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Brief up-to-the-minute market updates

Venezuela on high alert after helicopter drops grenades on Supreme Court

Venezuela was on edge Tuesday night after a commandeered police helicopter reportedly dropped grenades on the Supreme Court building in Caracas in what some thought was the prelude to a coup attempt. There were conflicting reports on whether the grenades exploded or not; there were no reported casualties. President Nicolas Maduro called the incident a "terrorist attack" aimed at his ouster. The pilot, a police officer calling himself Oscar Perez, appeared on a video taking credit for the operation, saying he represented a group of police, military and civilians who oppose "tyranny." Venezuela's military was placed on high alert and soldiers were seen guarding government buildings Tuesday night. Venezuela has been rocked by violent anti-government protests in recent months that have left scores dead. Maduro's opponents fear he will use the incident to further crack down on opposition, and rewrite the country's constitution.

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International Paper to set aside $354 million in pretax charges for legal settlement

International Paper Co. will set aside $354 million in pretax charges in the second quarter following an agreement to settle an antitrust class-action suit for the same amount, the company said Tuesday. Kleen Products sued International Paper and seven other containerboard producers in 2010 for alleged price fixing. "In this complex class-action case, where any award would be tripled and potentially paid by International Paper alone, this settlement avoids the substantial uncertainty of continued involvement with this litigation and a possible adverse jury verdict," said the company in a statement.

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Oil prices fall as sources say API data show an unexpected rise in U.S. crude supply

The American Petroleum Institute reported Tuesday a climb of 851,000 barrels in U.S. crude supplies for the week ended June 23, according to sources. The market was generally expecting a decline in weekly crude inventories as Tropical Storm Cindy disrupted production in the Gulf of Mexico last week. The API data also showed a rise of 1.4 million barrels in gasoline supplies, while inventories of distillates were up 678,000 barrels, sources said. Supply data from the Energy Information Administration will be released Wednesday morning. Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts expect the EIA to report a decline of 3.25 million barrels in crude inventories. August crude was at $43.76 a barrel in electronic trading, down from the contract’s settlement of $44.24 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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KB Home shares gain on robust quarterly earnings

Shares of KB Home gained in Tuesday's extended session after the home builder posted strong quarterly results. KB Home reported its second-quarter earnings rose to $31.8 million, or 33 cents a share, from $15.6 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 24% to $1 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of 26 cents a share on revenue of $930 million. The company also said its net order value increased 15% to $1.4 billion while backlog value jumped 19% to $2.2 billion and deliveries climbed 11% to 2,580 homes. Shares rose 1.3% after hours.

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Wall Street's 'fear gauge' books biggest daily jump in a month as health bill is delayed

A popular gauge of volatility, or fear, on Wall Street Tuesday surged by the most since mid-May as the stock market ended firmly lower in afternoon trade. The CBOE Volatility Index was up more than 13% at 11.21, its largest daily jump since May 17, when it climbed more than 46%, according to FactSet data. The so-called VIX, otherwise known as the fear gauge, measures options bets on the S&P 500 index 30 days in the future and is used by traders to wager on sharp swings in the market. The indicator is often used as a measure of how investors are positioned for sudden market selloffs, because stocks tend to fall faster than they rise. Wall Street views passage of the health-care legislation as a proxy for President Donald Trump's ability to get through a raft of other business-friendly laws, including tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending. That trio has helped to push markets to recent repeated records, but doubts around the president's ability to pass his agenda has often led to downdrafts in assets perceived as risky, like stocks. Tuesday's action saw technology stocks, as measured by the Nasdaq Composite Index , closed down 1.6%, taking the brunt of the selling pressure. A tech-specific exchange-traded fund, the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF , also was down sharply. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished off 0.5%, while the S&P 500 closed down 0.8%. The Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF wrapped up the session down 0.9%, while the biotech-oriented iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF finished 2.76% lower, posting its worst daily decline since a 2.77% drop March 21.

