Wal-Mart’s Expensive Bribery Probe and Credit Suisse’s Acquisition: Market Recap

The U.S. equity markets closed on a mixed note on Wednesday. Relatively weak housing data and ongoing concerns about the economic stability of the euro zone weighed heavily on investment decisions.

At the close: DJIA: -0.23%, S&P 500: -0.06%, NASDAQ: +0.12%.

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On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) edged up 0.16 percent to $96.49 per barrel, erasing earlier losses that followed an inventory report from the EIA. At 385.9 million barrels, U.S. inventories are well above the average for this time of year. The yield on the 10-year T-note fell 0.064 points to 1.846 percent.

Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for June delivery, the most active contract, jumped $9.90 to close at $1,607.20 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May edged 7 cents lower to finish at $28.61. Gold recaptured $1,600 an ounce, despite the U.S. dollar index climbing higher. Cyprus appears to be on schedule to reopen banks for the first time in two weeks tomorrow, but capital controls will be in place. ATM withdraws are reportedly limited to only 300 euros, while people will be forbidden to take more than 3,000 euros in cash out of the insolvent country…

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has a problem with advertising, and the company has tried every method possible to use as a remedy, from launching sponsored posts to creating an updated — read more advertising-friendly — layout to purchasing Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) ad-service business Atlas. Approximately 84 percent of the company’s revenue is derived from its advertising business, and so new schemes are consistently tested and rolled out to make its strategy more effective. The social network’s latest attempt to refine its ad business, announced Tuesday, enables marketers to tailor advertisements based on users’ browsing history… (Read more.)

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With JPMorgan Chase’s (NYSE:JPM) business practices receiving close examination while under the microscope of federal regulators, investigations are mounting as more problems come to light. Although it emerged from the financial crisis as one the healthiest of the big banks, that reputation is being chipped away. Not only has the bank been downgraded by a confidential government scorecard and its Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon come under increasing criticism, but executives are worried that relationships in Washington have frayed… (Read more.)

Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) announced on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to acquire Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE:MS) wealth management businesses in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (“EMEA”), excluding Switzerland. All told, the businesses manage more than $13 billion in assets for high net worth clients across the region, with management nodes in the UK, Italy, and Dubai.

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) closed the day down fractionally lower about after news got out that it would resuming a “mark-up to mark-down” marketing and sales strategy. Some investors are interpreting this as CEO Ron Johnson admitting that his turn-around sales strategy was a bust. “While our prices continue to represent a tremendous value every day, we now understand that customers are motivated by promotions and prefer to receive discounts through sales and coupons applied at the register,” said a company spokesperson.

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) closed the day up about 0.7 percent. The company is gearing up to release earnings before the opening bell tomorrow. Investors will want to keep a close eye on expectations because the stock has a history of large price swings following earnings reports… (Read more.)

Wal-Mart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) has announced that it is “probable” that it will incur losses as a result of a bribery probe in Mexico, according to a regulatory filing from Tuesday. Company representatives reportedly bribed Mexican officials in efforts to speed up expansion in the region… (Read more.)

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