Stocks had a quiet, but positive, start to the abbreviated Thanksgiving week on lighter-than-usual trading volume.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.3%, finishing a step above the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, which added 0.1% apiece. Meanwhile, small caps outperformed, sending the small-cap Russell 2000 higher by 0.7%.
Tax reform remained a topic of conversation in the media on Monday, despite the lack of new developments. The House did its part last week when it passed its version of a tax reform bill, and analysts continue to debate whether the Senate can do the same when its version goes to the floor for a vote sometime after Thanksgiving.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen announced that she will resign from the Board of Governors when Jerome Powell replaces her as Fed Chair in early February. Ms. Yellen had the right to stay on the Board of Governors until January 2024, but her decision was not a surprise and had little impact on the financial markets.
As for corporate news, there were a few notable headlines on Monday, but the day was pretty quiet overall.
Chipmakers showed relative strength, evidenced by the 1.2% increase in the PHLX Semiconductor Index, after Marvell (MRVL 21.59, +1.30) announced that it will acquire Cavium Networks (CAVM 84.02, +8.19) for approximately $6 billion, or $80.00 per share, in cash and stock. MRVL shares added 6.4%, while CAVM shares jumped 10.8%.
The S&P 500's technology sector (+0.3%), which houses chipmakers, finished ahead of the broader market, but a ways behind the telecom services group (+1.0%), which settled at the top of the sector standings. Verizon (VZ 46.20, +0.78) led the telecom rally, adding 1.7%, after Wells Fargo upgraded VZ shares to 'Outperform' from 'Market Perform.'
Telecom giant AT&T (T 34.64, +0.13) also had a relatively positive showing, climbing 0.4%, following reports that the Department of Justice plans to make a major antitrust announcement on Monday evening that involves the company's pending acquisition of Time Warner (TWX 87.71, -1.01). TWX shares lost 1.1%.
The heavily-weighted financial sector climbed 0.5%, while the other advancing sectors added no more than 0.4%.
On the flip side, the health care space was the weakest group on Monday, moving lower by 0.4%. Within the group, Dow component Merck (MRK 54.10, -1.10) showed relative weakness, losing 2.0%, after Switzerland-based rival Roche announced positive clinical trial results for its cancer immunotherapy treatment called Tecentriq.
In the bond market, U.S. Treasuries moved lower in another curve-flattening trade, reducing the 2yr-10-yr spread to just 62 basis points. The yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note climbed two basis points to 2.37%, while the 2-yr yield jumped three basis points to 1.75%. Yields move inversely to prices.
Elsewhere, efforts to form a coalition government in Germany fell apart overnight, leaving Europe's largest economy in a state of political uncertainty. However, European equities were able to climb despite the news, with Germany's DAX (+0.5%) pacing the advance.
Major indices in the Asia-Pacific region ended Monday on a mixed note, with Japan's Nikkei (-0.6%) slipping for the seventh time in nine sessions.
Reviewing Monday's economic data, which was limited to October Leading Indicators:
- The Conference Board Leading Economic Index increased 1.2% in October (Briefing.com +0.8%). The prior month's reading was revised to +0.1% from -0.2%.
On Tuesday, investors will again receive just one economic report--October Existing Home Sales (Briefing.com consensus 5.42 million)--which will be released at 10:00 ET.
- Nasdaq Composite +26.2% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average +18.6% YTD
- S&P 500 +15.3% YTD
- Russell 2000 +10.8% YTD