Stocks closed mixed in a volatile session that saw stocks sell off sharply in late morning trade after headlines out of Ukraine suggested tensions in its conflict with Russia could be flaring.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,66.91, -50.7, (-0.3%)
- S&P 500: 1,955.06, -0.1, (-0.01%)
- Nasdaq: 4,464.93, +11.9, (+0.3%)
And now, the top stories on Friday:
1. Two manufacturing reports on Friday sent mixed signals about the economy. The New York Federal Reserve's latest Empire State Manufacturing survey's headline reading fell to 14.69 in July from 25.60 in June. Expectations were for a reading of 20. Citing commentary from Capital Economics' Paul Dales, BI's Rob outlined three reasons why the poor headline numbers isn't a big concern. The Federal Reserve's latest industrial production report showed production rose 0.4% in July. Capacity utilization rose 0.1% to 79.2%, and June's reports was also revised up, to 0.4% from a prior reading of 0.2%.
2. The producer price index rose 0.1% in July, in-line with expectations. Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics said, "Another unexciting PPI, with the core rising by rather less than seems to be implied by the NFIB survey for the third straight month, for reasons which are not clear."
3. The University of Michigan's preliminary reading for August consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low of 79.2, missing expectations for an increase to 82.5. "With employment expanding at a rapid clip, gasoline prices dropping back a little, long-term interest rates collapsing and equity prices rallying in recent days, we would expect this particular confidence measure to come in a little higher in the final August estimate," said Capital Economics' Paul Ashworth. "More generally, the various confidence measures are all over the place. This eight-month low contrasts with the Conference Board measure, which hit its highest level in July since the recession began."
4. Following its abysmal quarterly report on Wednesday, SeaWorld announced that it would build larger tanks and donate $10 million for killer whale research. In an e-mailed statement to Business Insider, PETA called SeaWorld's announcement a, "desperate drop-in-the-bucket move to try to turn back the hands of time at a time when people understand the suffering of captive Orcas, and it will not save the company."
5. Shares of energy drink maker Monster Beverage gained more than 30% on Friday after Coca-Cola on Thursday afternoon said it would take a 17% equity stake in the company worth $2.15 billion. The deal follows a February announcement from Coke that it would take a 10% stake in coffee company Keurig Green Mountain. Morningstar analyst Adam Fleck said these deals will help Coke diversify its product offerings as it seeks to offset some of the "secular decline" in its soft drinks business.
6. A report from Reuters said that popular burger chain Shake Shack is preparing an initial public offering. The report said Shake Shack's majority owners have been interviewing investment banks in recent weeks, and that the company's earnings are expected to total around $20 million next year.
7. Among the biggest losers on Friday was Vringo, which fell more than 70% after an Appeals Court judge overturned an earlier ruling that found Google and AOL, among others, infringed a patent of one of the company's operating subsidiaries.
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