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Updated: 2 hours 41 min ago

HBO signs journalist Ronan Farrow to exclusive 3-year production deal

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 14:46

HBO said on Thursday that it has finalized an exclusive three-year deal with investigative journalist Ronan Farrow. The news of a potential deal was first reported in a Hollywood Reporter profile of Farrow, who back in October wrote a detailed account of disgraced former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's decades of sexual harassment and abuse. HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc. said that Farrow's TV deal will begin later this year, but he will continue his reporting for the New Yorker magazine. Farrow will be responsible for developing and fronting a series of investigative documentary specials that will document abuses of power by individuals and institutions. "Ronan Farrow's extraordinary, revelatory reporting for the New Yorker has helped to propel a string of other investigations, breakthroughs and overdue conversations," said HBO head of programming Casey Bloys. "We are excited to provide a platform for this dogged reporter to pursue projects that continue to speak truth to power." Shares of Time Warner have declined more than 2% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 index is up more than 21% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 27%.

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Gold prices score highest settlement since mid-September

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 13:43

Gold prices climbed Thursday for a second session to settle at their highest since mid-September as weakness in the U.S. dollar prompted the greenback to turn a bit lower for the week. February gold rose $3.20, or 0.2%, to settle at $1,322.50 an ounce--the highest since Sept. 15, according to FactSet data.

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Treasury yields erase climb after better-than-expected 30-year bond auction

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 13:35

Treasury yields retreated Thursday afternoon following a successful 30-year bond auction. Bond yields rose earlier after minutes from the European Central Bank's December meeting showed senior officials were looking to change its policy guidance to reflect the strengthening eurozone, drawing speculation the ECB would stop its bond purchases earlier than expected. The 30-year bond yield was down 1.9 basis point to 2.872%, according to Tradeweb. The 10-year note yield fell 0.9 basis point to 2.540%. The 2-year note yield was at 1.977%. The bid-to-cover ratio stood at 2.74, the highest since Dec. 2014. Treasurys trading can be influenced by sales of government paper. The bid-to-cover gives a sense of appetite for the auction, a number showing the ratio of total bids received to bids accepted. "This depth of demand should allay some concerns about a runaway increase in yield," wrote Aaron Kohli, fixed-income strategist for BMO Capital Markets.

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Dropbox files confidential IPO document: report

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 13:11

Dropbox Inc. has filed confidential initial public offering documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission and aims to list its stock in the first half of the year, according to a Bloomberg report Thursday. Dropbox shares are worth between $8.15 and $12.63, with the last private fundraising round valuing the business at $10 billion as of January 2014, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Unlike last year's IPOs of Snap Inc. and Blue Apron Holdings Inc. , investors will be able to compare it with an already public direct competitor: Box Inc. . And the bankers reportedly leading the deal, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, will have an easier time assessing the company's value and share price ahead of its listing.

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Senate Banking plans to vote again on Powell nomination next week: report

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:09

The Senate Banking Committee will take another vote next Wednesday on the nomination of Jerome Powell to lead the Federal Reserve, according to a report by Politico. All but one member of the banking panel backed Powell in the first vote last month. The White House had to resubmit Powell's nomination to the committee given that a new session of Congress started this month.

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Buffalo Wild Wings full-year guidance misses expectations

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:47

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. announced full-year sales guidance that misses FactSet consensus. The restaurant chain expects systemwide same-store sales for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017 to be in the range of about a 1.6% to 1.7% decline. Revenue is expected to be in the range of $2.067 billion and $2.069 billion. The FactSet consensus is for a same-store sales decrease of 1.5% and sales of $2.071 billion. Shares are nearly unchanged in Thursday trading, but are up 1.7% for the past year. The S&P 500 index is up 21.1% for the last 12 months.

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EIA reports drop in U.S. natural-gas supply that's more than double the 5-year average

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:37

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that domestic supplies of natural gas fell by 359 billion cubic feet for the week ended Jan. 5. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts forecast a decrease of 337 billion, while the five-year average withdrawal is 169 billion. Total stocks now stand at 2.767 trillion cubic feet, down 415 billion cubic feet from a year ago, and 382 billion below the five-year average, the government said. February natural gas rose 11.5 cents, or 4%, to $3.021 per million British thermal units, down from $3.034 before the data.

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U.S. stocks open slightly higher, indexes near records

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 09:34

U.S. stocks opened with modest gains on Thursday, as investors viewed the recent uptrend in equities as intact, though they held off from making big bets going into the earnings season and amid questions surrounding the bond market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2%, or 52 points, to 25,420. The S&P 500 added 5 points, or 0.2%, to 2,753. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 13 points, or 0.2%, to 7,166. All three are coming off their first negative session of 2018, and are near record levels. The day's trading could be slight as investors look ahead to the start of the fourth-quarter earnings season, which will unofficially begin on Friday with the release of results from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. , among other large-capitalization banks. The stock, a Dow component, rose 0.4% in early trading. Investors continued to pay attention to the bond market after China's foreign-exchange regulator on Thursday dismissed a Bloomberg News report suggesting Beijing is looking to pare back on U.S. bond buys as "false news."