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Tech rout puts Nasdaq on pace for 1st monthly loss in 2017, as stock market ends lower

Carnage in technology shares put the Nasdaq Composite on track for its first monthly decline in 2017, as a delay in a key health-care bill in the Senate casts doubt on President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda. GOP senators postponed a vote on the controversial bill to overhaul so-called Obamacare until after the July 4 recess. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed off 1.6%, marking its worst daily decline since June 9th, when tech suffered a 1.8% collapse. The S&P 500 ended off 0.8% at 2,419, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 0.5% lower at 21,310. Selling in health-care related sectors, particularly in biotech, which would presumably be the most affected by the legislation, was the most pronounced. The exchange-traded iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF ended 2.76%, representing its steepest one-day drop since a 2.77% drop March 21. Health-care related ETF, the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF , closed down 0.9%. Meanwhile, the tech-focused Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF wrapped up off 1.6%, its worst daily drop since June 9. Meanwhile, financial stocks were one of the few bright spots on the day, with a 0.5% rise for the bank-focused Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF , led by a 1.8% rise in Charles Schwab Corp. and Regions Financial Corp. .

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National Enquirer owner David Pecker is interested in a bid for Time Inc.

National Enquirer owner David Pecker has been mulling a potential bid to buy out struggling publisher Time Inc. , according to a story in the July 3 edition of The New Yorker. The nugget is all but buried in an in-depth profile on Pecker's friendship with, and his tabloid's support for, President Donald Trump. Back in April the Sports Illustrated, People and Time publisher was entertaining bids, before ultimately deciding not to put itself up for sale. However, as the New Yorker story notes, even if Time were on the market, Pecker couldn't buy the company outright himself. He would need a deep-pocketed partner. Time, like many peers, has struggled to contend with a declining print business, recently cutting 300 jobs in order to facilitate a shift to digital. Shares of Time have declined more than 23% in 2017, while the S&P 500 index has gained more than 8%.

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Oil tallies fourth-straight session rise as analysts forecast a weekly decline in U.S. crude supplies

Oil prices climbed Tuesday for a fourth session in a row, as analyst forecasts pointed to a weekly drop in U.S. crude supplies. The market predicts that output disruptions caused by Tropical Storm Cindy will contribute an inventory decline for last week. August West Texas Intermediate crude added 86 cents, or 2%, to settle at $44.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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U.S. stocks fall to session lows; Nasdaq down more than 1%

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, with major indexes nearing their lows of the session and the Nasdaq dropping more than 1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 47 points, or 0.2%, to 21,361. The S&P 500 was down 11 points to 2,428, a decline of 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite Index sank 1.2% to 6,175, a decline of 73 points. The outsize drop in the Nasdaq was due to weakness in the technology sector, which led the day's decline by falling 1.5%. Among the biggest drags in the index, Google parent Alphabet Inc. fell 2% while Facebook lost 1.5%. Separately, Amazon.com Inc. lost 1.2%. Also impacting markets were Republicans in the U.S. Senate, who opted to postpone a vote on a controversial bill to replace Obamacare with a conservative alternative. Some investors have viewed health-care reform, a major legislative priority for President Donald Trump, as a symbol of how easily Trump can get his economic initiatives through Congress. As markets spiked following his election, in large part on expectations for his agenda, many analysts view getting his bills passed as necessary for justifying current valuations.

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Senate Republicans delay vote on health bill to replace Obamacare

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch)- Republican Senate leaders postponed until after the July 4 holiday a vote on a controversial bill to replace Obamacare with a conservative alternative. The decision Tuesday to put off a vote this week reflects the difficulty Republicans face in lining up enough votes to approve the bill. Right now they lack enough support given their razor-thin majority in the Senate.

