The corporate earnings season has presented a mixed picture of the economy's health. Overall company earnings weren't bad in the first quarter but many firms are forecasting slower growth ahead. And, some investors say companies are still relying too much on cost-cutting to generate earnings growth. The S&P 500 fell 2 ½ points yesterday. The Nasdaq lost 16. But the Dow rose 32.
- Global stock markets are bit subdued today, with investors weighing a fall in Chinese inflation and renewed jitters about Ukraine as pro-Russian militants press ahead with plans for an independence referendum. European shares opened lower, while trading in Asian markets was mixed. Futures suggest another drop when trading opens on Wall Street this morning.
- Worries about the situation in Ukraine are pushing oil prices higher. Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine are planning a referendum on independence this weekend, despite a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to put off the vote. Traders worry Russian crude exports could be interrupted if instability in Ukraine results in stronger Western sanctions against Russia. Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery was up 51 cents at $100.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
- Investors will have two U.S. government reports to look at today. The Commerce Department will release wholesale trade inventories for March and the Labor Department will release its job openings and labor turnover survey for March.
- Neither company is commenting, but the Financial Times reports that Apple is orchestrating a $3.2 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and music streaming distributor founded by hip-hop star Dr. Dre (dray) and record producer Jimmy Iovine (eye-VEEN'). The Financial Times cites people familiar with the negotiations saying that Apple could announce the deal as early as next week, though final details still need to be worked out.