Stocks were muted today, as investors paused ahead of a big week of news that includes Twitter’s initial public offering and the government’s jobs report this Friday, delayed by a week because of the government shutdown. BlackBerry’s shares, meanwhile, plummeted on news that it couldn’t secure a deal to take the company private.
The Dow gained 23 points, with 20 of its 30 components gaining ground; the S&P 500 Index rose 6; and the Nasdaq was higher by 14. Advancers led decliners by two to one on the NYSE and the Nasdaq. The prices of Treasuries strengthened. Gold futures rose $1.50 to close at $1,314.70 an ounce, and the price of crude oil rose a penny to settle at $94.62 a barrel.
In Other Business News:
- BlackBerry Ltd. has abandoned its search for an acquirer and has instead decided to accept a $1 billion investment from Fairfax International Holdings, among other institutional investors. Fairfax already owns 10% of BlackBerry’s shares. BlackBerry also announced the departure of CEO Thorsten Heins, with John Chen taking over CEO duties in the interim, as well as becoming executive chairman. BlackBerry’s shares (BBRY) dropped 16.47%.
- The Commerce Department released factory orders for both August and September today. In August, orders fell 0.1%, rising 1.7% in September. Transportation orders were volatile the past few months. Excluding transportation orders, orders fell 0.4% in August and 0.2% in September, with weakness in orders for capital goods.
- Factory orders in the eurozone rose for the fourth-straight month, according to the Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index. The index rose modestly from 51.1 to 51.3, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion. France and Germany, the two largest economies in the eurozone, did not show improvements during the month.
- SAC Capital Advisors agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement of criminal charges with federal prosecutors over allegations of insider trading. The settlement is in addition to the $618 million fine the hedge fund already agreed to pay to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Prosecutors said it was the largest-ever settlement for an insider trading case.
- Ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering, Twitter increased its proposed share price from a range of $17 to $20 to a range of $23 to $25, which would increase the value of Twitter’s IPO from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. Twitter did not raise the number of shares it’s offering. The final IPO price is expected to be priced on Wednesday, with trading beginning on Thursday morning with the ticker TWTR.
Daylight saving time, or DST, ended yesterday, so everyone has to reset their circadian rhythms to the new clock by means of the mnemonic, “spring ahead, fall back.” Or maybe that’s what you’re not supposed to do, because you spring ahead, hit the wall because you’re disoriented after losing (or gaining) an hour, and then fall back on the bed.
People routinely call for the abolishment of DST (usually after the spring switch causes them to lose an hour of sleep), but a suggestion making the news this year is one by economist Allison Schrager, who says we should not only do away with DST, we should get rid of two of our time zones to make it easier to coordinate business. Under her proposal, Eastern Time would fall back into Central Time, while Pacific Time would spring ahead into Mountain Time. There’d then be only two time zones for the mainland U.S.
Dr. Schrager reasons that the overwhelming majority of U.S. workers long ago abandoned trying to approximate solar time. Having two time zones instead of four, meanwhile, would greatly simplify business coordination. We already shrank the 300 or so local time zones we had in the 1800s to just a handful today to ease coordination, so why not simplify more? Dr. Schrager says people in the Central and Mountain time zones basically do this already on an informal basis because of the dominance of the East or West Coasts. Investors know this all too well: The markets close at 4 p.m. ET, no matter if it’s only 1 p.m. on the opposite coast.
Reducing the number of mainland time zones to two probably wouldn’t lead to the reshuffling of anyone’s day, but it would shift where daylight falls during that day. I wonder if that’s as big of a deal now as it was when DST was first implemented. No matter how the day is structured, many people will not get their ideal sunlight hours.
So some states don’t even try, preferring instead to stay on Standard Time the whole year. Those in Arizona or Hawaii, the two states without the hubris to claim dominion over time itself, spend this time of the year watching everyone else in the country trying to remember what time it really is because they haven’t yet figured out how to change the clock in their cars. Maybe I’m only speaking for myself here, but that’s because I don’t have time to figure out how to reset my car’s clock because I’m already running late from incorrectly resetting my alarm clock.
Do you think we could get by with only two time zones on the mainland? Leave your thoughts below.