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SEC charges three with insider trading in cancer drug company

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought insider trading charges on Tuesday against two former senior employees and the spouse of a former employee of Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc.[s:Aria] for allegedly trading in advance of announcements about U.S. Food and Drug Administration decisions that impacted the sales and marketing of the company's main cancer drug. According to the SEC's complaint, Harold Altvater, whose wife was an Ariad employee, allegedly made multiple illegal trades in Ariad stock on the basis of non-public information he learned from her. Maureen Curran, a former Ariad executive, sold Ariad stock in December 2012, after she had attended meetings with the FDA and had learned material nonpublic information regarding a forthcoming FDA decision. Susan Dubuc, another former executive, allegedly tipped relatives in October 2013, one day before Ariad publicly announced a pause in all clinical trials for its FDA-approved drug. Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, Curran and Dubuc have settled with the SEC subject to court approval. Curran agreed to pay $20,248 in disgorgement, penalties and interest. Dubuc agreed to pay $6087. The charges against Altvater are still pending.

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Gold prices settle higher as U.S. dollar drops, equities weaken

Gold prices settled higher Tuesday, recouping a small part of the hefty losses from a day earlier. Investment demand for the metal got a boost from a sharp decline in the dollar as well as a broad fall in U.S. equities. But prices pared much of their earlier gains as Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen started speaking about global economic issues at an event in London in the minutes ahead of gold's price settlement. August gold rose 50 cents, or less than 0.05%, to settle at $1,246.90 an ounce.

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Facebook reaches two billion users

Facebook Inc. announced Tuesday that the company has reached two billion people on its main platform. Facebook had 1.94 billion monthly users in March as well as 1.2 billion on WhatsApp as of February and 1.2 billion on its Messenger app as of April. Instagram had 700 million monthly users as of April. Facebook's user numbers dwarf social competitor Twitter Inc. , which most recently reported 328 million monthly active users for the first quarter of 2017. Shares of Facebook were down 1% Tuesday. Facebook shares have gained 8% in the last three months, compared to the S&P 500's gain of 4%.

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Nestle to spend up to $20.8 billion on share buybacks over the next 3 years

Swiss chocolate and snacks giant Nestle S.A. said Tuesday it will buy back up to 20 billion Swiss francs--the equivalent of about $20.78 billion--worth of its common stock starting July 4, 2017 through the end of June 2020. The buyback announcement follows the initiation of a review of the company's capital structure and priorities to support its "value creation model," which includes the recent announcement that it was exploring alternatives for its U.S. confectionery business. The company said if any "sizeable" acquisitions are made, the buyback program will be changed accordingly. The stock's U.S.-listed shares were up 1% in midday trade, while the Swiss-based shares closed down 1.6%. Nestle's U.S.-listed shares have run up 24% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.9%.

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Potlatch downgraded after disappointing timber tariff news, valuation concerns

Shares of Potlatch Corp. dropped 1.7% in morning trade Tuesday, after the real estate investment trust which owns timberlands was downgraded at Raymond James, which cited valuation in the wake of underwhelming regulatory announcement regarding tariffs on Canadian lumber. Analyst Colin Mings cut his rating to market perform from outperform and removed his stock price target. The stock closed Monday at a four-year high of $48.20, above Mings' previous price target of $48. Late Monday, the Commerce Department announced it was considering additional fees on Canadian lumber imports that would mean some products could face duties as high as 30.88%. The announcement comes two months after the Trump administration moved to impose a 20% tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. Mings said that while protectionist trade policies are a positive for the timber REIT sector, the preliminary duty rates were within expectations. "However, there was no upside surprise in yesterday's announcement relative to our forecast, and we believe the preliminary finding will underwhelm some investors expecting a more aggressive stance on the issue," Mings wrote in a note to clients. July lumber futures tumbled 1.8%. Among other timber REITs, shares of CatchMark Timber Trust Inc. slipped 0.3%, Deltic Timber Corp. lost 0.7% and Rayonier Inc. edged up 0.1%. Potlatch's stock has climbed 14% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.8%.

