Before the Bell: Markets Dither Again, Another English Soccer Club to Change Ownership?

Premarket action on Thursday had the three major U.S. indexes trading nearly flat. The Dow Jones industrials were down 0.02%, the S&P 500 down 0.05% and the Nasdaq 0.04% lower.

Ten of 11 market sectors closed higher Wednesday, with communications services and consumer cyclicals both up 1.16% to lead the way. Energy (−1.78%) and health care (−0.51%) had the only losses. The Dow closed up 0.11%, the S&P 500 up 0.28% and the Nasdaq up 0.92%. Two-year Treasuries added eight basis points to close at 4.6%, and 10-year notes rose by five basis points to close at 3.77%. Oil traded flat, and it traded down by about 1.3% early Thursday morning at $78.01.

Tuesday’s trading volume was slightly below the five-day average. New York Stock Exchange winners outpaced losers by 1,780 to 1,297, while Nasdaq advancers led decliners by about 7 to 4.

Before markets opened on Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported retail sales for January rose by 3.0% month over month. Excluding automobiles, sales rose 2.3%. Both results were well above forecasts and raised fears that the Federal Reserve would continue raising interest rates beyond what the market had already priced in. By the end of the trading session, though, good earnings news and outlooks from the likes of Airbnb and Roblox, combined with 2%+ gains at megacaps Alphabet and Tesla, had pushed all three major indexes into the green.

On deck before the bell Thursday morning are January reports on housing starts (forecast to decline by about 2%) and the producer price index (PPI), which is expected to come in higher on both the total and core measures. The weekly report on new claims for unemployment benefits is also expected to show an increase.

Among S&P 500 stocks, Paramount Global (NASDAQ: PARA) jumped 9.3% on Wednesday. The company is expected to report a sharp sequential revenue total and lower profits before U.S. markets open Thursday morning.  On Monday, the company fired 120 people as it prepares to roll out the Paramount+ with Showtime package.

Wednesday’s biggest loser, by a whisker, was Devon Energy Inc. (NYSE: DVN). The stock closed down 10.49% after the company reported disappointing results before markets opened. Production was down and costs were up, a deadly combination even when oil prices are strong. Akamai Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) closed down 10.41%, after including a plan for a more aggressive push into the cloud computing wars in its otherwise good quarterly report. Investors are wondering why Akamai wants to spend big to compete against the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet. A reasonable question.

It appears that yet another English football club (soccer team to us Americans) is about to change hands. One of the so-called Big Six of the English Premier League is reported to be about to be sold to an Iranian-American business in a deal valued at about $3.75 billion, including debt. Tottenham Hotspur — along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United PLC (NYSE: MANU) —form the Big Six.

A recent valuation of the Big Six yielded the following result:

  1. Manchester United: $4.2 billion
  2. Liverpool: $3.73 billion
  3. Manchester City: $3.6 billion
  4. Chelsea: $3.02 billion
  5. Arsenal: $2.76 billion
  6. Spurs: $2.69 billion

The average value of a Big Six team is about $3.31 billion. The other 14 Premier League teams have a combined value of around $3.34 billion.

And what are the payrolls of the Big Six? Here they are in order from highest to lowest:

  1. Manchester City: $1.22 billion
  2. Chelsea: $1.14 billion
  3. Manchester United: $1.05 billion
  4. Liverpool: $854.8 million
  5. Arsenal: $622.4 million
  6. Spurs: $529.1 million

Qatari investors are said to be preparing a bid to buy Manchester United for an estimated bid of $4.8 billion to $5.4 billion, and possibly more. At around $3 billion, Spurs looks like a bargain. But then, unlike ManU, Spurs have not won a major championship since 2008.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.