Stocks kicked-off the week racing higher at the start of the session, before paring some gains after a Financial Times report said Fed chief Ben Bernanke could signal a tapering off of the Fed's stimulus program. The Fed's two-day policy meeting starts tomorrow and ends with comments Bernanke on Wednesday afternoon. Some of today's gains may be pegged in part to two encouraging economic reports. The Empire State manufacturing index climbed to 7.84 in June from -1.43 in May when estimates were for zero. Separately, homebuilder sentiment rose past 50 for the first time since 2006 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing index. The measure shows sentiment rising to a score of 52 in June up from 44 in May.
Both Netflix (NFLX) and DreamWorks (DWA) rose sharply on news of a new programming partnership. Under the arrangement DreamWorks will provide 300 hours of original programming for the streaming service. The agreement is the largest one yet for Netflix which has been pushing into original programming with series like "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development." This is the first time DreamWorks characters will be shown on the small screen as a branded collection of shows. Netflix shares spiked nearly 7% on news of the deal, while DreamWorks shares climbed 4%
Spanish telecom giant Telefonica (TEF) jumped nearly 3% despite denying reports of a takeover attempt by AT&T (T). A Spanish newspaper reported this morning that AT&T had tried to shell-out $93 billion for the company, but was blocked by the Spanish government. The hitch was said to be a concern about a domestic company deemed strategic to the economy being owned by a foreign entity. AT&T is not commenting on the story.
Lumber giant Weyerhaeuser (WY) rose nearly 1% on a number of announcements made over the weekend. First, the company says it has signed a deal to buy Longview Timber for more than $2.5 billion dollars from Brookfield Asset Management. In a separate release, the company revealed it's exploring a merger, sale, or spin-off of its real estate company. Finally, the company board has named Doyle Simons to replace the retiring Dan Fulton as CEO in August. Today's gains put Weyerhaeuser shares just about where they began 2013.
Construction equipment-maker Terex (TEX) tumbled 7% after lowering forecasts. Terex is pinning blame on a softer market for its equipment which includes cranes, trucks and lifts. The drop is the biggest for the stock in more than two years.
There was a surprising lack of sizzle around bacon-maker Smithfield (SFD) which is being pressured to break itself into bits. Shareholder Starboard Value is proposing Smithfield separate itself into three separate companies. Starboard says the move would value Smithfield's holdings between $44 and $55 a share. China's Shuanghui has offered $34 a share for the company.