On The Fly: Top stock stories for Friday
Stocks opened mixed with the Dow and S&P scoring new all-time highs and the Nasdaq struggling under the weight of Facebook (FB), whose CEO made some comments about the company's news feed that could be read as potentially liable to hurt the social media giant's revenue growth. The Nasdaq moved off its opening lows and caught up with the winning pace set by the other major averages. By the end of the session, all three major indexes were at all-time highs. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the consumer price index came in firmer for December, with the "core" rise of 0.3% topping the consensus forecast for a 0.2% monthly gain and the "headline" CPI in-line with expectations with a 0.1% monthly advance. December retail sales increased 0.4% for both the broader control group and the group excluding autos and gas, which was roughly in-line with expectations. Business inventories grew 0.4% in November, as expected. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is up 15 from last week to 939 rigs. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of JPMorgan (JPM) advanced 1.7% after the bank reported better than expected adjusted earnings and managed revenue in the fourth quarter. CEO Jamie Dimon said the enactment of tax reform is a "significant positive outcome for the country" and as a result of the tax plan the bank will be "increasing and accelerating" some of its investments in "employees, customers and communities" it serves. Well Fargo (WFC) also reported better than expected earnings but its revenue fell a bit short to the consensus forecast. Its shares were 0.7% lower after the report... Facebook shares slipped 4.5% after CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted an announcement to his Facebook profile which explained that he is directing his product teams to change the way that they build Facebook to focus more on "meaningful social interactions" rather than relevant content... Meanwhile, Lowe's (LOW) shares jumped 5.3% after Bloomberg reported that D.E. Shaw plans to build an activist stake in the company and intends to agitate for changes at the retailer... In addition, Aflac (AFL) shares fell 7.4% after The Intercept reported that nine former employees of the company claim that there is fraud and abuse across almost every aspect of the company. The article that revealed the allegations also cited three lawsuits that were previously unreported, and indicated the company's management and board knew about the claims and did not disclose any information to shareholders beyond vague statements about lawsuits. The insurer released a statement in response saying that such allegations are "false" and that the company intends to aggressively fight such allegations, beginning with the filing for their dismissal... Late in the day, Viacom (VIA, VIAB) jumped more than 9% after a report came out that Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements, which controls both CBS (CBS) and Viacom, concluded that a bigger footprint is necessary and is pushing to re-merge the two companies. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Astronics (ATRO), which rose 15.6% after the company guided for fiscal 2018 revenue above consensus estimates. Also higher was Kohl's (KSS), which gained 4.5% after the stock was upgraded to Sector Perform at RBC Capital and to Overweight at JPMorgan. Among the noteworthy losers was Concert Pharmaceuticals (CNCE), which dropped 27.2% after the USPTO denied the company's request for a Post Grant Review on Incyte's (INCY) '335 patent for Jakafi. Also lower was GameStop (GME), which slid 11% after the game retailer reported on its holiday sales and said it now sees FY17 EPS near the middle of its prior guidance range. INDEXES: The Dow rose 228.46, or 0.89%, to 25,803.19, the Nasdaq gained 49.28, or 0.68%, to 7,261.06, and the S&P 500 advanced 17.69, or 0.64%, to 2,785.96.