Global markets lower on NY Ebola case
US stock futures are edging lower this morning after a suspected case of Ebola in New York became a confirmed one. While risks are low and the patient is a doctor who had been in direct contact with Ebola patients in Africa, risk-averse investors have shifted funds to safe havens including the yen and US bonds. European and Asian markets have been spooked by the news too and are generally in negative territory. Investors in Europe are also awaiting results of a stress test on the region’s banks; the ECB is set to release that on Sunday; and elections in Ukraine with stability likely to give some comfort to European markets.
New home sales figures due at 10am ET
Colgate-Palmolive, Ford Motor Company and Proctor & Gamble are among those reporting today.
Microsoft remains bright without new windows
Billionaire Paul Allen is in the news today for increasing his pledge to help with the Ebola crisis; Allen will donate a total of $100 million of his personal fortune to the funds. The company he co-founded is also big news though, having increased sales by 25 per cent in the last quarter. Microsoft hasn’t boosted sales with the launch of a new operating system; in fact sales of Windows were unremarkable; the growth has come from the X-Box, Nokia smartphones, tablets and its cloud storage and application solutions. Read the full story.
Pfizer offer for AstraZeneca looking less likely
The chance of a renewed offer from US drugs-maker Pfizer for the British firm AstraZeneca is looking lower after Pfizer announced a new $11 billion buy-back of its stock. The initial bid of $118 billion was unsuccessful but under UK stock market rules there could be a new offer made from the end of November, however this new announcement suggests that Pfizer has gone cold on the idea. Read the full story.
Is Amazon writing the book on disappointment?
Wall Street may tire of Amazon after the online retail giant posted losses that were greater than expectations. It was only a few months ago that the company was predicting losses of 7 cents per share; analysts thought otherwise and forecast 75 cents per share; yesterday’s results revealed a loss of 95 cents per share. Revenue was disappointing too, $260 million lower than expected and for the busy holiday period Amazon is saying there may be further losses. So what’s gone wrong? It seems that investment has been a big focus for the company in recent years but sales of some of their new lines have been weaker than hoped; the Fire smartphone for example. Amazon also suffered negative publicity from its spat with publisher Hachette plus of course competition is getting hotter. As Google, Apple and Facebook add to their offer the question is whether Amazon is doing enough to compete with their peers; or conversely whether they are doing too much when they are really known as a retailer.
401k limits increased
The IRS has announced that the limit for contributions to 401k and similar programs has been raised to $18,000 for 2015; up from $17,500 in 2014; and the ‘catch-up’ contributions for over 50s is also higher at $6,000.