The bulls caught their breath today after a run-up last week. All major indexes ended the day in the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed slightly lower today by 4 points, even as two of its biggest components – General Electric and Citigroup – surged with both stocks hitting 52-week highs. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also faced selling pressure, closing down 22 and 5 points, respectively.
Mary Thompson was CNBC’s “Eye on the Floor” at the NYSE. She said tech and energy stocks were what kept the markets down despite a big day of mergers and acquisitions. $81 billion in deals were announced today alone – that included both Harrah’s Entertainment and Biomet accepting buyout offers from private equity consortiums.
In addition, Eli Lilly sweetened its bid for ICOS by$2 to $34 per share. Lilly shares fell after 2 consecutive New York Times articles cited internal documents that alleged the pharmaceutical maker downplayed the side-effects of its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. Lilly says the articles were inaccurate.
ExxonMobil and Halliburton were among the energy giants to close lower as warm weather continued across most of the country – reducing the demand for heating oil. That was reflected in the price of crude oil - trading lower today by 2%. The drop in oil also signaled investor concern that the economy could slow if the energy sector continues to lag.
And after the bell, software-maker Oracle announced earnings in-line with estimates at 22 cents per share. That stock is trading up 45% YTD.