Feb 18 - Summary: The Nasdaq rallied for an eighth straight session led by a record high for Tesla shares; Housing concerns hold back Dow; Higher minimum wage will cost jobs -CBO; Forest Labs surges on deal. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street was largely held in check by disappointing numbers from the housing sector. The Dow and the S&P 500 were little changed, while the Nasdaq extended its rally to day number eight. Sentiment among the nation's hombuilders -suffering its biggest one-month pullback ever. The harsh winter is a factor, but that's not the only problem. Labor and land shortages are pushing building costs higher. Homebuilding stocks were down across the board. Lifting the minimum wage to more than $10 an hour will do some good and some bad, according to the Congressional Budget Office. First the good: about 900,000 Americans would be lifted above the poverty line but about half-a-million jobs could be lost through late 2016. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple's head of merger and acquisitions met last year at Apple headquarters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The report sparked speculation Apple may be interested in buying Tesla. Apple needs a new source of revenue as smartphone sales slow. Shares of Tesla hit an all-time high. Forest Labs is being acquired by generic drugmaker Actavis for $25 billion. The big winner may be Forest Labs shareholder activist Carl Icahn. Shares of that stock surged 27-1/2 percent. Actavis was up about 5 percent. Herbalife, another Icahn holding, announced better-than-expected fourth quarter results. Staying with earnings, Coca-Cola continues to fizzle. Global shipments fell in North America during the fourth quarter and were up less than expected around the world. The Dow component lost almost 4 percent by session's end. King, the company behind the hit mobile game Candy Crush Saga, is planning a U.S. stock market debut. The IPO could value the company at more than $5 billion. Just how hot is the game? It was the most downloaded free app last year and gamers were willing to pay up for in-game purchases, making it 2013's most revenue generating app. Flames and fireworks lit up the night sky in Ukraine as anti-government protests took their most violent turn in three weeks. As for European markets, London was the big mover of the day and is now in the black for the year.