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Fed-fueled rally continues; Fallout from threat to Sony not over; U.S. companies eye Cuba

Hot Stock Minute

Stocks are in rally mode once again this morning as Wall Street hangs on to the Federal Reserve’s pledge  to be “patient” in raising interest rates in 2015 and oil prices show signs of stablizing after a steep drop. 

Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli says investors are betting that the year-end rally is back on and we may even see the markets challenge the highs of a few weeks ago.

Sony (SNE) continues to grab headlines.

The company's movie studio is pulling the plug on the planned Christmas release of "The Interview" after major theater chains abandoned plans to show the film amid terror threats. Meanwhile, U.S. officials reportedly concluded that North Korean government was involved in the hacking of Sony's corporate computer systems.  Shares of Sony were higher on the news.

Related: Sony pulls plug on 'The Interview'; Oracle finally gets a lift from the cloud; Rite Aid soars

In other stock specific news. Hertz (HTZ) moving higher after billionaire investor Carl Icahn disclosed he raised his stake in the rental car company once again. Icahn's stake now stands at 11.3%

Oracle (ORCL) shares are up sharply this morning. The business software maker's earnings and revenue topped estimate for the first time this year thanks to growth in its cloud service business.

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Rite Aid (RAD) shares jumped in early trading. The drugstore chain raised its outlook for the year after reporting third quarter earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street views as strong sales of prescription drugs helped drive growth. 

ConAgra Foods (CAG) also on investors’ watch list. The maker Chef Boyardee and other packaged foods posted earnings that were in-line with analysts' estimates.  However, revenue missed forecasts and was down nearly 1.7% from a year earlier as the company took a big write-down on its private-label business.

Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) cruise lines shares remain in focus this morning along with the stocks of other companies that stand to benefit from President Obama's surprise announcement to open up U.S. relations with Cuba.

Related: Wealth gap biggest in history

Meantime, The Pew Research Center finds that America's wealth gap is the greatest since such analysis began a generation ago.  Pew says the median wealth of upper income families is more than $639,000 --  almost 7 times that of middle-income ones....and 70 times more than low-income folks.

And the New York Stock Exchange is looking to rebuild its market share.  The owner of America's oldest stock market is offering to cut prices if financial firms do more of their trading there, instead of at off-site locations.