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Big deals and gains for tech stocks lead US indexes higher

U.S. stocks are mostly higher Thursday morning as a handful of companies jump on deal news. Facebook and PayPal are leading technology stocks higher after they announced strong first-quarter results. The U.S. government said the economy slowed a little more than expected in the first three months of this year.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 8 points to 18,033 as of 11:35 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,099. The Nasdaq composite, which has fallen for five days in a row, regained 27 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,888 as tech stocks rose.

ECONOMY SLOWS: The U.S. economy grew a bit less than expected in the first quarter. The government said gross domestic product increased just 0.5 percent as consumer spending slowed down, exports kept falling, and business investment plunged. That’s the weakest result in two years, but experts think the economy will bounce back in the current quarter.

DEALS, DEALS, DEALS: Most of the morning’s big deals were in health care. In the largest, medical device maker Abbott Laboratories said it will buy St. Jude Medical for $19.3 billion, combining Abbott’s heart devices, heart valve products and infant formula business with St. Jude’s heart failure and heart rhythm device products.

The deal valued St. Jude stock at $46.75 per share, and it rocketed $17.25, or 27.8 percent, to $79.20 while Abbott fell $2.28, or 5.2 percent, to $41.55.

French drugmaker Sanofi went public with an offer to buy cancer drug maker Medivation for $9.3 billion, or $52.50 per share. Medivation, the maker of the prostate cancer medication Xtandi, added $4.01, or 7.7 percent, to $56.06. U.S.-traded Sanofi stock slid 58 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $43.04.

Drugmaker AbbVie said it will buy privately-held Stemcentrx for $5.8 billion. Stemcentrx is developing a drug that uses stem cells to treat small cell lung cancer. AbbVie stock dipped 39 cents to $60.31.

DREAM COME TRUE: Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit will buy DreamWorks Animation, the movie studio behind the “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon” franchises, for $3.55 billion. The deal values DreamWorks at $41 a share, and the stock, which jumped 17 percent Wednesday, rose another $7.78, or 24.2 percent, to $39.98. Comcast gained 32 cents to $61.62.

TECH RISING: Facebook’s first-quarter profit nearly tripled and its revenue was better than expected. The stock climbed $10.23, or 9.4 percent, to $119.12. Online payments company PayPal gained $1.11, or 2.8 percent, to $41.12 after its net income and revenue surpassed estimates.

GNC-YA: Nutritional supplement company GNC Holdings plunged after it reported weak first-quarter results, including lower vitamin sales. The company also said it will sell 84 stores to a franchise operator. GNC stock $9.93, or 27.9 percent, to $25.67.

OVERSEAS: European stock indexes were mixed. The CAC-40 in France fell 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX was 0.2 percent higher. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was little changed. Asian stocks mostly fell as investors were disappointed by the Bank of Japan’s decision not to add to its huge economic stimulus program. Investors wanted to see that because inflation and consumer spending are weak, largely because the yen has gotten stronger. That trend continued Thursday.

The Nikkei 225, Japan’s main stock index, tumbled 3.6 percent. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.7 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index eked out a 0.1 percent gain.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil, which is at its highest prices in almost six months, rose 23 cents to $45.56 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 8 cents to $47.26 a barrel in London.

METALS: The price of gold rose $14.30, or 1.1 percent, to $1,264.70 an ounce. Silver gained 19 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $17.48 an ounce.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices dipped slightly after a big gain on Wednesday. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.86 percent from 1.85 percent. The dollar sank to 108.53 yen from 111.34 yen and the euro sank to $1.1317 from $1.1323.

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One comment

  1. Just wondered if we are living on the same planet.

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