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Stock market news today, July 18, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was hammered on Thursday and the S&P Volatility Index soared when a Malaysian Airlines plane crashed in Ukraine. Suspicions swirled on whether it was shot down by Russians or pro-Russian separatists. Commodity prices in gold, oil, and agriculture saw strong gains as investors fled to hard assets.
In addition, multiple big-name brands slumped heavily after failing to meet second-quarter earnings expectations.
Here are the top stock market news stories for Friday:
- Merger Mania: On Friday, bio-pharma firm AbbVie Inc. (Nasdaq: ABBV) announced plans to purchase European drug manufacturer Shire Plc. (Nasdaq: SHPG) for $53 billion and relocate to the United Kingdom. According to The Wall Street Journal, AbbVie could save $1.3 billion in taxes over the next few years.
- Today's Economic Calendar: Today's light schedule features consumer sentiment and leading indicators.
- Tech IPO of the Decade: The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese E-commerce giant Alibaba will schedule its initial public offering after Labor Day. The company has chosen not to rush its meetings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and delayed its previous roadshow plans that were initially scheduled for August, according to multiple reports. The IPO could be the largest U.S. IPO ever, based on nominal value.
- Risky Business: U.S. authorities have charged FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) with assisting illegal pharmacies in the delivery of painkillers and other drugs to American customers without doctors' prescriptions. The federal indictment accuses the shipping giant of working with two online pharmacies for a decade.
- The New Chair: Following the resignation of its interim chairman of the board this week, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) announced that President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman would assume the role. Whitman has been a board member since joining the company in January 2011. Interim chairman and activist shareholder Ralph Whitworth resigned on Thursday after announcing he needed to focus on improving his health.
- China on Track: Despite a weak start to 2014 for its massive economy, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reassured observers that economic growth would fall within a satisfactory range of 7.5% this year. The Premier said that any number slightly lower than this projection would be acceptable should employment and wages continue to grow in the nation.