Here's what to watch for in the stock market today:
- The Mega Energy Deal: In what appears to be a jab at Ukraine's natural gas debts, Alexander Medvedev, Chief Executive of Gazprom Export, announced today that China has agreed to prepay $25 billion in its mega gas supply deal with Russia. This week, Russia and China signed a 30-year gas supply contract, which will ultimately be worth more than $400 billion. Ukraine, meanwhile, could see its supply cut off from Russia over a $2 billion debt.
- A Billion Here, A Billion There: Ride-sharing startup Uber is currently talking with investors at BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK), General Atlantic, and Technology Crossover Ventures about raising additional capital. The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber aims to raise $500 million, offering shares that would value the company at a staggering $12 billion. An initial public offering is expected in the near future, but the company appears to be waiting out the market.
- Banks Behaving Badly: After settling over its role in a massive scheme to manipulate Libor Interest Rates, Barclays Plc (NYSE: BCS) has now been fined 26 million pounds ($43.8 million) over manipulation in gold prices. British regulators are faulting the bank for failing to bolster risk management controls and to properly monitor traders who rigged gold prices.
- Today's Economic Calendar: A thin economic calendar Friday features a report on new home sales. In March, new home sales slumped by 14.5% to a 384,000 annual rate. A positive number would restore confidence in a struggling housing sector, which remains a chief economic concern to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
- The Turnaround Continues: The same day that the company reported earnings, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) announced it will slash up to 16,000 more jobs as CEO Meg Whitman continues her turnaround strategy. The computer maker is focused on bolstering profit margins this fiscal year. Despite increased competition from smartphones and tablets, HP said that personal systems increased revenues by 7%. The company's first-quarter profits increased to $1.27 billion, or $0.66 per share, from $1.08 billion, or $0.55 per share, last fiscal year.
- Bring on the Regulators: U.S. lawmakers and regulators have quickly moved on the massive data breach that has hammered eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) and its online payment service PayPal. Three U.S. states are examining the company's security protocols, and investigators are aiming to help customers reduce exposure. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked eBay to offer free credit monitoring for every affected customer.
- We're Number Three: The cell phone battles are heating up. T-Mobile U.S. Inc. (Nasdaq: TMUS) has surpassed Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) as the third-largest purchase of smartphones in the U.S., according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research. In the first quarter, T-Mobile purchased six million smartphones, a 20% increase over Sprint's five million purchases. T-Mobile continues to surge, as the company has added more new subscribers than any other U.S. wireless operator so far this year.
- The Pocket Change Amendment: Tired of auto corporations paying a maximum fine that some consider "pocket change," three U.S. Senators have drafted a bill that would eliminate the cap for failing to report known automotive defects. The legislation follows in the wake of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) paying a maximum fine of $35 million to settlement charges it failed to properly report and fix faulty ignition switches. At least 13 people died due to the automotive malfunction. Shares of GM were down marginally in premarket hours.
- Earnings Reports: Stay tuned for earnings reports from Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL) and Hibbett Sports Inc. (Nasdaq: HIBB).
Full U.S. Economic Calendar May 23, 2014
- New Home Sales at 10 a.m.
- SIFMA Rec. Early Close 2 p.m.
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