Summary: Stocks end first-half of the year with sixth straight quarterly rally; GM issues massive recall bringing recalls so far this year to 29 million. Pending home sales rise, Midwest business growth slows. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The final day of the first-half of the trading year comes to a close with investors not willing to place any big bets. For the day: the Dow and S&P 500 were down slightly, while the Nasdaq was up slightly. Looking at first-half totals: Blue chips are up 1-1/2 percent, the S&P 500 is up 6 percent and the Nasdaq gained 5-1/2 percent. General Motors issuing another six recalls - this time involving 8.2 million vehicles from model years 1997 to 2014. The company plans to take a $1.2 billion charge in the second quarter to repair the vehicles. This latest batch of recalls come on the same day advisor Ken Feinberg announced victim compensation for deaths and injuries linked to a faulty ignition switch. Victims and families will receive payment based on expected earnings, pain and suffering, and number of surviving family members. Efraim Levy has a strong buy rating on the stock. SOUNDBITE: EFRAIM LEVY, AUTO ANALYST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the whole recall situation, including the settlement, is we are essentially back to where we was when the news was broken a few months ago. We are back near $37 for the stock. So I think Wall Street says, yes GM can handle it. They are making process to put this behind them." Shares of GM - falling by the end of the day. GM has recalled 29 million vehicles this year alone. The bounce-back in housing continues. Signed contracts for home purchases jumped to an eight month high in May, in the biggest one-month increase in four years. The gains were spread across all regions. Business activity in the Midwest, however, continued to expand in May, but the growth rate was slower than anticipated. Argentina has not come to the table to negotiate with investors who did not take part in a previous debt restructuring, according to the so-called holdouts. That means Argentina is technically in default, since a judge blocked a debt payment due today because Argentina has not reached a settlement with all bondholders. Latin America's third largest economy now has 30 days to reach an agreement or face its second debt default in 12 years. In other international news - French bank BNP Paribas agreeing to plead guilty on two counts and pay $8.8 billion for going around U.S. sanctions laws. Shares of the bank finished higher in Paris. As for the rest of Europe - stocks were little changed on the final day of the second quarter.