US FINANCIAL MARKET
- Dow flirts with record high. The Index just 1 percent short of the record mark, 14,165, set in 2007.
- Apple said to have team developing wristwatch computer, iWatch. Creating a watch involves unique challenges, particularly managing power demands so that the battery doesn’t need to be recharged every day. Google has been working on eyeglass- embedded computers and plans to introduce them in 2014.
- Comcast is buying GE’s entire 49 percent common equity stake in NBCUniversal for approximately $16.7 billion.
- The deal will be funded with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4 billion of subsidiary senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2 billion of borrowings under Comcast and/or bank credit facilities, and $725 million of subsidiary preferred stock to be issued to GE.
- Comcast also released its earnings a day early. Fourth-quarter earnings rose 19 percent and revenue climbed 5.9 percent to $15.9 billion. Comcast also increased its dividend by 20 percent to 78 cents per share on an annualized basis and will repurchase $2 billion in stock in 2013.
- GE, meanwhile, said the sale will allow it to return more cash to shareholders. GE’s board increased the size of its share repurchase plan to $35 billion, with $23 billion remaining. GE plans to buy back about $10 billion in shares this year.
- Deere first-quarter net income leaped 22 percent, beating Wall Street expectations, on growing sales of farm machinery at higher prices.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
- Business inventories rose a smaller-than-expected 0.1% in December. Although the gain in inventories was smaller than the consensus expected, it was larger than BEA’s assumption, suggesting higher quarterly GDP.
- Retail sales ticked up 0.1 percent in January, in line with consensus expectations. Sales fell at auto dealerships, clothing stores and furniture stores. They rose at home-improvement stores, gas stations and online retailers.
- So-called core retail sales, which exclude autos, building materials, and gas stations, ticked up 0.2 percent.
- Today’s retail sales report is the first relatively comprehensive read on consumer spending since the 2013 tax increases took effect. To date, it appears that consumer spending held up relatively well in the first month of the year, despite lower disposable personal income. However, the consumer may respond to tax hikes with a lag.
- Nearly all working Americans are taking home less pay this year. Congress and the White House allowed a temporary 2 percentage point cut in Social Security taxes to expire last month. That means a person earning $50,000 a year will have about $1,000 less to spend in 2013. A household with two high-paid workers will have up to $4,500 less.
- Import prices rose by 0.6% month-on-month in January (vs. 0.8% consensus). The increase in import prices was largely driven by the volatile petroleum category, which rose by 2.9%, consistent with the rise in Brent crude prices in January.
EUROPE & WORLD
- The price of oil rose as OPEC upgraded its forecast for global demand and the G7 industrial nations pledged not to devalue their currencies.
- Germany has welcomed President Barack Obama’s endorsement of free trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union.
- India’s trade deficit in January was $20 billion, one of the nation’s widest monthly shortfalls. Exports climbed 0.8 percent to $25.6 billion while imports advanced 6.1 percent to $45.6 billion.
- When Vladimir Putin says the U.S. is endangering the global economy by abusing its dollar monopoly, he’s not just talking. He’s betting on it. Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer (just passed S. Arabia in 2012 and US comes third); he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China.
- Philippines sees record investments boosting growth prospects.
TODAY in HISTORY
- The first public school building in the US, the Boston Latin School was established (1635)
- The American Magazine, the first magazine in the U.S., was published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1741)
- The gang that included Jesse James and Cole Younger committed their first bank robbery in Liberty, MO (1866)
- France exploded its first atomic bomb (1960)
- The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, purchased a Santa Ynez CA ranch. He later named it Neverland (1988)
- The French judge was accused of throwing the pairs skating decision to the Russians at the Olympics (2002)
Sources: Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Bloomberg, CNN Money.
This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation is being made as to its accuracy or completeness. The information provided should be used only as general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts set forth in the material may not develop as predicted. All indices, such as the S & P 500, are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.