Stocks collapsed and the dollar fell, with biotechs taking a pause from a huge rally in trading on Wednesday.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,737.1, -274, (-1.5%)
- S&P 500: 2,063.2, -28.2, (-1.4%)
- Nasdaq: 4,881.6, -113, (-2.2%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital are investing $US10 billion in the merger between Kraft Foods and Heinz. The new company will be called The Kraft Heinz Company, and will be the fifth largest food company in the world. Kraft shareholders will receive a special dividend of $US16.50, and will own 49% of the merged company. Kraft shares rocketed by up to 35% to as much as $US87.88 per share.
- In a statement, Buffett said: “This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organisations and delivering shareholder value. I’m excited by the opportunities for what this new combined organisation will achieve.” This investment is a departure from his stance on private equity companies, as Business Insider’s Myles Udland reports.
- Biotechs sold off sharply. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF fell by more than 3.5%, marking its biggest one-day plunge this year. As Myles Udland reports, 2015’s drop is similar to the sell off of last year, and biotechs, one of the best performing sectors, are again taking a breather.
- In economic data out Wednesday, durable goods orders fell by 1.4% in February, missing economists’ expectation of a 0.2% rise. Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, or core capex, fell by 1.4%. “Core capital goods orders are now falling at a 7.6% 3m/3m saar pace and suggests that the comparable shipments measure, which is falling by a less scary 1.8% in February, could have more room to go,” BNP Paribas’ Bricklin Dwyer wrote.
- The US is still brimming with oil, with inventories at their highest levels in nearly a century. They rose by 8.2 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration. Analysts had expected a build of 4.75 million. There are now 466.7 million barrels in storage, the highest for this time of year in 80 years, according to the EIA. This does not mean there is a storage crisis: “The US faces a growing structural problem without exports, but 2015 is likely not the tipping point,” Morgan Stanley’s Adam Longson wrote in a note. “Inventories should peak in May at 509 million barrels (+115 YoY), but this is far from full storage.”
- Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring is being investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. During a press call on Wednesday, commission chairman Elliot Kaye said samples have been collected and will be sent to labs for testing, although the results will emerge in “months,” and may not conclusively determine what the long-term health risks are. “If we find out that we believe that there’s a substantial product hazard, we will work with the company to seek a recall,” Kaye said.
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