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End of Day Brief - Tuesday May 18 - Stocks down as housing starts slowed

SP 5004127.83-35.46(-0.85%)
10-yr Note 0/321.652
NYSEAdv 1509 Dec 1744 Vol 927.9 mln
NasdaqAdv 2062 Dec 1961 Vol 4.2 bln

Industry Watch

Strong: Health Care, Real Estate
Weak: Energy, Industrials, Materials, Financials, Communication Services, Information Technology

Moving the Market

-- Value/cyclical stocks led the decline, and technology/growth stocks turned negative late in the day

-- Housing Starts and Building Permits report for April was relatively disappointing, feeding into the peak growth narrative

-- Consolidation activity persisted

Stocks lower as housing starts drop in U.S.

Wall Street spent most of the day mixed, but with small moves as the market lacked direction. A lack of fresh catalysts is likely a factor, with little in the way of market moving data due this week. The indexes are still at quite elevated levels even after the choppy action seen since last week, perhaps making for some reluctance to push prices higher given lingering inflation worries.

ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., housing starts dropped 9.5% to a 1.57M rate in April, which was much weaker than expected. Building permits edged up 0.3% to a 1.76M rate in March.

TOP NEWS: A day after AT&T (T) announced a plan to merge its WarnerMedia unit with Discovery (DISCA), streaming media news is once again dominating the headlines following multiple reports that Amazon (AMZN) is in talks to buy film maker MGM Holdings for about $9B. Amazon is "weeks" into discussions on a potential agreement to acquire MGM for roughly $9B, Variety's Todd Spangler, Joe Otterson, and Cynthia Littleton reported, citing industry sources. Meanwhile, The New York Times' Brooks Barnes wrote, citing three people briefed on the matter, that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been in talks to sell itself to Amazon, with $9B floated as an asking price. Apple (AAPL) and Comcast (CMCSA) had previously kicked MGM's tires and decided it was worth roughly $6B, the author noted, adding that it was unclear how much Amazon might be willing to spend.

In other M&A news, Performance Food Group (PFGC) announced an agreement to acquire Core-Mark (CORE) in a stock and cash transaction. Under the terms of the transaction, Core-Mark shareholders will receive $23.875 per share in cash and 0.44 PFG shares for each Core-Mark share. The transaction values Core-Mark at approximately $2.5B, including Core-Mark's net debt. Upon closing of the transaction, Core-Mark shareholders will own approximately 13% of the combined company. Core-Mark shares closed almost 7% higher following the deal news, while Performance Food shares fell 6.2%.

In earnings news, a trio of big name retailers posted quarterly results this morning, led by the world's largest retailer, Walmart (WMT). Walmart, whose sales and earnings beat consensus forecasts for the first quarter, reported that its U.S. same-store sales grew 6% from the same period of last year while U.S. e-commerce sales were up 37% year-over-year. Home Depot (HD) and Macy's (M) both reported better than expected results in the first three months of the year as well. In addition to a sales and earnings beat, Home Depot reported that its comparable sales for Q1 increased 31% and comparable sales in the U.S. increased 29.9%. Macy's, which reported a profit in the first quarter and better than expected sales, raised its FY21 adjusted EPS view significantly in conjunction with its report.

Meanwhile, Alphabet (GOOGL) was in focus during its Google unit's I/O presentation, during which the company announced an expanded partnership with Shopify (SHOP), a new generation of custom artificial intelligence chips, a new Quantum AI campus in Santa Barbara, the first beta of Android 12, and a new 3D video call technology known as "Project Starline." Google also announced that it and Samsung (SSNLF) will combine their Wear and Tizen products into a "single, unified platform."

Car makers were in focus after CNBC reported on President Joe Biden's visit to a Ford (F) factory in Michigan to tout his administration's agenda for U.S.-made electric cars and his $2T infrastructure proposal that includes $174B to bolster the development and adoption of electric vehicles. The president plans to tour Ford's new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center near the car maker's headquarters in Dearborn, where the electric F-150 Lightning pickup will be made.

MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Agenus (AGEN), which rose 20.6% after entering into an exclusive license agreement with Bristol-Myers (BMY) for AGEN177. Also higher were Legend Biotech (LEGN) and XL Fleet (XL), which gained a respective 14.2% and 10.7% after reporting quarterly results.

Among the notable losers was Clovis Oncology (CLVS), which declined 6.5% after announcing an at-the-market equity offering program. Also lower were Telos Corporation (TLS) and Gan Limited (GAN), which fell 14.4% and 6.3%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results.

Reviewing Tuesday's economic data:

  • Total housing starts declined 9.5% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.569 million units ( consensus 1.715 million). Total permits rose just 0.3% month-over-month to 1.760 million, as expected.
    • The key takeaway from the report is in the breakdown, which showed zero growth in starts and permits for single-family homes across all regions, presumably as expansion plans were undercut by rising costs for land, labor, and materials.

Looking ahead, investors will receive the weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index on Wednesday.

  • Russell 2000 +12.0% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +11.3% YTD
  • S&P 500 +9.9% YTD
  • Nasdaq Composite +3.2% YTD

Disclosure: I may trade in the ticker symbols mentioned, both long or short. My articles represent my personal opinion and analysis and should not be taken as investment advice. Readers should do their own research before making decisions to buy or sell securities. Trading and investing include risks, including loss of principal.

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