A few major mergers and acquisition deals are claiming headlines in stock market news today.
Last month, stocks suffered their biggest monthly decline in a year. But today stocks are kicking off September on a positive note after a three-day weekend. Stocks are rebounding from last week's selloff, stemming from fears of a U.S. strike against Syria.
Aside from major acquisitions – like Microsoft's deal with Nokia – investors have several economic indicators to monitor.
The U.S. manufacturing sectors showed moderate improvement in overall manufacturing business conditions as the Purchasing Managers Index fell to 53.1 in August from 53.7 in July.
Another manufacturing survey by the Institute for Supply Management revealed that U.S. manufacturers expanded by the fastest pace in more than two years. That ISM index rose to 55.7% from 55.4% in July, which is the highest level since June 2011. Economists had expected a decline to 54.1%.
Tech Stock News Today
First, Nokia Corp. (NYSE ADR: NOK) is holding substantial gains of about 35% on Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) plan to acquire its cell phone business for more than $7 billion. The purchase includes most of Nokia's devices, including smartphones, as well as its services unit with mapping services and licenses for patents. MSFT is down about 6% on the news.
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In a second major deal in tech, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced plans to buy Vodafone Group's (Nasdaq ADR: VOD) principal asset of 45% of Verizon Wireless for $130 billion in a cash and stock deal. VZ shares are down about 3% in morning trade.
Verizon expects the transaction to be immediately accretive to the company's earnings per share (EPS) by approximately 10%, without any one-time adjustments. The deal will close in the first quarter next year. VOD is down about 3%.
In other tech stock news today, Blackberry Ltd. (Nasdaq: BBRY) is rallying more than 2% as investors anticipate that the Microsoft deal means Blackberry, too, may be acquired as it evaluates strategic alternatives.
Stock Market New Today: Healthcare
The following healthcare stocks are also moving on developing news today.
Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: ISIS) this weekend announced interim data from an ongoing phase 2 study of ISIS-APOCIIIRx as a monotherapy in patients with very high to severely high triglycerides, or blood fat. Patients treated with ISIS-APOCIIIRx achieved statistically significant mean reductions of up to 79% in apolipoprotein C-III.
And, VIVUS Inc. (Nasdaq: VVUS) is up about 2% after the company quickly filled a leadership void. Anthony P. Zook has resigned as chief executive officer and from the VIVUS Board of Directors, effective Sept. 3, 2013, due to a medical condition. Seth H.Z. Fischer, a former senior executive at Johnson & Johnson, is to serve as chief executive officer, effective today. He will also join the VIVUS Board of Directors.
Finally, Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: AVNR) is up about 7% today after it settled with Actavis South Atlantic and Actavis Inc. (NYSE: ACT) to resolve pending patent litigation regarding ACT's seeking approval to market generic versions of AVNR's NUEDEXTA capsules. ACT is up about 1%.
The settlement deal gives ACT the right to begin selling a generic version of NUEDEXTA on July 30, 2026, or earlier under certain circumstances. The settlement does not end AVNR's ongoing litigation against the other three Abbreviated New Drug Application filers.
Stock Market News Today: Earnings
In earnings news today, a few companies are reporting after the closing bell, including H & R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB), which is up about 1%. Pike Electric Corp. (NYES: PIKE), Guidewire Software Inc. (NYSE: GWRE), and Sigma Designs Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGM) are also reporting quarterly earnings late this afternoon.
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