Stocks rallied and the Dow made a new record high in a busy day headlined by a merger offer from 21st Century Fox to acquire Time Warner.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,123.27, +62.6, (+0.4%)
- S&P 500: 1,980.68, +7.4, (+0.4%)
- Nasdaq: 4,429.46, +13.1, (+0.3%)
And now, the top stories of the day:
1) The day’s top story was a report first broken by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Michael De La Merced at The New York Times, that Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox made an offer to acquire Time Warner in a deal worth $US80 billion. Time Warner rejected the offer, and Fox issued a statement saying the two sides are currently not in talks on a deal. The proposed deal valued Time Warner at about $US85 per share, and shares of Time Warner surged during today’s trading session, gaining more than 17% to close just below $US84. Sorkin later reported on Twitter that Time Warner might be looking for an offer closer to $US100 per share, making a deal to acquire the HBO owner worth more like $US94 billion. And following reports of the proposed Fox-Time Warner deal, Nuveen’s Bob Doll told Business Insider that Time Warner moved from “in play conceptually” to “in play for real.”
2) It was a busy day on the economic data front, headlined by the Producer Price Index, which showed that prices grew 0.4% in June compared to the prior month, better than the 0.2% increase that was expected. Economists were expecting prices to rise 0.2%. Excluding the cost of food and energy, prices rose 0.2%, which was in line with estimates. Following the report, Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macro said, “In one line: Much better core than implied by NFIB survey; it can’t last… We expected a much bigger core number in the wake of the further increase in selling prices reported by the NFIB… The underlying economic story here, we think, is that firms are expecting to have to pay rather higher wages and are seeking offsetting prices increases.”
3) The National Association of Homebuilders reported that its homebuilder confidence index for July rose to 53 from 49 in June, topping expectations for the index to come in at 50. Following the report, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said, “As employment increases and those with jobs feel more secure about their own economic situation, they are more likely to feel comfortable about buying a home.”
4) In June, industrial production growth slowed to 0.2% from 0.4% in May, with the reading also coming in below the 0.3% growth that was expected by economists. Following the report, Michael Gapen at Barclays said, “Overall, and despite the slowdown in manufacturing production in June, manufacturing production in Q2 rose by 6.7% relative to Q1. The sharp rebound in manufacturing in February in March left the sector well positioned heading into Q2. Following the report, our Q2 GDP tracking estimate remained at 3.0%, in line with our revised forecast for second-quarter growth.”
5) Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was on Capitol Hill for the second straight day, this time speaking in front of, and taking questions from, the House Committee on Financial Services.
6) The Federal Reserve also released its latest Beige Book report, a collection of economic anecdotes from across the country. The report showed that the economy showed “modest growth” in most of the Fed’s regions. From the Beige Book, “The pace of economic growth was characterised as moderate in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco, while the remaining Districts reported modest expansion. Compared to the previous reporting period, Boston and Richmond noted a slightly slower pace of growth. Most Districts were optimistic about the outlook for growth.” In the Fed’s St. Louis district, The World Cup was cited as having had a positive impact during the survey period.
7) CNBC hosted its annual Delivering Alpha conference, which featured a number of the biggest hedge fund managers presenting their latest investment ideas and commentary on the markets. Among the notable presentations was Stanley Druckenmiller, founder of Duquesne Capital Management, who said that his intuition is telling him the Fed’s policies have gone too far. Also presenting was Leon Cooperman, who presented his 12 favourite stock picks, which included Citigroup and KKR, after last year delivering his 10 favourite stock ideas.