A late-day turn around lifted the major indexes into the green. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched higher by 0.27% to 14,128, the S&P 500 rose 0.45% to 1,525, and the Nasdaq rose 0.39% to 3,182. This after weakness in China kept U.S. stocks under pressure for much of the trading session. China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 3.7%, posting its largest percentage fall since August 2011.
Apple (AAPL) shares fell another 2.4% today after research out of Cowen & Co. predicted a later than expected launch for the next generation iPhone 5S, which is specifically geared toward the Chinese market. Shares of the titan giant are now down 21% this year alone.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) drifted lower today amid corruption claims that surfaced last week after Sands filed paperwork with the SEC. The filings lead to reports that the company admitted to bribing officials in the Chinese gambling mecca of Macau. But Sands says the violations may be nothing more than a single accounting error. The company is objecting in particular to a New York Times article with the headline "Casino Says It Likely Cheated."
Transocean Ltd (RIG) shares also ended slightly higher today. Late Friday the world's largest offshore drilling contractor reported a rise in revenue and a higher-than-expected profit for the fourth quarter. The company says its board has also recommended reinstating dividend payments. But activist investor Carl Icahn, who has been pushing the company to resume its dividend, says the $2.24 per share proposal is not enough.
Speaking of Icahn, his Icahn Enterprises (IEP) ended the session 2.2% higher after reporting earnings today. Shares were down an ego-bruising 16% on Friday after the company issued more than 3 million new shares, diluting the value of existing units. Of course Icahn has been in the headlines quite a bit lately as he and Bill Ackman take opposing views on Herbalife (HLF). Icahn is upping his stake in Herbalife to as much as 25% and recently won the right to pick some of the company's board members.
HSBC (HBC) fell 1.6% today in the wake of its earnings report. Europe's largest bank says its net profits dropped 17% for the year. The company is pinning part of the blame on a $2 billion dollar payment to settle a money-laundering case brought by U.S. officials. HSBC says its underlying profit is in fact up because it has gotten many bad loans off its books. Today's activity aside, the stock has been on a climb for the past six months.
Shares of News Corp (NWSA) hit a new 52-week high and ended the day 1.2% higher after the company announced that it is selling its entire stake in New Zealand’s "Sky Network Television." That's the country's biggest pay-television operator. The move is part of News Corp's push to reshape its balance sheet before separating its publishing and entertainment holdings. News Corp plans to complete the split by June. Prior to today's rise, share have been under pressure in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal which involved News Corp's "News of The World."
Shares of MetroPCS (PCS) moved 3.3% higher today. But trouble has been calling. A major investor is now demanding the company update documents related to its merger with T-Mobile. Metro PCS reported a 65% drop in its quarterly net profit last week. Revenue growth has slowed for eight straight quarters.