Stocks fell for a second straight day this week following an ugly day across European markets, and US treasuries continued selling off.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 18,088.59, -16.58, (-0.09%)
- S&P 500: 2,101.32, -4.01, (-0.19%)
- Nasdaq: 4,983.55, -10.03, (-0.20%)
And now, the top stories on Tuesday:
- Verizon is buying AOL for $US4.4 billion, or $US50 per share. “The deal means we will be a division of Verizon and we will oversee AOL’s current assets plus additional assets from Verizon that are targeted at the mobile and video media space,” AOL CEO wrote in a staff email Business Insider obtained on Tuesday. Some traders are speculating that there will be a bidding war offering a price for AOL greater than $US50 per share, especially because the stock rallied past that mark today. AOL shares jumped 18% to as high as $US50.75; Verizon shares fell by less than 1%. AOL had acquired The Huffington Post in 2011, and Re/code reports that Verizon could spin the website off for as much as $US1 billion.
- Euro-area governments are considering an aid package for Greece, according to Bloomberg, citing two people familiar with the discussions. Greece would have to cross a long line of hurdles including submitting a detailed program of economic reforms, and getting the approval of several Euro-eara parliaments.
- Job openings declined in March to 4.99 million in March from 5.144 in February. Expectations were for a slight drop to 5.108 million. Quits rose to 2.78 million from 2.72 the prior month. The number of hires rose to 5.07 million offers from 5.01 in February. Chris Rupkey at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi wrote in an email: “5.0 million for hire signs are more than any month during the housing bubble economy years 2004 to 2006 before the Great Recession as the Fed calls it. The jobs market looks pretty darn healthy looking at this labour market indicator today.”
- The NFIB small business optimism report rose to 96.9, beating the forecast for a reading of 96, and up from 95.2 in the prior month, according to Bloomberg. “Overall, the April NFIB survey is consistent with our expectation of a pickup in non-energy business investment this year and does little to change our outlook,” noted Barclays economists.
- Saudi Arabia pumped a record amount of crude oil in April. The world’s largest oil exporter added 10.3 million barrels of oil per day last month, up from 10.29 million in March, according to Reuters, citing a Gulf industry source. The source said production ramped up because of increased demand from Asia. In a separate report Tuesday, the Energy Information Administration noted that there were “indications of higher global oil demand growth” in April. West Texas Intermediate crude oil rallied 2% to as high as $US61.15 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained 2% to around $US67.64.
- San Francisco Fed president John Williams says the Federal Reserve should raise rates without delay. Speaking in New York on Tuesday, he said: “The decision to raise rates is actually three decisions: Not just when, but how quickly and how high. I see a safer course in a gradual increase, and that calls for starting a bit earlier.” Williams added that the Fed will be easing its ultra-accommodative monetary policy stance, not kickstarting tight policy.
- Lumber Liquidators has taken nine insurance companies to court. The hardwood flooring retailer is suing them for breach of contract, after their alleged refusal to defend the company in class action lawsuits that customers filed. The company is facing over 100 of those, related to its controversial laminate flooring sourced from China. In a statement to Business Insider, the company said: “Lumber Liquidators obtained liability insurance that promised to cover it if it found itself involved in litigation, but Lumber Liquidators’ insurers are arguing that some of the fine print in those policies lets them off the hook.” The company’s shares fell more than 5%.
- The SEC has announced fraud charges against the former CEO and current CFO of for-profit college ITT Educational Services. Shares nosedived 44%. In its release, the SEC alleged that ITT provided two student loan programs without letting its investors know their poor performance and financial impact. For instance, ITT paid delinquent student loans to prevent them from defaulting, which would have triggered “tens of millions of dollars” of guaranteed payouts.