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Closing Bell: Strong Economic Data Lift Stocks

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Bloomberg via Getty Images
A raft of positive economic news boosted investor sentiment on Tuesday, and the institution that rocked world markets yesterday, the People's Bank of China, allayed traders' fears somewhat with reassuring comments about keeping interest rates "reasonable." The market rallied as a result, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 102 points to close at 14,761. The S&P 500 added 15 to end at 1,588, and the Nasdaq rose 27 to 3,348.

The first encouraging number showed that orders for durable manufactured goods rose more than expected in May -- commercial aircraft for the most part, but also computers, communications equipment, machinery and metals -- suggesting increased business activity.

Then the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities recorded its largest increase in seven years in April, and existing home sales hit their highest level in five years in May. On top of these happy housing sector developments, the Conference Board's consumer confidence gauge rose to 81.4 in June, up from 74.3 in May, surpassing estimates of 75.4.

Some stocks and companies that made news on Tuesday:
  • Walgreen's (WAG) third quarter earnings were up 16 percent but still missed Wall Street forecasts, sending the share price down more than 4.8 percent. Troubling signs like uninspired non-pharmacy sales turned off investors, and the earnings jump was largely due to the company's weak performance of one year ago, after a business split. But Walgreen's stock was up 30 percent for the year before Tuesday.
  • Barnes & Noble's (BKS) sales plummeted, and its Nook e-book device lagged behind competitors by Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL), causing a net loss more than twice as large as last year's. As a consequence, the company announced, it will stop making its own Nook color touchscreen tablets, finding a partner to take over that aspect of manufacturing (while continuing to make the basic, black-and-white display devices in house). "We know this is a sizable change from our existing strategy," CEO William Lynch conceded. The bookseller's stock sank more than 17 percent, to $15.61.
  • Carnival (CCL) rose almost 1.6 percent after naming a new CEO, board member Arnold Donald. Former chief executive Mickey Arison was ousted following a year of accidents and bad publicity.
Tomorrow brings first-quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. ET. The consensus forecast is a growth rate of 2.4 percent, the same as the previous quarter's.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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17 More Expensive Items That Are Totally Worth the Money

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Il conte di Luna, Flickr.com
By MANDI WOODRUFF

Everyone likes to save a buck. But sometimes in life, being cheap will cost you.

Why put up with an inferior product when you could invest in something high quality that is much less likely to disappoint?

We culled the responses in a Reddit thread asking consumers to list pricey items that they never regret buying. Here are the best of the bunch.

1. A Tempurpedic mattress: "My girlfriend at the time had chronic back pain. Spent $3,000 on a mattress. I can never go back."

Shoes 302cs062513 13721737122. Shoes: "Rule of thumb: don't skimp on anything that separates you from the ground."

3. High speed internet: "Once you have it you can NEVER go back."

4. Tools: "Bad craftsmen blame their tools. Good craftsmen buy good tools."

5. Bread: "Can't possibly buy a loaf of average white bread when it's only $1 more for the WAY better stuff."

6. Ballpoint pen: "Spent $4 on a kickass ballpoint pen. Ridiculously smooth and comfortable. My handwriting speed and neatness improved dramatically. Never going back to the $2 for a pack of 10 again."

Knife 302cs0625137. Cutlery: "Can't beat a sharp knife when chopping up food."

8. Bed sheets: "I slept on 180 thread count for 23 years of my life. Then, a girl I was going out with had 1,000 thread count sheets on her bed. Holy crap. What a difference."

9. Sushi: "Never, ever, ever, ever eat discount sushi. Ever."

10. Bras: "After getting myself a properly-fitted $70 bra, I look 10 pounds slimmer, my back doesn't hurt anymore, and my clothes fit better. There's no going back from here."

11. Farm fresh vegetables: "I have been getting most of my vegetables at the farmer's market lately and I don't think I can go back to my supermarket. I love to eat my tomatoes raw. They taste different. Sweet, almost spicy."

Shaving Cream 302cs06251312. Shaving cream: "I got one of the fancy kinds as a gift a few years ago, and I can never go back. It doesn't even feel like I'm shaving. It's more like being softly nuzzled by a friendly koala."

