Breaking Stock Market and Financial News

Marine Le Pen's lead widens in latest electoral poll

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 12:09

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's lead over her two main challengers in France's upcoming presidential election was seen widening, according to an electoral poll published Tuesday morning, New York Time. The poll, conducted by communications firm Elabe for French TV station BFMTV and magazine L'Express, showed Le Pen's lead in the first round of voting increasing between one-and-a-half and two percentage points since a previous poll published on Feb. 8. In addition, conservative candidate Francois Fillon overtook Emmanuel Macron, who is believed to have a better chance of beating Le Pen in the second round. A victory by Le Pen, which could portend a French exit from the European Union, is typically seen as negative for risky assets like stocks, and positive for safety plays like gold, the Japanese yen and Treasurys.

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Trump to leave protections for U.S.'dreamer' migrants

Top Reuters News - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 11:32
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration will leave protections in place for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children, known as "dreamers," but will consider all other illegal immigrants subject to deportation, according to guidance released on Tuesday.

Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State set to storm airport, clear way to western Mosul

Top Reuters News - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 11:10
SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq, BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces closing in on the Islamic State-held western half of Mosul prepared on Tuesday to storm the airport and a nearby military base on its southern outskirts to create a bridgehead for a thrust into the city.

Video streaming tech company owned by MLB taps former Amazon exec as next CEO

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 11:08

MLB Advanced Media, Major League Baseball's interactive media and internet company, said on Tuesday it has tapped Michael Paull to serve as the chief executive officer of BAMTech. BAMTech is a video streaming business that was grown out of MLBAM and is owned in part by MLBAM, Walt Disney Co. and the National Hockey League. The company's former CEO stepped down in December. Paull, who will help guide BAMTech to become an independent company, brings more than 20 years of experience in technology, content distribution and the media industry. Before BAMTech, Paull served as vice president for digital video at Amazon.com Inc. . At Amazon he oversaw the company's Prime Video business, transaction video on demand service and the development of Prime Music. "Michael is a talented and accomplished executive who shares our collective vision for BAMTech as it aggressively explores new means to acquire and distribute video content," Robert D. Manfred Jr., Commissioner of Baseball, said in a statement. "We are confident Michael will deliver on the incredible potential and promise this venture has for building powerful viewing experiences for its clients and their customers." BAMTech's streaming technology, which includes the capacity for live events, is used by a host of sports, news and entertainment platforms, including Time Warner Inc.'s HBO Now, the NHL, MLB and the PGA Tour.

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Amphastar Pharma stock plummets 16% after FDA fails to approve nasal spray for opioid overdoses

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:46

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. shares plummeted 15.8% in morning trade Tuesday after the company said the Food and Drug Administration failed to approve its nasal spray for opioid overdoses. The FDA said the company needed to resolve various issues, including studying users' ability to understand and administer the product correctly and evaluation of the device itself, according to Amphastar, which currently sells the opioid overdose treatment naloxone in pre-filled syringes. Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jack Zhang said the company will work with the FDA to address the regulator's concerns. Naloxone nasal sprays are seen as the easiest to use in an emergency situation, and amid an opioid crisis across the U.S., prices have spiked. Amphastar shares have dropped 22.0% over the last three months, compared with a 7.6% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Trump to reverse Obama-era environmental rules in executive orders: report

Top Reuters News - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:26
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will reverse a handful of Obama-era environmental regulations in executive orders that could be signed as early as this week, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the orders.

PepsiCo will change Naked Juice labeling as part of settlement with healthy foods watchdog

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:21

PepsiCo Inc. will change the labeling of its Naked Juice smoothie products as part of a settlement agreement with the watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest. The changes, which PepsiCo plans to implement over the next eight months, include changes to the naming system to explicitly state the nature of the product -- such as "fruit juice" or "fruit and veggie juice" -- and what's inside of it, for example, "kale flavored blend of 8 juices with other natural flavors," according to the agreement. Any imagery on the labels and descriptive statements will also reflect the product's most significant ingredients, and the claim "no sugar added" will be displayed less prominently, along with the disclaimer that the product is not a low-calorie food. The company also said it will not use "unsubstantiated health-content or health-based claims" in marketing or advertising of Naked juices. The settlement does not count as an admission of wrongdoing, PepsiCo and Naked Juice said. CSPI, which advocates for a healthier food system, commended PepsiCo on its cooperation and "commitment to transparency." "Consumers deserve to know at a glance what they're buying, and Naked's labeling and marketing enhancements accomplish that," litigation director Maia Kats said. According to the agreement, the various labeling and marketing commitments expire in five years maximum, and could expire earlier depending on changes in the products or relevant regulations that would affect the entire agreement. PepsiCo agreed to remove the "all natural" claim from its Naked line in 2013 as part of a $9 million lawsuit settlement. PepsiCo shares were up a scant 1.0% in morning trade Tuesday. Shares have surged 6.9% over the last three months, compared with a 7.0% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Total number of U.S. restaurants falls 2%, says NPD

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 09:48

The total number of U.S. restaurants fell 2% year-over-year to 620,807 units, according to the latest count of commercial restaurant locations compiled by The NPD Group. Restaurant density, the number of units per million population, is at the lowest point in a decade, dropping to 1,924 units per million in the fall of 2016 from 1,992 per million in fall 2007. "If consumers continue to reduce their restaurant visits, we expect the number and density of restaurant units will continue to decline in response to the lower demand," said Greg Starzynski, director of product management at NPD Foodservice, in a statement. Independent restaurant units decreased 4% in fall 2016, with declines in both the quick- and full-service areas. The number of chain restaurant units grew 1% to 297,351. The number of fast-casual units grew 7% to 23,798.

