The Nasdaq rose 21 points, thanks to a surge by Apple’s shares, which gained 8% after the tech giant announced on Wednesday a seven-for-one stock split, a dividend increase, and a big buy-back. The Dow, however, was flat and the S&P 500 Index advanced by only 3 points. Fifteen of the Dow’s thirty components gained ground, led by Caterpillar (CAT), which rose 1.8%. Volume was moderate. Advancing and declining issues ran nose to nose on the NYSE while on the Nasdaq advancers outpaced decliners by three to two. The prices of Treasuries were mixed, while the price of gold futures gained 0.47% to $1,290.60 an ounce. The price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 0.49% to $101.94 a barrel.
In Earnings News:
- Aetna announced earnings jumped by 36% to $1.82 a share, thanks in part to the acquisition of Coventry Health Care. The insurance giant also forecast that it will lose money on its entry into the Affordable Care Act marketplaces this year because the balance of people signing up for insurance is skewed toward people who cost more than they pay. Nevertheless, Aetna increased its estimate of earnings for the full year, because individual insurance accounts for a small share of total revenue. The price of the shares (AET) gained 5.88% in today’s session.
- Verizon announced earnings increased from 68 cents a share a year ago to $1.15 a share in the latest quarter, as the company benefited from its acquisition from Vodafone of the 45% of Verizon Wireless that it didn’t own. The price of the shares (VZ) lost 2.42%.
- Caterpillar announced earnings rose from $1.31 a share one year ago to $1.44 a share in the latest quarter. Although revenue was flat, cost-reduction measures helped performance. The company also increased its earnings guidance for the year and the price of the shares (CAT) gained 1.84%.
- General Motors reported that a $1.3 billion charge to cover the costs of global recalls caused profits to plummet by 82%. The price of the shares (GM) fell 0.64% in today’s session.
In Other Business News:
- New claims for unemployment benefits rose last week by 24,000 to 329,000, according to the Labor Department. The four-week moving average of new claims increased by 4,750 to 316,750. The increases were larger than many economists anticipated, but may reflect adjustments to the data relating to the late Easter.
- Durable goods orders increased by 2.6% in March, according to the Commerce Department. Orders picked up in every major category and resulted in the largest increase in four months, which may indicate a growing strength in the economy.
- Zimmer Holdings, a maker of orthopedic implants, announced it will acquire Biomet, which is also a maker of medical implant devices, for $13.35 billion. The board of Biomet, which had filed for an initial public offering, has approved the deal. The price of Zimmer shares (ZMH) gained 11.5%.
My last sanctuary from the tech revolution is about to be breached. It’s the barbecue grill. Mine sits on a corner of our covered porch where the sun doesn’t scorch, the rain doesn’t pour, and the internet doesn’t interrupt. I like to be working at that spot at the end of a beautiful day, grilling something juicy and not multi-tasking. I leave my smart phone with all the interference it brings in the house.
Now, however, a company called Lynx is coming out with a “Smart Grill” that connects to the internet. It can be controlled from your cell phone if you’d rather be socializing with guests, or you can tell the grill what you’re preparing and it will give you periodic updates. And, of course, you can download recipes and the grill, which is gas-powered, will do all the cooking for you. Just put it on automatic barbecue pilot. Did I mention that it’s voice activated? “I’ll have mine rare. And I mean RARE, as in RED. Don’t mess up this time, Mister So-called ‘Smart’ Grill.”
Is this development good? I’m not sure. Does this gadget tweet? Does it take selfies and post them on social websites? Does it take videos of inappropriate behavior—wardrobe malfunctions and the like—at pool parties and post THOSE online? Does it grill while distracted? Will I get a summons for GWD? Hmmm.
Potential headlines for this story:
- “I like my gas grill well done.”
- “This grill has more sizzle than the steak.”
- “Grill and bear it.”