A number of issues weighed on U.S. markets again on Wednesday, including ongoing concern over a strengthening U.S. dollar, the possibility of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike coming soon and more early selling in the oil markets.
Crude oil sold off again, finishing the day near $48, after a report of a 4.5 million-barrel increase in U.S. commercial crude inventories last week. Also impacting markets was an article in the Wall Street Journal noting that the Federal Reserve would drop its promise to be “patient” in its March 17-18 statement. That could lead to an interest rate hike at the Fed’s meeting in June.
After being up for much of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sold off in the last hour to finish down by nearly 0.2%. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite also gave back 0.2%.
Financials and industrial stocks finished higher and were the best performers among the general sectors, with the majority finishing in the red. Also stronger than the general market today were Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (NYSE:LL), Mylan Inc (NASDAQ:MYL) and Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ:SLXP), as they are three of today’s best stocks.
Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (LL)
LL stock soared more than 10% higher today after major investor Robert Chapman told CNBC that 60 Minutes got it all wrong in its expose that linked Lumber Liquidators to unsafe Chinese-made laminate flooring. Some hedge funds are also questioning the validity of the report.
LL stock has been quite volatile lately, sinking from $70 to $27 within two weeks after the 60 Minutes report was aired.
The question for investors going forward is what to believe, because Chapman, who reportedly told CNBC that his LL position amounts to 14% of his total fund, certainly has an axe to grind. Other hedge funds that are questioning the story may also have large positions in LL stock.
Mylan Inc (MYL)
Mylan’s stock was up 6.7% today after announcing several new drugs will now or soon be made available. The first is Buprenorphine Hydrochloride Sublingual tablets, following approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the second is Disulfiram tablets. The former is to treat opioid dependence, and the latter is to help alcoholics refrain from drinking. Both are generic versions of drugs made by other companies.
MYL stock has been trading sideways over the last few months before today’s strong showing.
Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (SLXP)
SLXP stock pushed 7% higher after Endo International PLC reportedly made a new takeover offer for Salix, which has already had a previous purchase bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (NYSE:VRX)
Endo’s offer is for $175 per share in cash and stock. The previous offer from Valeant was for $158, well below today’s closing price that topped $168.
Salix specializes in manufacturing drugs for gastrointestinal disorders. SLXP stock is up more than 75% since mid-November.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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