Investors returned from the weekend with eyes focused on a full calendar week’s worth of both economic and earnings news.
The week’s economic reports — which include May’s S&P Case-Shiller home price index (Tuesday), and the U.S. Employment Report for July (Friday) — got started Monday with a 0.4% drop in pending home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The combination of the early news and concerns over future reports brought a wait-and-see mind-set to the markets, with all three major indices heading lower. The Nasdaq led the way down, falling 0.39% to close at 3599.14, while the S&P 500 fell 0.37% to 1685.33, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.24% to 15521.97.
Merger news took center stage, as U.S. advertising giants Omnicom Group (OMC) and Paris-based Publicis Group (PUBGY) agreed to merge, creating the world’s largest advertising company with 130,000 employees and a market value of more than $35 billion. Surprisingly, the merger news did little for the stocks; OMC finished ahead fractionally while PUGBY finished down.
In the pharmaceutical space, Perrigo (PRGO) agreed to purchase biotechnology firm Elan (ELN) for $16.50 per share — an 11% premium to ELN’s Friday closing price. Perrigo investors did not like the news, however as PRGO shares fell more than 6% on the day.
Meanwhile, retailer Saks (SKS) agreed to a purchase by Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay (HBAYF) for $16 per share — a 4.5% premium to its Friday closing price.
Facebook (FB) continued to gain following last week’s blowout earnings report, rising more than 4% to get within 7% of its IPO price.
Caterpillar (CAT) stock bounced back by more than 1%, representing the Dow’s biggest gain, after announcing a new $1 billion share buyback plan just a month after completing another $1 billion stock repurchase plan. CAT will buy back 11 million shares within the next few days from Societe Generale (SCGLY), and expects to complete the entire purchase plan by September.
Finally, fresh off a disappointing earnings report last week, Amazon (AMZN) announced it will look to fill 7,000 jobs in 13 different states for its fulfillment and customer service centers. The news did little for investors, who chopped nearly 2% off the stock by day’s end.
Notable earnings releases for Tuesday include Aflac (AFL), Merck (MRK), Pfizer (PFE) and UBS (UBS).
- CF Industries (CF): Up 11.8% ($21.30) to $202.30.
- 3D Systems (DDD): Up 6.7% ($3.30) $50.52.
- Stratasys (SSYS): Up 4.7% ($4.17) to $92.32.
- Shanda Games (GAME): Down 20.2% ($1.26) to $4.99.
- Sohu.com (SOHU): Down 9.9% ($6.95) to $63.05.
- Francesca’s (FRAN): Down 5.4% ($1.49) to $26.02.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.