On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday

Stocks began the day with nice gains following an inline consumer prices report, but saw their highs during the first hour of trading. Topping all news, however, has been the firing by President Trump of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. After news of Tillerson's ouster was broke by the Washington Post, Trump tweeted to confirm that Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become the new Secretary of State. As the ongoing turnover in the White House gets debated by news outlets, analysts and investors, the market has pared its gains, with the S&P moving back to unchanged and the Nasdaq slipping into negative territory. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the consumer price index report came in broadly in line with expectations, as both the headline and core rates rose 0.2% compared to last month. The headline CPI was up 2.2% from last February, while the core CPI was up 1.8% year-over-year, both matching the consensus forecasts. COMPANY NEWS: The saga of Broadcom's (AVGO) pursuit of Qualcomm (QCOM) came to an abrupt end when President Donald Trump issued an executive order to block the chipmaker from buying its rival on the grounds of protecting U.S. national security. The proposed takeover of Qualcomm is prohibited, as is "any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly," the order stated. Following that order last night, Qualcomm shares have slid over 4% while Broadcom shares have risen 1%. Intel (INTC), which may have been threatened by a combined Broadcom-Qualcomm, is nearly 2% higher following the news, while Micron (MU), which has been named by analysts as a potential alternate target for Broadcom, is up almost 3%... While U.S. national interests were cited for the decision to keep Qualcomm from being bought, Reuters reported that Finland's government has taken a 3.3% stake in Nokia (NOK) to strengthen its influence over the telecom company. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was BioTime (BTX), which rose 9% after it announced its submission of an application for CE Mark approval to market Renevia in Europe. Also higher was DSW (DSW), which gained 9% after reporting quarterly results. Among the notable losers was General Electric (GE), which fell 4% after JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa cut his price target on the shares to $11 from $14. Also lower after reporting quarterly results were Commercial Vehicle Group (CVGI) and National CineMedia (NCMI), which dropped a respective 23% and 10%. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 10.80, or 0.04%, to 25,189.41, the Nasdaq was down 29.05, or 0.38%, to 7,559.28, and the S&P 500 was down 1.82, or 0.07%, to 2,781.20.

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