Stocks are slightly higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street as investors pick over a stock market that is already near all-time highs. Homebuilding stocks rose after a big merger was announced in the industry. Tri Pointe Homes Inc. is combining with Weyerhaeuser Co.'s homebuilding business in a deal valued at about $2.7 billion. Steel stocks rose after Goldman Sachs upgraded the sector. And the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was up more than a half-percent, the biggest gain among major U.S. indexes.
- Federal prosecutors in New York say SAC Capital Advisors has agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges, stop investing money for others and pay the largest financial penalty in history for insider trading, $1.8 billion. The hedge fund giant will pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government. However, $616 million that SAC companies have already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be deducted from the $1.8 billion.
- The Justice Department says Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations of promoting three prescription drugs for off-label uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The allegations include paying kickbacks to physicians and pharmacies to recommend and prescribe two antipsychotics drugs and a drug used to treat heart failure. It's the third-largest U.S. settlement involving a drugmaker.
- The Department of Transportation has fined US Airways $1.2 million for failing to provide adequate wheelchair assistance to passengers in Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C. The fine is one of the largest assessed by the department in a disability case. Federal rules require that airlines provide free, prompt wheelchair assistance to passengers with disabilities, including helping passengers to move between gates to make connecting flights.
- Kellogg is planning to cut its global workforce by 7 percent as the maker of Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K struggles to get Americans to eat more cereal. The company also says it expects earnings per share for the year to be toward the lower end of its previous projection as a result of weaker-than-expected sales. Kellogg says the workforce reductions will take place by the end of 2017, along with plant consolidations and other cost-cutting measures.