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U.S. producer prices rise to 6-year high in 2017

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:55

U.S. wholesale prices rose in 2017 at the fastest pace in six years, a buildup in inflation that could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively unless it lets up. The producer price index increased 2.6% last year, even after a small decline in December. The PPI dipped 0.1% last month. The core PPI rose 0.1% in December, however

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Tivo files additional patent infringement lawsuit against Comcast

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:42

Tivo Corp. said on Thursday that Rovi, which Tivo owns, has filed new patent infringement lawsuits against Comcast Corp. . Rovi alleges Comcast's X1 set top box platform infringes on technology invented and patented by Rovi, including pausing and resuming TV shows on different devices, restarting live programming in progress, advanced DVR recording features and advanced search and voice functionality. "Hundreds of media and entertainment leaders around the world recognize the value of our innovations by selecting our products and services and licensing our intellectual property," Tivo Chief Executive Enrique Rodriguez said in a statement. "Our goal is for Comcast to renew its long-standing license." In November, the International Trade Commission ruled in favor of Tivo in a previous patent infringement lawsuit brought against Comcast. Tivo said as part of the most recent lawsuit that it plans to file additional legal action with the International Trade Commission on the same patents, seeking an exclusion order that would prevent infringing Comcast set-top boxes from being imported to the U.S. Comcast shares were inactive in premarket trade on Thursday. Shares of Tivo were up more than 2%, but have declined nearly 27% in the last 12 months. By comparison, the S&P 500 index is up close to 21% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 27%.

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Endo International gets grand jury subpoena from Florida over oxymorphone, stock slides almost 6%

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:40

Endo International Plc shares slid almost 6% in premarket trade Thursday, after the company confirmed that its subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., has received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, seeking information relating to products containing the opioid oxymorphone. The company said the subpoena is seeking documents including those produced in past or pending lawsuits, as well as those relating to safety and efficacy, overdoses, abuse/misuse and overprescribing, among other issues. The company said it intends to cooperate with the subpoena and any related investigation. The U.S. is currently in the midst of an opioid crisis stemming from widespread use of opioids as a pain medication. Endo shares have fallen 42% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 21%.

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Wal-Mart to raise minimum wage to $11, offer one-time bonus of up to $1,000 for 20-year vets

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:30

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that it will increase the starting wage for hourly associates to $11, effective during the Feb. 17, 2018 pay cycle. Wal-Mart previously announced wage increases in 2016.The company is also offering a one-time $1,000 bonus to eligible full-time and part-time associates. An associate's length of service will determine the size of the bonus. Those with at least 20 years of experience will qualify for $1,000. "We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders," said Chief Executive Doug McMillon in a statement. Wal-Mart has also expanded paid maternity leave to 10 weeks and six weeks of parental leave for full-time hourly associates. Salaried employees will also get six weeks of paid parental leave. Finally, the retail giant will provide a benefit of $5,000 for full-time hourly and salaried associates to help with adoption fees. The cost of the wage increase is expected to be $300 million incremental to what's included in the next fiscal year plan. And about $400 million will be applied to the current fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2018 for the bonus payments. Wal-Mart will provide additional details when quarterly results are released on Feb. 20. Wal-Mart shares are up 0.6% in premarket trading, and up 16.3% for the last three months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average [S: djia] is up 11% for the past three months.

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Euro spikes higher as ECB minutes suggest possible hawkish shift toward monetary policy

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:25

The euro leapt against major rivals Thursday, following the release of minutes from the European Central Bank's December meeting that showed the central bank could shift away from its ultra-loose monetary policy efforts this year. "The language pertaining to various dimensions of the monetary policy stance and forward guidance could be revisited early in the coming year," according to the minutes. Reconsideration could take place if the eurozone economy continues to expand and if inflation keeps rising toward the bank's target around 2%, the minutes said. The shared currency climbed to $1.2020 after the release, up from $1.1949 late Wednesday. The ECB will next meet on Jan. 25 in Frankfurt.

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Post Holdings says exploring options for its private brands business

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:10

Post Holdings Inc. , a consumer packaged goods company, said Thursday it is exploring strategic alternatives for its private brands business, including an initial public offering, a placement of private equity or outright sale. The company, which is currently acquiring Bob Evans Farms Inc., said the business is expected to report sales of $791.2 million for fiscal 2017, and produces nut butter, dried fruit and nut, pasta and granola products. The company is planning to combine the private brands business under the leadership of Jim Dwyer, president and chief executive of its Michael Foods Group. We "believe the best structure to support Jim and his team is likely outside of Post's full ownership and we will aggressively explore creative alternatives involving direct capital and/or strategic partnerships," Chief Executive Rob Vitale said in a statement. Post is expecting the Bob Evans deal to close on Jan. 12. Shares were not yet active premarket, but have fallen 3% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 21%.

