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Updated: 2 hours 40 min ago

UPDATE: Merck shares jump 5% on news of positive results from lung cancer trial

12 hours 7 min ago

Merck & Co. Inc. shares jumped 5% premarket Tuesday, after the company announced positive results in a late-stage lung cancer trial. The New Jersey-based drug company said the Phase 3 trial of Keytruda in combination with pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin for patients with metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer met its dual primary endpoints of overall survival and progression-free survival. Results from the Keynote-189 trial will be presented at a coming medical meeting and submitted to the regulator, said Merck. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common of two types of lung cancer, which kills more people than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Merck shares have fallen about 6% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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USA Compression to buy compression business from Energy Transfer Partners in a $1.8 billion deal

12 hours 23 min ago

USA Compression Partners L.P. said Tuesday it will acquire the compression business from Energy Transfer Partners L.P. in a deal valued at about $1.8 billion. Energy Transfer Partners said it would use the proceeds to cut debt. As part of the deal, Energy Transfer Equity L.P. will acquire the ownership interests in the general partner of USA Compression and approximately 12.5 million common units. USA Compression said it expects the deal to add to distributable cash flow in 2018. Energy Transfer Partner's stock (ETP) gained 1% in premarket trade, while USA Compression shares (USAC) were still inactive. ETP has dropped 17.5% over the past 12 months, while USAC has lost 8.2% and the S&P 500 has gained 22.5%.

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GE's credit rating affirmed at Fitch, but risk of downgrade increased after insurance charge

12 hours 37 min ago

Fitch Ratings affirmed General Electric Co.'s A+ long-term issuer default rating, and F1 short-term rating, following GE's announcement that GE Capital will make a reserve contribution of $15 billion to its life insurance businesses over the next seven years. Fitch said the outlook for the rating is negative. Fitch said that while the reserve contribution doesn't immediately affect GE's ratings, "the action brings GE closer to triggering Fitch's negative rating sensitivities," as it reduces the value of GE Capital and its long-term capacity to pay dividends to GE. "Fitch believes there is a risk that additional adjustments to reserves may be required depending on future claims experience," Fitch said. GE's stock tumbled 4.1% in premarket trade. It has shed 19.7% over the past three months, while the SPDR S&P Insurance ETF has tacked on 1.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has jumped 12.4%.

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AutoNation expects Q4 EPS boost of 45 cents from tax bill

12 hours 42 min ago

AutoNation Inc. said Wednesday it expects the tax bill that was signed into law in December to boost fourth-quarter net income by about $41 million or 45 cents a share. For the full year, the company expects to see a benefit of about $75 million to $100 million, or 80 cents to $1.10 a share, for the full year. The company will use tax savings too enhance employee benefits and invest in its future. It is planning to launch a cancer program to help workers and family members who were recently diagnosed with cancer and invest in training programs. Shares were not yet active premarket but have gained 13% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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UnitedHealth's stock surges after profit, revenue rise above expectations

12 hours 47 min ago

Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. surged 2.6% toward a record open in premarket trade after the health care services company reported fourth-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations. Net earnings rose to $3.62 billion, or $3.65 a share, from $1.68 billion, or $1.74 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $2.59, above the FactSet consensus of $2.51. Total revenue increased to $52.06 billion from $47.54 billion, beating the FactSet consensus of $51.61 billion. Premiums revenue increased to $40.4 billion from $36.75 billion, while products revenue grew to $7.16 billion from $6.96 billion. The company said as a result of the tax reform legislation, it now expects 2018 adjusted EPS of $12.30 to $12.60, compared with the FactSet consensus of $13.04. The stock has rallied 18% over the past three months, while the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF has gained 5.8% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed 12%.

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Visteon announces new $500 millionn share buyback program

12 hours 57 min ago

Visteon Corp. said Tuesday its board has approved a new $500 million share buyback program. The car parts maker said it plans to make the repurchases through 2020. The new program is additional to the $400 million approved in January 2017, of which $200 million has been completed through Dec. 31, with the remainder expected to be completed by end march. Shares were not yet active premarket, but have gained 57% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%.

