Breaking Stock Market and Financial News

End of U.S. payments to health insurers would cause premiums to rise: CBO

Top Reuters News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 15:28
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health insurance premiums for many customers on the Obamacare individual insurance markets would be 20 percent higher in 2018 if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through on a threat to stop billions of dollars of payments to health insurers, a nonpartisan congressional office said on Tuesday.

CBO: Trump threat to scrap cost-sharing payments would increase federal deficits, premiums

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:48

Withholding the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments, which President Donald Trump has threatened to do, would increase federal deficits and increase gross premiums for certain ACA plans, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Tuesday. It would also mean that about 5% of people would be living in areas with no individual market insurers in 2018, the CBO found, but people in "almost all areas" would likely have access to individual market plans by 2020. The cost-sharing reduction payments pay back health insurers for the increased cost of certain plans on the ACA's marketplaces. The payments being withheld would mostly affect silver ACA plans, increasing gross premiums by 20% in 2018 and 25% by 2020, according to the report. Other people buying individual market plans might face slight increases over the next two years but net premiums would largely be similar to or less than what they would otherwise be, the report said. The federal deficit would increase by $194 billion between 2017 and 2026, the CBO said, due to changes in government spending that withholding the payments would prompt. The number of uninsured people would be slightly higher next year but slightly lower beginning in 2020. The CBO added a substantial caveat to all of its findings, noting that "those effects are uncertain and would depend on how the policy was implemented."

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Oil prices cut their losses ahead of U.S. supply data

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:41

Oil prices finished a few cents lower Tuesday, giving up the bulk of their earlier losses. Concerns over growing U.S. shale-oil production weighed on the market, but prices found some support from the latest U.S. crude-supply forecasts. Analysts expect Wednesday's Energy Information Administration report to show a seventh-straight weekly decline for U.S. crude inventories. September West Texas Intermediate crude fell 4 cents, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $47.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Gold prices mark largest one-day loss in nearly 6 weeks

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:06

Gold prices fell for a second-straight session Tuesday, marking their largest one-day dollar and percentage loss in nearly six weeks. Upbeat U.S. economic data provided support for the dollar, pressuring prices for dollar-denominated gold, while easing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea dulled haven demand for the yellow metal. December gold fell $10.70, or 0.8%, to settle at $1,279.70 an ounce.

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Netflix renews financial drama series 'Ozark' for second season

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 13:46

Netflix Inc. said on Tuesday that it's renewed its TV series "Ozark" for a second season, with 10 new episodes. The series, written and created by "The Accountant" writer Bill Dubuque, stars Jason Bateman as a financial planner laundering money for a Mexican cartel. When the cartel learns that Marty Byrd's (Bateman) operation has been skimming money off the top, he's forced to move the business and his family to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Netflix's news release says that rather than skyscrapers and trading floors, "Ozark" explores capitalism, family dynamics and survival through the eyes of ordinary Americans. Netflix doesn't give insight into how shows on the platform are performing, but "Ozark" had generated a good deal of positive buzz. Netflix has recently committed to cutting shows it deems not worth the cost of producing, so renewing "Ozark" is a sign of the show's popularity. Bateman directs "Ozark" and his production company Aggregate Films produces the show along with Media Rights Capital, which is also responsible for Netflix's hit drama "House of Cards." Shares of Netflix have gained more than 36% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 index is up more than 10%.

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Pence says confident of peaceful Venezuela solution, seeks trade with Argentina

Top Reuters News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 12:51
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in Buenos Aires on Tuesday he was confident of reaching a "peaceable" solution for Venezuela with economic and diplomatic pressure on Nicolas Maduro's regime.

Stocks making new low top new highs for 5th-straight session

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 12:21

Although the S&P 500 pullback appears to have ended three sessions ago, with just a 1.6% decline from the Aug. 7 record close of 2,480.91, the number of stocks that have hit fresh 52-week lows is exceeding the number reaching new highs for the fifth-straight session. That would be the longest streak since November 2016, when the S&P 500's pullback bottomed on Nov. 4 after a 4.8% drop over 2 1/2 months. On Tuesday, new highs outnumbered new lows by a 123-to-65 score on the New York Stock Exchange, and by a 67-to-42 margin on the Nasdaq exchange. Since the 5-day streak started, the S&P 500 has slipped just 0.4%. The index has rallied 1.1% since it closed at a one-month low last Thursday.

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NAFTA negotiators aim for 'ambitious' first round of talks: U.S. official

Top Reuters News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 12:10
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States are aiming for an ambitious first round of trade talks, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday, as the countries try to fast-track a deal to modernize the pact by early next year.

