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Business News

Stocks barely squeezed out gains yesterday but the gains were enough to push the S&P 500 to a 42nd record close for the year.

Oil Field Service Company Halliburton plans to spend $35 Billion to buy rival Baker Hughes.  Without this merger and oil prices at $75/barrel both companies would have to shrink their workforce to react to the lower spending of their customers.  The combined company is expected to save $2 Billion per year because of synergies.

OPEC knows it must cut production to lift oil prices but it is far from clear whether its individual members will agree.  Saudi Arabia doubts that the 11 other countries will actually cut production.  A production cut would certainly boost oil prices, but most OPEC members cannot afford to limit production.  So OPEC members are in a stand-off while oil continue to decline.  This has certainly been good news for the US consumer.  For every $1 that gasoline prices go lower Americans have $100 Billion more in the collective pockets.

Home Depot reported earnings this morning that beat analysts' expectations sending the stock higher.  The company said sales rose 5.4% in the latest quarter driven by sales of bigger ticket items.  The company did warn that future costs will be higher in the aftermath of a widespread customer data breach.  

And shares of Tyson foods fell more than 4% after the company reported 4th quarter earnings that were half of what Wall St. had been expecting.  The company pointed to higher costs after their merger with Hillshire Brands.
 

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