U.S. stock futures held onto gains after February durable goods orders came in much better than expected, up 2.2% on strong demand for aircraft. Wall Street was expecting a gain of 0.8%. Excluding the more volatile transportation sector, orders for durable goods rose 0.2%.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said he believes the U.S. economy is "set for a pretty good year” despite weaker data in January and February. Speaking at a conference in Hong Kong, Bullard also said he expects the U.S. unemployment rate to fall below 6% by the end of the year and more progress is needed in the labor market before the Fed can consider raising interest rates. The comments indicate a softening for Bullard who has previously advocated for rate hikes.
In corporate news, Target (TGT) missed a number of opportunities to stop the data breach that occurred during last year's holiday shopping season. That's according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee. The report says Target ignored multiple warnings that attackers were installing malicious software and planning ways to get information off the company's servers. The report also says Target - the number three U.S. retailer - didn't isolate sensitive data on its servers. And that access was given to its network by third-party vendors who didn't follow accepted security protocols. The cyber attack compromised 40 million credit cards and 70 million customer records. Target executives are scheduled to testify in front of the committee today.
Rupert Murdoch's sons have been appointed to new positions in his companies, News Corp (NWSA) and 21st Century Fox (FOXA). Lachlan Murdoch has been named non-executive co-chairman of both companies. His brother, James Murdoch, has been appointed co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. While James had been at 21st Century Fox, heading its international division, Lachlan quit his role as COO seven years ago after conflicts with his father and other senior executives, and has since focused on businesses in Australia. News Corp and 21st Century Fox were part of the same company until their split last year.
Facebook (FB) continues its buying spree with the purchase of startup, Oculus VR for $2 billion. Oculus, which makes a virtual-reality headset called the Oculus Rift, has only sold the product to developers, not to the general public. This is Facebook's second multi-billion dollar deal in as many months. In February, the company announced it would buy messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion.
And shares of King Digital Entertainment are set to begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker: KING. The maker of Candy Crush Saga priced its initial public offering last night in the middle of its expected price range at $22.50 after the close of trading. The company says it sold 22.2 million shares which will give it a market value of about $7 billion.