All the Top Market-Moving Stories of the Week You Must Know Now

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to this week’s top stories:

Monday

The U.S. equity markets overcame early losses on Monday to close on a higher note across the board, despite looming concerns about the sequester.

At the close: DJIA: +0.27 percent, S&P 500: +0.46 percent, NASDAQ: +0.39 percent.

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On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) failed to recover alongside equities, and edged lower to close at $90.46 per barrel. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, edged 10 cents higher to settle at $1,572.40 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May traded flat at $28.50.

The two precious metals remain stuck in consolidation mode, despite central banks sticking to their loose monetary policies. The incoming officials at the Bank of Japan are reiterating calls for the central bank to fight deflation more.

Kikuo Iwata, one of the nominees for a governor post, claims, “It’s monetary policy alone that will be able to alter deflationary expectations. Firms won’t spend their money as they are awash with cash on hand as long as deflation persists. But firms will start using their cash when inflation expectations emerge.”

Meanwhile, governor nominee Haruhiko Kuroda says, “If I were appointed as governor, I would do everything possible to get out of deflation.”

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

Transocean (NYSE:RIG) opened about 4 percent higher on Monday after the company reported that its board had recommended that shareholders approve a dividend at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of Shareholders. The board has recommended a payment of $2.24 per share, which will amount to a total payout of about $800 million. The board’s decision was in no small way influenced by the presence of activist-investor Carl Icahn, who recently increased his stake on the offshore drilling contractor to 5.6 percent. Shares simmered down to close flat… (Read more.)

Four years ago, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) opened an online market model (in addition to the existing Wal-Mart website) not unlike Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Marketplace in an effort to compete directly with the world’s largest web retailer. The program follows a similar model, with third-party merchants selling products through Wal-Mart’s online portal. Since then, Wal-Mart has signed six independent merchants to its service, more than a tad shy of Amazon’s two million and counting… (Read more.)

The good news is stacking up, as the airline industry. Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL),and United Continental Holdings (NYSE:UAL) issued reports today saying that they met their goals for the month of February, joining the housing market and auto industry in a successful beginning to 2013. Delta climbed 5.6 percent on Monday, while United climbed 5.3 percent… (Read more.)

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A small note in Las Vegas Sands’ (NYSE:LVS) annual 10-K filing — submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday — prompted a flurry of reports suggesting that the casino operator had violated anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The allegations were rooted in the language used by the document, which stated that there were “likely violations” in book keeping and internal controls revealed in an audit. However, in a press release issued on Sunday, the company fought back, and explained that the violations were related to minor errors such as incorrectly recorded transactions or other basic accounting errors, and did not evidence bribery… (Read more.)

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) climbed 3.5 percent on Monday following an upgrade from analysts at Barclays. Following six months of strong gains, the news helped bump the stock as high as $22.62, setting a fresh 52-week and post-recession high… (Read more.)

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell 2.4 percent to $420.05, which represent a new 52-week closing price for the stock that had touched the $700 mark less than six months ago. It was just another day in a string of negatives the iPhone maker has dealt with in the past few months. Here’s a cheat sheet to the top stories about the stock … (Read more.)

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In late February, the Federal Open Market Committee revealed several members want the Federal Reserve to prepare for a day when it does not have to keep the economy afloat with the current quantitative easing programs. “Several participants emphasized that the Committee should be prepared to vary the pace of asset purchases, either in response to changes in the economic outlook or as its evaluation of the efficacy and costs of such purchases evolved,” the minutes read… (Read more.)

Don’t Miss: Is Federal Reserve Intervention Here to Stay?

Tuesday

If you spent the whole day hiding in a bomb shelter with piles of gold and cash, afraid that the sequester would topple the equity markets and bury investors — well, we hate to say it, but you missed out on all the fun. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new all-time intraday high of 14,286.37 on Tuesday, and closed at a record 14,253.77, populating financial news with the question: is the Lost Decade over?

At the close: DJIA: +0.89 percent, S&P 500: +0.96 percent, NASDAQ: +1.32 percent.

On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) climbed 0.62 percent to $90.68 per barrel. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) edged up 0.17 percent to $1,575.00 per ounce, and silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) increased 0.68 percent to $28.68 per ounce.

