Today's Primer

Wall Street Kicks Off New Month With Positive Momentum


Investors return from a 3-day weekend with a number of milestones in hand, including record closes for the Dow and the S&P 500. The Dow also chalked up its best first quarter percentage gain since 1998, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw their fifth straight month of gains.

The new month also brings some fresh economic numbers to the table, including the Institute for Supply Management's monthly manufacturing index at 10 a.m.ET. Economists look for a March reading of 54.0, slightly lower than February's 54.2. At the same time, the government's February construction spending report is expected to show a 0.9 percent gain, partially reversing a 2.1 percent January drop.

Although earnings season is just around the corner, today is an extremely light day,with egg producer Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) among the few companies set to release quarterly numbers this morning.

Wal-Mart (WMT) is a stock to watch today, as the retail giant announces a new gasoline discount program for users of Walmart gift cards.

Metro PCS (PCS) remains in the news this morning, with shareholders suing to block a scheduled April 12 vote on the proposed merger with T-Mobile. Additionally,proxy firm Glass Lewis has joined those saying the deal undervalues Metro PCS and that shareholders should vote against it.

American Express (AXP) experienced a denial of service attack on its web site late Thursday, although it was able to restore service within a few hours.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) has increased its quarterly dividend by 21 percent, to$0.17 per share from the prior $0.14. That gives Cisco a yield of 3.3 percent based on Thursday's close.

Dell (DELL) filed a proxy statement which warned of the risks of remaining a public company, as it considers buyout offers from investor Carl Icahn and Blackstone group as well as the one on the table from CEO Michael Dell and his partners.

Biogen Idec(BIIB) is pricing its new multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera at $54,900 per year. That's below the $60,000 annual charge for rival drug Gilenya, made by Novartis (NVS).

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) has named chief operating officer Steven Dixon as interim CEO,replacing Aubrey McLendon who is expected to step down today. Dixon will be part of a three person search committee to find a permanent replacement.

Apple(AAPL) has been denied a trademark for its "iPad Mini". The U.S. Patent Office issued a letter saying Apple's case to own that phrase was too weak. Apple has until July 24 to restate its case.