Stocks rallied to close higher for the week as the Dow moved back above 18,000 and General Electric had its best one-day performance in five years.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 18,054, +96, (+0.5%)
- S&P 500: 2,101.4, +10, (+0.5%)
- Nasdaq: 4,993.5, +19, (+0.4%)
And now, the top stories on Monday:
- General Electric is selling a huge chunk of its GE Capital assets. The company announced it will sell nearly all its real estate portfolio worth $US26.5 billion to investors including Blackstone and Wells Fargo. It will also repatriate about $US36 billion in foreign cash, and has authorised a share repurchase program of up to $US50 billion. Shares rallied by over 10% in trading.
- “This is a major step in our strategy to focus GE around its competitive advantages,” Jeff Immelt, GE’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. Barclays analysts said the sale of GE Capital assets is “good riddance,” and investors now have a clearer sense of the GE’s business mix. Business Insider’s Myles Udland pointed out, the company announced it is working to get rid of its designation as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI), which regulators created after the recession, and use to flag companies that could trigger a financial crisis if they are distressed.
- Blackstone also made another huge real estate deal Friday. Excel Trust has agreed to be acquired by Blackstone Property Partners for about $US2 billion in cash. Excel Trust is a real-estate investment trust that focuses on retail properties. Blackstone will buy all of Excel Trust’s outstanding shares for $US15.85 per share, representing a 15% premium over Thursday’s closing price. Shares rallied by over 14% Friday.
- US oil rig counts fell to the lowest level since December 2010 this week. The latest data from Baker Hughes showed the number of active rigs fell by 42 to 760. Combined oil and gas rigs were down 40 to 988 as 2 natural gas rigs came on-line this week. This is the lowest combined total for oil and gas rigs since August 21, 2009.
- In other data, import prices fell 0.3% in March, better than the expectation for a 0.4% decline. The strong dollar and the oil crash have dampened import prices in recent months.
- True to brand, Etsy is carrying out a handcrafted, ‘artisanal’ IPO roadshow by seeking out small investors that share its commitment to “socially responsible business practices.” The Wall Street Journal reported that the company is also targeting brokers whose clients buy or sell products on Easy.