What's moving markets today: March 18, 2019

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4:29 p.m. ET, March 18, 2019

US stocks hit five-month high; Energy stocks rally on higher oil prices

The powerful rally on Wall Street continues.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaqclosed solidly higher on Monday, rising to their best levels since early October. The Dowgained 65 points, or 0.3%.

Boeing (BA), the biggest loser on the Dow, fell 2% on concerns about rising scrutiny of the 737 Max from US regulators. Federal prosecutors and the Department of Transportation are probing the development of the jetliner, according to the Wall Street Journal.

US oil prices jumped 1% to $59.09 a barrel on hopes that OPEC will extend its supply cuts. Energy stocks (XLE) led the way higher on Wall Street, with Halliburton (HAL) and EOG Resources (EOG) climbing 3% apiece.

Deutsche Bank’s (DB) US-listed shares rose 4% after the German lender confirmed merger talks with smaller rival Commerzbank

Monday's rally builds leaves the S&P 500 less than 4% away from its all-time high.

1:10 p.m. ET, March 18, 2019

S&P puts Kraft Heinz on notice

Shares of Kraft Heinz (KHC) fell as much as 1.5% after it was revealed that it missed its extended deadline to file an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kraft Heinz was placed on the Credit Watch Negative list by Standard & Poor's because of that. The company said the report will be filed in the coming weeks.

"We attribute this delay to the SEC investigation although we do not believe the investigation has widened," Christopher Growe, an analyst at Stifel, said.

Last month, the company wrote down the value of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands by $15 billion, posted a $12.6 billion loss, cut its dividend by 36% and announced its accounting practices are under investigation by the SEC.

Shares have fallen more than 33% since then.

12:28 p.m. ET, March 18, 2019

Boeing keeps falling but markets are mixed

The markets are mixed on a quiet Monday. Here's a check:

  • The Dow is down 30 points, or 0.13%
  • Nasdaq slipped 2 points, 0.04%
  • S&P 500 edged up 2 points, or 0.07%

And here's a look at some stocks making moves:

  • Facebook (FB) is down nearly 3% following a downgrade from an analyst.
  • Apple (AAPL) is up barely 1% after announcing two new iPads.
  • Boeing (BA) is continuing its decline — it's down nearly 2.5%.
  • Overstock (OSTK), which was down as much as 10% after the CEO said its losses were "nauseating," has recovered: Shares are now down 2%.
12:03 p.m. ET, March 18, 2019

Lumber Liquidators tumbles 12% on earnings

Lumber Liquidators (LL) stock is down 12% after a weak earnings report:

The company's fourth-quarter revenue came in below analysts' expectations.

It revealed that it has paid $61 million in various settlements for misleading investors about formaldehyde in its laminate flooring products. Last week, Lumber Liquidators settled with the SEC to pay $33 million in penalties.

The stock is down 5% for the year.

10:19 a.m. ET, March 18, 2019

Overstock plunges 10% after it posts a loss and cuts 250 jobs

Overstock's transformation from online retail company to blockchain leader hit another speed bump Monday.

Overstock said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday it has laid off approximately 250 employees, or about 12% of its workforce, so far this year. The company reported a net loss of more than $40 million for the fourth quarter and said that sales fell 1%. Shares of Overstock (OSTK) plunged 10% on the news.

CEO Patrick Byrne said in a letter to shareholders that "the losses were nauseating" and that the retail operations would be profitable again by year's end.

The mere fact that Overstock is still a retailer is frustrating to investors though. The company said in November that it hoped to sell its online retail business by February of this year so it could focus on its tZero security tokens for e-commerce and Medici Ventures, an investing firm that's betting on blockchain, a public digital ledger of transactions.

But Overstock said Monday that it still did not have a buyer for the retail arm. It has hired investment bank Guggenheim Securities to help with a possible transaction.

9:42 a.m. ET, March 18, 2019

Boeing pressures the Dow but broader markets tick higher

Wall Street is taking a breather after last week's surge.

Dow member Boeing (BA) declined on more concerns about its 737 Max crisis. US federal prosecutors and the Department of Transportation are probing the development of the 737 Max, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Worldpay (WP) jumped 13% after agreeing to be acquired by FIS (FIS) in a deal that will create a payments giant.

GM (GM) ticked slightly higher despite a series of tweets from President Donald Trump criticizing the company for closing a Lordstown, Ohio plant.

The mixed start to trading comes after US stocks boomed last week. The S&P 500 climbed nearly 3%, while the Nasdaq spiked almost 4%, leaving both indexes at their highest levels since early October. 

9:15 a.m. ET, March 18, 2019

S&P 500 will keep climbing, according to Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse (CS) just upgraded its S&P 500 target for 2019, according to our Matt Egan:

Jonathan Golub, the chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse, said risks are "receding" and that's why he predicts a stronger S&P 500:

"More specifically, less hawkish comments from the Fed, declining inflation and recession fears, and the potential for a resolution to China trade issues are the primary forces driving volatility and spreads lower, and stocks higher," he wrote.

The S&P 500 closed at 2,822 on Friday.

8:23 a.m. ET, March 18, 2019

Marriott wants to open 1,700 hotels by 2021

Marriott (MAR) has announced a three-year growth plan, which includes 1,700 new hotels and returning as much as $11 billion to shareholders.

The hotelier forecasts revenue per available room to increase by as much as 3% by 2021.

It's opening as many as 295,000 rooms over the next three years, which could eventually generate $700 million in revenue annually from fees.

The company forecasts profits to come in above analyst expectations by 2021, a turnaround from its bleak earnings report from last month when it cautioned about a lower-than-expected 2019 profit.

The stock was up as much as 3% in premarket trading.

7:35 a.m. ET, March 18, 2019

Caesars is surging over potential merger

Carl Icahn's wish that Caesars Entertainment (CZR) find a partner might finally be coming true:

  • The resort owner is surging 5% in premarket trading over a report that it's exploring a merger with casino owner Eldorado Resorts (ERI).
  • Reuters, which first reported the news, said there's "no certainty" that there will be a deal.
  • Caesars reportedly has given some confidential financial information to Eldorado.
  • Billionaire investor Icahn has gradually increased his stake in Caesars to 17.8% and has placed three members on its board.
  • Icahn previously said the "best path forward for Caesars requires a thorough strategic process to sell or merge the company to further develop its already strong regional presence."