13. Jeans: "I may buy the rest of my clothes at Target and Kohl's, but I have never found a cheap pair of jeans that fit me just right."

14. Tattoos: "You get exactly what you pay for."

15. Headphones: "I don't understand why anyone uses the stock phones that come with their phone, iPod, whatever."

16. Whiskey/bourbon: "I always drank Maker's Mark in the past. I recently got a bottle of 9-year Knob Creek. I'd be afraid that trying anything better would force me to spend another $10 a bottle going forward, but I also got a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, which tastes like floor cleaner, so I should be safe."

17. Backpack: "A good quality backpack, decently large size with comfortable straps, non-flimsy load distribution clasps, good number of pockets and utility pockets, and (most of all) high quality zippers is easily worth the money."

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$1.2 Million of NY Fed Money Taken From Swiss Air Jet at JFK

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More than one million dollars intended for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has gone missing from a Swiss Air jet, and authorities suspect an inside job, according to news reports.

But the thieves have got to be cursing themselves if they're reading the papers: Although they made off with $1.2 million, they left behind $92 million more.

The flight arrived in New York at 2 p.m. Saturday, its final destination a federal reserve facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was carrying $93 million in three crates, which were said to have been "sealed" at JFK. But when the containers got to New Jersey on Monday, The New York Post reports, "authorities noticed that one had 'a hole in it the size of which you could put your arm in.'" Money had been taken from inside: 12 bundles of $100,000 each, all in $100 bills.

Initial reports suggested that the cash had been stolen before the flight left Zurich; now, however, FBI agents are said to be gearing up for polygraph tests of JFK workers.

 

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Sprint Shareholders Say 'Yes' to SoftBank Buyout

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Spring Softbank Merger 604ds062613
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
By Carey Gillam

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Sprint shareholders have voted in favor of a sweetened takeover offer from SoftBank, ending a contentious takeover battle for the No. 3 U.S. wireless service provider.

Japan's SoftBank, which fought Dish Network (DISH) to buy Sprint Nextel (S), now just needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. telecommunications regulator, to close the deal.

According to Sprint, about 80 percent of its shares outstanding were voted in favor of the $21.6 billion deal that would leave SoftBank with 78 percent ownership of the company.

Sprint said in a statement released after a sparsely attended meeting Tuesday that it was sticking by its previous target for the deal to close in early July.
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On June 10, SoftBank increased its bid to $21.6 billion from $20.1 billion and raised the cash component of the deal for shareholders by $4.5 billion, trumping Dish's bid and gaining support from Sprint's second biggest shareholder Paulson & Co. which had previously said it preferred Dish's bid.

Dish, which made a bid for Sprint on April 15, abandoned its efforts to buy the company after SoftBank raised its bid.

The SoftBank/Sprint deal would be Japan's biggest takeover of an overseas company. SoftBank's founder Masayoshi Son is looking to expand beyond the mature Japanese cellphone market.

Sprint needs investment from SoftBank to help it pay for a network upgrade and its proposed buy out of the minority shareholders of Clearwire (CLWR), in which Sprint already has a majority stake.

Last week Sprint had to raise its offer for wireless service provider Clearwire to $5 a share from $3.40 a share to fight off a rival bid of $4.40 a share from Dish.

Clearwire shareholders will vote on that deal on July 8.

Sprint shares rose 10 cents or 1.45 percent to $6.96 on the New York Stock Exchange after the news.

Shareholders attending the meeting said they were happy SoftBank had beaten Dish in the takeover battle.

"Long term this is better for the company," Rick Weir, a Kansas City-based shareholder who is retired Sprint employee told Reuters at the meeting.

John Massman, another Kansas City shareholder, said SoftBank's financial strength won him over. He cited concerns that a Dish deal would have required Sprint to take on too much debt and could have resulted in a move of Sprint operations out of Kansas City to Dish's headquarters outside of Denver.

"I am not a big fan of foreign ownership," he said. "But if Dish had gotten it a lot of jobs would have gone to Denver."

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