|18:21 EDT||BMY||On The Fly: Top stock stories for Thursday|
Stocks began the session mixed on the heels of weak earnings reports from both Caterpillar (CAT) and 3M (MMM). The Nasdaq managed to spend most of the day in positive territory but joined the other averages in negative territory by mid-afternoon. Selling picked up momentum towards late afternoon, and by day’s end each of the averages were lower by more than 0.4%, with the Dow losing nearly 0.7%. ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims fell to 255,000 in the week ended July 18, below the 278,000 first-time claims that were expected. The Leading Economic Indicators advanced 0.6% in June, exceeding expectations for a 0.3% increase. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite index advanced for a sixth straight session, adding another 2.4%. In Europe, the Greek Parliament voted to accept creditor terms for a new bailout, though a decision on when to reopen Greek financial markets was deferred to next week. COMPANY NEWS: Shares of General Motors (GM) finished the session up 3.96% to $31.50 after reporting earnings per share above analyst expectations. Other notable names rising following earnings reports include SanDisk (SNDK), Under Armour (UA), Southwest (LUV)... Caterpillar, meanwhile, dropped $2.86, or 3.59%, to $76.90 after cutting its yearly guidance during this morning's earnings report, with the company noting a "relatively stagnant" global economy. Also lower following earnings were Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Dunkin Brands (DNKN), and Boston Scientific (BSX). MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Cigna (CI), which rose $3.29, or 2.18%, to $154.36 after the Wall Street Journal reported last night that Anthem (ANTM) is nearing a deal to acquire the company for roughly $187, representing a total transaction value of over $48B. Adding to that report, CNBC's David Faber said on Thursday morning that Anthem will announce an agreement Friday to purchase Cigna for $188 per share, at a 45% equity, 55% cash split. Also higher were shares of numerous IT security companies, with FireEye (FEYE) advancing 4.53% and Palo Alto Networks (PANW) adding 2.33% after earnings reports from security firms Fortinet (FTNT) and F5 Networks (FFIV) beat on both top and bottom lines. Fortinet and F5, meanwhile, finished Thursday's session up 10.71% and 7.75% to $46.83 and $127.68, respectively. Among the noteworthy losers following earnings was McDonald's (MCD), which edged down 0.52% to $97.10 after noting that Q2 global comparable sales fell 0.7% for the quarter, including a 2% decline in U.S. same-store sales. Also lower was Hertz (HTZ), which declined 8.53% to $16.45 following a downgrade to Underweight at Morgan Stanley, with the research firm citing increased competition from Uber and similar mobility services. INDEXES: The Dow fell 119.12, or 0.67%, to 17,731.92, the Nasdaq lost 25.36, or 0.49%, to 5,146.41, and the S&P 500 declined 12.00, or 0.57%, to 2,102.15.