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Strong non-manufacturing data assisted the market rally today. The Institute for Supply Management reported that in February, the service industry — which accounts for as much as 90 percent of U.S. economic activity — experienced its highest rate of growth for the past year-long period. ISM’s non-manufacturing index jumped from 55.2 percent in January to 56 percent in February, ahead of estimates for a reading of 55 percent.

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

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) surfed the market high today and closed up 2.08 percent at $838.60. The stock, buoyed by its own strong performance and general equity optimism, was given a boost by analysts at Jefferies, who reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and bumped their price target up from $875 to $1,000. As of Tuesday’s close, the stock is 19.2 percent shy of that psychologically-significant price level, and while there are any number of tailwinds, there are also a few clouds on the road ahead… (Read more.)

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On only his third day at work, the CEO of General Motors’s (NYSE:GM) European subsidiary Opel has fully committed his company’s cooperation in moving forward to reverse a decade’s worth of losses, and highlighted three priorities that he feels will spin the company’s fortunes around. Karl-Thomas Neumann believes GM executives will follow through on a 10-year growth strategy aimed at reversing the billions in losses that Opel has experienced… (Read more.)

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will not take any product step unthinkingly or on a whim, so the company’s investors will need to be patient with it, UBS analyst Steve Milunovich has said. “Now that the company is so large due to iPhone success, investors are clamoring for product expansion with larger as well as lower-priced phones with [Google] Android gaining favor,” Milunovich wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday… (Read more.)

Over the last few months, there have been growing murmurs about the moves News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS)(NASDAQ:NWSA) could possibly make, and the rumor of the arrival of a new cable sports network from the company has added to the buzz. It appears now that News Corp’s entertainment section may in fact be getting a little added strength on the sports side… (Read more.)

Sprinkled through Wal-Mart’s (NYSE:WMT) presentation at the Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference on Tuesday was this mantra: execute “core Walmart U.S. strategy” to help “customers save money and live better.” This has long been the retailer’s motto, but after several recent public relations debacles and soft retail sales, it is a point that cannot be touched on too many times it seems… (Read more.)

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Until a few months ago, it was completely legal to unlock a cell phone in the U.S. so it could be used on a different carrier. However, in January, doing so was made illegal by the U.S. Congress. However now, because of petitioner pressure, the situation could change again, and it could potentially affect carriers… (Read more.)

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Wednesday

At 14,296.24, the Dow pushed its record close higher on Wednesday, touching a new intraday high of 14,320.65. The markets were buoyed by better-than-expected jobs data and a contraction in new factory orders that wasn’t as sever as expected. Toward the end of the day, the House of Republicans passed a measure that will fund the federal government through the remained of the fiscal year.

At the close: DJIA: +0.30 percent, S&P 500: +0.11 percent, NASDAQ: -0.05 percent.

WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) fell 0.42 percent to $90.44 per barrel. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, closed flat to settle at $1,574.90 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May increased 20 cents to close at $28.80. Both precious metals received support as the Bank of Korea said it added 20 metric tons of gold to its gold reserves last month. The move brings the central bank’s holdings to 104.4 tons. In the past two years, South Korea has made at least five major purchases of gold.

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In a statement, the central bank explained, “The Bank of Korea’s gold buying is part of the long-term diversification of currencies and assets in foreign-exchange reserves. It is of no great importance to try to gauge if it’s profitable or not based on short-term price swings.”

ADP’s National Employment Report revealed that solid job gains were made in February; on a seasonally-adjusted basis, private-sector employers added 198,000 workers to their payrolls from January to February. The gains were not outstanding when compared to the numbers reported for the previous month — in January, job additions amounted to 215,000 — but the increase came in above what economists were predicting. The median forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg called for a gain of 170,000.

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

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Charges associated with store closures and restructuring gave Staples Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) a 72 percent decrease in net profit for the fourth quarter. Staples has faced a competitive retail climate for years, as governments contend with budget cuts and traditional supplies evolve into electronic forms. Additionally, increased competition from online companies have forced the world’s largest office supply retailer to pull back and regroup… (Read more.)