Fourth leader steps down from Trump's manufacturing council

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:54

A fourth individual stepped down from President Donald Trump's manufacturing advisory council on Tuesday in the wake of his response to violence in Charlottesville, Va. The latest to exit is Scott Paul, head of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership between manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union. Paul said on Twitter it was "the right thing for him to do." He joins the chief executives of Merck & Co. , Intel Corp. and Under Armour Inc. in quitting the council. Trump said in a tweet shortly before Paul's that he has "many" CEOs to replace those who leave.

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KPMG pays SEC $6.2 million for Miller Energy audit failures

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:47

Global auditing giant KPMG agreed to pay $6.2 million in penalties to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it failed to properly audit Miller Energy, an oil driller that emerged from bankruptcy proceedings last year. The Securities and Exchange Commission said KMPG and a partner, John Riordan, engaged in improper professional. KPMG began auditing Miller Energy Resources in 2011 and, according to the SEC, issued a clean audit report despite the company's allegedly grossly overstated values for key oil and gas assets. KPMG and Riordan allegedly failed to fully consider the risks of accepting Miller Energy as a client, did not properly staff the audit, and overlooked the overvaluation of certain oil and gas interests that the company had purchased in Alaska the previous year, according to the SEC. KPMG neither admitted or denied the charges but agreed to be censured, pay a $1 million penalty, pay back all the audit fees received from Miller Energy -$4,675,680-and pay $558,319 in interest. Riordan agreed, without admitting or denying the findings, to pay a $25,000 penalty and be suspended from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant, which includes not participating in the financial reporting or audits of public companies. The SEC's order permits Riordan to apply for reinstatement after two years. KPMG also agreed to significant undertakings designed to improve its system of quality control. Miller Energy was charged with accounting fraud in 2015 and later settled the charges. The company voluntarily delisted its shares in 2015 after filing bankruptcy.

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South Carolina sues OxyContin maker Purdue over opioid marketing

Top Reuters News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:47
(Reuters) - South Carolina sued Purdue Pharma LP on Tuesday, becoming the latest state or local government to accuse the OxyContin maker of deceptive marketing practices that have contributed to a national opioid addiction epidemic.

Uber settles U.S. allegations over privacy, security: FTC

Top Reuters News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:46
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators said on Tuesday that Uber Technologies Inc agreed to do more to protect the privacy of customer and driver data in settling allegations that the ride-hailing company had made deceptive privacy and data security claims.

Home Depot's stock cuts 30 points from Dow industrials

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:38

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up slight gains in early trade to negative on Tuesday, as shares of Home Depot pressured the equity gauge. Home Depot's stock was down $4.40, or 2.8%, and slicing approximately 30 points from the price-weighted Dow . A price move of about $1 in any of its 30 components equates to a roughly 6.85-point tilt in the Dow. A slide in shares of Chevron Corp., falling in line with crude-oil prices , and Nike Inc. weighed on the average, combining to exert a roughly 40-point weight on the Dow. Home Depot's share decline came even as the home-improvement retailer Home Depot Inc. raised its outlook for the second time this year as it reported better-than-expected second-quarter results. Overall, the Dow was up 10 points, or less than 0.1%, at 22,004, while the S&P 500 index was little changed at 2,465, and the Nasdaq Composite Index was off less than 0.1% at 6,337. All three major benchmarks had opened slightly higher and were on track to book their third straight gain as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea ease and as a batch of economic reports, including retail sales, came in better than expected.

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Transocean's stock hits all-time low after $3.4 billion deal to buy Norway's Songa Offshore

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:33

Shares of Transocean Ltd. tumbled 6.3% in active midday trade Tuesday, after the oil services company announced a stock an agreement valued at $3.4 billion, including debt, to buy Norway's Songa Offshore in a stock and convertible debt deal. Volume reached 25.4 million shares, already well above the full-day average of 16.2 million shares. The stock hit an all-time intraday low of $7.55 earlier in the session before paring some losses. Under terms of the deal, Songa Offshore shareholders will receive consideration comprised of 50% newly issued Transocean common shares and 50% in bonds convertible into common shares. RBC Capital analyst Kurt Hallead expects Transocean to issue 128.2 million shares, including convertibles, to raise the total share count, or dilute current shareholders, by 32% to 524.7 million shares. Songa shares rocketed 29% to a 17-month high. Transocean's stock has plunged 47% year to date, while the VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF has shed 33% and the S&P 500 has gained 10%.

