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Stock market trades flat as bitcoin futures trade kicks off

29 min ago

U.S. stock indexes opened slightly higher Monday, as investors look ahead to a coming meeting by the Federal Reserve's monetary-policy-making committee, and after bitcoin made its trading debut in the futures market late Sunday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened higher but was mostly trading at break-even at 24,331, while the S&P 500 index traded about 0.1% higher at 2,652, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 10 points, or 0.2%, higher at 6,849. Meanwhile, was at $17,900, after the Cboe Global Market Inc. kicked off trade of the volatile cryptocurrency at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday. Markets are awaiting a key meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday, where a lifting of benchmark U.S. interest rates is expected.

Arch Coal's stock rallies to record after 500,000 shares buyback deal

34 min ago

Shares of Arch Coal Inc. rallied 2.4% toward a record high in morning trade Monday, after the coal producer announced a deal to buy back 500,000 shares from its second-largest shareholder, Monarch Alternative Capital LP. The company said it will repurchase the stock at $83.03 a share, which was 2.2% below Friday's closing price of $84.94, for a total of $41.5 million. The deal is expected to close on our about Dec. 14. Arch said the repurchase is part of its existing $500 million buyback program. Monarch owned 2.56 million Arch shares, or 10.5% of the shares outstanding, as of Sept. 30, according to FactSet, which was second to OppenheimerFunds Inc.'s 13.6 million shares outstanding. Arch's stock has rallied 11.4% year to date, while the S&P 500 has climbed 18.5%.

Spark Therapeutics shares slide more than 40% after hemophilia data disappoint

41 min ago

Shares of gene therapy biotech Spark Therapeutics Inc. tumbled more than 40% in early trade Monday, after it reported data from trials of a hemophilia treatment that analysts said look less competitive than a rival product from BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. The company presented early data from a trial of its SPK-8011 in hemophilia A involving five patients. "Although the enrollment size is small so far (n=5), early signs raise more caution than encouragement, on balance, and lead us to question whether there will be adequate dose-response for patients to reliably achieve normal Factor VIII expression levels," Leerink analysts wrote in an early note. Spark also unveiled longer-term data from a treatment for hemophilia B, that it is working on with Pfizer Inc. Shares are down 14.7% for 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 18%. BioMarin shares rose 8.4%.

The Trade Desk stock rises after SunTrust upgrades to buy

41 min ago

Shares of programmatic-advertising firm The Trade Desk Inc. gained 8% in Monday trading after analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey upgraded the stock to buy from hold. The analysts, led by Youssef Squali, think that the company's risk/reward balance now looks attractive following a recent pullback in the stock price over the past month. While the company has exposure to the packaged-good and retail sectors, two troubled areas, Squali is upbeat about the future of programmatic advertising. He believes that large retail and packaged good firms "will come back and increase their spend, because online is where the eyeballs are and because programmatic is one of the most efficient ad channels online." The company could also be a beneficiary of tax reform, he wrote in a note to clients. Shares of The Trade Desk have gained 75% so far in 2017, compared with an 18% rise for the S&P 500 Index .

Grubhub stock rises after analyst cites easing of competitive pressures

45 min ago

Analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets raised their price target on Grubhub Inc. to $80 on Monday, matching the highest target among Wall Street analysts tracked by FactSet. Grubhub shares gained 2.4% in morning trading. The analysts, led by Brad Erickson, believe that Grubhub is effectively withstanding competitive pressure from Uber, Inc. , and others. "Amazon's impact has quieted relative to prior rounds of checks" with restaurants," Erickson wrote. He also sees numerous potential acquisition targets for Grubhub that would be "almost immediately accretive and could be done tactically in the event of incremental softness in gross food sales." These include meal-kit firms Munchery and Gobble, as well as food-delivery companies DoorDash and Grubhub's stock has gained 81% so far in 2017, compared with an 18% rise for the S&P 500 Index .

