Stocks are set to end the week slightly lower after bad economic news out of Europe offset positive U.S. economic data and some major developments on the M&A front... MACRO NEWS: GDP in the euro zone and Germany for the fourth quarter dropped and came in below expectations. Japan's Q4 GDP was also worse than expected... Economic data in the U.S. was more upbeat, however, as jobless claims and an index of consumer confidence beat expectations, although industrial production for January was lower than expected... European Central Bank officials indicated that they might impose negative deposit rates on banks' deposits at the central bank... COMPANY NEWS: Comcast (CMCSA) agreed to buy the share of NBC it doesn't already own from GE (GE) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) and a Brazilian private equity firm agreed to buy H.J. Heinz (HNZ)... In another major deal, Constellation Brands (STZ) announced that it would buy major beer brands, a large brewery in northern Mexico, and other considerations from AB InBev (BUD) for $2.9B. The deal is expected to increase the chances that the Justice Department will allow AB InBev to buy the remaining stake in Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo it doesn't already own... GM (GM) and Cisco (CSCO) both reported stronger than expected quarterly revenues.
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