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Kodak's stock pulls back; directors disclose derivate securities purchases before recent run up

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:05

Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. slumped 8.9% in active premarket trade Thursday, as bulls took a breather after the rocketed 245% the past two sessions--the stock had closed at a record low of $3.05 last week--after the struggling camera and film pioneer announced a "major blockchain initiative." Late Wednesday, no less than seven members of the company's board of directors disclosed in SEC filings that they acquired derivative securities convertible to common stock on Jan. 8, the day before the blockchain news was released. Of those seven directors, three directors disclosed the simultaneous purchase and sale of derivative securities convertible to common stock, and two directors disclosed outright sales of non-derivative securities, on Jan. 9, the day of the blockchain news. Despite the recent surge, the Kodak's stock was still down 30.5% over the past 12 months through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 has gained 20.8%.

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Progress Software shares jump 9.2% after better-than-expected earnings

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 07:47

Shares of Progress Software Corp. rose 9.2% in premarket trade Thursday, after the company beat fourth-quarter earnings estimates and offered upbeat guidance on its conference call. Benchmark analyst Mark Schappel reiterated their buy rating on the stock, but said although it was a good quarter, it didn't change his investment opinion of the stock. "The company continues to move forward with its machine learning-based Cognitive Apps "growth" strategy while at the same time attempting to keep activist shareholders at bay through prudent cost disciplines and allocating capital through dividends and share repurchases," Schappel wrote in a note. Progress Software has come under pressure from hedge fund Praesidium Investment Management, its third biggest shareholder, according to FactSet, which has urged it to replace its chairman. The company reported EPS of 34 cents, after a loss of $1.52 a share a year ago. Adjusted per-share earnings came to 67 cents, above the 61 cents consensus. Revenue fell 1.4% to $116.1 million, but topped the consensus of $114.3 million. Shares have gained 38% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 21%.

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Delta Air's stock surges after profit and sales beat expectations

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 07:13

Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. shot up 3.7% in premarket trade Thursday, after the air carrier reported fourth-quarter profit and sales that beat expectations. Net income for the quarter to Dec. 31 fell to $572 million, or 80 cents a share, from $622 million, or 84 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to 96 cents, above the FactSet consensus of 88 cents. The company recognized a one-time charge of $150 million during the quarter as a result of tax reform legislation. Total revenue rose 8% to $10.25 billion, beating the FactSet consensus of $10.13 billion, amid a 7% rise in total passenger revenue and a 18% jump in other revenue. Load factor improved to 85.2% from 85.1%. Looking ahead, the company expects first-quarter total unit revenue growth of 2.5% to 4.5%. The stock has rallied 5.3% over the past three months, while the NYSE Arca Airline Index has gained 3.3% and the S&P 500 has climbed 7.6%.

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Boston Scientific gets FDA approval for spinal cord stimulator system that offers non-opioid pain treatment

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 07:06

Shares of Boston Scientific Corp. rose 1.7% in premarket trade Thursday, after the company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved its Spectra WaveWriter spinal cord simulator system, a non-opioid treatment for chronic pain. "It is the first and only system approved by the FDA to simultaneously provide paresthesia-based and sub-perception therapy," the company said in a statement. The system sends low electrical pulses to the spinal cord to interrupt pain signals. "Paresthesia-based therapy provides pain relief with a light tingling sensation while sub-perception therapy works without that sensation," said the statement. Patients can combine therapies to best manage multiple areas of pain. More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which is the leading cause of disability in adults. Shares have gained 18% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 21%.

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DST Systems' stock jumps after buyout deal with SS&C Technologies

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 06:59

Shares of DST Systems Inc. jumped 3.3% in premarket trade Thursday, after the information processing and servicing company agreed to be acquired by SS&C Technologies Holdings Inc. in a deal valued at $5.4 billion, including debt. SS&C shares were still inactive. Under terms of the deal, SS&C will pay $84 a share in cash for each DST share outstanding, which implies a market value of about $5.06 billion for DST. SS&C, a provider of software services for the financial services industry, plans to fund the acquisition, which is expected to close during the third quarter, with a combination of debt and equity. SS&C expects the deal to add immediately to adjusted earnings per share, and result in $150 million in annual cost savings, to be achieved by 2020. DST's stock has run up 44.5% over the past 12 months, while SS&C shares have soared 52.1% and the S&P 500 has gained 20.8%.

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YouTube cuts business ties with Logan Paul over offensive video

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 20:00

YouTube said Wednesday it has cut business ties with popular vlogger Logan Paul following a controversial video he posted that showed a dead body in a Japanese forest. "In light of recent events, we have decided to remove Logan Paul's channels from Google Preferred," a YouTube spokesperson said, according to a report by Variety. "Additionally, we will not feature Logan in Season 4 of 'Foursome' and his new originals are on hold." Google Preferred is the company's top-tier ad platform, and "Foursome" is a comedy on the YouTube Red channel. Paul has about 15 million subscribers to his channel, which has not been taken down. Days after posting the video, Paul apologized and took it down after a harsh outcry, but YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.'s Google, was silent for 11 days, finally saying Tuesday that Paul's channel violated community guidelines and promising "further consequences." In a tweet Tuesday, YouTube said: "We'll have more to share soon on steps we're taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again."

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