Stocks edge higher; IBM pulls up the Dow
NEW YORK (AP) — Technology stocks continue to lead stocks higher.
News that IBM will buy back more stock and raise its dividend helped pull the Dow and the S&P 500 out of a morning slump Tuesday.
The S&P edged up 3.96 points to close at 1,597.57, another all-time high. The S&P ended April with a 1.8 percent gain, the sixth month in a row the index has climbed higher.
The Dow fell as much as 84 points in morning trading but ended with a gain of 21 points at 14,839.80. The Nasdaq rose 21.77 points to 3,328.79.
Worries about slower economic growth have rattled the stock market this month, but it has consistently bounced back. Brad Sorensen at the brokerage Charles Schwab says investors have few alternatives. He says "it seems like every pullback in the market is seen as a buying opportunity."
Asian stocks slow in wake of reports of sluggish manufacturing
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Wednesday in holiday-thinned trading after the pace of China's manufacturing growth slowed in April, raising fears of a weaker recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index fell to 50.6 in April from 50.9 in March on a 100-point scale on which readings above 50 indicate an expansion.
The industry group quoted economist Zhang Lijun as saying that steadily declining export orders and other indicators portend a slight decline in economic growth.
Analysts said the data slightly undershot expectations. Most had been expecting a reading of 50.7.
Oil prices fall to roughly 93 cents a barrel on Chinese manufacturing report
BANGKOK (AP) — The price of oil fell to near $93 on Wednesday after data showed a slowdown in China's manufacturing growth.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 45 cents to $93.01 a barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.04 to finish at $93.46 per barrel on Tuesday in anticipation of another increase in U.S. crude supplies.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, an industry group, released data showing that manufacturing grew at a slower pace in April and that export orders had been declining steadily. The federation's purchasing managers' index fell to 50.6 in April from 50.9 in March. On a 100-point scale, numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Fed policymakers wrap up interest rate setting meeting
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve policymakers are expected to release a statement this afternoon after their two-day meeting on interest rates wraps up.
Also today, Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for April, and the Commerce Department releases figures on construction spending in March.
Automakers are due to announce their April vehicle sales figures.
CVS Caremark, MasterCard, Merck, Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom all report quarterly financial results before trading opens on Wall Street.
US regulators looking at dealing with social media
WASHINGTON (AP) — A week after hackers broke into The Associated Press' Twitter feed and roiled financial markets, federal regulators say they need to find ways to deal with the impact of social media.
Members of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission didn't outline immediate action Tuesday. CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton suggested they consider imposing tougher cybersecurity rules for investment firms and others that trade. Firms could be held accountable and sanctioned if their security systems were inadequate to prevent a breach.
At a meeting of an advisory panel, Commissioner Scott O'Malia said regulators need to begin figuring out how to respond to social media.
The false tweet reporting explosions at the White House sent the stock market on a brief plunge. The CFTC, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating.
SMALLBIZ-SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM
Business owners more upbeat about their companies
NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners are getting more optimistic about their companies.
That's the finding of two surveys released Tuesday. The first, conducted in early April by Wells Fargo and Gallup, finds that owners are more upbeat because their companies' finances are improving. The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index rose seven points to 16 from nine in January and minus-11 in November.
A separate survey by the Kauffman Foundation and LegalZoom finds that 84 percent of entrepreneurs, owners of very young companies, were confident in the first quarter about their companies' profitability in the next year. That's up 1 percentage point from fourth quarter 2012.
While entrepreneurs feel good about their prospects, they have less faith in the U.S. economy. The survey says that's making them pull back on hiring plans.
State Department hits Raytheon with $8M penalty
WASHINGTON (AP) — The American defense company Raytheon has agreed to an $8 million settlement for violating U.S. arms control regulations.
The State Department says it reached the agreement with Raytheon after uncovering numerous violations.
The violations included inaccurate tracking and documentation of exports and imports of controlled hardware, as well as improper manufacture of certain equipment by the company's foreign partners.
Raytheon will pay a $4 million fine. An additional $4 million penalty will be suspended on condition that Raytheon uses that money to improve compliance procedures.
Raytheon Co., based in Waltham, Mass., reported $24 billion in sales last year.
Apple selling record $17 billion in first bond issue; money destined for shareholders
NEW YORK (AP) — Apple began selling $17 billion in bonds on Tuesday,
It's one of the largest corporate bond issues ever and the company's first debt issue since the 1990s. It's part of Apple's effort to raise money it plans to give to shareholders through dividend payments and stock buybacks.
Apple has $145 billion in cash, more than enough for the $100 billion cash return program it announced last week. But, most of its money sits in overseas accounts, and the company doesn't plan to bring it to the U.S. unless the federal corporate tax rate is lowered.
