Markets started the week off on a strong note, with all three major indices rising during the session. All three indices closed the day in record territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.55%, or 143 points, to 26,214.60 while the Nasdaq rose 0.98%, or 72 points, to 7,408 and the S&P 500 gained 0.81%, or 23 points, to 2,833.
Bacardi Purchases Patron for $5.1 Billion
Bacardi Ltd. announced that it is buying Patrón Spirits International AG, the parent company of Patron tequila, valuing the brand at $5.1 billion.
Bacardi held a 25% stake in Patrón for nearly a decade and now the company wants control of the full company.
U.S. volumes of premium tequila jumped more than 700% between 2002 to 2016, compared with a 121% rise in regular tequila volume.
Crypto Craze Has Been Lucrative for Hackers
Hackers have stolen more than 10% of funds from initial coin offerings, or about $400 million from the $3.7 billion that was raised between 2015 and 2017, according to research by Ernst & Young.
Hackers use phishing methods that trick victims into clicking on malicious links. On average hackers are stealing $1.5 million a month from ICO funding.
"Once new standards are in place that are accepted by all participants-allowing for improved transparency, fraud prevention, and legitimacy -- the protection of investors and users alike has a greater chance of success," said Greg Cudahy, Ernst & Young's global technology, media and entertainment and telecommunications leader.
Rupert Murdoch Says Facebook Should Pay for Content
Rupert Murdoch said Monday that if companies like Facebook Inc. (FB) and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) , (GOOG) really want to fight so-called "fake news," they should pay legitimate journalism organizations licensing fees for "professional" content.
"Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable," Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp. (NWS) and executive co-chair of 21st Century Fox (FOXA) , said in a statement. "Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically."
Murdoch wrote that a lack of transparency in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's stated intention to combat fake news "should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms."
Bitcoin Tanks After South Korea Details Crypto Tax
Bitcoin was down more than more than 8% Monday afternoon, trading at $10,570 after South Korea announced that it will collect up to 24.2% of corporate and local income taxes from the country's digital currency exchanges this year.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are facing increased scrutiny amid volatile price swings and intense media coverage.
Bitcoin briefly dipped below the $10,000 level Monday, which it first passed in November and had not traded below that level since.
Maryland Offers Amazon $5 Billion to House HQ2
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is offering Amazon (AMZN) $5 billion, the largest aid package in state history, to entice the company to choose Montgomery County as the home for its new secondary headquarters.
Maryland will offer the company tax breaks worth $3 billion in addition to $2 billion in proposed road and infrastructure projects.
"HQ2 is the single greatest economic development opportunity in a generation, and we're committing all of the resources we have to bring it home to Maryland," Hogan said in a statement.
GE Touches Six-Day Intraday Low
General Electric (GE) shares sunk to their lowest intraday level in six years, falling below the $16 mark, after analysts at Merril Lynch downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "buy" with a $17 price target.
The firm's outlook "reflects lower earnings estimates, zero equity value assigned to GE Capital, and lower value assigned to GE Digital initiatives, as we don't see the market paying up for this optionality," analysts wrote.
GE shares have fallen 47% over the past 12 months.
Atlantic Equities Downgrades Apple Over iPhone Demand
Atlantic Equities downgraded Apple (AAPL) to "neutral" from "overweight" Monday, saying that demand for the company's newest iPhone will disappoint this year. The firm reaffirmed its $190 price target on Apple.
The firm sees "signs that iPhone demand is starting to soften, limited visibility into the potential for future iPhone cycles and emerging challenges to the smartphone's dominance at the centre of consumer technology, we believe the stock's multiple will compress, limiting upside potential," analyst James Cordwell wrote.
Last week Longbow Research also downgraded the stock.
Apple shares were down 0.6% Monday morning.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions Files for Bankruptcy Protection
Philadelphia Energy Solutions announced that it will file a plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to restructure $525 million in debt. The company said that it will continue operating and paying its bill during the reorganization process.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions is the East Coast's largest refinery, employing 1,100 people and producing about 335,000 barrels of crude per day.
"Today's agreement positions PES well for the future with a sustainable capital structure and additional liquidity, ensuring we can continue to provide critical refined product supply and energy security to the Northeast United States without disruption and with no impact on our employees, suppliers and customers," Chief Executive Gregory G. Gatta said.
IMF Raises Global Growth Expectations Following Tax Reform
The International Monetary Fund raised its economic growth forecast for the world in 2018 and 2019 to 3.9% from 3.7% in response to the GOP $1.5 trillion tax reform bill that was passed last year.
The IMF did warn that U.S. growth would likely start weakening after 2022, however, after the temporary spending incentives in the bill start expiring.
The tax cuts will likely widen the U.S. account deficit, strengthen the U.S. dollar and affect international investment flows, according to the IMF.
Carl Icahn Organizes Group to Oust Xerox CEO
Xerox Corp.'s (XRX) third-largest stakeholder, Darwin Deason, is teaming with activist investor Carl Icahn to form a group dedicated to ousting the document technology company's CEO Jeff Jacobson. Jacobson has been head of Xerox for about a year.
Icahn and Deason agreed to work together to install a minority slate of four director candidates to Xerox's board.
Last week Deason sent a letter calling for the company's joint-venture with Fujifilm to be more transparent and urging the company to hire a strategic adviser to evaluate strategy. Xerox responded to the letter by saying that Deason's characterizations were false.
"The Xerox board of directors and management are comfortable with our disclosure and confident with the strategic direction in which the company is heading, and we will continue to take action to achieve our common goal of creating value for all Xerox shareholders," Xerox said.
Celgene Acquires Rest of Juno for $9 Billion
Juno shares were up nearly 30% to $67.81 in premarket trading.
Juno's experimental JCAR017 is expected to be approved in 2019 and could see annual sales of about $3 billion worldwide, the two companies said.
Celgene purchased 9.7% of Juno in 2015 for $93 per share.
AIG Buys Validus for $5.56 Billion
American International Group (AIG) announced plans to buy all outstanding common shares of property and casualty reinsurer Validus Holdings (VR) for $5.56 billion. Validus common shareholders will receive $68 for each share they own.
"Validus is an excellent strategic fit for AIG, bringing new businesses and capabilities to our General Insurance operation, expanding the bench of our management team and deepening our underwriting expertise," said Brian Duperreault, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIG. "With our global scale and the strength of our balance sheet, I am confident that Validus will thrive within AIG and strengthen our ability to deliver profitable growth for our shareholders as we strategically position AIG for the future."
Validus stock was up 45% to $67.66 premarket Monday.
Senate to Vote on Government Funding Measure at Noon
U.S. lawmakers in the upper house have a vote scheduled for noon Monday on a bill to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks. The vote comes just days after the Senate failed to pass a spending bill, essentially leaving the government unfunded.
Democrats have made a decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program a key negotiating point for the bill. Democratic leadership has asserted that unless Republicans make significant changes to their offer that they will again vote against the bill, according to CNN.
U.S. futures contracts were trading in the red ahead of the opening bell Monday as confusion out of Washington D.C. on government funding weighs on markets.
Dow futures were falling the hardest, down 0.2%, while Nasdaq and S&P futures declined 0.05% and 0.07% respectively.
World markets appeared to shrug off the government shutdown in the U.S. with major indices in Asia and Europe rising Monday morning. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong had the best session, gaining 0.43% on the day. The CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.1% with about four hours left in trading.