Stocks soared for a third straight day and continued to advance towards the levels they topped at before the shocking Brexit vote sent markets spiraling down a week ago.
The S&P 500 ended the second quarter with about a 1.7% gain, as it extended its gains for the year above 2.5%. But the Nasdaq finished red for the quarter and is still down year-to-date.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,929.17, +234.49, (1.33%)
- S&P 500: 2,098.85, +28.08, (1.36%)
- Nasdaq: 4,842.67, +63.43, (1.33%)
- WTI crude oil: $48.33, -$1.55, (-3.1%)
- 10-year Treasury yield: 1.48% (+0.012)
- Snacks collide, or not. Snack-food giant Mondelez made an offer to buy Hershey in a deal valuing the company at $107 per share. But Hershey said no thanks. In a statement, Hershey said it “unanimously rejected the indication of interest and determined that it provided no basis for further discussion between Mondelez and the Company.” Activist investor Nelson Peltz and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square both hold sizeable stakes in Mondelez. Ackman first took a $5.5 billion stake in Mondelez in August 2015, but has since sold down his share in the snack-maker, unloading about 20 million shares in March. Mondelez has long been a target of activist investors, with Peltz publicly agitating in 2013 for Pepsi to acquire Mondelez in a more than $65 billion deal.
- George Soros says Brexit has “unleashed a crisis” in markets that’s as bad as 2008. Soros said the crisis had been unfolding in slow motion but will now accelerate, according to a speech to the European Parliament obtained by ValueWalk. This would create more deflation, he said. Soros, who is known for his huge bet against the pound in 1992, said before the UK voted to leave the EU that a Brexit would cause serious problems. Now that prophecy is coming true, according to Soros.
- S&P cut the European Union’s debt rating. Standard and Poor’s lowered its rating on the EU’s debt to AA+ from AA, just days after it downgraded the UK. The ratings agency expects the 27 member states excluding the UK to remain in the EU, but now has doubts about the union’s future and its ability to repay long-term debt. Brexit will “complicate budgetary and policy priorities among the 27 remaining members of the EU, in our opinion, weakening the EU’s fiscal flexibility and introducing uncertainty into budgetary forecasts,” S&P said in a statement. Also on Thursday, S&P affirmed the US’ AA+ credit rating and maintained its stable outlook.
- The Bank of Mexico shocked markets with an interest-rate hike, and the peso soared. It unexpectedly hiked the key interest rate to 4.25% from 3.75%. Economists were only expecting a 0.25% increase. The Bank, nicknamed Banxico, raised rates amid sluggish global economic growth to keep rising inflation expectations in check. It noted that economic activity slowed in the second quarter, especially in manufacturing and exports.
- In economic data, initial jobless claims rose more than expected last week, by 10,000 to 268,000. The 4-week moving average was 266,750, a drop of 250 from the previous week’s average of 267,000. The data can be volatile at this time of year, as automakers shutdown for annual retooling. And, Chicago business activity rebounded in June. The ISM/MNI Chicago business barometer (also called the PMI) rose from contractionary territory to a reading of 56.8, topping expectations for 51. That was the highest reading since January 2015.