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GE's stock sinks after unveiling $6.2 billion charge in Q4

13 hours 1 min ago

Shares of General Electric Co. sank 2.8% in premarket trade Tuesday, after the company said a review of GE Capital's insurance portfolio would result in a $6.2 billion after-tax charge in the fourth quarter. The pre-tax amount of the charge is $9.5 billion, and at the new corporate tax rate of 21%, it would be $7.5 billion. In addition, GE Capital expects to make statutory reserve contributions of about $15 billion over seven years, with the Kansas Insurance Department approving a phased contribution of $3 billion in the first quarter of 2018, and $2 billion a year from 2019 to 2024. GE Capital will suspend dividend payments to parent GE for the "foreseeable future." GE said the charges will not impact its industrial business or 2018 capital allocation plan. "We have been taking ongoing actions to make GE Capital smaller and more focused while maintaining its key capabilities to support financing for GE Industrial products," said Chief Executive John Flannery. "These actions will also help restore GE Capital ratios to appropriate levels." The stock has tumbled 19.7% over the past three months and 40.2% over the past 12 months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed 29.8% the past year.

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Energizer to buy Spectrum Brands' global battery and portable lighting business for $2 billion

13 hours 2 min ago

Energizer Holdings Inc. said Tuesday it has reached an agreement to acquire Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc.'s global battery and portable lighting business for $2 billion in cash. The deal "will expand Energizer's presence in a number of international markets, broaden Energizer's product portfolio and manufacturing capabilities, and increase capacity for research and development," the company said in a statement. The business generate 2017 revenue of $866 million. The deal is expected to modestly boost EPS and free cash flow in the first year after close. Energizer is expecting the deal to close before the end of 2018. Energizer shares were slightly lower in premarket trade, but have gained 7% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 22%. Spectrum Brands shares were not yet active.

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China's Dagong cuts U.S. rating after tax reforms

14 hours 12 min ago

China's Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. has downgraded its sovereign credit ratings for the U.S., citing political "deficiencies." Dagong, one of China's major ratings agencies, announced the cut in the local and foreign-currency sovereign ratings from A- to BBB+ on Tuesday. In its statement, Dagong said the Trump administration's "massive tax cuts directly reduce the federal government's sources of debt repayment, therefore further weakens the base of government's debt repayment. The tax cuts act implemented from 2018 did not attack the root cause of the unsustainable debt-driven economy of the U.S., so it is projected that the U.S. economy [grows] only 2.3% in 2018, and would grow even more slowly in the years after."

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Carillion to go into liquidation after talks fail

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 02:51

The U.K. construction and outsourcing giant Carillion PLC said Monday it will go into compulsory liquidation, after crisis talks at the weekend failed. The company, its creditors and the government were trying to find a way to save the company, which runs public services at prisons, hospitals and schools, and is a key contributor to the building of the HS2 high-speed rail line. "In recent days however we have been unable to secure the funding to support our business plan and it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have arrived at this decision," Philip Green, chairman of Carillion, said in a statement. The move puts thousands of jobs at risk; the company employs about 20,000 in the U.K. and uses thousands of subcontractors. Green said he understands the government will step in to fund the public services previously supplied by Carillion.

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Hawaii receives 'false alarm' about ballistic-missile threat that sends residents scrambling for shelter

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 14:04

A scary message on Saturday warning Hawaiian citizens to seek shelter due to threat of inbound ballistic missile was a false alarm, according to officials. Hawaii residents received a message: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill," spurring panic. The false warning comes as the U.S. and North Korean leaders have been exchanging tough, which has threatened to erupt into a nuclear conflict. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza said the initial warning was a false alarm and that the agency is attempting to determine the cause of the unintentional alert.

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Legendary sportscaster Jackson of 'whoa, Nellie' fame dies at 89

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 12:25

Sportscaster Keith Jackson, who coined the phrase "granddaddy of them all" and peppered his lively commentary covering college football with "whoa, Nellie", has died. He was 89, according to USA Today. Jackson spent much of his broadcasting career with ABC. Kirk Herbstreit, a popular ESPN analyst, tweeted that he could close his eyes "and think of so many of his special calls. Thank you Kieth for all the memories and the grace in which you provided them. RIP Keith."

