Read It Here—Watch Later; Sales on Up and Up; SCOTUS Rules
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
No Love for Newspaper?
Investors are tuning in to Gannett.'s $1.5 billion acquisition of Dallas-based television company Belo. The deal would double Gannett's size as a broadcaster and make it the nation's fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates, reaching a third of U.S. households. Gannett shares shot up almost 30 percent after the announcement, nearly equaling Belo's purchase price, unusual for an acquirer in a takeover.
"This is a great transaction for the company today. We have an incredibly strong balance sheet [and] a lot of financial flexibility. This was a unique transaction, a compelling transaction for us. If there are other opportunities out there, we'll be focused on those as well."—Gracia Martore, president & CEO of Gannett.
Playing the Numbers
A litany of new data show stronger-than-expected retail and auto sales. Jobless claims and import prices are both trending down. That's leading market watchers to speculate on a higher revised GDP and a little leeway for the Fed in managing its bond buying program. All in all, the positive data are being interpreted as good news and the U.S. market is up big after three-straight negative finishes despite a selloff in Asia and a flat close in Europe.
"We are in a sideways trend for the next several months if not the rest of the year, but I think that what is going to happen is the economic data will stay better than expected and too good for the market to fall a lot. But the market is going to have to deal with rising bond yields and the end of QE with the Fed tapering. I think that's going to create a standoff and a lot of volatility, but maybe a time of correction, and maybe we will set ourselves up for a rally again in 2014."—Jim Paulsen of Wells Capital Management
Patent No Longer Pending
The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that naturally occurring human genes can't be patented (but synthetic ones can) in what is being interpreted as good news for biotech firms. The case involved patents held by Myriad Genetics, which has popular breast and ovarian cancer tests recently in the news because of actress Angelina Jolie's preventative double mastectomy. A lower court's decision that both naturally occurring and synthetic genes were patent-eligible was shot down. Myriad's shares shot up more than 8 percent after the decision and shares of Biogen Idec, Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Gilead Sciences as well as key biotech ETFs, were up as well.
"Speaking for the court majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said a lower appeals court was wrong to find that both isolated human DNA and synthetic DNA were patent-eligible. A sweeping decision could have threatened billions of dollars in investments in research for the biotech industry."—CNBC's Hampton Pearson
Apple took the stand Thursday in a trial over e-book price fixing. It's more negative attention for the company, which has seen its shares sag by nearly a third in the past nine months. It has been criticized for poorly managing the pace of new product introductions. It has come under legal scrutiny lately for violating a Samsung patent, has been named in the government's Prism internet surveillance program and has had its tax policy labeled as evasive.
Could it get worse? You betcha. Apple could be disproportionately hit by privacy concerns, for one. And the tax issue isn't likely to go away, either. Plus, the company is facing stiffer competition from Google; better integration of its Android and Chrome platforms could lead to functionality comparable with Apple's at a lower price, giving it an edge in sales to schools.
"Was Apple pushing for the big deal or acting as a ringmaster to fix prices and affect the way that Amazon was selling books? The Feds are saying that Apple did act as a ringmaster, and it was the main party pulling together a scheme that had major anti-trust applications."—CNBC's John Fortt
Making the News
Love took one on the chin Thursday with news that Rupert Murdoch, 82, and his wife Wendy Deng are ending their 14-year marriage. The pair met at a News Corp. party in Hong Kong in 1997. Deng, 44, made news in 2011 when she lunged to protect her husband from a pie thrower. The couple reportedly has a prenuptial agreement that will protect Murdoch's $10 billion to $12 billion in assets and his company.
"People tell me they had increasingly been leading separate lives recently. It's unlikely that this divorce will cost him much. I'm told by people close to Murdoch that there is a prenuptial agreement. We don't know the amount but it would limit financial impact and also limit the impact on the company. It seems that the iron-clad trust that protects Rupert's three older children is not going to be affected by this and that whatever payout there will be will in the form of cash as opposed to company control."—CNBC's Robert Frank
—By Doug Cubberley, Special to CNBC.com.