Verizon Communications  (NYSE:VZ) is reportedly working on its troubled relationship with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), the company’s European counterpart. In what capacity though, is under speculation. Rumors abound that the company could cut off ties altogether, issue a full merger, or anything in between, people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg… (Read more.)

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) isn’t the only video-streaming service banking on original content to lure subscribers. On Wednesday, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) confirmed what many have speculated, and announced that it is greenlighting the test pilots for an original children’s series called Sara Solves It… (Read more.)

Rather than submit its IT solutions to a third party, General Motors (NYSE:GM) is bringing the whole operation under its wing. To do so, it has built four IT centers around the country in Michigan, Texas, Georgia, and Arizona. GM expects to hire more than 4,000 new information technology workers over the next three to five years to staff the four centers. So far, more than 1,000 employees have been hired, the company said in its release… (Read more.)

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The European Commission passed its fine for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Wednesday morning in Amsterdam, but it may have made a mistake. After a complaint from Opera Software, the make of the Opera web-browser, in 2009, the European Commission forced Microsoft to offer options for users to install various browsers when they set up their computers. But Microsoft broke this deal in nearly 15 million instances, when the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 software did not offer users a prompt to install browsers other than Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer… (Read more.)

On Wednesday, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) struck its first deal with Warner Music Group — owned by Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) — for two music services that will be launched later in the summer. Executives familiar with the matter told Billboard that Google will offer two distinct subscription services, one through YouTube, and one through its Google Play platform.

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Thursday

The U.S. equity markets edged out modest gains on Thursday, with the Dow extending its record by a fraction.

At the close: DJIA: +0.23 percent, S&P 500: +0.18 percent, NASDAQ: +0.30 percent.

On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) for April delivery advanced about 1.3 percent, or $1.13, to settle at $91.56 per barrel on relatively heavy volume. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, edged 20 cents higher to settle at $1,575.10 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May closed flat at $28.81.

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Both precious metals held steady, despite the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits reaching six-week lows. According to the Labor Department, initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 in the week ended March 2.

The Federal Reserve has made a pledge to keep interest rates at record lows until the job market improves, but the process is slow moving. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England decided to keep their interest rates at current levels — 0.5 and 0.75 percent, respectively. President Mario Draghi said the ECB will keep central bank policy “accommodative” for as long as needed in his monthly news conference.

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

Shares of Gap (NYSE:GPS) closed up 4.09 percent on Thursday after the company’s February sales results were prematurely released. The monthly report was originally scheduled to be released after the markets closed. As a result of the early release, trading was halted for about half an hour, and resumed before noon. The report showed same-store sales increased 3 percent, month over month, across all divisions, while net sales increased 11 percent for the period… (Read more.)

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) closed up 4.10 percent, bolstered by its News Feed upgrade event. At the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, CEO Mark Zuckerberg began the launch event by describing the how Facebook engineers developed the new design. “We want to give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can,” he stated, and repeated that point several times throughout his presentation. In basic terms, this means that NewsFeed will give users big, beautiful photographs and the ability to jump between different interests — organized into different feeds much like sections of a newspaper… (Read more.)

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J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) managed to post 2.7 percent gains for the day, although shares are still down more than 16 percent for the past five-day trading period. A company spokesperson informed The Dallas Morning News on Thursday that it would be laying of 2,200 employees, bringing the total number of workers let go to over 19,000 since CEO Ron Johnson took over in November of 2011… (Read more.)

It may be like comparing Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to oranges, but analysts at Bank of America Merill Lynch believe that search-volume analysis can provide insight into the popularity of Apple’s products — and by extension, the strength of the company. It’s also worth pointing out the dollop of irony that comes with the fact that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) search trends are being used for the analysis. The insights that the analysts are drawing from search query volume are focused around various products, and the duration and intensity of their popularity… (Read more.)

Dell’s (NASDAQ:DELL) turbulent privatization efforts have been presented with another obstacle: billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn, who took a 6 percent stake in the company and is opposing the current buyout proposal. True to form, Icahn has his own idea of what the company should do, and that is to pursue a leveraged recapitalization and pay a $9 per share dividend, instead of going private. Shares of the tech company ended the day down 0.70 percent. Also in the way of the PC maker is Jim Chanos, president and founder of hedge fund Kynikos Associates, who is short on the company… (Read more.)

