachs analyst Alexander Blostein downgraded shares to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $15.50, down from $17.75. Current revenue conditions for Virtu "remain weak," pressuring the company's earnings and cash flows, Blostein tells investors.
Also lower was Cal-Maine Foods (CALM), which fell 10% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 69.57, or 0.24%, to 28,565.31, the Nasdaq was up 8.50, or 0.09%, to 9,029.27
, and the S&P 500 was down 3.03, or 0.09%, to 3,231.82