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Stock Market Today: Boeing Takes Flight, Manufacturing Slumps

James Brumley

Wednesday’s bullishness faded on Thursday, with investors mostly spooked by this month’s manufacturing activity. IHS Markit says the purchasing manager’s index fell below the 50 level last month, for the first time since September 2009. The data jibes with a weak new orders figure.

Investors were also conflicted about comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who suggested there may be a way to facilitate a no-deal Brexit by the Oct. 31 deadline. That news sent the British pound soaring, after sliding lower for months on fears that the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union would be abrupt, causing a ripple effect across the continent.

Also holding the market back is lingering concern over last week’s inversion of the yield curve.

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Arturo Estrella, who first identified the connection between yield curve inversions and recessions, said in an interview that “It’s impossible to be 100% sure about the future but I’d say the chances of a recession in the second half next year are pretty high.”

By the time the closing bell rang, the S&P 500 was lower by a 0.05%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a 0.19% gain, and the NASDAQ Composite ended the day off by 0.36%.

Top News in the Stock Market Today

Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK) Chief Executive Officer Partick Byrne is stepping down from his post, effective immediately.

Byrne, who founded Overstock 20 years ago, has spent the past several months focused on developing a blockchain-based venture. Last week, however, Byrne threw investors another curveball by saying he was involved in an investigation related to 2016 presidential election. He specifically referred to investigators as “Men in Black.” Byrne also conceded he had been in a romantic relationship with Russian operative Maria Butina, who is now in prison for attempted crimes against the U.S. government. Byrne became too much of a liability.

Given its long-standing cadence of iPhone releases, investors were largely expecting Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to release its next iteration of the popular device in the coming month. Though still not official word from the company, Bloomberg’s report adds credibility to the notion that Apple will indeed reveal three new iPhones in September. Two of them will be “Pro” models.

It’s a matter that’s been brewing for some time, but will be coming to a head on Monday. That’s when Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will most likely hear from an Oklahoma judge about its liability in the state’s opioid epidemic. Oklahoma’s attorney general argues that the drug company’s sales practices fueled an addiction problem. The attorney general further argues that the problem ultimately claimed 6,000 lives and could cost the state as much as $17.5 billion to abate.

Big Movers

It’s still dealing with the fallout from its 737 debacle, but Boeing (NYSE:BA) at least caught a small break today on news that the U.S. Air Force has asked the company to upgrade the wings on more than 100 A-10 attack aircraft. The contract could be worth up to $1 billion.

BA stock jumped more than 4% in response to the news. Although, some of that bullishness may have also been driven by hope on the 737 front. The company is reportedly planning to ramp up production beginning in February, suggesting airlines are starting to trust the fix being put in place now.

Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK), on the flipside, fell nearly 8% on Thursday despite a solid second quarter, weighed down by an acquisition that is proving less than popular.

In its recently completed quarter, Splunk generated revenue of $516.6 million, up 33% year-over-year, driving a small improvement in profits. The software company, however, also announced it would be shelling out $1 billion to acquire cloud monitoring startup SignalFx. While the deal makes Splunk a more well-rounded organization, it’s coming at a steep price.

Keysight Technologies (NYSE:KEYS) soared over 12% today after last quarter’s earnings beat inspired an upgrade. For its fiscal third quarter, Keysight reported record revenue of $1.09 billion, up 8%, and beating expectations of $1.05 billion. Earnings of $1.25 per share were much better than the expected $1.02, prodding Baird to upgrade KEYS stock to “Outperform.”

Baird analyst Richard Eastman explained “While we acknowledge trade-related impacts on the macro-economy remain risks, our concerns re: Huawei restrictions and related knock-on effects through the tech supply chain have turned out (thus far) to be less restraining to KEYS’ growth (esp. in China, 2Q/3Q both +DD%) than our (and the tech industry’s) initial calculation.”

As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can learn more about him at his website jamesbrumley.com, or follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.

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