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  • NASAA: Protecting Main Street Investors - 3 July 2014
  • With its membership consisting of 67 administrators from United States territories, districts and states, as well as from the provinces of Canada and Mexico, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) has as its main aim the protection of consumers who purchase investment advice and/or securities. To this end, the NASAA has jurisdiction over a wide range of intermediaries and issuers offering securities to members of the public. The Association also facilitates information sharing and multi-state enforcement actions for the state securities agencies it represents, and arranges training and education programs and seminars for securities agency staff at state, district and provincial level. The Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam, referred to as 'Series 63', required as a qualification for securities agents in most states, was formulated by the NASAA and is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

  • M&A Activity Flourishing in US Markets - 19 June 2014
  • Mergers and acquisitions in US markets are making a notable comeback, with deals since the beginning of the year totaling $785.5 billion – close to the 2007 total of $880.7 billion for the entire year, and more than 60 percent up on the 2013 figure of $487.7 billion. The current low interest rates for borrowing, along with cash-on-hand held by many businesses, are cited as motivating factors behind the current M&A activity which is taking place in a number of industries. Recent and ongoing deals include Sandisk's (NASDAQ: SNDK) $1.1 billion acquisition of Fusion-io (NYSE:FIO); Williams Companies Inc (NYSE:WMB) negotiation of a controlling $6 billion stake in Access Midstream Partners (NYSE:ACMP); Medtronic's (NYSE:MDT) acquisition of Coviden (NYSE:COV) in a $42.9 billion deal; Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT) $5.7 billion acquisition of TW Telecom (NASDAQ: TWTC); and the proposed merger of T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE:S) in a $32 billion deal.

  • Wal-Mart Tops Fortune 500 - 5 June 2014
  • First published in 1955 by Fortune magazine, the Fortune 500 ranks the top 500 privately held and publicly traded companies in the United States by gross revenue. Created by Fortune editor Edgar P. Smith, the report only lists companies that make their revenues publicly available, and gross revenue excludes excise taxes incurred by individual companies. In addition to the Fortune 500 list, Fortune magazine also compiles the Fortune Global 500, Fortune India 500, 40 under 40, and Fortune 500 Computer Software and Information Companies. Initially the Fortune 500 was restricted to companies in the manufacturing, mining and energy exploration sectors, but in 1994 the magazine included service companies, resulting in 291 new entrants on the list, three of which were counted in the Top 10 – Wal-Mart Stores Inc., AT&T Corp., and Sears, Roebuck & Co.

  • FOMC Minutes Boost Market - 22 may 2014
  • Stocks on Wall Street rebounded Wednesday, partly in response to minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting held on April 29-30 which were released in the afternoon. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 158.75 points to close at 16,533.06, while the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 15.20 points to 1,888.03 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 34.65 points to 4,131.54. The Russell 2000 index for small-company stocks also picked up by 5.73 points to close at 1,103.63. All ten of the S&P 500's industry sectors rose, with consumer discretionary and energy stocks in the lead. While not to the extent experienced in 2008, the market has been seesawing day-to-day for up to 60 percent of the time since the beginning of the year.

  • Pharmaceutical Sector Shake-up - 8 may 2014
  • In an effort to boost share prices and profits, thereby keeping shareholders satisfied, major pharmaceutical companies are currently negotiating mergers, acquisitions and hostile takeovers which will essentially narrow their focus, allowing them to specialize in various fields. This latest trend of divesting assets is quite a turnaround from a few years ago when drug companies were diversifying through acquisitions to avoid an 'eggs-in-one-basket' scenario. Analysts note that deals currently underway are focusing on cutting costs and boosting sales to produce results investors have come to expect based on performance over the last two decades or so. However, the bullish activity in the pharmaceutical sector has been driven, in large part, by marketing of new products. With patents expiring and generic medicines flooding the market, many drugmakers have seen their revenue level out, or dip in recent months and will be hard-pushed to match past performances.

  • Facebook, Apple Exceed First Quarter Expectations - 24 April 2014
  • Six days of gains on Wall Street came to an end Wednesday with the S&P 500 index slipping 0.2 percent to 1,875, the Dow Jones industrial average losing 0.1 percent to close at 16,502, and the NASDAQ Composite closing at 4,127 – a decline of 0.8 percent. Facebook shares closed down more than 2 percent at $61.36, but after the closing bell were up $1.50, boosted by the release of the company's quarterly results. Facebook's success in the first quarter of 2014 is being attributed primarily to strong growth in the social media company's mobile advertising business, with revenue climbing by 72 percent to $2.5 billion, exceeding analyst expectations of $2.36 billion.

  • Markets Boosted by Fed's Interest Rate Stance - 10 April 2014
  • Markets responded positively Wednesday to minutes of the Federal Reserve's recent policy meeting which revealed that the central bank aims to keep interest rates low. This came as somewhat of a surprise to many investors and served to boost fragile investor sentiment. All three of Wall Street's major stock indexes closed the day up more than 1 percent, with eight of the ten Standard & Poor's 500 stock index sectors closing higher. The S&P 500 rose 20.22 points (1.1 percent) to close at 1,872.18, while the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 181.04 points (1.1 percent) to close at 16,437.18. The Nasdaq composite index increased by 70.91 points (1.7 percent) to close at 4,183.90. The day's biggest increases were among biotechnology and internet stocks.

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