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Rob Lowe inks deal with Skechers after 15-year hiatus

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 09:34

Skechers USA Inc. said Tuesday that it has once again enlisted actor Rob Lowe for a marketing campaign after a 15-year hiatus. Lowe first worked with the brand in 2001 to introduce the company's dress casual collection. Lowe's new campaign will promote men's footwear and launch in spring 2017. Other current men's campaigns feature sports figures like Joe Montana and Sugar Ray Leonard. Skechers shares are up 0.3% in Tuesday trading, but down 17.2% for the past year. The S&P 500 index is up 22.9% for the last 12 months.

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U.S. stocks hit records after opening higher

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 09:32

U.S. stock-market indexes scaled all-time highs after opening with modest gains Tuesday. Investors welcomed earnings reports from retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Home Depot Inc and Macy's Inc . The S&P 500 opened up 5 points, or 0.2%, at 2,356. The Nasdaq Composite began the session up 9 points, or 0.2% at 5,848. The heaviest-weighted component on Nasdaq Apple Inc. also hit record after opening higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 53 points or 0.2%, to 20,675 at the open.

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Apple's stock set for record-high open after Morgan Stanley boost price target

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 09:17

Shares of Apple Inc. tacked on 0.6% in premarket trade Tuesday, putting it on track to open at a record high, after an upbeat research note from Morgan Stanley, which cited optimism over China sales. Analyst Katy Huberty reiterated her overweight rating but raised her stock price target to $154, which is 13% above Friday's closing price, from $150. Huberty said she believes concerns that Apple has lost its edge in China, following a 24% decline in China revenue over the past year, are misplaced. "Our analysis of upgraders and switchers suggests China could contribute outsized growth in [fiscal year] 2018," Huberty wrote in a research note. She expects Apple's new higher-priced iPhone this year will have new smartwatch-like displays that allows for a curved form factor and longer battery life, wireless charging technology, 3D sensors and more advanced artificial-intelligence capabilities, and China users tend to be "especially sensitive to new technology and form factor changes." The stock was changing hands at $136.50 ahead of the open, which is above the all-time intraday high of $136.27 reached on Feb. 15. The stock has run up 41% over the past 12 months, while the Nasdaq 100 has climbed 28% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has rallied 26%.

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Williams Cos. boosts dividend by 50%

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:56

Williams Cos. said Tuesday it will boost its quarterly dividend by 50% to 30 cents a share from 20 cents a share. The oil and gas infrastructure company's new dividend will be payable March 27 to shareholders of record on March 10. Based on Friday's stock closing price of $28.20, the new annual dividend rate of $1.20 a share implies a dividend yield of 4.26%, compared with the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF payout yield of 2.36% and the aggregate S&P 500 dividend yield of 2.04%, according to FactSet. Williams' stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has soared 82% over the past 12 months, while the energy sector ETF has rallied 27% and the S&P 500 has climbed 23%.

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Burger King parent buys Popeyes for $1.8 billion in cash

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:37

Restaurant Brands International Inc. said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. for $1.8 billion in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, Restaurant Brands, operator of Burger King and Tim Hortons, will pay $79 per Popeyes' share, equal to a 27% premium over Popeyes' 30-trading day volume weighted average price as of Feb. 10, the last trading day before media talk of a potential sale. The deal is expected to close by early April. Popeyes shares were halted premarket. Restaurant Brands was up 2.2%, but have gained 65% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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Macy's shares rise after earnings beat

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:22

Macy's Inc. shares rose 3.4% in Tuesday premarket trading after the department store retailer announced fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations. Net income was $475 million, or $1.54 per share, down from $544 million, or $1.73 per share last year. Adjusted EPS was $2.02, beating the FactSet consensus of $1.95. Sales were $8.52 billion, down from $8.87 billion last year, and below the $8.62 billion FactSet consensus. Same-store sales on an owned-plus-licensed basis fell 2.1% compared with a FactSet consensus of a 2.5% decline. The company completed the $250 million sale of the Union Square Men's building in San Francisco. And the previously announced Chief Executive Officer transition to Jeff Gennette, the current president, from Terry Lundgren will take place on March 23, 2017. Macy's sees a fiscal 2017 same-store sales decline between 2% and 3% on an owned-plus-licensed basis. The FactSet consensus is a 2.2% decline. Sales are expected to fall between 3.2% and 4.3% for the year, owing to 66 store closures. And adjusted EPS excluding the anticipated gain from the Union Square sale and anticipated settlement charges are expected to be $2.90 to $3.15. The FactSet consensus is $3.17. Macy's shares are down 19.7% for the past year while the S&P 500 index is up 22.6% for the same period.

