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Volkswagen's return to European debt markets met with warm reception

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:29:13 GMT

Volkswagen AG's return to European debt markets has been met with a warm reception from investors, who're rushing to participate in Thursday's expected 7.5 billion euro ($8.1 billion) bond offering, according to a report from the Financial Times. The bond had attracted 22 billion euros ($23.8 billion) in bids by mid-morning, London Time, the FT reported, with debt being sold in four tranches with maturities from two to 10 years. The German automaker was once one of the largest bond issuers in Europe, but it hasn't sold a benchmark bond denominated in a G-10 currency since August 2015. In January, the company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil fines and pleaded guilty to three criminal felony counts. These fines brought the automakers' total scandal-related costs in the U.S. to $20 billion. The company's U.S.-traded shares were off 1.3% at $29.92 in Thursday trade.

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House Speaker Ryan delays news conference ahead of health-care vote

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:11:47 GMT

House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed back his 11:30 a.m. Eastern news conference to 3:30 p.m., in a possible sign that Republicans are still searching for votes on their health-care bill. House leaders have been planning to vote on the American Health Care Act Thursday but reports have said they are short of votes. President Donald Trump is meeting with conservative members Thursday morning to drum up support.

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Man arrested for trying to drive car into crowd in Belgian city: reports

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:54:39 GMT

A man has been detained Thursday after trying to drive a vehicle into a crowd in Antwerp, Belgium, according to multiple media reports citing Belgian police. The vehicle was driven into a main shopping street at high speed, said a police spokesman, according to a BBC report. The arrest comes a day after pedestrians in London were mowed down by a car on Westminster Bridge, leaving 40 injured. Four people have died, including the attacker who was shot by police. It's been one year and a day since Brussels, Belgium's capital, was hit by suicide bombings that left 32 victims and three attackers dead.

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Whole Foods implements new egg standards for 365 Everyday Value brand

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:52:43 GMT

Whole Foods Market Inc. said Thursday that it has implemented four new standards for the living conditions of laying hens that produce its 365 Everyday Value brand eggs. Whole Foods now requires that birds living indoors have perches, that they have equal amounts of indoor and outdoor space, that birds have access to grassland and rangeland, and that outdoor birds have mobile shelters. Mammal or poultry byproducts are prohibited in feed. Whole Foods has sold exclusively cage-free eggs in its dairy section since 2004. All 365 Everyday Value eggs have come from hens fed only non-GMO feed since 2016. Whole Foods shares are down 1.3% in Thursday trading, and down 8.2% for the past year. The S&P 500 index is up 15.3% for the last 12 months.

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Ford's stock drops after profit outlook was below expectations

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:37:08 GMT

Shares of Ford Motor Co. shed 1.3% in morning trade Thursday, after the automaker disclosed a first-quarter earnings outlook that was well below expectations. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ford said Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks will host a "Let's Chat" forum at 10 a.m. ET, where he will say the company established a first-quarter net and adjusted earnings-per-share guidance range of 30 cents to 35 cents, down from adjusted EPS of 68 cents a year ago, and below the FactSet consensus of 47 cents. Ford said the decline from last year is because of higher costs, including for commodities and investments in emerging opportunities; lower volume, primarily fleet volume; and unfavorable currency moves. The stock has not lost 4.2% year to date, while rival General Motors Co. shares have slipped 1.7% and the S&P 500 has gained 4.8%.

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Stocks open lower as as investors focus on health-care vote

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:31:16 GMT

The U.S. stock market opened lower on Thursday, with investors cautious in a day that may deliver a House vote on the health-care bill. A failure to pass the bill may undercut investor confidence in the Trump administration's ability to implement other policy changes. The S&P 500 opened 2 points, or 0.1%, lower at 2,345. Shares of Ford Motors dropped sharply after downbeat earnings outlook for the first quarter. The Nasdaq Composite opened off 11 points, or 0.2%, at 5,810. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 24 points, or 0.1%, to 20,635.

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Yellen: Must start early to help workers achieve success

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:45:30 GMT

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- New research makes a compelling case that there is a need to think "longer term" about how to prepare people for success in the labor marker, said Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen Thursday. "This research underscores the value of starting young to develop basic work habits and skills," Yellen said in welcoming remarks at a Fed research conference on community development. Yellen said there is also evidence that growing up poor makes it harder to succeed as an adult. New work is needed on what kinds of interventions could help poor children and are these programs scalable. The Fed chief did not address the economic outlook or interest-rate policy in her remarks.

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Citi Trends CEO resigns to pursue another opportunity

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:08:52 GMT

Citi Trends Inc. said Chief Executive Jason Mazzola has resigned after two years in the position, and five years at the company, according to his LinkedIn profile. The Georgia-based apparel retailer said Mazzola resigned to "pursue another opportunity." The company named Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Bruce Smith as acting CEO until a permanent replacement can be found, and named Ed Anderson as executive chairman. Citi Trends stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has lost 2.6% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has shed 7.2% and the S&P 500 has gained 4.9%.

