Thursday, May 31, 2012
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Stocks fall on Wall Street as Spanish bank teeters
By CHRISTINA REXRODE, AP Business Writer – 28 minutes ago
NEW YORK (AP) — Another flare-up in Europe's debt crisis knocked U.S. markets lower Friday. This time, it was more trouble at a major Spanish bank.
Stock indexes were waffling between small gains and losses until news broke in the afternoon that Bankia, a hobbled Spanish lender, asked that country's government for $23.8 billion in support. Earlier in the day, Standard & Poor's cut the bank's credit rating to junk status because of deepening uncertainty over its restructuring plans.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped as much as 108 points before closing at 12,454.83, down 74.92 points. Concerns about Europe have sent the Dow on a steady slide this month, erasing most of its gains from the first quarter. It finished the week slightly higher, its first weekly gain for May.
The declines were broad. Eight of the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell. The only sectors that rose were utilities and telecommunications, which investors tend to buy when they're skittish about the market. Trading volume was light ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.
Facebook, marking its one-week anniversary as a public company, fell 3.4 percent to $31.91. Talbots, the women's clothing chain, plunged 41 percent to $1.51 after announcing that a deadline expired without a deal to be bought by Sycamore Partners.
In addition to the new worries about Spain, the head of Germany's central bank, which has been skeptical of bailing out Greece and other weak European countries, reinforced the point when he said it was an "illusion" to think allowing euro zone countries to borrow money jointly would solve the crisis. The Portuguese parliament endorsed a budget plan that would set legal limits on government spending.
In Asia, media reports suggested that some of China's biggest banks will miss their annual lending targets for the first time in seven years, and Taiwan lowered its economic growth forecast for the year. Caterpillar, which relies heavily on demand from China, fell 1 percent.
In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.86 points to 1,317.82. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.85 points to 2,837.53.
Stock indexes in France, Britain, Germany and Spain rose, while Greece's ATHEX plunged 3.5 percent. Borrowing rates edged higher for Spain and Italy.
Greece's June 17 elections are an overhang on the market. The results will determine if Greece agrees to the spending cuts that it must swallow if it wants to stay in the 17-country euro zone, or if it goes its own way.
The idea of cutting government spending is unpopular in a country where residents have grown used to public-sector largesse. But if Greece left the euro zone, it would have to revert to its own currency. That would be severely devalued, and the country's standard of living would probably be crushed.
Greece makes up just 2 percent of the euro zone economy, but its fate would carry ripple effects to other, larger members. Unnerved traders could dump the bonds of other struggling European countries, such as Spain and Italy. Residents could start to pull money out of banks there, as has been happening in Greece.
The standoffs so far have almost always lasted until the 11th hour.
"Every time you think it's going to fall off a cliff and end very badly, something happens," said Beata Kirr, senior portfolio manager at Bernstein Global Wealth Management in Chicago. "The European Central Bank steps in to buy Italian and Spanish bonds. Or Germany softens its stance on austerity. All of these things have happened when it's past the precipice."
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday, as expected, said it would cut its work force to save as much as $3.5 billion a year. The number of job cuts was a little lower than anticipated - 27,000 jobs, rather than the 30,000 company executives had estimated last week, reports the New York Times.
On Wednesday, H.P. (NYSE: HPQ) reported revenue and net income below year-earlier levels, but exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, the paper said.
The reduction in employees represents a 7.7 percent cut in the company’s global work force of 349,600, the NYT reported.
The NYT said H.P. would apply most of the savings from the job cuts “toward cloud-based businesses, like computer security and analysis of large data troves.”
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
U.S. stock futures fell as the Congressional Budget Office said America’s economy would slip into recession if necessary budget measures aren’t taken and concern mounted that Greece will leave the euro area.
Dell Inc. (DELL) plunged 13 percent in German trading after the company forecast fiscal second-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ estimates. Morgan Stanley (MS) dropped after a Massachusetts regulator subpoenaed the investment bank over its handling of Facebook Inc. (FB)’s initial public offering.
