Defense stocks lifted Wall Street to begin the week after Donald Trump's first leg of a trip abroad resulted in billions of dollars' worth of deals.
The S&P 500 was up 0.45%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.41%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.65%.
Shares of Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Dow component Boeing (BA) rose Monday after both companies were seen walking away as winners from the weekend's Saudi deals bonanza, which saw Trump and representatives for American companies inking more than $350 billion of deals. Lockheed won contracts worth around $28 billion during the state visit, which will see Saudi Arabia buying air and missile defense equipment from it, along with navy ships, aircraft and helicopters. Boeing was also another big winner after it said that the Saudis have agreed to buy a series of new aircraft, weapons systems and helicopters.
Trump is in the middle of a nine-day trip, his first abroad since assuming office in January. Trump has arrived in Israel and will also visit Vatican City during this trip. The trip comes at an inopportune time for the president after two weeks of bombshells tied to his campaign's relations with Russia during the election.
The chances of tax reform this year have grown more remote as the Trump administration wrestles with the negative headlines and leaks. Gains since the November election have largely been tied to high hopes over tax cuts and rollbacks of regulations.
"The likelihood of President Trump's pro-growth agenda getting signed into law is fading as the Administration and Congress fends off and sorts out the constant barrage of headlines," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Wealth Management. "Investors are growing skeptical."
Qualcomm (QCOM) led tech stocks after JPMorgan raised its rating to overweight from neutral. The firm has high hopes for its pending $47 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductor (NXPI) . That deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
Apple (AAPL) moved slightly higher on Monday after RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani forecast that its market capitalization will eclipse the $1 trillion mark in the next 12 to 18 months. He reiterated his outperform rating on the shares and hiked his price target to $168 from $157. Catalysts include a "premium-priced" iPhone 8 and extended share buybacks.
Crude oil prices climbed on Monday ahead of a meeting among some of the world's largest oil producers later this week. An extension to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries deal will be the main point of conversation when the 13 member countries meet in Vienna on May 25. The current agreement, established last November, is set to expire at the end of June.
Saudi Arabia has said all countries are united in the agreeing to extend cuts by nine months. Reports also indicate some are pushing for even larger productions cuts.
"This has already driven up expectations of the meeting to such an extent that there is now potential for disappointment," Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note. "If the cuts are merely to be extended, this is likely to be met at best with a neutral reception, if not even with disappointment."
West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.8% to $50.76 a barrel on Monday.
Jim Cramer recommends holding onto oil stocks for now, but to be prepared to pull the trigger if crude reaches $53. Get his insights with a free trial subscription to our premium site for investors, Real Money.
Ford (F) confirmed on Monday that CEO Mark Fields is choosing to retire on Monday amid pressure due to a share price that has fallen more than 10% year to date and more than 17% over the past 12 months. Ford will promote current Ford Smart Mobility Chairman Jim Hackett to the top position. Monday's announcement ends Fields' three-year run as CEO with the company as well as his 28-year career at the automaker based in Dearborn, Mich.
The stock of the U.S. automaker has declined almost 40% since Fields took over the company. Fields' ousting come just weeks after Dearborn-based Ford delivered a dire set of first-quarter results, which brought about yet more share price weakness.
"Fields took a long-term approach to making Ford a mobility company," Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book, wrote in a note. "However, investors -- which include the super-voting shares the Ford family owns and just confirmed again at the annual meeting May 11 -- were not so patient... The reality was he couldn't rally the troops internally and pacify investors and the Ford family externally."
Ford shares were up 1.5% on the news.
Over on our premium site for investors, Real Money, Brian Sozzi said what happened to Ford's CEO should be a call to action for the auto industry. Read his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Health care stocks were on watch after the White House requested another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies, according to Politico. The Trump administration will continue to pay insurers those cost-sharing reductions. The payments subsidize insurers for plans for low-income earners who access insurance through the Obamacare exchanges. The White House has asked for a delay in the case while it determines its position on the original 2014 lawsuit and subsequent appeal.
Clariant (CLZNY) shares rose after the Swiss chemicals group said it agreed to an all-share "merger of equals" with U.S.-based Huntsman (HUN) that would create a company valued at about $20 billion. A merged HuntsmanClariant would have annual revenue of about $13.2 billion, the companies said in a statement, based on pro-forma 2016 sales and adjusted operating profit of $2.3 billion. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.
Nutraceutical International (NUTR) rocketed nearly 50% higher after agreeing to be acquired by private-equity firm HGGC. The firm will purchase Nutraceutical stock for $41.80 in cash, a 49% premium to its close on Friday.
Barclays upgraded its rating on Mylan (MYL) to 'overweight' from 'equal weight' and increased its price target by $3 to $50. The firm is optimistic of the approval of its generic version of a multiple sclerosis treatment.
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