Raising the money through a corporate bond sale gives Apple a tax benefit, since interest payments on corporate debt are tax-deductible.
Market participants say the $17 billion is spread across six types of bonds, including a three-year note and a 30-year bond.
Ratings agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's last week rated Apple at one rung below their highest rating for issuers.
AP source: Obama picks Wheeler to head FCC
WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama plans to name a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission.
The official said Obama planned to announce Wednesday that he was nominating Tom Wheeler as the country's top telecommunications regulator. The official said Obama would name FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve as acting chairwoman while Wheeler awaits Senate confirmation. The official spoke on a condition of anonymity since the selection had not yet been officially announced.
Wheeler is former head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association and the National Cable Television Association. Since 2005, he has been a venture capitalist at Core Capital Partners.
Wheeler would replace outgoing chairman Julius Genachowski (jen-uh-KOW'-skee), who announced in March he would be stepping down.
OIL ASSESSMENT-NORTH DAKOTA
USGS: 7.4B barrels of oil possible in ND, Mont.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Government data show that 7.4 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from two massive shale formations spanning parts of the Dakotas and Montana, nearly double the amount previously estimated for the region.
The new number from the U.S. Geological Survey includes more than 3 billion barrels of oil believed held in the Three Forks formation. That's about the same amount as found in the Bakken formation, which is directly above Three Forks. The USGS says together, the formations amount to the largest continuous oil accumulation it has ever assessed. And industry insiders calls the agency's estimate "conservative."
Oil-producing rock in the Bakken is sandwiched between layers of shale nearly two miles underground and stretches over some 25,000 square miles. About two thirds of it lies under western North Dakota, with the rest extending into eastern Montana and parts of Canada. The Bakken doesn't extend into South Dakota, though the Three Forks does.
Oilmen have known for years that Three Forks held a vast cache of crude, but they say technology and oil prices haven't made it economical until recently.
NUCLEAR PLANT PROBLEMS
Costs for Calif nuke shutdown over $550 million
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Costs tied to California's idle San Onofre (oh-NOH'-fray) nuclear power plant have hit $553 million, while the company that runs it is raising the possibility of retiring the plant if it can't get one reactor running later this year.
The plant between San Diego and Los Angeles has not produced electricity since January 2012, when a tiny radiation leak led to the discovery of damage to hundreds of tubes carrying radioactive water.
Edison International — parent company of operator Southern California Edison — reported Tuesday that $109 million has been spent on repairs and inspections and $444 million for replacement power.
Edison wants federal regulators to allow restart of Unit 2. Without that approval, Chairman Ted Craver says a decision to retire one or both reactors might be made this year.
Paltrow, Parker launch Web series for AOL
NEW YORK (AP) — AOL is making its most substantial dip into original video programming with new series from Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hank Azaria (uh-ZA'-ree-uh) and Nicole Richie.
The Internet company unveiled 15 new digital series Tuesday in a presentation to advertisers in New York. AOL is making a push into original programming in the wake of similar efforts by YouTube, Yahoo and Amazon.
Parker will produce a docudrama on the New York City Ballet. Paltrow and Tracy Anderson will host the Ryan Seacrest-produced series "Second Chances," in which they interview women who've overcome hardship.
Azaria hosts a parenting series called "Fatherhood." Richie will star in a show based on her Twitter feed.
AOL is also partnering with Tribeca Enterprises for the series "Acting Disruptive," which follows Hollywood professionals launching tech startups.
IBM makes tiny movie by pushing molecules around
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — IBM says it has made the world's tiniest stop-motion movie.
It's a one-minute video in which individual carbon monoxide molecules are rearranged to show a boy dancing and bouncing on a trampoline.
Each frame measures 45 by 25 nanometers. There are 25 million nanometers in an inch.
The lead scientist says it's the first time anything so small has been maneuvered to tell a narrative.
Hugely magnified, the movie (http://bit.ly/17ZmHIt ) is reminiscent of early video games.
It was made using a microscope that magnifies the surface over 100 million times. A tiny needle moved the molecules across a copper surface.
AP source: Obama naming NC's Watt for housing post
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama intends to nominate Rep. Melvin Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the government regulator that oversees lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a White House official said Tuesday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Watt, D-N.C., a 20-year veteran of the House, would replace Edward DeMarco, an appointee of President George W. Bush who has been a target of housing advocates, liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers.
The president was expected to name Watt on Wednesday, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.
Watt's nomination comes at a crucial time for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government sponsored mortgage-finance enterprises that the government rescued at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 as they teetered neared collapse from losses on soured mortgage loans.