Skechers is one of 2018's best ideas, Burlington Stores to benefit from tax reform: Cowen analysts

47 min ago

Skechers USA Inc. is one of the best ideas for 2018 according to Cowen & Co. thanks to its number two casual shoe position in a recent analyst survey, international growth potential and improving product cycle. Skechers only trails Nike Inc. . "The breadth and depth of the Skechers assortment and the brand's global reach, category expansion opportunities and consumer perception is underappreciated (based on relative valuation to peers)," Cowen analysts led by John Kernan wrote in a note. They "conservatively" forecast global same-store sales to grow 3% in fiscal 2018. Cowen rates Skechers shares outperform with a $42 price target, up from $38. Cowen analysts also say off-price retailer Burlington Stores Inc. is "retail's top tax reformer" with tax benefit forecast to occur in fiscal 2019, but could happen in fiscal 2018. Moreover, off-price companies like Burlington, TJX Cos. and Ross Stores Inc. now account for 13% of U.S. clothing and accessories sales, up from 10% in 2010. "The off-price channel has succeeded on price, flow of goods, buyers in the market, newness, scarcity and unparalleled value," Cowen wrote. Cowen rates Burlington shares outperform and raised its price target to $132 from $115. Skechers shares are up 45% for the year so far and Burlington shares are up 33.2% for 2017 to date, both outpacing the S&P 500 index rise of 18.4% for the period.

Teva's stock gains after exclusive launch of generic Viagra

49 min ago

Shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. rose 0.4% in morning trade Monday, after the drug maker announced the exclusive launch of its generic Viagra tablets in the U.S. The company said it will offer support services for its sildenafil tablets for erectile dysfunction, such as a savings card. "The launch of Teva's sildenafil tablets brings an affordable generic treatment option to the estimated 18 million men in the U.S. who are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction," said Brendan O'Grady, executive vice president, North America. Shares of Pfizer Inc. , which owns Viagra brand, edged up 0.1%. Viagra sales fell to $205 million in Pfizer's third quarter from $296 million a year ago. Teva's stock has tumbled 56% year to date through Friday, while Pfizer shares have gained 10%, the SPDR S&P Pharmaceutical ETF has rallied 10% and the S&P 500 has gained 18%.

American Express to eliminate signature requirement

1 hour ago

American Express Co. said Monday that users will no longer be required to provide signatures when making purchases, starting in April 2018. The elimination of signatures will apply to purchase transactions of all amounts, compared with the current requirement for signatures on transactions over $50. "The payments landscape has evolved to the point where we can now eliminate this pain point for our merchants," said Jaromir Divilek, executive vice president of American Express's global network business. "Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud." American Express's stock, which slipped 0.2% in premarket trade, has rallied 33% year to date through Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 23%.

Chef Mario Batali accused of sexual harassment, steps away from his business for now

1 hour ago

Renowned chef Mario Batali has stepped away from the day-to-day operations of his business after four women came forward alleging that he sexually harassed them in a pattern of behavior spanning at least two decades, food website Eater reported Monday. Batali said he was taking time away in a statement to the website. ABC, where Batali has co-hosted a daytime show since 2011, said it has also asked him to step away from the show while it conducts a review of allegations that recently came to its attention, said Eater. Batali did not deny the allegations, but said that they "match up" with ways that he behaved. "I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family," he said.

3M to sell 'substantially all' of its communication markets business for $900 million

1 hour ago

3M Co. said Monday it will sell "substantially all" of its communication markets division for $900 million, to Corning Inc. . 3M said it expects to realize a gain of 40 cents a share from the deal, which is expected to close in 2018. The company said about 500 3M employees are expected to join Corning when the deal is completed. The company said the business, which had annual sales of about $400 million, consisted of optical fiber and copper passive connectivity products and services for the telecommunications industry. 3M's stock tacked on 0.2% in premarket trade and Corning shares rose 0.3%. Year to date, 3M shares have run up 33.4% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has rallied 23.1%.

SendGrid started with bullish ratings by several analysts

1 hour ago

Several analysts initiated coverage of email-marketing firm SendGrid Inc. with the equivalent of buy ratings on Monday. Analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets assigned a price target of $26, citing "compelling growth prospects, coupled with strong leadership and a disciplined model balancing high growth and profitability" as reasons for their optimism. Analysts at William Blair think that the company is poised to benefit as email usage increases over the next several years. "The company's self-service on-boarding process allows it to acquire customers at a reasonable cost and maintain below-average sales-and-marketing expenses, which should drive operating leverage," they wrote. Stifel analysts see room for "significant international expansion" and began their coverage with a price target of $25. SendGrid priced its IPO in mid-November at $16 a share, and the stock is up 34% from there. The S&P 500 Index has gained 2.8% since SendGrid went public. SendGrid's stock is flat in premarket trading Monday.

