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Midday Market Update

Stocks Mixed; Data in Focus

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U.S. Market    
Stocks sought direction at midday as economic data showed mixed results. 

U.S. retail sales edged up 0.1% last month, opposite of the expected 0.4% month-over-month drop and a reversal from March's 0.5% decline. Sales were 3.7% higher compared with the same time last year. Overall, sales were strong in most segments, with the exception of gas stations on account of falling prices. 

U.S. business inventories were flat for March compared with February's reading, but they were lower than the expected 0.3% increase. March business sales dropped by 1.1%. The weak numbers indicate that corporate and consumer near-term expectations for future sales were low in March, as other economic data reports have indicated, too. However, already-reported April data have pointed to improving sentiment. 

At midday, the Dow was 0.1% lower, but the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had gained 0.1% and 0.2%. 

Stocks on the Move
Following up on Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management's buyout offer for  Dell (DELL) last week, Dell has asked the suitor parties for more information regarding the proposed takeover. The tech company stated it is unclear whether the offer was legitimate or if it were an alternative to the $24.4 billion deal that CEO Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners agreed to earlier this year. Dell shares were flat at midday. 

 Elan (ELN) announced it has reached an agreement with Theravance (THRX) to receive a 21% share in future royalty payments. The $1 billion deal could be a move for Elan to stave off Royalty Pharma's buyout attempt of the firm. Elan's ADR shares were down by 2.5% at midday as this move could hinder a possible buyout, which shareholders are prepared to accept. Theravance shares had jumped by 14.4%. 

 Danone (DANOY) announced the acquisition of more than 90% of Happy Family, a U.S.-based baby food firm that generates in excess of $60 million in sales and possesses about 4% of the local market.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Shares were 0.4% higher at midday. 

Foreign Markets
Stocks in Asia were mixed Monday. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.2%, and the Hang Seng lost 1.4%. The Nikkei 225 was 1.2% higher. 

In Europe, the DAX was flat, while the FTSE 100 had gained 0.1%. The Paris CAC was 0.2% lower. 

Kevin O'Shaughnessy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.