BuzzFeed Buys HuffPost; L Brands Surges

News on the pace of the pandemic continues to be not so great.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, and New York City temporarily shut down its schools as the percentage of positive tests in the city advanced beyond a 3% threshold.

These precautions come on the heels of more than 170,000 new U.S. virus cases on Wednesday, the second-highest one-day tally ever. Hospitalizations also set a new record high.

You’d think this would be generally horrible for the stock market, but all three major U.S. indices finished higher on Thursday. Why?

One likely reason is a flicker of hope that Capitol Hill lawmakers may be coming together to try to pass another stimulus bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had agreed to resume negotiations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44 points, or nearly 0.2%, to finish at 29,483 on Thursday.

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L Brands pops. L Brands (ticker: LB), the owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, saw shares jump 17.7% on Thursday as markets digested a killer quarterly earnings report that brought a slew of analyst upgrades.

Year-over-year comparable sales at Bath & Body Works rose 56% in the third quarter, and analysts also think the Victoria’s Secret brand strengthened significantly after what looks to be a successful restructuring.

Wells Fargo ( WFC) was one of the bigger fans of the stock following the earnings announcement, boosting its price target from $45 a share to $60 a share.

BuzzFeed to buy HuffPost. Verizon Media, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications ( VZ) and the owner of HuffPost, will become a minority owner of BuzzFeed as part of the deal. The two sites will remain distinct from each other.

Both properties have been looking to grow readership and revenue as undifferentiated digital content grows harder and harder to monetize. The companies will syndicate pieces to each other’s sites and may increasingly look to e-commerce to boost their revenue. Ads will still feature prominently in the business model.

U.S. home sales are crushing it. A prominent gauge of the real estate market surged higher in October, with existing-home sales growing 4.3% from September, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.85 million, the highest since February 2006 — almost 15 years.

October’s existing home sales were up 26.6% annually.

Low interest rates combined with limited housing stock are helping to spark the hot market, which is also seeing home prices themselves rise. The median existing-home price rose 15.5% compared to October 2019, smashing new records and rising to $313,000.

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