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Traders lift bets on one more rate hike this year up above 50%

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:23

Traders on the federal-funds futures market ramped up their bets for one more rate hike this year to above 50%, according to CME Group data. 47% of the odds were on a quarter-percentage point point hike for the Dec. 13 policy meeting, and 3.4% of the odds were for a half-percentage point hike. This was in sharp contrast to last Friday's reading of a 37.4% chance of a bump to interest rates. The shift in sentiment in favor of monetary tightening comes in the wake of a raft of stronger-than-expected economic data led by retail sales and Fed President Dudley's comments on Monday suggesting he would not rule out a rate hike for this year. The 2-year Treasury yield , sensitive to the outlook for central bank policy, have risen about 5 basis points this week. The increase in odds for a rate hike have also helped lift financial stocks. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF climbed around 1.8% this week-to-date, while Goldman Sachs rose 2.3% over the same period.

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J.C. Penney's stock suffering worst 5-day stretch in over 45 years

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:06

Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. dropped 3.9% in morning trade Tuesday, putting them on track to close at a third-straight record low since the department store chain reported a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss. The stock has now plunged 32.7% amid a 5-session losing streak, the worst 5-day stretch since the stock began trading in January 1972, according to an analysis of FactSet data. J.C. Penney has been trying to fend off the "Amazon effect" which has led to several bankruptcies of brick-and-mortar retailers, by closing stores and focusing on categories such as appliances, but data within the July government retail sales report suggested that Penney's efforts may be for naught. The report said department store sales fell 3.9% from a year ago and electronics and appliance store sales declined 0.5%, while nonstore retailer sales rose 11.5%. The stock has now tumbled 56% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has shed 12% and the S&P 500 has gained 10%.

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Uber agrees to two decades of audits after FTC claim of deceptive practices

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 10:49

Uber Technologies Inc. has agreed to 20 years of third-party audits after Federal Trade Commission said that Uber misrepresented how much access employees had to personal information on consumers and drivers. After news reports in 2014 claimed that employees were "improperly accessing consumer data," Uber said that it would monitor employee access. However, the FTC found Uber used its automated system that monitored access for less than a year and for nine months after that "rarely monitored" employee access. Further, the FTC alleges that Uber did not securely store the data, which later led to a data breach in May 2014, when more than 100,000 names and drivers license numbers were taken. Under the agreement with the FTC, Uber said it will not misrepresent how it monitors employees' access to the data nor how it keeps that data secure. It also says it will put a new privacy program in place and have that program audited within 180 days and then every two years after that for the next 20 years.

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Dow opens higher, mounts fresh assault above 22,000

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 09:56

U.S. stock benchmarks opened slightly higher for a third straight session Tuesday as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to recede and as a spate of economic reports came in better than expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced a tepid 0.1% at 22,005, led a gain in shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. , the S&P 500 index traded flat at 2,465, while the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1% at 6,334. Tensions between the two nations appeared to ease on Tuesday, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un opting not to launch a missile attack on Guam, according to Pyongyang's state media. Meanwhile, A gauge of New York-area manufacturing soared to 25.2, marking a three-year high in August, a reading on retail sales surged 0.6% in July, while readings for June were increased to 0.3% from 0.2%. Also, a report on import prices showed an increase of 0.1% in July. The combination of upbeat economic data and easing geopoltical tensions helped to underpin equities slight rise. In corporate news, Shares of Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. plunged 17% early Tuesday after the retailer reported second-quarter earnings that missed estimates, and issued a profit warning.

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Fifth Third's stock climbs after $990 million share repurchase agreement

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 09:47

Shares of Fifth Third Bancorp. rallied 2.1% in morning trade Tuesday after the regional bank disclosed a stock repurchase agreement with Goldman Sachs & Co. to buy back $990 million worth of Fifth Third's shares. Under terms of the agreement, Fifth Third will pay Goldman $990 million on Aug. 17, and expects to receive a "substantial majority" of the shares in the agreement by that day. The transaction is expected to be settled on or before Dec. 19. At current prices, the agreement would allow Fifth Third to buy back 36.33 million shares, or about 4.9% of the shares outstanding. Fifth Third said the repurchases would be part of the 100 million share buyback program announced in March. The stock has gained 1.0% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF has lost 3.0% and the S&P 500 has climbed 10.1%.

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Omeros's stock sinks after share offering prices at a discount

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 09:34

Shares of Omeros Corp. sank 8% in morning trade Tuesday, after the biopharmaceutical company took advantage of a recent surge in price to launch a public offering of shares. The company said late Monday that it was selling 3 million shares, which would represent about 6.7% of the shares outstanding. The company was also offering the underwriter of the offering options to buy up to an additional 450,000 shares. The company said Tuesday that the offering priced at $22.75, which was 7.6% below Monday's closing price of $24.61. Omeros, which develops small-molecule and protein therapeutics to treat central nervous system disorders, said it planned to use the proceeds from the offering to fund research and development and clinical trials. The stock has more than doubled year to date, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has rallied 17% and the S&P 500 has gained 10%.

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