Bank stocks led the S&P 500, which ended mostly flat, up 0.04 per cent to 1,369.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.23 per cent at 13,008.53 (Reuters).
Consumer credit shot up in March, rising by $21.36bn compared to forecasts of $9.8bn – the biggest increase since November 2001 (Bloomberg). Non-revolving credit, including auto and student loans, rose $16.2bn. Revolving credit, such as credit cards, also rose sharply, reversing a decline in February (Reuters).
Greece’s political parties have so far failed to form a coalition. Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democrats, abandoned talks after 12 hours despite his party’s winning a slim lead among nine rivals (Wall Street Journal). The baton now passes to Syriza, the anti-bailout leftists who took a shock second place in Sunday’s elections. Greece could run out of cash within weeks if a new government is not in position to negotiate with official creditors (Reuters).
Chesapeake’s largest shareholder suggested the company could put itself up for sale. ‘The last point may be taken out of context, but is important: we urge the board to be open to any offers to acquire the whole company,’ Southeastern Asset Management said in a letter filed to regulators (Southeastern, Wall Street Journal). Chesapeake’s share price has struggled under a host of corporate governance concerns around the business dealings of its chief executive (Reuters). Southeastern, which holds a 13.6 per cent stake, said it acknowledged ‘the dangers of opening such conversations which can sometime put a company “in play” at an inopportune time.’
The jury returned a partial verdict in the Oracle-Google case. Google infringed upon some copyrights held by Oracle with regard to its Java software, the jury said. But it failed to decide if Google did or did not have fair use to elements of Java when creating its Android phone operating system, leaving Oracles $1bn claim in doubt (Reuters). Google’s lawyers intend to file for a mistrial (Ars Technica).
Third Point stepped up its attack on Yahoo’s board over its selection of Scott Thompson as chief executive. A letter from the fund demanded that the board release books and records related to Thompson’s hiring. Yahoo said last week that an ‘inadvertent error’ had caused a regulatory filing to state Thompson’s degree was in computer science, rather than accounting (Wall Street Journal).
Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at Facebook’s IPO roadshow in New York, taking a grand total of five questions from investors, including one on his plans for expansion into China (Reuters). Investors packed the event, but some complained that it started late and finished early, with much time taken up by Facebook’s already-released video presentation (FT Tech Blog).
– US data are provided by the Small Business Optimism index and, of course, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
– You saw the Darth Vader grip — now see the Zuckerberg version.
– In case you missed it… Jim Hamilton on Fed inflation-targeting.
– Felix, on how venture capital is stagnant rent-extraction.
– Scott Sumner rages against the Senate’s Fed politics.
– The pond beneath the Empire State Building.