S&P 500 Gains and Losses Today: Caesars Entertainment Jumps on News of Icahn Stake

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S&P 500 Gains and Losses Today: Caesars Entertainment Jumps on News of Icahn Stake

Key Takeaways

  • The S&P 500 gained 0.8% on Friday, May 31, 2024, closing out a strong month as investors digested the latest inflation data.
  • Caesars Entertainment shares soared after reports that activist investor Carl Icahn has purchased a sizeable stake in the casino operator.
  • Shares of Paycom Software tumbled amid a shakeup in the payroll software provider’s executive team.

Major U.S. equities indexes were mixed to close out the trading week and the month of May.

Investors had the chance to digest the latest Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) data, which rose 0.3% in April, matching the results from the previous month. “Core” inflation, which strips out more volatile food and energy prices, recorded a slight downtick in April, which could help alleviate concerns about a potential reacceleration of price increases.

After trading in negative territory for much of Friday’s session, the S&P 500 rallied in the final hour of trading to end the day 0.8% higher. Underperformance in the technology sector kept a lid on the Nasdaq, which finished minimally below the flatline. The Dow soared 575 points, or 1.5%, to notch its best day so far this year, lifted by a recovery in shares of Salesforce (CRM) and UnitedHealth (UNH) after they posted heavy losses earlier in the week.

Shares of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) jumped 11.7%, notching the S&P 500’s top daily performance. Reports said billionaire and activist investor Carl Icahn has amassed a large stake in the casino operator. In an interview, Icahn said he is comfortable with the current Caesars management team and has no intentions to push for significant transformations.

Salesforce shares advanced 7.5% on Friday, clawing back a portion of the steep declines posted Thursday after customer relationship management (CRM) provided an underwhelming sales growth forecast. Despite the lackluster outlook, the company remains confident in its capacity to emerge as a winner from a potential artificial intelligence (AI) boom.

Shares of Dollar General (DG) added 7.0%. Although the discount retailer topped sales and profit estimates when it reported quarterly results Thursday morning, its shares sank that day amid concerns about headwinds including losses from shoplifting. According to a Friday report by SeekingAlpha, the initial reaction to the results may have overlooked Dollar General’s operating improvements and progress on its turnaround plan.

Paycom Software (PAYC) shares suffered the day’s heaviest losses in the S&P 500, plunging 8.6% after co-CEO Christopher Thomas stepped down after less than four months in the role, citing personal reasons. Chad Richison will remain at the helm of the payroll software provider as the sole CEO as well as president and chair. The company also announced an additional shakeup in its executive team, with three new leaders joining the c-suite.

Moderna (MRNA) shares dropped 5.9%, despite the biotech firm receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its vaccine to protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The company’s first non-COVID product to be greenlit by regulators could provide a key source of revenue as pandemic-related sales recede, but Moderna’s shot faces competition from RSV vaccines released in 2023 by GSK (GSK) and Pfizer (PFE). Friday’s share price declines also came amid reports that the U.S. government is nearing a deal to fund a trial of Moderna’s vaccine against avian flu.

Although Dell Technologies (DELL) reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and profits, analysts raised concerns that increasing demand for AI servers could negatively affect the company’s margins. Dell shares plunged 17.9% on Friday, and the losses extended to other companies with exposure to servers. Super Micro Computer (SMCI) shares were down 5.3%. Shares of HP (HPQ) fell 4.9%, giving back a portion of Thursday’s solid post-earnings gains.

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