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to exit Disney board

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 19:22

Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey will exit the Walt Disney Co. [:s dis] board of directors, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday. Both Sandberg and Dorsey are not standing for re-election due to conflicts relating to matters before the board, Disney said. "Given our evolving business and the businesses Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Dorsey are in, it has become increasingly difficult for them to avoid conflicts relating to Board matters, and they are not standing for re-election," a company spokesman wrote in an email. Board memebers Robert Matschullat and Orin Smith are also not standing for re-election. "Mr. Matschullat and Mr. Smith will be departing pursuant to Company policies that limit Board service to 15 years and set the retirement age at 74, respectively," the spokesman wrote. "The Board will take up the matter of filling Mr. Smith's role as independent Lead Director when it meets after the annual meeting." Disney stock is down a fraction to $112.42 in late trading.

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Blank-check co. Crescent Funding seeks up to $288 million in IPO

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 18:23

Crescent Funding Inc. seeks to raise up to $288 million in an initial public offering, according to a filing late Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Los Angeles-based blank check company plans to sell up to 28.75 million shares at $10 a piece. The company formed to effect "a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses," but has yet to identify and potential targets. UBS Investment Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Stifel are listed among the underwriters.

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Vista Proppants and Logistics files IPO

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 17:31

Vista Proppants and Logistics Inc. filed initial public offering documents late Friday and is seeking $100 million, a common place holder companies use when initially filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the first nine months of 2017 the company, which specializes in sand for oil and gas operations and related logistics, booked $32 million profit on revenue of $185.8 million, up from net income of $3.4 million on sales of $90 million in the year earlier period. Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Piper Jaffray are leading the deal, according to SEC documents. The company plans to list on Nasdaq under the ticker "VPRL."

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Wal-Mart to cut corporate jobs: report

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 17:19

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to cut more than 1,000 corporate jobs, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. The cuts are expected to be broad-based and focused primarily on employees at the company's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, the report said. The cuts are expected to be completed by the end of the company's fiscal year on Jan. 31. The report quoted a Wal-Mart spokesman saying that the company has been looking at its "structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively," without confirming that job cuts are planned this month.

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The Dow and S&P 500 just had the best start to a calendar year since 2003

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 16:31

U.S. stock indexes on Friday closed out what has been a stellar start to a calendar year for equity trading. In fact, the roughly 4.4% rise for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the 4.2% rise for the S&P 500 index so far in 2018, represent the best start to a year since 2003, according to WSJ Market Data Group. The Nasdaq Composite Index's 5.2% advance so far this month, marks the best start to a year since 2004. All three benchmarks finished at all time highs on Friday, along with the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the small-cap focused Russell 2000 index .

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Cardlytics seeks to raise $75 million in IPO

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 16:27

Cardlytics Inc. hopes to raise up to $75 million in an initial public offering, according to a late Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Atlanta-based consumer-spending analytics company reported $112.8 million in revenue and a net loss of $76.7 million in 2016, and for the first nine months of 2017 revenue of $91.1 million and a net loss of $15.6 million. B of A Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, and Wells Fargo are listed among the underwriters. The company plans to list with the ticker "CDLX" on the Nasdaq.

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Main stock indexes close at records as earnings get underway

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 16:06

Major benchmarks closed at records Friday as stocks continued to ride a wave of optimism as fourth-quarter earnings season got underway. Wall Street analysts are projecting another strong cycle of quarterly earnings on the back of a double digit growth in S&P 500 earnings per share. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 228 points, or 0.9%, to close at 25,803, climbing 2% for the week. The S&P 500 climbed 18 points, or 0.7%, to end at 2,786, for a weekly gain of 2%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 49 points, or 0.7%, to close at 7,261. The tech-heavy index rose 1.7% for the week.

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Trump lawyer arranged payment for adult film-star's silence: report

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 15:23

A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star one month before the 2016 election, as part of an agreement precluding her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. People familiar with the matter told the Journal Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen arranged payment to Stephanie Clifford in October 2016. Clifford privately alleged the encounter with Trump took place after they met at a July 2006 golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

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