U.S. markets were down slightly before the opening bell Thursday, despite a continued climb in oil prices, which have begun to recover from a steep decline over the holiday weekend.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrials each dipped about 0.2% in premarket trading, as oil prices climbed just over 1% to $47.92 a barrel, based on U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate.
WhiteWave Foods (WWAV) shares surged before the bell, up nearly 20%, on news that Danone (DANOY) has agreed to buy the company for $12.5 billion including debt. France-based Danone said it will offer $56.25 in cash for each WhiteWave share. In a statement, Danone said it expects synergies of $300 million by 2020. "(The deal) will allow us to enhance Danone's growth profile and reinforce our resilience through a broader platform in North America," Danone's CEO Emmanuel Faber said in a statement.
Real Money's Antonia Oprita said in a morning report that the decision of French yogurt maker Danone to buy WhiteWave, a holding of Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust, is a "beacon of hope" that markets are recovering from the steep Brexit-triggered selloff.
Shares of PepsiCo (PEP), another Action Alerts holding, jumped nearly 2% as the company's second-quarter profits topped Wall Street estimates. The food and beverage giant earned $2.01 billion, or $1.38 per share. Adjusted earnings were $1.35 per share, which beat analysts' forecasts of $1.28. Revenue came in on par with expectations at $15.4 billion. Pepsico raised its full-year earnings outlook to $4.71 per share, up from $4.66 per share.
Meanwhile, data storage giant Western Digital (WDC) shares were up more than 5% on news that CFO Olivier Leonetti is set to be replaced by Chief Strategy Officer Mark Long in September. The Irving, Calif.-based company also adjusted its fourth fiscal-quarter forecast to $3.46 billion, up from earlier guidance of $3.35 billion to $3.45 billion.
And Whiting Petroleum (WLL) and Marathon Oil (MRO), riding the wave of recovering crude prices, each climbed about 3% before the opening bell. Marathon Oil shares were also lifted by a ratings upgrade by Raymond James to Strong Buy from Outperform.
-- Written by James Passeri