Thursday morning didn't bring good news for investors, as market participants were largely stuck trying to figure out the implications of the various allegations facing President Trump. The possibility of impeachment inquiries and other investigations raised fears of further Washington gridlock and other repercussions. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 98 points to 26,873. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) fell 15 points to 2,970, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) was lower by 68 points to 8,009.
In stock news, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) made a high-profile move in deciding to test out menu products using plant-based foods from Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND). Meanwhile, across the Pacific, Chinese search engine giant Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) revealed that it's looking to sell off a portion of its holdings in online travel website Ctrip.com International (NASDAQ:TCOM).
McDonald's tests out a trendy food
Shares of McDonald's climbed less than 1% after the fast-food giant announced that it would test what it calls the P.L.T. on menus in select locations in Canada. The company slated a 12-week trial to start on Monday, Sept. 30, and customers will be able to try the product in any of 28 restaurant locations across the southwestern portion of the province of Ontario.
The P.L.T., which stands for "plant, lettuce, and tomato," includes a plant-based patty provided by Beyond Meat. It comes on a sesame seed bun and includes typical condiments along with cheese.
McDonald's won't be the first chain to offer a new-style meat alternative. Burger King forged a relationship with Beyond Meat rival Impossible Foods to release its Impossible Whopper. Yet with a former McDonald's executive on the Beyond Meat board of directors, a collaboration between the two companies seems like a natural fit.
Beyond Meat's stock soared 11% on the news, but the real question will be whether these products survive their initial trial periods. If customers try the burgers once for their novelty but then never come back, it could spell trouble for the plant-based food trend.
Baidu makes a sale
Meanwhile, shares of Baidu were higher by about 3%, while Ctrip.com International's stock fell almost 5%. Ctrip announced a proposed secondary offering of American depositary shares held by Baidu. Under the terms of the deal, Ctrip will offer about 31.3 million American depositary shares to participating investors, with underwriters having a typical 15% overallotment option that could lead to the sale of an additional 4.7 million shares. Based on yesterday's closing price, the 31.3 million share offering would generate roughly $1 billion in cash.
Baidu has seen its stock slide substantially over the past year. Not only is it suffering along with many Chinese stocks due to trade tensions between China and the U.S., but the company also faces unique competitive pressures on several fronts that threaten to hold it back from some of its strongest growth opportunities. Selling Ctrip shares signals the likelihood of putting that cash to more productive use elsewhere.
Yet Baidu investors shouldn't think that the sale will leave the search engine specialist without any remaining stake in Ctrip. Even after the move, Baidu will still be the largest shareholder in the online travel company, as the shares it will sell represent less than a third of its current total holdings. Investors hope that the move will bolster Baidu at a time when many are nervous about the future direction of the global economy.