On The Fly: Top stock stories at midday
Stocks opened in positive territory as the market shrugged off the pointed air strikes on Syria's chemical producing sites as investors stay focused on the earnings season, which will pick up in earnest this week. Oil prices are lower to begin the week despite heightened tension in the Middle East, with WTI crude currently lower by about 1.5%. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., an advance report showed that retail sales increased 0.6% in March, breaking a string of three monthly declines. The headline increase was greater than expected, while the measure of retail sales excluding autos was up 0.2%, as expected. Business inventories rose 0.6% in February with sales 0.4% higher, as forecast. The NAHB housing market index fell 1 point to 69 in April, marking its fourth consecutive decline after hitting 74 in December. The Empire State manufacturing index fell 6.7 points to 15.8 in April. COMPANY NEWS: Bank of America (BAC) joined several of its mega-cap banking peers in reporting headline earnings and revenue that topped analysts' consensus expectations. However, like JPMorgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citi (C), which reported on Friday, BofA shares slipped about 0.5% following its report... Shares of advertising agency giant WPP (WPP) declined 6% after reporting over the weekend that Sir Martin Sorrell has stepped down as CEO with immediate effect. Roberto Quarta, Chairman of WPP, becomes Executive Chairman until the appointment of a new CEO, while Mark Read and Andrew Scott have been appointed as joint Chief Operating Officers of WPP. MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Eldorado Resorts (ERI), which surged 17% after it announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tropicana Entertainment's (TPCA) gaming and hotels business in a cash transaction valued at $1.85B. Also higher was Navistar (NAV), which gained 10% after Bloomberg reported that Volkswagen (VLKAY) Truck & Bus is open to a takeover of the truck and engine maker. Among the notable losers were Acacia (ACIA) and Oclaro (OCLR), which dropped a respective 37% and 12% after the U.S. Department of Commerce reportedly banned U.S. companies from selling components to Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp (ZTCOY). Also lower was Blueprint Medicines (BPMC), which fell 13% after the company reported data over the weekend regarding its early-stage candidate in RET-altered tumors. INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 207.39, or 0.85%, to 24,567.53, the Nasdaq was up 41.83, or 0.59%, to 7,148.48, and the S&P 500 was up 19.71, or 0.74%, to 2,676.01.