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Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new third generation iPad hits stores today in ten countries after its share price reached for the first time, $600. The first country to see sales was Australia. In the U.S., Apple stories and retail giant Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and RadioShack (NYSE:RSH), will sell the new tablet.
Rolling Stone magazine writer Matt Taibbi continues to take on the financial community. This time time he is challenging the “too crooked to fail” Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Taibbi has alleged in his recent article that the bank has massively defrauded investors, insurers, homeowners and the unemployed. He questions why the government continues to bail it out and also looks at the recent SEC vs. Citigroup (NYSE:C) ruling.
United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) is still in talks to buy Dutch rival TNT Express after proposing a February 9 EUR per share transaction at 4.9 billion EUR ($6.4 billion). The company said it will seek Dutch regulatory approval by May 11 at the very latest; a price had not been included but UPS may improve its previous offer in light of TNT’s recent poor numbers and the lack of counter bids, reported Reuters.
Four strategic partners have taken a 16.5 percent equity stake valued near $10 billion in China’s Cinda Asset Management Corp. This includes UBS (NYSE:UBS), Standard Chartered, CITIC Capital and the National Social Security Fund, China’s biggest pension fund. This investment comes ahead of Cinda’s plans to sell shares on domestic and foreign markets. The company is one of four large asset managers created by government in 1999 to get rid of bad loans from China’s large lenders.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares declined 1 percent in early Friday trading. The tech giant’s new iPad goes on sale today. Apple stores in 10 countries opened at 8 a.m. today to large crowds of iFans. The new iPad is also being sold at retailers like Best Buy Co. (NYSE:BBY) and Wal-Mart Inc. (NYSE:WMT).
Steel Dynamics, Inc. (NASDAQ:STLD) shares dropped more than 1 percent before the opening bell. The company lowered first quarter guidance to 15 cents to 20 cents earnings per share, compared to a consensus of 36 cents.
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Shares of Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ:CLWR) popped almost 3 percent after Sprint (NYSE:S) decided to terminate its spectrum hosting agreement with LightSquared. The company said the decision was due to interference issues.
Sina Corp. (NASDAQ:SINA) shares fell more than 2 percent this morning. There is widespread frustration with new regulations requiring Weibo users to register their real names. The company has only added 19 million users out of a base of 300 million.
After reporting a better-than-expected recent quarter due to the popularity of Hunger Games books, shares of Scholastic Corp. (NASDAQ:SCHL) increased 1.4 percent.
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Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow -0.15%, S&P +0.11%, Nasdaq -0.04%, Oil +2.00%, Gold +0.02%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $107.21 a barrel. Precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) rising slightly to $1,659.80 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.60% to settle at $32.53.
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Today’s markets were mixed because:
1) Data. Inflation rose 0.4 percent in February after rising 0.2 percent the previous month, justifying fears that had consumer sentiment down this month according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan sentiment index. Higher gas prices were responsible for most of the rise, and could hurt consumer spending. Industrial production was unchanged in February, according to a Federal Reserve report today, disappointing after expectations for a 0.5 percent increase.
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2) Tech. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares were flat today after climbing in the weeks preceding the iPad’s debut. Likewise, AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) didn’t seem to benefit from the iPad’s launch today, even though the two companies have exclusive rights to provide coverage for the 4G models. Sprint (NYSE:S) was one of the sector’s few standouts today, climbing more than 3 percent on news it ended its $9 billion agreement with LightSquared to build a high-speed wireless service.
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3) Oil. Higher oil and gas prices are a serious threat to the economic recovery, as Americans forced to spend more at the pump have less to spend on other consumer goods. The U.S. and U.K. are considering strategic reserves releases, but neither President Barack Obama’s administration nor Prime Minister David Cameron will admit to having serious talks on the matter. Meanwhile, tensions with Iran have kept oil prices high, with Brent crude around $126 a barrel today and WTI, the American standard, up 2 percent today to $107.21.
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After briefly touching $600 per share on Thursday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) were unable to close the week above the level. Apple closed at $585.57 and edged slightly lower in late Friday trading.
Shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Goldman Sachs Inc. (NYSE:GS) edged slightly lower in extended trading. Financial stocks performed well this week as the Federal Reserve’s stress tests results earlier in the week gave a boost to the sector.
OmniVision Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:OVTI) closed more than 2 percent higher on Friday. Chipworks confirmed that the company’s image sensors are used for both the new iPad’s front and rear cameras.
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Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE:DPZ) shares jumped 3.5 percent after the closing bell. The company declared a special $3 per share dividend. “Paying less in interest, along with the stability of a fixed interest rate over the next seven years, and the flexibility of an available revolver, gives us the ability to invest in the business and reward shareholders,” chief executive officer Patrick Doyle explained.
Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) closed nearly 2 percent higher on Friday. According to sources, the internet company is preparing a massive restructuring, including thousands of layoffs. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook are reportedly trying to acquire the soon-to-be laid off workers.
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