Riot Blockchain's TessPay signs LOI to merge with Cresval Capital

1 hour ago

Riot Blockchain Inc. said Monday it's TessPay Inc. unit has signed a non-binding letter of intent to merge with Canada's Cresval Capital Corp. . TessPay is a blockchain company that is developing a supply chain payment platform for businesses to guarantee payment on time and in full. After the deal closes, TessPay will start trading on the TSX Venture Exchange, Riot Blockchain said in a statement. Riot Blockchain itself started life as diagnostic machinery biotech stock Biopix Inc., before pivoting to cryptocurrencies and changing its name. The company aims to support blockchain technologies, which underlie digital currencies, such as bitcoin. The LOI provides for TessPay to be issued 80 million Cresval shares in the deal with its parent to receive 41.6 million shares. Riot Blockchain shares were up 23% in premarket trade, and have gained 313% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 18%.

Apple analyst dispels supply concerns

1 hour ago

Apple Inc. shares were flat in premarket trading Monday after analysts at Susquehanna Group delivered an update on their checks with Apple suppliers and made a prediction about next year's iPhone models. The analysts, led by Mehdi Hosseini, wrote that their checks with suppliers in Asia suggest that there haven't been any changes made to Apple's iPhone build forecast for the current quarter or for next quarter. The firm predicts 66 million iPhone builds for the December quarter, 36 million of which will be iPhone X models, and 54 million total builds for the March quarter, 35 million of which will be iPhone X models. Looking ahead to next year, Hosseini thinks Apple will come out with three iPhone models again. He expects these to include 5.1-inch and 6-inch OLED models as well as a cheaper LCD-based version. Apple shares have gained 46% so far in 2017, compared with a 23% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average .

Bluebird Bio shares soar 24% premarket as Goldman raises price target to $309 from $186

1 hour ago

Bluebird Bio shares soared 24% in premarket trade Monday, after Goldman Sachs raised its price target for the stock to $309 from $186, on strong gene/cell therapy pipeline updates at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting. Bluebird's CAR T bb2121 "looks to have a disruptive impact on the multiple myeloma (MM) treatment paradigm," Goldman analysts led by Salveen Richter wrote in a note, based on the efficacy and safety profile, which supports development of this "potentially curative approach." Bluebird may also be on the path to address severe sickle cell disease, it said. Goldman views the company as an attractive takeover candidate, "given its innovative and leading lentiviral-based gene therapy and CAR-T cell platforms backed by positive proof of concept data, which targets large blood disorders beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease and multiple myeloma," said the note. Shares have gained 177% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 18%.

NXP Semiconductor's stock gains after shareholder said chipmaker is worth $135 a share

1 hour ago

Shares of NXP Semiconductors N.V. tacked on 0.8% in premarket trade Monday, after shareholder Elliott Management Corp., said in a letter to shareholders that it believes NXP is worth $135 a share. That is well above the $110-a-share buyout bid by Qualcomm Inc. , which was made in October 2016. Last month, Elliott had hired UBS to help in its effort to get a higher bid from Qualcomm, including sounding out other potential bidders. In October, Qualcomm Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf told The Wall Street Journal that he expected the NXP purchase to close on schedule by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is trying to fend off an unsolicited buyout bid from Broadcom Ltd. , which said its bid would stand whether Qualcomm's purchase of NXP closes or not. Elliott said it advises funds that collectively own about 6% of NXP's shares outstanding. NXP's stock has closed above Qualcomm's $110-a-share bid price since July 27. It has rallied 17.6% year to date, while the PHLX Semiconductor Index has run up 36.6% and the S&P 500 has gained 18.4%.

Stock futures cut gains amid reports of explosion near New York's Time Square

1 hour ago

U.S. stock-index futures cut early gains on Monday, with the main after reports of an explosion at the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street in New York, near Times Square. Futures were cutting modest gains but were still trading slightly higher after the reports emerged, with New York City officials confirming that an explosion had occurred. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 24 points, or 0.1%, at 24,360, from 52 points earlier, while S&P 500 index futures turned lower, down less than 0.1% at 2,653. Nasdaq-100 index futures climbed 3 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6,364, but were slightly higher earlier. According to the the New York Post, police and firefighters have responded to the scene, with reports that a man is in custody and reports of possible injuries. Some subway lines near the incident had been evacuated, according to reports.

