Stock Market Today: Loud Merger Monday, Muted Day for Market

AT&T on Monday announced a massive deal to unload its WarnerMedia assets - easily the loudest headline amid a quiet down day for stocks.

An HBO Max sign is shown in the background during an AT&T investor presentation
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With the exception of a blockbuster media deal, Monday was a hushed, mixed session for stocks. The start of the trading week saw tech and growth plays resume their underperformance against a backdrop of consternation over inflation.

"While moderate inflation can be a tailwind for equities over the medium term, unexpected high inflation is usually just a source of higher interest rates and volatility," says Joseph V. Amato, president and chief investment officer, equities, for independent investment firm Neuberger Berman. "Commodities tend to do better in an inflationary environment, which we think could prevail over much of the summer."

Indeed, Monday saw gains in U.S. crude oil futures (+1.4% to $66.27 per barrel) and gold (+1.6% to $1,867.60 per ounce), both of which have outperformed the broader market over the past month.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.2% to 34,327) and S&P 500 (-0.3% to 4,163) both finished lower today, but the Nasdaq Composite (-0.4% to 13,379) was again the weakest of the three, hit by losses from the likes of Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), -2.2%) and Microsoft (MSFT (opens in new tab), -1.2%).

Monday was also a notably bad day for cryptocurrencies, with the likes of Bitcoin (-12.3%), Ethereum (-17.3%) and Dogecoin (-14.0%) tanking over the weekend. (Cryptocurrencies trade 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

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Other action in the stock market today:

  • The Russell 2000 actually managed a small 0.1% improvement to 2,227.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) bounced 4.7% higher to 19.69.
  • Several high-profile retail earnings (opens in new tab) roll in this week, with Home Depot (HD (opens in new tab)) and Walmart (WMT (opens in new tab)) among the top ones to watch.

stock chart for 051721

(Image credit: YCharts)

AT&T Exorcises Its Buyer's Remorse

The Nasdaq's woes were also tied to several communications stocks that were sent reeling in the wake of a fresh mega-deal.

AT&T (T (opens in new tab), -2.6%) announced it will spin off its WarnerMedia assets, which will then be merged with Discovery Communications (DISCA (opens in new tab), -5.1%) – a deal that will also see AT&T cut its attractive dividend (opens in new tab) by a currently unknown amount.

This latest in a monthslong string of transformative M&A announcements (opens in new tab) is a shot across the bow of other major streaming video players, given the potential for the new merger to combine a host of popular content properties including HBO, CNN, TNT, The Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network and Warner Bros. That was reflected in declines for the likes of Comcast (CMCSA (opens in new tab), -5.5%), Disney (DIS (opens in new tab), -2.1%) and Viacom (VIAC, -1.3%).

It's also just the most recent escalation of the streaming-content wars, which have gone from just a few important providers a couple years ago to a marketplace crowded with juggernauts.

If you want to become more familiar with the major players, their offerings and what sets them apart, read on as we explore nine of streaming video's most noteworthy competitors.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.