Stocks were mixed on Monday with the blue-chip Dow gaining and the tech-heavy Nasdaq falling more than 1% ahead of the anticipated Alibaba IPO later this week.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,026.14, +38.6, (+0.2%)
- S&P 500: 1,983.58, -2, (-0.1%)
- Nasdaq: 4,519.85, -47.8, (-1.05%)
And now, the top stories on Monday:
1. Monday saw a couple economic data points come in mixed, with the Federal Reserve’s latest report on industrial production missing expectations while the Empire Fed Manufacturing report beat estimates. Industrial production unexpectedly fell 0.1% in August, against expectations for a 0.3% increase, and capacity utilization also fell to 78.8% from 79.1% in July.
2. The Empire Fed Manufacturing index surged to 27.5 in September, up from 14.69 in August and topping expectations for 15.95. “The September 2014 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity expanded at a robust pace for New York manufacturers,” the NY Fed said in its report. “Optimism about future business conditions remained high.” Following the reports, Ian Shepherdson said the underlying trend remains strong, though the echo of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy still impacts seasonal adjustments.
3. Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants released its own presentation answering some of the concerns raised by hedge fund Starboard Value in its 294-slide presentation released late last week. Among the concerns addressed by Darden were Starboard’s criticisms of its unlimited salad and breadsticks offering, which Darden says, “conveys Italian generosity.”
4. Business Insider went to an Olive Garden in Manhattan on Monday, and found a number of problems clearly plaguing the company. Ranging from a difficult-to-decipher menu, to a 20-minute wait amid tables that appeared empty, Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz wrote that, “Our experience revealed some big problems at Olive Garden, and confirmed Starboard’s allegations that the brand needs help.” Shares of Olive Garden parent Darden gained more than 4.5% on Monday.
5. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell about 1% on Monday, and some attributed the sell-off in tech stocks to the impending Alibaba IPO which is set for later this week. In his afternoon commentary, NYSE floor governor Rich Barry said that one veteran trader told him, “some of our analysts to suspect that at least a good portion of this action is a kind of pre-Alibaba setup — pruning some competitive exposure and/or raising funds for the IPO.” Alibaba is expected to price on Thursday afternoon and begin trading Friday morning. Notable tech stocks under pressure on Monday included, Yelp, LinkedIn, Twitter, FireEye and Elon Musk’s Tesla and SolarCity.
6. This weekend, Wall Street legend Laszlo Birinyi sat down with Barry Ritholtz for Ritholtz’s Masters in Business program on Bloomberg Radio, and Birinyi said that while we are in the exuberance phase of the bull market, there isn’t the broad popular support for stocks seen in 1999 and 2000. “We’re still going to have that time when the public comes back and the barista is going to ask what [stocks] you’re buying, Birinyi said. But for now, Birinyi said, “Leave the door open, and let the good times roll.”
7. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee is set to kick off its latest two-day policy meeting on Tuesday, and a few changes are expected with Wednesday’s policy announcement. Many expect the Fed to drop the phrase “considerable time” to describe how much time it expects will elapse between the end of its QE program and its first interest rate hike. The FOMC will also release its latest summary of economic projections, which will include its latest Dot Plot forecast of expected future interest rates.
8. Tom Lee, former Chief U.S. Equity Strategist at JP Morgan announced his latest venture on Monday, and among the predictions in his first note to clients was a call that by the end of this year, the S&P 500 should get to 2,100. Lee also said that before the current bull market is over, the S&P 500 could get to “2,700 or higher.”
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