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Top stock market news today, April 24, 2014: U.S. stocks slipped yesterday on lukewarm Chinese data and a 14.5% month-over-month slump in U.S. new-home sales. But after-hours trading was dominated by positive results in the tech sector, potentially setting up a big day for the markets.
Here are the five stories you need to know to make your Thursday profitable.
Five Top News Stories in the Stock Market Today, April 24, 2014
- Apple's Dividend Soars: Perhaps activist investor Carl Icahn will finally smile today. Yesterday, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) announced plans to increase its share buyback plan by another $30 billion through the end of 2015. But that's not all… Apple's board also approved a seven-for-one stock split, which means shareholders will receive six new shares for every share they own. But wait, there's more… The company also increased its quarterly dividend by 8% and announced quarterly earnings of $11.62 per share on revenue of $45.6 billion.
- Bring on the Regulations: On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will issue its first set of federal regulations on electronic cigarettes. The rules will ban sales of the devices to customers under 18 and will require future FDA approval for new products. In addition, e-cigarette manufacturers must disclose chemicals in the devices and are prohibited from issuing free samples of products. E-cigarettes are now part of an annual $2 billion industry in the U.S., but it is still a drop in the bucket to the total U.S. tobacco market, worth approximately $100 billion.
- The Beast That Won't Die: Talk about a solution in search of a problem. On May 15, U.S. regulators will vote on a new set of "net neutrality" rules to prevent broadband providers from slowing down or blocking users' Internet content. According to Reuters, this new set of rules will order network operators disclose how much web traffic they manage and whether they prevent consumers from accessing legal destinations of the Internet. However, there is one major change to the new rules. TIME magazine reports that Internet service providers could arrange special deals with companies like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) or Skype (Nasdaq: MSFT) to establish preferential treatment in the "last mile" to its customers. The Federal Communications Commission will distribute these rules today, setting up a vote at the Commission's May meeting.
- Merger Mania Continues: Bloomberg reports that General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is planning to purchase French industrial giant Alstom SA in a deal valued at more than $13 billion. This valuation is about 25% higher than the target current market value. Alstrom is a manufacturer of high-speed trains and power plant equipment and has been slashing jobs at its locations in France and Spain.
- The Healthcare M&A Frenzy: Medical device maker Zimmer Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ZMH) announced plans to purchase private orthopedic products manufacturer Biomet Inc. for nearly $13.35 billion. The deal consists of $10.35 billion in cash and $3 billion in shares issued to Biomet shareholders. Shares of Zimmer Holdings surged more than 13% in pre-market trading.
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Full U.S. Economic Calendar April 24, 2014 (NYSE: all times EDT)
- Durable Goods Orders at 8:30 a.m.
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
- Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index at 11 a.m.
- 3-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 6-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 52-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 2-Yr FRN Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 7-Yr Note Auction at 1:00 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.
Key Companies Reporting Earnings April 24, 2014
- Consensus earnings per share for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is $0.87.
- Consensus earnings per share for 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) is $1.79.
- Consensus earnings per share for Altria Group (NYSE: MO) is $0.57.
- Consensus earnings per share for United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) is $1.09.
- Consensus earnings per share for Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) is $0.70.
- Consensus earnings per share for Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is $1.25.
- Consensus earnings per share for Celgene Corp. (Nasdaq: CELG) is $1.43. '
- Consensus earnings per share for General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is $0.47.
- Consensus earnings per share for Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is $1.68.
- Consensus earnings per share for Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) is $0.42.
- Consensus earnings per share for American Airlines Group Inc. (NYSE: AAL) is $0.48.
- Consensus earnings per share for Baidu Inc. (Nasdaq: BIDU) is $5.91.
- Consensus earnings per share for Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is $1.24.
- Consensus earnings per share for Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: CCE) is $0.44.
- Consensus earnings per share for Devry Education Group Inc. (NYSE: DV) is $0.75.
- Consensus earnings per share for Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (NYSE: DO) is $0.64.
- Consensus earnings per share for Lorillard Inc. (NYSE: LO) is $0.72
- Consensus earnings per share for Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) is $-0.14.
- Consensus earnings per share for T. Rowe Price Group Inc. (Nasdaq: TROW) is $1.03.
- Consensus earnings per share for Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA) is $0.04.
- Consensus earnings per share for Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) is $1.76.
- Consensus earnings per share for Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: ALXN) is $1.03.