Stocks higher as Powell gets set to speak on economy
The major averages are higher at midday ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's conversation on the U.S. economy at The Wall Street Journal Jobs Summit, with energy producers moving higher alongside a surge in oil prices after OPEC and its partners decided to keep their output levels unchanged. While interest rates have shot higher, weighing on stocks in recent weeks, they still remain historically low and shouldn't crimp economic activity.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims rose 9,000 to 745,000 in the week ended February 27. The Q4 productivity was revised slightly higher to a -4.2% contraction rate versus the -4.8% in the preliminary report. factory orders climbed 2.6% in January, better than expected
Oil futures prices have jumped after Bloomberg reported that the OPEC+ alliance of oil producing nations "surprised" with a decision to keep production levels unchanged in April.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Snowflake (SNOW) are 9% higher near noon after the company reported earnings last night. Following the report, Deutsche Bank analyst Patrick Colville upgraded Snowflake to Buy from Hold, telling investors that he sees Snowflake's growth as suggestive of a "very large" total addressable market and a "clear product market fit."
In M&A news, Amgen (AMGN) announced an agreement to acquire Five Prime Therapeutics (FPRX) for $38 per share in cash, representing an equity value of approximately $1.9B, in order to add Five Prime's pipeline to its own oncology portfolio. Following the announcement, Amgen shares are 1% higher near noon, while Five Prime's shares have jumped 78%.
Also on the deal-making front, Square (SQ) announced an agreement to acquire a majority ownership stake in Tidal, the global music and entertainment platform. Square expects to pay a mix of cash and stock of $297M for a significant majority ownership stake, and existing artist shareholders will be the remaining stakeholders. Tidal board member and shareholder Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter is expected to join Square's board subject to the closing of the transaction, said the company, which added that it does not expect Tidal's financial results to have a material impact on Square's consolidated revenue or gross profit in 2021.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was United Natural Foods (UNFI), which rose 7% after extending its distribution pact with Amazon's (AMZN) Whole Foods Market. Also higher were W&T Offshore (WTI) and Burlington Stores (BURL), which gained a respective 14% and 14% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Okta (OKTA), which declined 4% after reporting quarterly results and agreeing to acquire Auth0 in a deal valued at roughly $6.5B. Also lower after reporting quarterly results were Schrodinger (SDGR) and Vroom (VRM), which fell 23% and 26%, respectively.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 124.27, or 0.40%, to 31,394.36, the Nasdaq was up 11.89, or 0.09%, to 13,009.64, and the S&P 500 was up 14.19, or 0.37%, to 3,833.91.