Square started with market perform rating at Cowen

2 hours ago

Analysts at Cowen initiated coverage of Square Inc. with a market perform rating on Monday. The analysts, led by George Mihalos, are upbeat about Square's efforts to expand beyond its traditional payment-processing business and into new areas such as payroll software and loans. Mihalos also sees room for Square to grow internationally, where many small- and medium-sized businesses don't yet accept electronic payments. However, he thinks Square shares look expensive after a considerable rally this year, assigning a price target of $36. "We believe Square's growth prospects are reflected in the current stock price and advise investors to wait for a more attractive entry point," Mihalos wrote. Square shares are up 0.4% in premarket trading Monday, and they've gained 179% so far in 2017. The S&P 500 Index has risen 18% this year.

AES announces 8.3% increase in quarterly dividend to 13 cents a share

2 hours ago

The AES Corp. said Monday it is raising its quarterly dividend by 8.3% to 13 cents a share. The power company said the new payment will be made on Feb. 15 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 1. Shares were not yet active premarket, but have fallen 7% in 2017 to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 18%.

Avis's largest shareholder boosts stake by 41%

2 hours ago

Avis Budget Group Inc. disclosed Monday that its largest shareholder, SRS Investment Management, boosted its stake in the rental car company by 41% to 12 million shares, or to 14.7% of the shares outstanding. SRS Investment had previously disclosed that it owned 8.5 million shares, or 10.4%, of the shares outstanding as of Sept. 30. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has gained 10.6% year to date, while the S&P 500 has rallied 18.4%.

UniQure shares jump 3.8% premarket on positive trial of hemophelia treatment

2 hours ago

UniQure N.V. shares surged almost 4% in premarket trade Monday, after the company reported positive results in an early-stage trial of a treatment for hemophelia B. The company said eighteen-month follow-up data from a Phase I/II trial of AMT-060 in the second-dose cohort found "substantial improvement" in disease state in all five patients, and that all those who previous required frequent infusions were able to stop them. The data were presented to the 58th American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. "We continue to observe a therapeutic benefit from AMT-060 that is clearly superior to patients' previous prophylactic FIX replacement therapy regimen, with stable elevations in Factor IX levels and a cessation of spontaneous bleeds," said Professor Frank W.G. Leebeek, M.D. Ph.D. of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. UniQure is planning to start a pivotal study in 2018 with AMT-061. Hemophelia is an inherited disease that affects males and stops their blood from clotting after a bleed. The condition can cause life-threatening episodes of external and internal bleeding and requires regular injections of plasma-derived human Factor IX. UniQure shares have gained 218% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has 18%.

PhaseRx files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

2 hours ago

PhaseRx Inc. said Monday it has filed for bankruptcy protection. The biopharmaceutical company, which develops treatments for liver disorders in children, said it will continue to operate its business under the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court. The company said it is working with Cowen and Co. to review financial and strategic alternatives. The stock is currently halted for news until 7:35 a.m. ET. "The protection afforded under a Chapter 11 filing enables us to continue to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential merger transaction," said Chief Executive Robert Overell. In October, the company said it was cutting its workforce in half, give delays in the development of its lead product candidate, and as it reviewed alternatives, including a potential merger. The stock has plunged 35.5% year to date, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has rallied 19.9% and the S&P 500 has climbed 18.4%.

LKQ to buy Germany-based Stahlgruber in a $1.8 billion deal

3 hours ago

Auto-parts company LKQ Corp. said Monday it will buy Germany's Stahlgruber Otto Gruber AG in a deal with an enterprise value of the equivalent of about $1.77 billion. LKQ said it expects to fund the deal for the distributor of spare parts for passenger cars, tools, capital equipment and accessories with proceeds from planned debt offerings, borrowings under its current credit facility and direct issuance of 8.06 million newly issued LKQ shares to Stahlgruber's owner. The is expected to close late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter. "Stahlgruber will create a contiguous footprint and serve as an additional strategic hub for our European operations, allowing for continued improvement in procurement, logistics and infrastructure optimization," said LKQ Chief Executive John Quinn. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has rallied 31% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 18%.

