After a summer of strong gains, stocks this week are in the red as tensions between Syria and the United States mount and investors fear near-term military action, likely as soon as this week. Other stock market news today weighing on shares includes the looming debt ceiling, with terms that U.S. President Barack Obama said he will not negotiate.
Investors are essentially now banking on the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying program stimulus to begin winding down next month. But other stock market news today points to several stocks to watch this week, particularly in the consumer sector, where stocks like Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY), and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) are making notable movements.
In economic news this week, a durable goods report yesterday (Monday) revealed that U.S. business orders dropped 7.3% in July, driven by a drop in jetliners and military goods. It was the first decline in four months and more than the 4.9% drop analysts expected, reflecting a very slowly growing economy. Stocks remained depressed as a result.
Investors learned this morning that home prices are up 12.1% year over year and 1% from a month prior, according to the latest Case-Shiller report, although both figures are just shy of analysts' consensus. And August consumer confidence is also up to 81.5, versus an expected decline.
But despite the positive reports, stocks remain in the doldrums and seem poised for a week of declines, albeit in low volumes.
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Meanwhile, gold is enjoying a bull market, with the price of gold well above $1,400 an ounce. The December contract for gold on Comex hit $1,423 an ounce. And crude futures are rising to near $109 per barrel, triggered by the conflict in Syria.
Stocks Market News Today: Consumer Stocks
In consumer market news, Tesla shares are up 3% today, continuing their tear this year after marking a 52-week high yet again yesterday.
Monday's rally was driven by an All Things D column in The Wall Street Journal that said car sales in California had Tesla securing 12% of the luxury sports car category in the state in the first half of 2013. The electric car maker is reporting stronger sales than Porsche, Volvo, Cadillac, Jaguar, and Land Rover.
But consumer shares like Best Buy are lower today. BBY shares are weighed as founder Richard Schulze begins selling an undisclosed amount of his shares.
And Tiffany shares, with volatile trading, marked a new 52-week high this morning at $83.33 after it reported Q2 sales of $926 million and EPS of $0.83, versus the analyst consensus on Cap IQ of $942 million in sales and earnings of $0.74 per share.
Finally, Starbucks Corp.'s (Nasdaq: SBUX) Evolution Fresh, a cold-pressed juice, along with a selection from the new Evolution Harvest line of premium snacks, is launching in Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM) today. The expansion advances Starbucks' plans to place Evolution Fresh in about 8,000 Starbucks and grocery locations by the end of the year.
Stocks Market News Today: Healthcare
In healthcare stocks news, Akorn Inc. (Nasdaq: AKRX) shares are soaring 12% this morning after it said it signed a definitive agreement to acquire Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co. (Nasdaq: HITK). Under the terms of the agreement, Akorn will pay $640 million in cash, or $43.50 per share. This represents a 23.5% premium over the closing price on August 26. HITK shares are soaring 22% at $42.85.
Akorn expects to achieve between $15 million and $20 million in annual run-rate synergies within 12 months of close. The combined company is expected to have annual revenue in excess of $500 million, and the transaction is expected to be accretive to Akorn's non-GAAP adjusted EPS immediately on closing.
Several other mergers and acquisitions in healthcare have made headlines in stock market news so far this week.
Yesterday, shares in Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN) were up more than 8% after the company reached an agreement on Sunday to buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: ONXX) for about $10.4 billion in cash. Amgen will pay $125 a share, which will give it access to Onyx's Kyprolis blood cancer drug. Onyx shares rose about 6% but are trading flat today.
In other healthcare stocks news, Merge Healthcare Inc. (Nasdaq: MRGE) shares traded significantly higher yesterday as Michael Ferro, outgoing chairman, said he wants to explore a possible going-private transaction. Ferro holds 26.6 million of the company's shares. After he resigned yesterday, the company appointed Dennis Brown as the company's new chairman, effective immediately.
Stocks Market News Today: Technology
Tessera Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: TSRA) said it has settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. (NYSE: FSL) under which it will receive an undisclosed payment in return for freeing Freescale from litigation. The company gave no further details of the settlement, but said it will not be adjusting its Q3 financial guidance.
Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are also among the technology stocks to watch this week. Shares of Facebook, up about 3% yesterday, have advanced past its IPO price of $38 after the company recently reported stronger earnings.
And last week, Microsoft surprised investors when it announced that CEO Steve Ballmer was stepping down in the next year. Microsoft shares rallied on the news on Friday, but have since pared those gains. MSFT is down 1.4% this morning.
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