On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stock futures were above fair value during the pre-market trading session but pared their gains prior to the open. The early economic data was mixed, despite the lowest level of weekly initial jobless claims in 45 years. The futures action led to the market opening little changed but in the second hour of trading, the sellers emerged and pushed the averages to losses of roughly 0.3%. The weakness is being attributed to concerns about a deal among lawmakers to keep the government funded. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., housing starts dropped 8.2% to a 1.192M rate in December, undershooting estimates. Initial jobless claims plunged 41,000 to 220,000 in the week ended January 13, which represents a 45-year low. The Philly Fed's manufacturing index fell 5.7 points to 22.2 in January, which was a little weaker than expected though still at a healthy level. In Asia, China's Q4 GDP growth came in a bit better than expected, rising 6.8% year-over-year. For December, retail sales fell short of expectations with a rise of 9.4%, while industrial production growth was about in-line with the consensus forecast. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of Morgan Stanley (MS) are fractionally higher after the bank continued the trend of the largest financial institutions in the country topping earnings expectations for the fourth quarter. Chairman and CEO James Gorman added that the bank enters 2018 with "strong momentum aided by rising interest rates, tax reform and an evolving regulatory framework"... Amazon (AMZN) announced that the company has shortlisted 20 metropolitan areas as finalists for its new headquarters, whittled down from 283 places that applied in October. The company plans to make a decision this year and will continue discussions with the 20 finalists, which include New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Newark, Philadelphia and Miami... Shares of Lionsgate (LGF.A) are on the rise, jumping nearly 9% after Deadline Hollywood said the company has attracted takeover interest from several suitors. This follows recent reports that Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements, which controls both CBS (CBS) and Viacom (VIAB), is pushing to re-merge those two companies which previously had been broken up. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was GNC Holdings (GNC), which surged 43% after it reported an increase in Q4 same store sales for domestic company-owned stores and guided for Q4 adjusted EPS above consensus estimates. Also higher was PTC (PTC), which gained 7% after reporting quarterly results. Among the notable losers was Alcoa (AA), which slid 8% after reporting quarterly results. Also lower was Endo (ENDP), which fell 5% after the New York Times reported that some of the country's largest hospital systems intend to go into the generic drug business themselves in an effort to combat the high prices of pharmaceuticals. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was down 90.57, or 0.35%, to 26,025.08, the Nasdaq was up 1.42, or 0.02%, to 7,299.70, and the S&P 500 was down 4.24, or 0.15%, to 2,798.32.