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Alder BioPharma stock drops nearly 20% as investors shrug off positive migraine drug results

Alder BioPharmaceuticals Inc. stock dropped 19.5% in extremely heavy morning trade Tuesday after the company released positive results for its late-stage migraine prevention drug. The drug, eptinezumab, met the primary and key secondary endpoints in a phase 3 trial, and the company plans to file with the Food and Drug Administration for approval in the second half of next year. Patients on eptinezumab had on average 4.3 fewer monthly migraine days on a higher dose of the drug and 3.9 fewer days on a lower dose, compared with 3.2 fewer days on average for patients on the placebo. However, investors noted that while the drug showed a statistically significant reduction in migraine days, the results did not appear much better than those for the placebo. Moreover, Alder -- a clinical-stage biotech company -- faces some stiff competition from Amgen Inc. , Eli Lilly & Co. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Co. , large pharmaceutical companies developing other migraine prevention drugs, all of whom have either already filed for approval or have plans to do so this year. Alder shares have dropped 29.9% over the last three months to $15.10, compared with a 4.1% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Pandora CEO Tim Westergren exits as company transitions to better compete in music streaming

Shares of Pandora Media Inc. fell nearly 2% after the market opened on Tuesday following news that Founder and Chief Executive Tim Westergren is officially stepping down. Westergren will also no longer sit on the company's board. Reports over the weekend had said Westergren was expected to exit the company. The internet radio company said the board of directors will begin the search for a new CEO immediately. Chief Financial Officer Naveen Chopra will serve as CEO in the interim. Pandora said it will fill Westergren's seat on the board with Jason Hirschhorn. "Tim stepped in to be CEO at a critical time for the company and was quickly able to reset relations with the major labels, launch our on-demand service, reconstitute the management team and refortify our balance sheet by securing an investment from Sirius XM," said board member Tim Leiweke. Pandora recently secured a $480 million investment from Liberty Media Corp.-owned satellite radio company Sirius XM Holdings Inc. , while also selling its Ticketfly business to Eventbrite for $200 million. Pandora has been struggling to compete with other on-demand music streaming services, like Apple Inc.'s Apple Music and Spotify. Its recent moves give it the cash necessary to move forward with its new subscription-based on demand service, but some analysts believe that might not be best opportunity for Pandora. Shares of Pandora are down more than 36% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 index is up nearly 9%.

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Stocks open lower as tech sector under pressure

U.S. stocks opened modestly lower on Tuesday, as a renewed selling of technology shares weighed on the main indexes. Investors were also cautious ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen this afternoon, hoping for any clues about the timing of the next interest rate increase. The Nasdaq Composite was down 30 points, or 0.5%, to 6,215. The S&P 500 declined 4 points, or 0.2%, to 2,434. The Dow Jones Industrial Average began the session slightly lower, down 17 points, or less than 0.1%, at 21,396. Among biggest decliners, Alphabet Inc , parent of Google, was down more than 1% shortly after the opening bell.

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Visa to invest in Europe's Klarna, plans strategic partnership

Visa Inc. announced Tuesday an agreement to invest in Europe-based online payments company Klarna, and plans to develop a future strategic partnership, to accelerate online and mobile commerce in Europe. Details of the investment were not disclosed. Klarna serves 60 million consumers and 70,000 retailers. "Klarna has demonstrated an expertise in consumer credit and online purchasing and together, we share a vision for how today's online and mobile commerce experiences can be as simple as they are in the real world," said Visa EVP Jim McCarthy. Visa's stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has rallied 22% year to date through Monday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 8.3%.

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Innate Immunotherapeutics stock plummets 92% after midstage clinical trial miss

Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. shares plummeted 92.3% to 5 cents per share in Tuesday trade after the company said its mid-stage clinical trial for a multiple sclerosis drug "did not show clinically meaningful or statistically significant differences in measures of neuromuscular function or patient reported outcomes." The drug, MIS416, was the company's lead drug candidate, and the company said it is evaluating its next steps. The small Australian biotech company has boasted several members of Congress among its investors, including Rep. Chris Collins, who is its largest stockholder and sits on the company's board. Until he took office, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was also a stockholder. Company shares have dropped 92.7% over the last three months, compared with a 4.2% rise in the S&P 500 .

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