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Concerns about geopolitical pressures in Ukraine temporarily abated, but investors are taking notice of brewing economic problems in Europe. A slew of bad data suggests a choppy road ahead for the European Union, which has a combined GDP that is roughly $600 billion larger than the U.S. economy.
Here are the top stories in stock market news today (Thursday):
- Murdoch Wins: Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (Nasdaq: FOXA) were up nearly 5% in premarket hours on news that the company reported fourth-quarter revenue growth of 17% and a massive jump in net income to nearly $1 billion compared to a $371 million loss in the same period last year. The company reported remarkably strong revenue growth from its Filmed Entertainment division, reporting a 38% increase in year-over-year revenue growth. The good news comes a day after the company's leader Rupert Murdoch announced he had withdrawn his $80 billion bid to purchase Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), a decision that sent the stock up another 3.5% yesterday before reporting earnings.
- Sailing Away: Chinese online travel company Ctrip.com International Ltd. (Nasdaq: CTRP) is up more than 10% in premarket hours on news that Priceline Group Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN) plans to invest $500 million into the company. The online travel company consolidates hotel accommodations, hotel reservations, and other travel itinerary purchases in the Chinese market. Shares of Priceline were unchanged this morning. The deal announcement comes on the same day that Priceline competitor Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: OWW) saw shares fall 2.5% before the bell after the company missed quarterly earnings expectations of $0.15 per share, registering just $0.06.
- Around the World: As geopolitical concerns rattle investor confidence, two key central banks elected to leave their interest rates unchanged. The Bank of England remained pat on its benchmark rate at 0.5%. The U.K. central bank hasn't hiked rates since 2007, but calls for an increase are heating up. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank (ECB) kept its primary financing rate at 0.15%, a record low, with deposit rates at -0.1% and marginal lending rate at 0.4%. ECB President Mario Draghi will hold a press conference this morning to explain the bank's decision.
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