Stock markets bumbled and stumbled their way to the April finish line today, unable to find enough momentum in a U.S. government report showing increased income levels for consumers, and finishing the day lower to complete the year’s first monthly loss.
The Dow Jones lost 0.15% Monday and at 13,208 is right where it started April 1. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each were down less than 1% and finished the month in the red.
A Department of Commerce report released before the bell showed personal income increased 0.4% in March, which was an improvement from the 0.2% increase in February. Personal spending increased 0.3% in the month — down from the 0.9% jump in spending the month before, but much weaker than the 0.5% gain in spending forecast by economists. It was the first time since December that income growth outpaced spending increases.
Two big acquisitions held the early headlines, as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced an investment of $300 million with Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) for a 17.6% stake in its Nook e-reader business. The news sent BKS stock up as much as 90% in early trading before resting at a 50% gain around $20.75; MSFT was fractionally up. Microsoft’s investment values the overall Nook business at $1.7 billion — more than double B&N’s market value as of Friday’s close.
Meanwhile, Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) gained 20% to hit a four-year-plus peak of $49.50 following news that Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP) agreed to acquire the company in a deal worth $5.3 billion.
Also Monday, A positive article about eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) in Barron’s sent the stock up over $41, its highest price since 2006, and AT&T (NYSE:T) also peaked to a four-year high, finishing at $33.
On the flip side, less-than-stellar earnings from Humana (NYSE:HUM) sent HUM stock to an 8% beating.
First-quarter earnings announcements Tuesday include Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), BP (NYSE:BP), Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM), CBS (NYSE:CBS) and Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) among the notables.
- Gen-Pro (NASDAQ:GPRO): Up 18.69% ($12.84) to $81.55.
- SandRidge Energy (NYSE:SD): Up 5.97% (45 cents) to $7.99.
- Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE): Up 5.81% ($2.34) to $42.65.
- Verifone (NYSE:PAY): Down 12.49% ($6.80) to $47.64.
- Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN): Down 5.65% ($1.43) to $23.90.
- Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS): Down 5.4% ($1.33) to $23.31.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he was long MSFT.