U.S. Stock Futures Making Gains Friday Pre-Market

Here's a roundup of the top stories in the stock market today...

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Stock market today, August 15, 2014: U.S. stock futures today (Friday) were up premarket. Dow Jones futures gained 46 points (0.28%), S&P futures were up 4.75 points (0.24%), and Nasdaq futures were up 13.5 points (0.34%).

Global aviation manufacturer The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) helped carry the market last session, gaining 1.7% on news that its demand for commercial jets was strengthening this quarter. The Dow's biggest winner was pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), which saw shares gain 1.86% on news that the FDA agreed to review a vaccine that could be used to treat a meningococcal disease.

Also yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said before government ministers and the Crimean Congress that his country would help end the conflict in the region as soon as possible.

Here are the top stories in the stock market today:

  • Fueling a Stock Surge: In an effort to expand its holdings in the ever-growing energy drinks market, The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) announced plans to purchase 16.7% of Monster Beverage Corp. (Nasdaq: MNST) for $2.15 billion in cash. The deal sent shares of Monster surging more than 22% in post-market hours. The agreement will provide Coca-Cola with two members on Monster's board of directors, and Monster will transfer its non-energy business lines, including Hansen's Natural Sodas and Peace Tea, to Coke. In exchange, Coca-Cola will transfer ownership of its energy business lines - which includes Full Throttle, Burn, and NOS - to Monster. Shares of Coca-Cola were up more than 1% after hours.
  • u.s. stock futuresWhat Buffett's Buying: According to a second-quarter regulatory filing by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A), Warren Buffett increased his stakes in Charter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Liberty Global plc (Nasdaq: LBTY.A). Meanwhile, the company ditched 90% of its shares in energy producer ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and its entire stake (roughly 1.9 million shares) in television channel Starz (Nasdaq: STRZA). The disclosure comes the same day that Class-A shares of Berkshire hit an all-time high of $202,850.
  • Perfect Timing: Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed he owns a 6.63% stake in media company Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) in a regulatory filing late Thursday. In the disclosure, Icahn said he felt the shares were "undervalued" and proposed the company should split into two distinct companies, one for print media and the other for broadcasting holdings. Though Icahn said he had no contact with the company after he purchased the stake for roughly $229 million, Gannett recently announced plans to split into these two distinct companies. Shares of Gannett were up more than 6% on the news after the bell...
  • Mobile Battle Underway: After the highly publicized proposal that would merge Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) fell through, telecom industry analysts predicted that mobile companies would soon engage in a price war to win over a customer base. Right on time, Sprint appears ready to fire the first shot heard around the telecom world. In a company-wide town hall meeting yesterday, new appointed Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced the company will offer "disruptive pricing" to the market next week. Following a boost to its network and emphasis on cutting operating costs, the CEO said its new pricing is designed to make customers "think twice" before joining a rival's network.
  • It's Alive: Retail sales aren't dead yet, at least not for struggling turnaround candidate J C Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP). The company saw shares jump more than 4% in market hours yesterday and another 3% in post-market trading. The surge came after the company announced it had beaten second-quarter earnings estimates, citing a gain in in-store sales by 6%. The stock is now up 120% since its all-time low of $4.90 in February. But it wasn't all good news on Thursday for U.S. retail firms. Shares of Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) slipped more than 3.5% in post-market hours after the company reported lackluster earnings and failed to meet expectations with its 3% increase in in-store sales.
  • Today's Economic Calendar: Today's schedule features the Producer Price Index (PPI)-Final Demand (FD) report, a speech by Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota, updates on Industrial Production, and the Empire State Manufacturing Survey.
  • Earnings Reports: Stay tuned for earnings reports from Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL), UTStarcom Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: UTSI), OptimizeRx Corp. (OTC: OPRX), JD.Com Inc. (ADR) (Nasdaq: JD), and China Recycling Energy Corp. (Nasdaq: CREG).

Full U.S. Economic Calendar August 15, 2014 (NYSE: all times EDT)

  • Producer Price Index (PPI) - Final Demand (FD) at 8:30 a.m.
  • Empire State Manufacturing Survey at 8:30 a.m.
  • Treasury International Capital at 9 a.m.
  • Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m.
  • Consumer Sentiment at 9:55 a.m.
  • E-Commerce Retail Sales at 10 a.m.
  • Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota speaks at 10:45 a.m.

At first glance, two of the major trends reshaping the semiconductor industry seem like polar opposites - on the one hand, the industry is in the midst of a major boom; on the other, it's also contracting. After looking at the trends, Money Morning Defense & Tech Specialist Michael Robinson has come up with a plan for investors to outperform the semiconductor market over the long term - with one easy investment...