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JetBlue promotes vice president Steve Priest to CFO

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:22

JetBlue said Tuesday it has promoted Steve Priest to chief financial officer and executive vice president, effective immediately. Priest had previously been JetBlue's vice president, structural programs, and worked at British Airways for nearly 20 years prior to that. Priest, who led the company's cost-cutting initiative that aims to save $250 to $200 million for the company by 2020, will be an advocate for cost-control measures in his new role, Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes said. JetBlue shares have retreated 2.7% over the last three months, compared with a 7.0% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Verizon and Yahoo agree to revised deal, cutting $350 million from acquisition price

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:21

Verizon Communications Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. said on Tuesday they have reached a revised agreement that will see Verizon buy the internet company's business in a deal valued at approximately $4.48 billion, cutting the initial cost by $350 million. "We have always believed this acquisition makes strategic sense," said Marni Walden, Verizon's president of Product Innovation and New Businesses, in a statement. "We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously so that we can quickly welcome Yahoo's tremendous talent and assets into our expanding portfolio in the digital advertising space." The revised deal comes after months of speculation as whether talks would break down amidst revelations of two data breaches at Yahoo. Under the amended terms of the deal, the data breaches, or losses from them will not be taken into account in determining whether a "business material adverse effect" has occurred or whether certain closing conditions have been satisfied, according to a news release. Walden said the two companies expect the deal to close in the second quarter. Verizon shares have declined 3% in the trailing 12-month period, while Yahoo shares have gained 50% and the S&P 500 Index is up more than 22%.

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FXCM names interim CEO, changes name to Global Brokerage

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:17

FXCM Inc. said Tuesday it is changing its name to Global Brokerage Inc. and will trade under the new ticker symbol 'GLBR" effective start of trade Feb. 27. The company also unveiled its choice for interim CEO. The news comes after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued an order settling National Futures Association charges against FXCM Chief Executive Dror Niv and Managing Director William Adhout for "engaging in fraudulent activities" with respect to FXCM's retail customers, by telling them they used a "No Dealing Desk" order execution model, meaning orders would be executed directly in the market without using a liquidity provider, or market maker. But in fact, FXCM used a "Dealing Desk" model, by routing orders through market maker Effex Capital LLC that was actually supported and controlled by FXCM, allegedly in exchange for kickbacks to FXCM on profitable trades. There were several other charges in the NFA's complaint, but the gist was that FXCM, Adhout and Niv would be permanently barred from NFA membership, and FXCM could no longer operate in the U.S. FXCM agreed to pay a $7 million fine. On Tuesday, FXCM named Brendan Callan as interim CEO. Callan has been CEO of the company's European operations since 2010. The company also named Jimmy Hallac, a managing director at Leucadia Inc., as chairman. Leucadia came to the rescue of FXCM when it was caught out by the Swiss decision to unpeg the Swiss franc from the dollar in January 2015 and holds a major stake in the company. FXCM shares were not yet active premarket, but have lost 74% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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B. Riley to buy FBR's outstanding shares for a 21% premium

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:16

B. Riley Financial Inc. announced Tuesday at deal to buy FBR & Co. in a cash and stock deal that values FBR at about $160.1 million. Under terms of the deal, FBR shareholders will receive 0.671 B. Riley shares and $8.50 in cash for each FBR share they own. Based on Friday's closing stock prices, the deal values FBR shares at $20.28 each, a 21% premium. As part of the deal, FBR will deliver $33.5 million in cash to B. Riley at closing, which is expected to occur during the second quarter of 2017. Richard Hendrix, FBR's current chairman and chief executive, will assume the role of CEO of the combined investment banking and brokerage businesses. The banks' stocks, which are currently halted for news, are set to resume trade at 8:30 a.m. ET. B. Riley's stock has soared 90% over the past 12 months, while FBR shares have tacked on 3.9% and the S&P 500 has climbed 23%.

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Israeli soldier gets 18 months' jail for killing wounded Palestinian attacker

Top Reuters News - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:01
TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A young Israeli soldier who killed a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian assailant was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on Tuesday, in a show of leniency that drew Palestinian outrage after one of the most divisive trials in Israel's history.

Tronox to buy Cristal's TiO(2) business for $1.673 billion in cash and stock

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 07:57

Mining and chemcials company Tronox Ltd. said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire Cristal's TiO(2) business for $1.673 billion in cash and stock equal to 24% ownership in pro forma Tronox. The company said it is also planning to begin the process of selling its Alkali business. Tronox is expected the deal to be 100% accretive to EPS in the first year and to close before the first quarter of 2018. The combination "creates the world's largest and most highly integrated TiO(2) pigment producer with assets and operations on six continents," Tronox said in a statement. Tronox shares jumped 11% premarket and are up 333% in the last 12 months, outperforming the S&P 500 , which has gained 22%.

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