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U.S. stock futures edged higher on Thursday morning, even as the Challenger jobs cut report showed a 7 percent year-over-year increase in the number of planned layoffs for February. The European Central Bank left the benchmark rate unchanged at 0.75 percent.
Futures at 8:45 a.m.: DJIA: +0.22%, S&P 500: +0.25%, NASDAQ: +0.25%.
Dell’s (NASDAQ:DELL) turbulent privatization efforts have been presented with another obstacle: billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn, who took a 6 percent stake in the company and is opposing the current buyout proposal. True to form, Icahn has his own idea of what the company should do, and that is to pursue a leveraged recapitalization and pay a $9 per share dividend, instead of going private. Shares of the tech company were up nearly half a percent in pre-market trading.
BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and other natural resources companies were brought into focus on Wednesday after China’s national planning agency accused them of manipulating the market in order to drive up prices. BHP Billiton was the first to respond publicly, emailing a statement to Reuters that read: “We aim to improve transparency by increasing liquidity in the spot market.”
Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) traded up about 1.15 percent in Thursday’s pre-market after the company announced its intention to “proceed with plans for the complete legal and structural separation of Time Inc. from Time Warner.” CEO and chairman Jeff Bewkes commented: “A complete spin-off of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc., enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile. Time Inc. will also benefit from the flexibility and focus of being a stand-alone public company and will now be able to attract a more natural stockholder base.”
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