Hot Stock Minute

Waiting on the Fed; Toyota to pay $1.2 billion settlement; Google and Apple smartwatch war

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Investors' attention will be focused squarely on the Fed today. The Federal Open Market Committee will announce its latest decisions regarding interest rates this afternoon. The Fed is also expected to announce the latest move in the taper of the Fed's $65 billion-a-month bond-buying program. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will also hold her first news conference since taking over for Ben Bernanke. Wall Street will be watching the news conference closely for any indication of a coming shift in policy.

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota (TM) over the automaker’s handling of consumer complaints tied to unintended acceleration. In the associated video, host of Yahoo Finance’s Breakout, Jeff Macke, talks with Lauren Lyster about any takeaway in light of the problems General Motors (GM) is facing with regard to its own recalls. Macke said Barra is a much better CEO because she has owned GM’s problems with ignition switches while Toyota played down the problem with unintended accelerations. Macke said that GM's Barra set the right tone when she said the problems are unacceptable and GM made mistakes and will fix them. She didn’t complain about only being there two months.

“She mentioned as a parent it’s unacceptable,” Macke said. “She took it from a human perspective, a business perspective and she sent the message to that company, all throughout the organization that, 'Here I am. I’m not messing around.’” “Love it,” Macke added. “Love, love, love the job she’s doing.”

In other corporate news, J.P. Morgan (JPM) has agreed to sell its commodities trading business to a Swiss-based energy-trading company. According to The Wall Street Journal, J.P. Morgan will sell the business to Mercuria Energy Group in a deal that is expected to be completed this summer. The business trades oil, natural gas, base metals and hard assets such as gas fields and storage caverns. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but when J.P. Morgan offered the commodities business to potential buyers in October, it was valued at $3.3 billion.

The owner of seven McDonald's (MCD) franchises in New York has agreed to pay $500,000 to workers for labor violations. An investigation by New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that employees at McDonald's restaurants owned by Richard Cisneros were forced to work before or after their shifts without pay and did not get properly paid for overtime, among other violations. The settlement will be paid to more than 1,600 employees and comes a week after McDonald's workers in California, Michigan and New York sued the company for wage theft and other issues.

One of the stocks we’re watching today is Google (GOOG). It looks like the company may beat Apple (AAPL) to market with its new "smartwatch." Google and LG (LPL) yesterday said the new "Android Wear" smartwatch would be coming to market within months. Users will be able to ask the smartwatches questions, track fitness and travel data and send messages all from their watches. Apple is also working on a smartwatch that some believe could come to market this year. So the watch wars are on.

In our poll today, tell us: where would you rather wear your technology? On your face with Google Glass or something like it, on your wrist or are you happy to stick with your smartphone? Cast your vote and post your comments as well.

 

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