Merck Stock Lags Solid Gains on Wall Street

Wall Street is in a good mood again a day before the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting. There's widespread belief that weak economic conditions will keep the stimulus spigot open, and today's economic data did little to change that. Core CPI, a measure of inflation that excludes energy and food prices, rose 0.2% in May and is up 1.7% over a year ago. This is lower than the Fed would like, and with unemployment still high, it's likely that stimulus will continue.

As of 3:15 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) had gained 0.95% on broad-based gains, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was up 0.84%.

The biggest underperformer on the Dow is Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) , which is a hair above breakeven. The Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission could sue pharmaceutical companies' reverse payment settlements on antitrust grounds. Reverse payments were payments made by drug developers to convince generic-drug makers to delay launching generic replacements for blockbuster drugs. If the government sues on these grounds, it could help open up generic drugs to consumers earlier in the product cycle, which would in turn negatively impact Merck's profits.  

This titan of the pharmaceutical industry stumbled into 2013 and continues to battle patent expirations and pipeline problems. Is Merck stock still a solid dividend play, or should investors be looking elsewhere? In a new premium research report on Merck, The Fool tackles all of the company's moving parts, its major market opportunities, and reasons both to buy and to sell. To find out more, click here to claim your copy today.

General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) is the big mover to the upside after it announced some interesting plans for the future. GE is working with Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) Web Services on a number of data products intended to aggregate massive amounts of data so it can be analyzed. GE is calling this an "Industrial Internet" on the cloud, and it will help the company pull data from hundreds of sources and store it in a central location. It's also a big win for Amazon, which has become the cloud service of choice for corporations. Amazon is up 1.6% for the day.  

It also shouldn't be overlooked that GE announced a joint venture with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to build miniature power plants in Russia. These will be 25 MW power plants built independent of the grid. For consumers, the hope is that small plants will make the grid more reliable on a day-to-day basis. 


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