May 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures declined as European leaders prepared to meet in Brussels and data showed Japan’s exports grew slower than estimated. (Source: Bloomberg)
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in June declined 0.8 percent to 1,304.5 at 6:43 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures expiring the same month lost 90 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,387.
“Uncertainty surrounding Greece’s membership in the euro and possible contagion into other countries plagued by high deficits just isn’t going away, at least not until Greek elections have taken place on June 17th,” said Markus Huber, head of German sales trading at ETX Capital in London.
Stocks erased gains in the final hour of trading yesterday after former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said while it is unlikely the Mediterranean nation will leave the euro, it remained a risk, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The leaders of the European Union meet in Brussels today to discuss the sovereign-debt crisis that has wiped about $4 trillion from equity markets worldwide this month.
Japan’s exports in April trailed economists’ estimates, underscoring the risk that weakness in global demand may limit the recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy. In Japan, exports grew 7.9 percent last month from a year earlier. That fell short of the median estimate for an 11.8 percent gain in a Bloomberg News survey.
The nonpartisan agency said in a report yesterday that the economy would contract at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the first half of 2013 if lawmakers allow the George W. Bush-era tax cuts to expire as scheduled and $1.2 trillion in government spending cuts to take effect in January.
Separately, a Commerce Department report at 10 a.m. in Washington may show that new-house sales in the U.S. rose to 335,000 in April from 328,000 in March, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Dell, Morgan Stanley
Dell tumbled 13 percent to $13.14 in German trading. Round Rock, Texas-based Dell predicted sales for the period ending in July of $14.7 billion to $15 billion. That compared with the average $15.4 billion analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) dropped 1.6 percent to $21.43 in Germany. The world’s largest personal-computer maker will report results today after the market closes.
Morgan Stanley fell 1.1 percent to $13.17 in Germany. The lead underwriter of Facebook’s IPO released a statement defending its handling of the share sale after the Massachusetts security division yesterday subpoenaed the investment bank over its communications with clients. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the brokerage industry’s watchdog both said they may review the offering.
Facebook slid 1.8 percent to $30.44 in early New York trading. The shares have plunged 18 percent over the three days since the second-largest IPO in U.S. history.
Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) fell 3.1 percent to $34.70 in late trading in New York. The company forecast third-quarter earnings-per-share of 54 cents to 58 cents. Analysts had estimated 58 cents.
PetSmart Inc. (PETM) surged 9.7 percent to $61 in late trading as the company beat first-quarter earnings estimates and increased its full-year forecast.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
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Sunday, May 20, 2012
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Thursday, May 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Robert F. Kennedy's estranged wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, has died, sources told ABC News.
"We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her," Mary Kennedy's family said in a statement released through a lawyer. "Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation. We have no further comment at this time."
Mary Kennedy, 52, was Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s second wife and the couple had four children together. The couple was married for 16 years before a divorce filing in 2010.
If "Facebook For Dummies" helped you find friends and post pictures on the world's No. 1 online social network, then consider "Facebook IPO Confidential" which purports to teach you "How To Get Rich With The IPO Of The Century.
She was there the day penicillin was introduced. She was at the hospital the night Elvis Presley was pronounced dead. She used to treat Archie Manning for football injuries. Now she is making history of her own.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Around the Web:
Americans divided as Obama endorses gay marriage
By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press – 18 minutes ago
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Kate Varnum was at her Iowa home watching her newly adopted infant son when news flashed that Barack Obama had become the first sitting U.S. president to endorse equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
"I said, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is happening,'" said Varnum, 38, a plaintiff in a lawsuit that prompted the Iowa Supreme Court to make the state the first in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage in 2009. "We are absolutely thrilled. We still have a long way to go, but this is a huge step for Obama to take."
Americans reacted with joy, scorn and indifference to Obama's words in a television interview on Wednesday: "It is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."
