Stocks looked poised to start the second quarter on a positive note, the same way they ended the first quarter yesterday. But for the quarter overall, stocks were pretty flat. The Dow managed to claw back its losses to end just about where it started the year. The Nasdaq did a little better, finishing up just over 1% since the start of the year and the S&P 500 was the big winner of the three, gaining more than 2% in the first three months of the year. Five stocks in the S&P 500 soared 30% or more in the first quarter. Forest Labs (FRX) topped the list, up an impressive 54% for the quarter. Oil and gas driller Nabors (NBR) gained 45%. Coffee company Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) was up 39%. Tyson Foods (TSN) gained 31% and audio company Harman International (HAR) was up 30%.
Among the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching for you as we start the second quarter: Amazon (AMZN). The company just approved six new series for streaming on its Amazon Prime Instant Video service. The series were chosen after viewers voted and commented on 10 pilot episodes that were shown earlier this year. Amazon also said its first series "Alpha House", starring John Goodman will return for a second season. Tomorrow, Amazon is expected to unveil a streaming-video device that could rival Google's (GOOG) Chromecast and Apple TV (AAPL).
General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to testify before a House panel today and a Senate panel tomorrow about the company's handling of recalls after faulty ignition switches came to light. Ahead of Barra's testimony, GM announced another new recall of 1.3 million vehicles due to power steering loss. The recall involves seven models made between 2004 and 2010. GM has now recalled more than 6 million vehicles this year. The company said it will take a $750 million charge against its first quarter results to pay for the recalls.
GM and other automakers are expected to report auto sales for March throughout the day today. Chrysler reported sales jumped 13% in March, more than the 10% analysts were expecting.
Caterpillar (CAT) is under fire for shifting profits overseas in an effort to avoid paying U.S. taxes. A new Senate report says the company negotiated a deal with Switzerland that allowed it to avoid paying $2.4 billion in taxes. Company officials will testify today at a Senate hearing. Caterpillar says it followed "the letter and spirit of U.S. tax law.”
In our poll today: do you think Caterpillar did anything wrong by shifting profits overseas to lower its taxes? Cast your vote and post your comments as well.
The FBI is investigating whether high-speed trading firms are engaging in insider trading by taking advantage of fast-moving market information unavailable to the average investor. The Wall Street Journal says one of the practices under investigation is firms placing a group of trades and then canceling them to create the false appearance of market activity.
And five years after Michael Jackson's death, he has a new album coming out. Epic Records says it will release a new album called “Xscape” in May. According to Forbes, Jackson was the top-earning dead celebrity last year, pulling in a cool $160 million for the year.