Before the Bell: Markets Continue Trading Sideways, Fox Dumps Carlson

Premarket action on Tuesday had the three major U.S. indexes trading lower. The Dow Jones industrials were down 0.44%, the S&P 500 was down 0.52% and the Nasdaq 0.43% lower.

Six of 11 market sectors closed higher again on Monday. Energy (1.54%) and materials (0.69%) posted the day’s best gains. Technology (−0.42%) and real estate (−0.31%) lagged. The Dow closed up 0.2%, the S&P 500 closed flat and the Nasdaq closed down 0.29% on Monday.

Two-year Treasuries dropped five basis points to end Friday at 4.12%, and 10-year notes also fell by five basis points to close at 3.52%. In Tuesday’s premarket, two-year notes were trading at around 4.07% and 10-year notes at about 3.45%.

Monday’s trading volume was below the five-day average. New York Stock Exchange winners outpaced losers by 1,635 to 1,331, while Nasdaq decliners led advancers by more than 4 to 3.

Before U.S. markets open on Tuesday, 59 companies are scheduled to report quarterly results.

Investors appear to be keeping their powder dry, waiting until the end of the week when the reports on first-quarter gross domestic product and March personal income and spending will be released. Four tech mega-caps are expected to release quarterly results this week, beginning with Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), both reporting after markets close on Tuesday. The Federal Reserve’s FOMC meets next week, and whatever it does with interest rates will shake things up.

Monday’s best performer among S&P 500 companies was troubled First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC), posting a gain of 12.2% before reporting first-quarter results after the bell. Deposits dropped from $176.4 billion at the end of December to $104.5 billion at the end of March. Profits fell 33% year over, and revenue fell by 13%. Shares traded down 20% in Tuesday’s premarket.

Shares of building products maker Carrier Global Corp. (NYSE: CARR) dropped 7.28% on Monday, the worst showing among S&P stocks for the day. The company is nearing completion of a $13 billion (including debt) acquisition of Germany-based manufacturer Viessmann, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The deal is likely to include cash and stock. Carrier’s cash hoard at the end of December was about $3.5 billion, and net debt totaled $5.98 billion. Stock dilution and likely adding more debt will make investors unhappy.

It appears that people are shocked, shocked to learn that if someone costs his employer $787 million, that someone is going to get fired. That is what happened to Tucker Carlson on Monday when Fox Corp. (NASDAQ: FOXA) decided to eat the rest of Carlson’s $20 million contract rather than continue giving him a platform. Fox’s stock fell by 2.91% Monday, cutting its market cap by $507 million.

According to a Bloomberg report, Carlson had four of the 10 top-rated cable prime-time broadcasts last week, second only to the NBA playoffs. He has been Fox’s most popular program host, but recent revelations related to the Dominion Voting System lawsuit may have been one step too far. Evidence uncovered instances when “Carlson insulted his management, colleagues and guests.” Nonprofit media watchdog Media Matters President Angelo Carusone called Carlson “uncontrollable.”

Carlson may have been all those things, but he also pulled in viewers. Will they follow him to his next network? Will that save him? After all, Bill O’Reilly and other once-mighty talk show hosts have all but disappeared after getting sacked from their networks. Can Carlson beat those odds? And what can Fox do to recover the $1.2 billion or so Carlson has cost them? Sue him?

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