Global Stocks Gain as 'Merger Monday' Descends on Wall Street

Global stocks posted gains across the board Monday, with U.S. equity futures pointing to a positive open on Wall Street, as investors digested two multi-billion dollar mergers on both sides of the Atlantic and prepped for another busy week of earnings and economic data heading into a traditionally difficult month for financial markets.

Early indications from Wall Street futures suggest a positive start to the week after giving back some of their five-day gains in a choppy series of trading sessions that ended with all three benchmarks closing largely unchanged Friday. Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were seen 126 points to the upside, indicating an opening bell gain of 140 points, while those liked to the broader S&P 500 were marked 7.75 points, or 0.3%, into the green. Nasdaq futures gained 25 points. 

McDonald's Corp (MCD) shares jumped 4.23% to $165.00 each, the highest in three months, in pre-market after the world's largest restaurant group topped Wall Street's first quarter earnings forecasts with a bottom line of $1.79 a share on sales of $5.14 billion.

Europe's Stoxx 600 index, the broadest measure of regional share prices, was marked 0.12% higher by mid-day in Frankfurt as the major benchmarks around the Continent booked reasonably solid gains. Germany's DAX performance index, for example, was up 0.2% thanks in part to a 0.6% gain for heavyweight Deutsche Telekom AG   (DTEGY) , which will hold around 42% of the combined T-Mobile US (TMUS) and Sprint Corp (S)  after the pair agreed a $26.5 billion deal that will create the country's third-largest wireless carrier.

In London, the FTSE 100 was marked 0.27% to the good, with J Sainbury Plc (JSAIY) spiking 15% to a near four-year high of 310 pence each after it agreed to merge its grocery store business with Walmart Inc. (WMT) -owned Asda Supermakets in a $10 billion deal that creates Britain's biggest food retailer. Rival Tesco Plc (TSCDY) , which was bumped into third place by the still-to-be-approved deal, fell 1.05% to 235.6 pence each.

Sprint shares, however, were marked sharply lower in pre-market trading Monday, suggesting investors may be cautiously approaching the group's proposed $26.5 billion merger with T-Mobile amid concern regulators could scuttle a deal that would reduce competition in the country's wireless network space. Sprint was marked 13% lower in pre-market trading in New York Monday, indicating an opening bell price of $5.66 each, while T-Mobile shares traded 2.28% below their Friday close at $63.00 each.

Another deal attracting market attention this morning comes from the oil space, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MRO)  is set to pay $150 a share for Andeavor (ANDV) in a $20 billion deal that would create the biggest U.S. refiner by capacity. Prologis Inc. (PLD) may also be in focus after the logistics group agreed to buy U.S. rival DCT Industrial Trust Inc. (DCT) Sunday in a deal worth around $8.4 billion, including debt.

T-Mobile -Sprint, Prologis-DCT and Marathon Pete-Andeavor--that's consolidation in telco, distribution and refining.. Strong sign for this market against usual trade/tariff headwinds

— Jim Cramer (@jimcramer) April 30, 2018

Another busy slate of earnings is expected to drive market direction this week, with blue-chips reporting across all sectors over the next five days. Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) second quarter release of Tuesday will undoubtedly highlight the calendar, but first quarter numbers from Lowes (LOW) , Merck (MCK) , Under Armour (AA) , Humana (HUM) , Tesla (TSLA) , CBS (CBS) , DuPont (DWDP) , Kellog (K) and Bershire Hathaway (BRK.B) will also be in focus.

Apple is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS.

With just over half of the S&P 500 reporting so far this quarter, U.S. firms are on pace for one of the strongest earnings seasons in two decades, according to FactSet data, with blended bottom-line growth of around 22.9% when compared to the first quarter of 2017 - that's nearly double what was expected at the start of the reporting period. 

74% of $SPX companies have beaten revenue estimates to date for Q1, well above the 5-year average of 57%. https://t.co/iEk6ncoD1S pic.twitter.com/cAJ9I7zpPr

— FactSet (@FactSet) April 28, 2018

Overnight in Asia, market closures in Japan and elsewhere, owing to the traditional observance of Golden Week, kept liquidity tight and equity flows muted, but stocks still managed to book relatively solid gains as the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 1.07% into the end of the trading day. 

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, slipped from its three-and-a-half month highs on Friday to trade at 91.556 as Treasury bond yields -- particularly on benchmark 10-year notes -- eased from the 3% threshold they breached last week to trade at 2.97%.

Global oil prices also retreated in over trading, and extended declines into the European session, with Brent crude contracts for June delivery, the global benchmark, falling 70 cents a barrel to $73.04 and WTI futures contracts for the same month slipped 40 cents a barrel to $67.34.


 

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