Markets are buying what Janet Yellen is sellin'. Futures are up this morning, following yet another record close for the Dow and S&P. In fact, the big board is now just 125-points shy of the 16,000 mark. The climb came as Yellen spoke before a Senate panel, part of the confirmation process for her to become the next Fed chair. Hot Stock Minute host Lauren Lyster and Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli have more in the video above.
Two big stories this morning on some of the biggest banks: The New York Times reports the Justice Department is using instant messages to build a case against Barclays (BCS), RBS (RBS) and Citigroup (C) for currency manipulation. The Times says the banks earned the nickname "the cartel" for the way they fixed prices; meanwhile Moody's has downgraded debt ratings for JPMorgan (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS). The ratings agency says any future bailout of U.S. banks has dimmed.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) has been filling-up with Exxon Mobil (XOM). 13F Filings show Warren Buffett's company has bought nearly $3.5-billion worth of the oil giant's stock. Insiders say the Oracle likely placed the order himself given the size of the investment. Exxon Stock is up more than 1.5% in the premarket. Until now, it's had rather modest gains in 2013, up about 5%.
13F filings show FedEx (FDX) is also being grabbed up by a bunch of billionaires. George Soros has bought 1.5-million shares of the shipper. Meanwhile, Third Point's Daniel Loeb has also been accumulating shares. And John Paulson has acquired 647-thousand FedEx shares as well. Paulson has also upped his stake in Vodafone (VOD) betting it will be a takeover target. AT&T (T) is said to be working on a bid for next year.
STOCKS TO WATCH
Kimberly Clark (KMB) has been up as much as 6.6% since yesterday's close. The maker of Kleenex says it's considering a spinoff of its health care business. The unit sells surgical and anti-infection products for operating rooms. The plan at this point would be for a tax-free distribution of the new stock to existing Kimberly-Clark's shareholders. This morning's climb puts Kimberly Clark at a new 52-week high, with the stock entering today's regular session already up 27% in 2013.
Sony (SNE) began selling its new PlayStation 4 at midnight. The company claims the gaming system is 10-times more powerful than its predecessor. Its release also comes a week ahead of some tough competition: Microsoft's (MSFT) X-Box One. Shares of Sony have rallied 26% so far this year. Microsoft stock is up about 38% in the same time.
Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) has been up 23% in early trading. A government advisory panel has thrown its support behind Vanda's experimental drug to help blind people sleep. The jump follows a separate spike on Tuesday which already sent the stock up 89% in the past week. The stock is up 250-percent even prior to this morning’s gains.
American Apparel (APP) dropped more that 12% after yesterday's close despite an earnings beat. That's because the company has thrown out prior guidance citing costs of moving to a new distribution system. The retailer says the switchover has resulted in higher costs and fewer sales. As for the quarter gone by, American Apparel lost 1-cent per share when it was expected to lose 6-cents. It also had a slim beat on revenues at $164.5-million. Prior to the drop we're seeing now, the stock had been up in 2013, but by less than 1%.