Apple puts Jony Ive back in control of design

2 days ago

Apple Inc. said late Friday that Jony Ive, a long-time executive responsible for some of Apple's most iconic products, has resumed oversight of the design team, according to multiple reports. Ive has spent recent years focused on the new "space ship" Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Ive began leading Apple's design team in the 1990s and designed the original iMac PC, the first iPod and the iPad. Apple stock is down a fraction after hours. Apple stock has gained 46% this year, as the S&P 500 index rose 18%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which Apple is a component, rose 23%.

Macy's executive chairman Lundgren to retire

2 days ago

Macy's Inc. said late Friday Executive Chairman Terry Lundgren will retire from the board of directors effective Jan. 31. The board has appointed Chief Executive Jeff Gennette to the additional role of chairman from that date on. After Lundgren's retirement, the Macy's board will have 10 directors, the company said. Shares of Macy's were flat in late trading after ending the regular session up 2.1%.

Apple to acquire Shazam: report

2 days ago

Apple Inc. is nearing an acquisition of Shazam, the music-recognition service, according to a TechCrunch report published Friday afternoon. TechCrunch cited sources familiar with the deal and wrote that Apple could be paying "nine figures" for Shazam, below the $1.02 billion valuation it fetched it its latest funding round in 2015. The deal is to be signed "this week" and may be announced Monday, according to TechCrunch. Apple has been looking for ways to enhance its music offerings and compete with Spotify. The company acquired Beats in 2014 and recently began including original video programming to subscribers of its Apple Music service. Apple Music had "over 30 million" subscribers as of September, whereas Spotify crossed the 60-million mark for paying subscribers in July. Apple shares were flat in Friday trading, compared with a 0.5% rise for the Dow Jones Industrial Average .

Morningstar raises dividend by 8.7% to 25 cents a share

2 days ago

Morningstar Inc. said late Friday its board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of 25 cents a share, payable Jan. 31 to shareholders of record Jan. 5. That reflects an 8.7% increase in the quarterly dividend from 23 cents a share. The company said it expects to pay three additional dividends in 2018. The board also approved a new share buyback program that authorizes Morningstar to repurchase up to $500 million effective Jan. 1. Shares of Morningstar rose 0.2% in late trading after ending the regular session down 1.3%.

S&P 500, Dow end at records after jobs data

2 days ago

Stocks ended the week on an positive note Friday, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average logging record closes, while the Nasdaq Composite also advanced. The S&P 500 finished 0.6% higher at 2,651.50, according to preliminary figures, while the Dow advanced around 118 points, or 0.5%, to close around 24,329. The moves saw the S&P 500 and Dow turn positive for the week, with both gauges posting weekly advances of 0.4%. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4% to end near 6,840, trimming its weekly decline to 0.1%. A stronger-than-expected November jobs report helped buoy stocks in early action.

Rep. Trent Franks resigns immediately after 'surrogate' flap

2 days ago

Republican Rep. Trent Franks on Friday said he's resigning immediately, just hours after his wife was admitted to a hospital following revelations that her husband had asked several staffers to be "surrogate" mothers for a child. One woman was reportedly offered $5 million. "Last night my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment," he said in a statement. " After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today." The Arizona conservative had planned to stay on until the end of the year. Republican leaders had asked Franks to leave and he was likely to face an ethics violation.

HBO confirms hit series 'Big Little Lies' to return for second installment

2 days ago

Time Warner Inc.'s HBO said Friday its hit series "Big Little Lies" will return for a second, seven-episode installment. The second series will again star executive producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as mothers living in Monterey, California. Andrea Arnold, director of the film "American Honey," will take over directing duties from French-Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee. The first series won Emmys for lead actress Kidman, supporting actress Laura Dern and supporting actor Alexander Skarsgard, as well as outstanding director for Vallee, and outstanding limited series. Time Warner shares were flat Friday, but are down 6% in 2017, while the S&P 500 has gained 18%.

GE to pay new lowered quarterly dividend on Jan. 25

2 days ago

General Electric Co. announced details of its new quarterly dividend, which the industrial conglomerate said last month it would cut in half to 12 cents a share. The new dividend will be payable Jan. 25 to shareholders of record on Dec. 27. The stock edged up 0.1% in afternoon trade to $17.73. At current prices, the new annual dividend rate implies a dividend yield of 2.71%, compared with the implied yield for the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 2.11%. GE shares have plunged 25.6% over the past three months and 43.9% year to date, while the Dow has rallied 11.4% over the past three months and 22.9% this year.