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Housing starts fall; Scotland votes; Does IBM have a new take on pay cuts?

Hot Stock Minute

Stocks are adding to Wednesday's gains with the Dow Industrials hitting another record in early trading. 

Investors hanging onto the Federal Reserve's reassuring words on interest rates, the Fed said yesterday that interest rates will stay near zero for "a considerable time" after its bond buying program ends in October.

Wall Street got a mixed set of data this morning. The Labor Department reported jobless claims fell by 36,000 to 280,000 last week. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said housing starts fell by a bigger-than-expected 14.4% in August from the previous month to an annual rate of 956,000 units.   

On the other side of the Atlantic Scottish citizens are voting on whether or not they should break away from the UK and become and independent country. The results of the vote are expected Friday morning. 

Related:  Pier 1 and Rite Aid shares tumble on lowered outlook; Yahoo shares rise ahead of Alibaba IPO

In corporate news, Pier 1 Imports (PIR) cut its full year outlook after reporting second quarter earnings and revenue that missed Wall Street estimates. Profits at the home furnishings retailer fell by nearly half amid weak store traffic and smaller margins. 

Rite Aid (RAD) also cut its full year outlook.The drugstore chain said lower reimbursements rates and increased use of generic drugs will hurt profit. However, earnings and revenue for the second quarter topped analysts' estimates thanks to strong sales at its pharmacies.

Yahoo (YHOO) shares remain in focus as investors wait for Alibaba to price its initial public offering after the market close. The Chinese e-commerce giant is expected to price between $66 and $68 dollars a share. It's set to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "BABA" on Friday morning. [Yahoo Finance's parent company, Yahoo, has a 22.6% ownership stake in Alibaba]

Related: IBM cuts worker pay in exchange for mandatory training 

IBM (IBM) is slapping some of its workers with a pay cut, but here's the kicker they're calling it training.  

In a recent e-mail to employees reported by Computer World and the New York Times, IBM told employees that a “recent assessment” had identified workers that “have not kept pace with acquiring the skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.”

These workers would now be required to attend mandatory job training for 23 days over the next six months. As part of this training, their salaries would be reduced by 10%.