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Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) is shedding more weight, announcing on Wednesday that it will be spinning off its magazine business, Time Inc, into its own legally separated, publicly traded entity. Shares ended the day up 2.38 percent… (Read more.)

Friday

The U.S. equity markets punctuated a historic week with strong gains on Friday, fueled by a better-than-expected labor market report. The Dow extended its record and closed at 14,397.10, while the S&P 500 ended the week within 1 percent of a record high.

At the close: DJIA: +0.47 percent, S&P 500: +0.45 percent, NASDAQ: +0.38 percent.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSEARCA:USO) edged up to $91.87 per barrel. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) gained nearly $3 to $1,578.00 per ounce, while silver  (NYSEARCA:SLV) climbed about half a percent to $28.95 per ounce.

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The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday morning that the headline U-3 unemployment rate declined from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February, its lowest level since December 2008. Employers added 236,000 positions to their payrolls, a huge improvement over the average rate of 190,000 additions over the past four months, and well above consensus estimates for 165,000 additions.

However, there was some bad news lingering in the report. The number of long-term unemployed remained unchanged at 4.8 million, or 40 percent of the total unemployed. In addition, January’s increase of 157,000 was downwardly revised to just 119,000, although December’s number was revised from a gain of 196,000 to a gain of 219,000… (Read more.)

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

Citing high costs, competitive markets, and declining profitability, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced that it would be slashing 1,200 jobs from its Motorola Mobility division, a number which represents about 10 percent of the department’s workforce… (Read more.)

For those of you holding out for the latest BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), your wait is almost over. Bloomberg reported that the Z10, its highly anticipated new model, will be dropping into AT&T (NYSE:T) stores on March 22, a short couple of weeks from now, according to an unnamed source. BlackBerry has not formally announced its release plans to the public… (Read more.)

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Pandora (NYSE:P) reported better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter after Thursday’s closing bell. The Internet-radio company posted a loss of $14.6 million (9 cents per share). Excluding items, the loss was 4 cents per share, smaller than the 5-cent loss expected by Wall Street. Revenue surged 54 percent from a year earlier to $125.1 million, beating analysts’ estimates of $122.8 million… (Read more.)

Skullcandy (NASDAQ:SKUL), a maker of audio headphones, has been having a rough day in the markets on Friday, with shares declining more than 22 percent, reaching a new low value for the company. The battering that the stock is taking is due to a couple of intertwined factors. The company warned that it would likely incur losses during the first quarter, that it was encountering challenges, and that sales will decline for the year… (Read more.)

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) closed the day up 1.67 percent after it reported that February sales declined just 1.5 percent, instead of the 1.6 percent that analysts were expecting.

To wear down a tired pun, airline stocks took off on Friday afternoon. United Air Lines (NYSE:UAL) led the rally with 5.88 percent gains, followed by Delta (NYSE:DAL) at plus 2.14 percent, and Southwest (NYSE:LUV) at plus 1.41 percent. Outside of broad success in cutting costs and increasing revenues, a stronger dollar and generally lower oil prices, catalyzed by Friday’s better-than-expected jobs report, have investors showing the industry affection… (Read more.)

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After the most hated stock-market rally in history and a bounce in home prices, household wealth in the United States is almost back to pre-crisis levels. However, consumers are still under financial stress. Net worth for American households increased $1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $66.1 trillion, compared to the previous quarter, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest flow of funds report. This was the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2007. The calculation considers the value of homes, stocks, and other investments minus debts and other liabilities… (Read more.)

All but one of the 19 financial institutions issued a stress test by the Federal Reserve passed, suggesting a broad recovery in the strength of America’s biggest banks. Back in November, the Federal Reserve issued instructions to banks for how they should prepare their submissions for its capital planning and stress testing program, which would be evaluated against a number of quantitative and qualitative criteria. The most important measure analyzed was capital levels. As a key indicator of financial strength, capital levels are important to the financial system and the broad economy because they acts as a cushion to absorb losses so that taxpayers are not hit with that burden… (Read more.)

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