An African-American bishop in Philadelphia said Obama's position will make him think twice about supporting the president's re-election. A bed-and-breakfast owner marveled at what he described as the country's progress on gay rights in the past generation. A Florida business owner in a same-sex relationship worried more about the economy and wondered whether Obama's stance was a gimmick. A Kentucky businessman said the president was injecting himself into an issue that should be left to churches.
All the while, Americans, who polls show are evenly split on the issue, debated the human and societal implications of the statement — and the political fallout for Obama this election year.
In Cedar Rapids, Varnum said the president's words were so important because she and her spouse know what being married means for same-sex couples. They were recently able to adopt their son without the time and cost of having separate adoption hearings, and after Varnum lost her job last year, she and their son received health insurance coverage through her spouse's Iowa-based employer.
Varnum, an Obama supporter, had believed that he would eventually endorse gay marriage but not before the November election. She said the Iowa ruling that bears her family's name helped pave the way for greater acceptance of gay marriage and set the stage for Obama's change of heart.
"After Iowa was decided, a lot of people realized it's not just a coastal issue, it's not just a California or New Jersey issue," she said. "Families should be valued no matter where they live. The tide has turned."
But in a reminder of the issue's political divisiveness, three Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted by voters after endorsing the court's unanimous ruling. The Iowa conservative activist who led the push for their removal, Bob Vander Plaats, said Wednesday that like them, Obama's decision would lead to him being rejected by voters who view marriage as between one man and one woman.
Bishop Leonard C. Goins, who presides over Chestnut Hill Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Philadelphia, flatly disagreed with Obama's gay marriage endorsement.
"He's wrong, he's in error, it's a mistake and it will hurt him," Goins said, adding that he's now in a quandary over whether he'll continue to support the president.
In Lexington, Ky., executive recruiter Joe Alexander said the federal government should leave the definition of marriage to churches. A Mormon who describes himself as a constitutional conservative says he believes "marriage is ordained by God between a man and a woman."
"Obama's proclamation, to me, just gives insight into his moral fiber. It's inappropriate for him to be speaking about it as president," Alexander said. "It's morally repugnant that the thought is expressed by the president, who should be a moral person. It's embarrassing."
Obama's words fired up others. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, 26-year-old West Hollywood resident Artie Calhoun said he's pleased Obama was bridging a generational gap for gay rights. While many young people seem comfortable with gay marriage, Calhoun says, people in older generations, including his father, struggle to understand homosexuality.
"If we have a voice in the White House who outwardly supports us, that absolutely helps understanding, 100 percent," he said.
In Richmond, Va., Jeff Wells was delighted at what he called a historic moment. The bed-and-breakfast owner said he thought Obama's prior reluctance to speak out on the issue was politically motivated, and he was "pleasantly surprised that he had the courage to" to back same-sex marriage.
Wells married his partner in Massachusetts in 2009, but their union isn't recognized in Virginia, where voters earlier approved an amendment to the state Constitution that defines marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman.
"When I was 25 years old, I never conceived that ... I would one day be married to a man I loved," Wells, 50, said.
Others reacted with skepticism.
Delsa Bernardo, who co-owns Yiya's Gourmet Cuban Bakery and Café in Miami with her girlfriend, backed Obama in 2008 but has since become disillusioned over economic issues. She said she's happy he's spoken out in support of gay marriage but wants to see what actions he takes to back up his words.
Bernardo said she is frustrated with the Obama administration over the difficulty in getting loans despite the federal bailouts he supported. She's had to pay out of pocket $1,600 this month for an industrial juicer and a glass case to display her popular red velvet cupcakes, as well as $4,000 for roof repairs because she can't get a loan. She hasn't paid herself in two weeks.
"I'm happy and I think it's about time our country does it," she said. "But I don't think it's all 'Whoo-hoo!' I mean, who cares who you're sleeping with?"
AP reporters Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa.; Shaya Mohajer in Los Angeles; Bob Lewis in Richmond, Va.; Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami and Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky. contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.