Apple shares reach 2014 highs, Asian stocks lag
By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Shares in tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook held hefty after-hours gains on Thursday as their results handily outpaced Wall Street expectations, though Asian markets managed only a mumbled cheer on the news. South Korea's Samsung Electronics did gain 0.6 percent but the main KOSPI index dipped a fraction. Markets were mixed across the region with Japan's Nikkei off 0.6 percent but Singapore up 0.5 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged ahead by 0.1 percent.
Apple expands buybacks by $30 billion, OKs 7-for-1 stock split
By Edwin Chan SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has approved another $30 billion in share buybacks till the end of 2015 and authorized a rarely seen seven-for-one stock split, addressing calls to share more of its cash hoard while broadening the stock's appeal to individual investors. Activist investor Carl Icahn, who had famously called on the iPhone maker to boost its buyback program, tweeted his approval of the move on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing the roughly 38 million that Wall Street had predicted. But whether Apple can again produce a revolutionary new product remains the central question in investors' and Silicon Valley executives' minds.
Buffett: moving oil by rail safely major industry concern
By Luciana Lopez NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warren Buffett, chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that safety is a major priority for the rail industry, after a recent spate of accidents raised concerns about how to transport oil safely. He added that the delay in the construction of the Keystone pipeline was unlikely to prompt additional purchases of tank cars at Berkshire railroad unit BNSF. COCA-COLA COMPENSATION PLAN Buffett also said, in an interview with CNBC the same day, that he thinks Coca-Cola's equity compensation plan was excessive, but that Berkshire Hathaway abstained in a shareholders vote. Earlier on Wednesday, Coca-Cola said 83 percent of shareholders approved the plan.
Wall Street snaps six-day run; Apple to split stock
By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday to snap a six-session winning streak as gains in Boeing and Gilead were offset by slides in AT&T and the wider biotech sector. AT&T Inc fell 3.8 percent to $34.92 a day after the Dow component reported earnings that beat expectations, offset by weak service revenue growth. Verizon Communications shed 1 percent to $47.43 while the S&P telecom sector index dropped 2.2 percent, easily making it the session's worst-performing sector. Biotech shares pulled the Nasdaq lower.
Exclusive: Marubeni says Chinese authorities detain three staff at grain...
By James Topham and Niu Shuping TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) - Three employees at one of Marubeni Corp's grain trading units in China have been detained by authorities, the Japanese trading house said on Thursday, a move industry sources said was prompted by allegations of tax evasion on soy bean imports. The employees worked at a Chinese unit of Marubeni's Columbia Grain, Inc, a spokesman at Marubeni said, adding he did not know why they had been detained. Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said none of the detained staff at the unit were Japanese citizens. The detentions come amid a wave of soybean defaults in China, where a combination of poor crushing margins and difficulty getting credit has led to a spike in rejected cargoes.
Qualcomm faces China bribery allegations from U.S. regulator
By Noel Randewich SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Leading mobile chipmaker Qualcomm said on Wednesday it could face a civil action from U.S. authorities over alleged bribery of officials associated with state-owned companies in China. With smartphone sales tapering off in the United States, China is a major market for Qualcomm, but doing business there has included disagreements over royalties and an antitrust investigation. In its fiscal second-quarter report, Qualcomm said it has received a notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission's Los Angeles office advising it of a preliminary determination to recommend an enforcement action against the company for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Qualcomm said the civil action could seek remedies including "disgorgement of profits, the retention of an independent compliance monitor to review the company's FCPA policies and procedures, an injunction, civil monetary penalties and prejudgment interest." Qualcomm said it first learned of and disclosed the SEC investigation in 2012.
Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board -...
By Jonathan Spicer and Emily Stephenson NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts The lawyer's name emerged as the White House weighs candidates with community banking backgrounds to fill gaps on the Federal Reserve's powerful but depleted board, the sources said. People familiar with the White House's process said administration officials may fill one of the remaining openings with someone with banking experience, as opposed to an economist. Two sources said the administration is considering Diana Preston, a lawyer who recently left a post at the American Bankers Association, which represents many small banks.
Facebook first-quarter revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's mobile advertising business accelerated in the first three months of the year, helping the Internet social networking company top Wall Street's financial targets. Shares of Facebook were up nearly 3 percent at $63.05 in after-hours trading on Wednesday. Facebook said that mobile ads represented 59 percent of its ad revenue in the first quarter, up from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook's overall revenue grew 72 percent year-on-year to $2.5 billion in the first quarter, above the $2.36 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. "They've got the right products for what advertisers are looking for and that's manifesting itself in the results you're seeing," said JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey.
U.S. new home sales hint at prolonged housing weakness
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to their lowest level in eight months in March, dashing hopes for a quick turnaround for a sector that fell into a soft patch last summer.
Wal-Mart says former CEO Scott to retire from board
(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said former Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott and board member Chris Williams will not stand for re-election to the retailer's board. Scott will complete his service as director at the company's annual shareholders' meeting on June 6, "in line with Walmart`s historical practice for its prior CEOs' Board service," the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Scott had joined Wal-Mart in 1979 and served as its chief executive officer from 2000 till 2009. Williams, chief of The Williams Capital Group, is stepping down from the board after 10 years, in accordance with the company's corporate governance guidelines, Wal-Mart said.
Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is doling out more of its cash to shareholders and preparing to split its stock for the first time in nine years in an attempt to win back investors fretting about the iPhone maker's slowing sales growth and pace of innovation.
Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down
NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's earnings nearly tripled and revenue grew sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street's expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.
Vermont moves toward labeling of GMO foods
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers have passed the countrys first state bill to require the labeling of genetically modified foods as such, setting up a war between powerful lobbyists for the behemoth U.S. food industry and an American public that overwhelmingly says it approves of the idea.
Russian social media CEO quits, flees country
MOSCOW (AP) — The founder of Russia's leading social media network — a wunderkind often described as Russia's Mark Zuckerberg — has left his post as CEO and fled the country as cronies of President Vladimir Putin have made steady inroads into the company's ownership.
Wyoming gas explosion prompts evacuation of town
OPAL, Wyo. (AP) — Residents and emergency crews were waiting for a fire to burn itself out after an explosion at a natural gas processing plant in a small town in southwestern Wyoming.