The state of the economy still very much in focus as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee. On Wednesday, before the Joint Economic Committee, Yellen said the economy is on track for solid growth in the second quarter, but she also acknowledged that the housing and labor markets still need to see improvements.
There's a sign the labor market is healing. The Labor Department reported that new claims for unemployment benefits fell for the first time in three weeks. Initial jobless claims were down 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 319,000 for the week ended May 3.
On the home front, cash seems to be king. A new report by RealtyTrac shows a record 43% of homebuyers paid cash in the first quarter of 2014. Yahoo Senior Columnist Michael Santoli said this is because first-time home buyers have been relatively absent in this housing market and there is less available credit. Santoli also points out that the housing market is a risk for the economy this year not an asset.
Poll: Would you buy a house for cash if you could?
One of the stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching for you today is AstraZenca (AZN). Shares of the company jumped on reports of another Pfizer (PFE) takeover bid. Media reports on Thursday said Pfizer will sweeten its bid again, to about $89 per share, valuing AstraZeneca at $113 billion. Pfizer's second bid of $106 billion for AstraZeneca was rejected last week. Pfizer CEO Ian Read is scheduled to speak next week in front of two British parliamentary committees about the takeover.
McDonald's (MCD) is also in the spotlight today. The fast food chain posted U.S. April same-store sales that were flat, but that was still slightly better than Wall Street estimates thanks to a coffee promotion in early April, which helped lure in diners. McDonald’s has been struggling to increase traffic in its U.S. stores in the face of tough competition from rivals, such as Wendy’s and Burger King. However, strong sales in China drove McDonald’s global same-store sales up 1.2% in April, in line with estimates.
In other corporate news, Barclays (BCS) said it will slash 7,000 investment banking jobs by 2016 and 19,000 jobs overall in the next three years.
And have you ever heard of “groufie?" Chinese smartphone maker Huawei coined the phrase and hopes it becomes just as popular as the “selfie” on social media as it rolls out its new phone overseas.