U.S. stocks drift between small gains and losses in early trading
A Chinese national flag flutters in the wind in between a high-rise residential and office complex in Beijing, China, on Monday, May 19, 2014. (AP / Andy Wong)
Alex Veiga, The Associated Press
Published Monday, May 19, 2014 8:04AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 19, 2014 11:51AM EDT
U.S. stocks edged higher in morning trading Wednesday as investors digested news on a possible merger between AT&T and DirecTV, the latest in a recent crop of M&A deals.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose six points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,883 as of 11:19 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 28 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 16,519. The Nasdaq composite gained 33 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4,124.
GETTING BIGGER: AT&T said late Sunday that it plans to buy satellite TV provider DirecTV for $48.5 billion. The proposed deal would create the second-largest pay TV operator behind a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable. The proposal could face tough regulatory scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice. AT&T fell 34 cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $36.40. DirectTV slid $1.50, or 1.7 per cent, to $84.68.
M&A TREND: The proposed AT&T-DirecTV combination comes amid a recent increase in mergers and acquisitions, noted Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist for U.S. Bank.
"Companies in general have increased levels of cash and that bodes well for dividends, share buybacks as well as acquisitions," Sandven said. "So we view this as a sign that the environment is favourable for equities."
NO, AGAIN: The board of AstraZeneca rejected an improved takeover offer from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer. Pfizer, which has been courting AstraZeneca since January, announced Sunday that it was ready to raise its stock-and-cash offer by 15 per cent to $118.8 billion.
Pfizer's shares added 42 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $29.54 in morning trading.
DEAL BOOST: Shares in Abbott Laboratories gained 60 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $39.66 as financial analysts cheered the medical device maker's proposed acquisition of CFR Pharmaceuticals for nearly $3 billion.
UNAPPETIZING RESULTS: Campbell Soup's shares tumbled $1.16, or 2.6 per cent, to $43.96 after the food company reported earnings that fell short of Wall Street estimates. The company also lowered its full-year revenue outlook, noting that it was disappointed that soup sales failed to meet expectations.
OTHER MARKETS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped to 2.50 per cent from 2.52 per cent late Friday. Gold rose $5 to $1,298.40 an ounce. Crude oil rose 50 cents to $102.09 a barrel.