Stocks closed a bit higher following a lackluster day in which the market spent time in both positive and negative territory before closing little changed.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,781.0, +5.2, 0.03%
- S&P 500: 1,937.7, +1.6, +0.08%
- Nasdaq: 4,321.1, +10.4, +0.2%
And now the top stories of the day:
- The New York Fed’s latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey increased to 19.3 in June, topping expectations for a 15.0 print. Following the report, Pantheon Macro’s Ian Shepherdson said this report was another sign that small businesses are reviving, adding that, “The Empire State index for June rose slightly to 19.3 from 19.0, above the consensus, 15.0, and the highest since June 2010. It is heartening to see the headline hold onto its surprise May leap; we had a expected a modest correction. The details show new orders jumping to 18.4 – also the best since June 2010 – from 10.4, while inventories and workweek also rose strongly. But shipments dipped and the employment index dropped to 10.8 from 20.9, though the May reading was far above the prior trend and the June drop still leaves the index at a decent level.”
- The Federal Reserve’s May industrial production report showed production climbed 0.6%, topping expectations for 0.5% growth. Chris Rupkey, Chief Financial Economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, said of the report: “Industrial production, the Fed’s own number, rising 0.6% today in the month of May, it is at all-time, record highs. Slack, what slack? This isn’t a recovery anymore, it is a full-on economic expansion … This isn’t a recovery as production has already regained the ground lost in recession and keeps on moving higher and higher. Wait there’s more good news. Last month it fell a sharp 0.6% a number that made us scratch our heads for an explanation, but now we don’t have to explain, it is revised to down just 0.3% in April … The economy is 1% better than we knew it to be. Things are really hopping out there.”
- The National Association of Home Builders housing market index climbed to 49 in June from 45 in May, topping expectations for a 47 print. “After several months of little fluctuation, a four-point uptick in builder sentiment is a welcome sign and shows some renewed confidence in the industry,” NAHB chairman Kevin Kelly, said in a press release. Cooper Howes at Barclays said of the report, “This leaves the index modestly above its six-month average of 48 and suggests a gradual rebound in sentiment following a soft Q1 that was driven in part by unusually severe winter weather. While the improvement is encouraging, the NAHB noted that home builders faced ‘strong headwinds, including the limited availability of labour.’ We expect home builder sentiment to trend gradually higher as rising home prices, low inventory levels, and stronger housing demand boost construction activity.”
- In the corporate arena, it was a busy day for mergers and acquisitions, highlighted by the $43 billion mega merger between medical device-maker Medtronic and Covidien. The deal includes plans for Medtronic, currently based in Minnesota, to execute a “tax inversion,” which will put its corporate headquarters in Ireland and allow the combined company to pay a lower tax rate than if it were based in the U.S. Other mergers announced today included a combination between internet networking companies Level 3 Communications and tw telecom, and hard drive maker SanDisk acquiring Fusion-io, of which Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak serves as chief scientist.
- It was a big day for Elon Musk, as shares of Tesla gained more than 8% following a report by The Financial Times that said the company’s electric vehicle rivals Nissan and BMW are looking to hold talks with the company regarding collaboration on charging networks. SolarCity, the solar power company that Musk chairs, also gained more than 5%.
- The latest salvo in the ongoing saga between Valeant and Allergan was fired today by Allergan, which issued a press release in which, among other things, it quoted a Morgan Stanley advisor that called Valeant a “house of cards.
- Argentina’s stock market crashed — falling more than 11% — after the Supreme Court refused to hear the country’s case against hedge fund creditors, which are seeking to be repaid following the country’s default early last decade.
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