CEO of RBS Steps Down, Pandora Escapes Royalties: Market Recap

U.S. stocks had a turbulent day, but ultimately ended on the low side, with the Nasdaq falling 1 percent by the time markets closed. The housing market did bring some good news though, as the latest reports have shown a 10.9 percent increase in home prices in the first quarter, along with a decline in the number of underwater homes.

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Gold: +0.70% to $1,386.60 per ounce  Oil: +0.50% to $95.86 per barrel  U.S. 10-Year: +1.59 to 2.23%

Rising Home Prices Save Underwater Borrowers: A variety of indicators confirm that the U.S. housing market continued to show signs of improvement in the first quarter of 2013. The latest reading from the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index showed a 10.9 percent jump in home prices in the year to March. The national composite rose by 10.2 percent over the last four quarters, and all 20 cities posted positive year-over-year growth… (Read more.)

The News Gets More Troublesome for Crude Oil: Crude oil prices are facing tough economic headwinds. Several recent economic reports have shown that not only is demand for the fuel expected to remain low this year, but supplies of crude oil in the United States are well above the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year… (Read more.)

Greek Tragedy: Nation Gets First Ever Emerging-Market Demotion: More bad news for Greece this week, as MSCI Inc. (NYSE:MSCI) has made it the first ever country to be downgraded to emerging-market status. The news comes amidst of a variety of factors, chief of which is Greece’s failure to meet criteria regarding securities borrowing and lending facilities, short selling and transferability, according to MSCI… (Read more.)

Here’s your cheat sheet to today’s top stock stories: 

Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE:DIS) ESPN is giving its 3D channel the boot, Reuters reports, on account of low consumer interest in the product. The announcement comes just three years since the sports network launched its 3D TV sets, convinced that sports fans would turn to the 3D channel for new angles on the sporting events broadcasted over the world… (Read more.)

Pandora (NYSE:P) has purchased a small terrestrial radio station in South Dakota as a way to lower the fees it pays to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Pandora purchased KXMZ-FM of Rapid City, South Dakota to take advantage of the lower royalties available to broadcast stations and Internet radio services offered by owners of terrestrial radio stations… (Read more.)

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McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) is more innovative than Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), claims CNBC‘s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. It is actually what McDonald’s is doing to diversify itself away from simply being a hamburger joint that has attracted a lot of positive attention to the company recently. The company has announced a series of changes to its menu that have been well-received… (Read more.)

Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) is facing more problems with its 787 Dreamliner, although this time the issue might not be their fault. ANA Holdings Inc., which operates the biggest fleet of 787s, was forced to scrap the plane for a flight from Ube in western Japan to the Haneda airport in Tokyo Wednesday as the right engine failed to start. The incident is the third time this week that the 787 Dreamliner has caused flights to be canceled in Japan… (Read more.)

The Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) announced today that CEO Stephen Hester will step down later this year. RBS has made huge progress under Hester’s leadership, including a large and complex company restructuring after the bank was rescued by the government before he was named CEO. The Board decided that it needed to give Hester’s successor ample time to learn the job while preparing the privatization process.

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Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) released the results of a Nielsen study showing that the company has had 7.9 million customers in the U.S. in the last three months, which represents 3.3 percent of the U.S. population. The study comes as the Los Angeles-based nutritional supplement company faces allegations from investor Bill Ackman that it’s a pyramid scheme. Herbalife products are not sold in stores, but are sold by independent distributors who recruit customers and recommend products based on customers’ needs. Ackman said most Herbalife distributors lose money, while those at the top get rich on commissions.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) got some good news today. The pharmaceutical company will receive a $2.15 billion settlement from generic drugmakers related to a patent suit involving an acid reflux drug. Sales of the drug Protonix dropped sharply after Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd (NYSE:TEVA) and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd released their generic versions in 2007 and 2008. The patent on the active ingredient in the drug didn’t expire until January 2011, so Teva and Sun’s generic versions were found to be an infringement of the patent.

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