STOCKS GET PUMMELLED: Here's what you need to know

It was a rough day for US stocks as investors once again bought into assets with less risk. The financials sector lost the most.

Yields on 2- and 10-year treasuries fell to two-month lows. The Japanese yen gained to 107.69 against the dollar, and the chief cabinet secretary said the government was watching with a “sense of tension” and would intervene “as appropriate.”

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,517.62, -198.43, (-1.12%)
  • S&P 500: 2,038.45, -28.21, (-1.37%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,841.12, -79.59, (-1.62%)

Yahoo

Verizon plans to bid for Yahoo’s web business next week, and it could also buy Yahoo Japan, according to Bloomberg.

The report said Google, Time and private equity funds Bain and TPG are also interested. First-round bids for the core internet business are due on Monday. Microsoft, AT&T and Comcast are dropping out of the bid, although Microsoft could give a “token investment” to the winning bidder, Bloomberg reported.

Verizon values the internet business at $8 billion. If it’s successful, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Verizon executive vice president Marni Walden would replace Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

Earlier this week, Re/code reported that Yahoo is telling potential buyers that it expects revenues to drop 15% this year.

Mayer was hired as CEO in 2012 to turnaround the struggling internet business. She has not had much success, and now the core internet business is on sale apparently after pressure from activist investors.

Yahoo’s stock rallied 1.6% on the news, before giving back more than half of the gains. It was down about 1% as the final half hour of trading began.

Twitter

Morgan Stanley downgraded Twitter in a pretty brutal note.

The analysts including Brian Nowak lowered their price target to $16 a share from $18, and maintained their “Underweight” rating.

In short, they think that fewer people continue to sign up for Twitter, which is exactly what the company is trying to fix right now.

From the note (emphasis theirs):

Engagement and New User Trends Remain Troubling… We believe TWTR’s core user engagement remains in decline, as time spent per U.S. mobile user fell by an estimated 10% YoY in 1Q:16. This may be an improvement from the 30%+ YoY declines from last year, but stepping back, TWTR’s time spent per user is already among the lowest in the social group … and is still in decline. New user growth doesn’t appear to be rebounding either, as quarter-over-quarter new mobile-app downloads were flat for the second straight quarter.”

Here are two charts that are not good. First, an estimate of monthly-active-user growth:

And how Twitter (barely) stacks up against the US competition:

The NFL announced Tuesday that Twitter won the rights to stream Thursday Night Football games this fall. Morgan Stanley wrote in a separate note that the ad-revenue potential from this is limited, since the company won’t be able to sell national spots.

US Economy

Weekly initial jobless claims fell to 267,000 last week, more than forecast.

Importantly, claims have not risen above 300,000 for 57 weeks now, which is the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average of first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 266,750 to 3,500. The four-week average of continuing claims inched down to 2.189 million, the lowest level of the year. And, the insured employment rate was unchanged at a post-crisis low of 1.6%.

Although continuing claims increased 19,000 to 2.191mn during the week ending March 26, the related four-week average inched down to 2.189mn, reaching its most favourable level of the year. The insured unemployment rate held at 1.6% in today’s report, remaining at its most favourable level of the cycle.

“Nothing in these data suggest that the softness apparent in the Q1 activity data is a warning of sustained weakness ahead,” wrote Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson.

Additionally:

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You should invest like the Masters golf tournament

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