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Today's stock market news, Feb. 11, 2014: U.S. stocks were flat on Monday, as investors anxiously await today's testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. A copy of Yellen's prepared testimony before the House of Representatives was released at 8:30 a.m.
Yellen will testify before U.S. lawmakers at 10 a.m. The Fed Chair is neither expected to waver on her commitment to taper the central bank's quantitative easing program, nor make any off-the-cuff remarks that would signal near-term rate changes.
Five Biggest Stories in Today's Stock Market, Feb. 11, 2014
- Another Day, Another Healthcare Delay: The White House announced last night that employers with fewer than 100 workers do not need to provide health insurance until 2016 under the Affordable Healthcare Act. This is now the second delay to this key feature of the law. The Internal Revenue Service announced that companies with more than 100 workers must cover at least 70% of their workforce by the start of next year.
- The Largest U.S. Market Caps: Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) has passed Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) in market value, making it the second most valuable U.S. company. Shares of Google have soared by 66% since January 2013 to a market cap of $393 billion, while Exxon has crawled along at 5% during the same period to a $391 billion market cap. Both companies trail Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), which has a market capitalization of $463.55 billion.
- The "Distressed Babies" Comment: Lawyers and pundits have slammed AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) CEO Tim Armstrong for his gaffe last week when he attempted to justify benefits cuts for employees. But now, some are questioning whether Armstrong violated the nation's healthcare privacy law known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Due to Armstrong's comments that the company paid more than $1 million each in healthcare for two "distressed babies," many are concerned that AOL employees may be able to discover the identity of the second employee after a first stepped forward this week to the media. Such disclosure may violate the privacy law.
- No Immunity for Jamie Dimon: The nonprofit Better Markets filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department to block the government's $13-billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) over faulty mortgage products the bank sold before the financial crisis. Better Markets argues that the record settlement provides JPMorgan with "blanket civil immunity" for its illicit activity without a day in court. Its Chief Executive Officer Dennis Kelleher said, "taxpayers are being forced to accept a secretive backroom deal that may well have been another sweetheart deal" for JPMorgan Chase five years after its bailout. [Check out this chart of just how much the big banks have been spending in settlement costs – money that could go to shareholders or to reducing customer fees.]
- Tesla Stock Is on Fire: Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) surged as high as $199.30 yesterday, before closing at a new record high of $196.56. The luxury carmaker is on a tear since closing at $120.50 on Nov. 26. The company is rising on the news that it sold nearly 6,900 vehicles in the fourth quarter, 20% more than analysts forecasted.
Note: The Fed's 2014 taper means volatility lies ahead. But there's still a way to find profits in a volatile market – like triple-digit gains in just days – if you start with this strategy…
U.S. Economic Calendar Feb. 11, 2014
- NFIB Small Business Optimism Index at 7:30 a.m.
- ICSC-Goldman Store Sales at 7:45 a.m.
- Wholesale Trade at 10:00 a.m.
- JOLTS – December Job Openings at 10:00 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 3-Yr Note Auction at 1:00 p.m.
Key Companies Reporting Earnings Feb. 11, 2014
- Consensus earnings per share for Avis Budget Group Inc. (NYSE: CAR) is $0.12.
- Consensus earnings per share for Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) is $0.99.
- Consensus earnings per share for CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS) is $1.11.
- Consensus earnings per share for Fossil Group Inc. (Nasdaq: FSOL) is $2.44.
- Consensus earnings per share for NGL Energy Partners LP (NYSE: NGL) is $0.58.
- Consensus earnings per share for PG&E Corp. (NYSE: PCG) is $0.41.
- Consensus earnings per share for Vantage Drilling Co. (NYSE: VTG) is $0.08.
- Consensus earnings per share for Zoetis Inc. (NYSE: ZTS) is $0.34.
Others Reporting Earnings
Packaging Corp of America (NYSE: PKG), Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS), Barclays PLC (LON: BARC.L), Western Union Co. (NYSE: WU), TripAdvisor Inc. (Nasdaq: TRIP), Sprint Corporation (NYSE: S), National Retail Properties Inc. (NYSE: NNN), Entergy Corp. (NYSE: ETR), Covanta Holding Corp. (NYSE: CVA), Arch Capital Group Ltd (Nasdaq: ACGL), Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC), Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE: WSH)
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