NEW YORK, March 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — U.S. stocks began the week strong as investors waited for the Federal Reserve’s meeting to decide whether or not there will be another interest rate hikes this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 284.58 points, or 1.1%, from Monday’s opening bell into Wednesday’s midday as the Feds’ Chairman Jerome Powell was expected to deliver the decision on that afternoon. Leading into Powell’s announcement, U.S. markets were on track for a four-day gain streak, before it was snapped when Powell announced that the Federal Reserve policy makers would not increase rates this year. As expected, the central bank is maintaining its key rate at a range of 2.25% and 2.50%, slashing its previous projection of two rate hikes in 2019 to zero. The Fed also downgraded the domestic economic outlook for 2019, contributing to the weaker market on Wednesday and forecast lower gross products of 2.1%, declining from 2.3% for 2019. In addition to the weaker market, U.S. President Donald Trump said that tariffs on Chinese goods would remain in place for a “substantial period of time” even if a deal is reached between the two parties. Despite the dovish news on Wednesday, markets quickly rebounded on Thursday morning, as the Dow Jones rose by 170 points or 0.66% midday. Tech stocks led the stronger market on Thursday as the overall industry was up 1.7%, lead by Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) 3.5% jump. The S&P 500 rose by 2.52 points or 0.9% throughout Thursday, while the Nasdaq Composite was 82.35 points or 1.06% higher. Worldpay, Inc. (NYSE: WP), FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX), Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB), Levi Strauss & Co. (NYSE: LEVI).
Investors continued to digest the Feds’ decision on Thursday. Ordinarily, the Fed maintains a bullish stance on the markets since it would mean lower borrowing costs for longer, but some investors believed that the Fed may be seeing negatives, said MarketWatch. “Economists will now debate over the coming months whether this dovish commitment is a policy mistake,’ wrote Edward Moya, market analyst with Oanada, via MarketWatch. “The Fed’s concern for the economy likely suggests they will be overly cautious reversing course back to a tightening bias even if we see a strong second quarter of data. U.S. data this morning was strong and will fuel the fire that is questioning the Fed’s dovish commitment,” he added. “Jobless claims came in better than expected and the Philadelphia Fed business outlook rebounded sharply.”
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Worldpay, Inc. (NYSE: WP) announced on Monday that it has entered into an agreement with Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (NYSE: FIS) to be acquired at a total enterprise value of USD 43 Billion. Worldpay shares rose by 13% following the announcement. The merger of two major payment solutions companies will help develop and accelerate FIS’ payment capabilities. The combined company will look to target enterprise banking, payments, capital markets, and global eCommerce to aid financial institutions and businesses. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019.
FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX) released its third quarter financial results during Tuesday’s extended trading hours. The shipping and logistics company reported disappointing earnings, which sent shares lower by 6% at the opening bell on Wednesday. For the third quarter, FedEx reported earnings of USD 3.03 per share on revenue of USD 17.01 Billion. Analysts expected earnings of USD 3.11 per share on revenue of USD 17.67 Billion. Furthermore, FedEx also reported a weaker-than-expected guidance for both the fourth quarter and full year. The Company expects fourth quarter earnings of USD 4.58 to USD 5.38 per share and full year earnings of USD 15.10 to USD 15.90 per share. Analysts consensus is expecting earnings of USD 5.39 for the fourth quarter and USD 15.97 for the fiscal 2019.
Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) shares rose by 8.6% on Thursday morning after the chipmaker reported its second quarter financial results after market close on Wednesday. For the second quarter, Micron reported diluted earnings of USD 1.71 per share on revenue of USD 5.84 Billion. Wall Street analysts had expected earnings of USD 1.67 per share on revenue of USD 5.3 Billion. Despite the beat, Micron’s revenue fell by 25.9% year-over-year due to the ongoing weakness in the chip sector as well as trade wars. Micron announced that it will cut its capital expenditures due to the lower demand, which resulted in the Company providing a weaker-than-expected guidance. For the third quarter, Micron expects to report revenue between USD 4.6 Billion and USD 5 Billion, falling short of analysts’ estimates of USD 5.3 Billion.
Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) shares cratered on Thursday morning after the Company decided to terminate its Phase 3 and future clinical trials for its Alzheimer’s disease drug. Biogen shares fell by 28% during Thursday’s pre-market hours. The Company was collaborating with Eisai, a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company. The two decided to discontinue the clinical trials because they believed that they would not meet their primary endpoint. However, Biogen noted in its press release that the termination of the drug was not due to safety concerns. Biogen’s drug, Aducanumab (BIIB037) is a human monoclonal antibody (mAb) derived from a de-identified library of B cells collected from healthy elderly subjects with no signs of cognitive impairment.
Levi Strauss & Co. (NYSE: LEVI) launched its initial public offering on Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange, listing under the ticker “LEVI.” Levi’s shares listed on the exchange at USD 22.22 per share after the Company announced the day before that shares should list at USD 17.00 per share. Levi’s shares were trading 33.24% higher than the IPO price, the Company stated in a release. The jeans and casual apparel maker was previously public back in 1971, but went private again in 1985.
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