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HTG Molecular's stock soars again after CE mark obtained for assay used in lung tumor analysis

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:56:39 GMT

Shares of HTG Molecular Diagnostics Inc. rocketed 63% in premarket trade Thursday, after the company said it obtained CE marking in the European Union for its in vitro diagnostic assay used to measure and analyze gene rearrangements in lung tumor specimens. CE marking means a product conforms to requirements for sale in the European economic area. "We are pleased to add the HTG EdgeSeq ALKPlus Assay EU to our diagnostic assay menu in Europe," said HTG Chief executive TJ Johnson in a statement released late Wednesday. "We plan to offer this assay to selected European early adopters as we seek additional regulatory approvals elsewhere." The stock's surge comes less than a month after it nearly tripled, running up 159% on Feb. 27 after the company unveiled a new direct-target sequencing chemistry to be launched in the first quarter. Through Wednesday, the stock had dropped 4.5% year to date, while the S&P 500 had gained 4.9%.

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Conagra shares fall after sales miss

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:44:25 GMT

Conagra Brands Inc. shares fell 1.5% in Thursday premarket trading after the food company reported a third-quarter sales slip that landed below estimates. Conagra reported third-quarter net income of $179.7 million, or 41 cents per share, down from $204.6 million, or 46 cents per share, for the same period last year. Adjusted EPS was 48 cents, beating the 44-cent FactSet consensus. Revenue was $1.98 billion, down from $2.20 billion last year, and just below the $1.99 billion FactSet consensus. The company now expects fiscal 2017 adjusted EPS to be at or slightly above the high-end of the $1.65 to $1.70 range. The FactSet consensus is $1.70. Sales are expected to be at or slightly below the low-end of a 4% to 5% decline. Conagra shares are up 20.1% for the past year while the S&P 500 index is up 15.3% for the period.

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Accenture beats profit expectations, to record $425 million charge for terminating pension plan

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:22:48 GMT

Accenture PLC reported Thursday fiscal second-quarter earnings that fell to $876.7 million, or $1.33 a share, from $1.39 billion, or $2.08 a share, in the same period a year ago. The FactSet consensus for earnings per share was $1.30. Total revenue for the quarter to Feb. 28 rose 4% to $8.76 billion from $8.40 billion, as a 5% increase in net revenue offset a 2% decline in reimbursements. The FactSet total revenue consensus was $8.77 billion. Looking ahead, the consulting firm said it expects 2017 revenue growth in the range of 6% to 8%, compared with a previous outlook of 5% to 8%. The company lifted its EPS outlook to $5.70 to $5.87 from $5.64 to $5.87. Separately, Accenture said it expects to record a $425 million charge in connection with the termination of its U.S. pension plan. The stock, which slumped 2% in premarket trade, has gained 8% year to date, while the S&P 500 has advanced 4.9%.

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U.K. police arrest 7 in London terror-attack probe: report

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:34:31 GMT

U.K. police have made seven arrests related to Wednesday's deadly terror attack in London, Metropolitan Police said Thursday. The arrests were made after police raided six locations in London and Birmingham. Sky News and other outlets reported the man suspected of carrying out Wednesday's terror attack near the Houses of Parliament was said to have lived at a Birmingham residence. Witnesses told the Associated Press that the police arrested three men at the scene. Police said Thursday that four people have died, including a police officer and the attacker, and that seven of 29 injured people are in critical condition. The attacker plowed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed Officer Keith Palmer.

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Apple acquires automation app Workflow: report

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:24:38 GMT

Apple Inc. has acquired Workflow, a popular mobile app for automating tasks, according to a TechCrunch report late Wednesday. Workflow allows users to group together a number of actions to complete tasks, such as creating GIFs from photos, posting photos to different social networks at once and calculating tips. "We are thrilled to be joining Apple," Workflow co-founder Ari Weinstein told TechCrunch. Apple confirmed the acquisition, but did not disclose the price. In 2015, the app won an Apple Design Award for its accessibility features. TechCrunch said the app, which had been offered for $2.99 on Apple's App Store, would be made free later Wednesday.

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Alaska Airlines to drop Virgin America brand in 2019

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:05:50 GMT

The Virgin America brand will be dropped in 2019, Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday, three months after completing a $2.6-billion acquisition of the low-cost airline. Alaska Airlines had previously explored the idea of maintaining both brands. "While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name -- for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares," Sangita Woerne, Alaska Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing, said in a statement. Alaska said it would keep a number of Virgin amenities that have made it a favorite among fliers, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, music and its signature mood lighting. Since closing the sale, Alaska has announced routes to 21 new markets in its effort to be the dominant airline on the U.S. West Coast.

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Ultragenyx falls on results of seizure medication study

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:15:18 GMT

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. dropped nearly 7% in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company said a study of a potential seizure medication failed to reduce observable seizures. The study, which focused on patients with a rare seizure-causing disease called glucose transporter type-1 deficiency syndrome, showed patients on the drug had fewer "absence seizures," minor seizures that usually involve a patient losing concentration for short periods of time. The drug, known as UX007, did not reduce observable seizures, however. "We look forward to studying UX007 in our Phase 3 study in Glut1 DS patients with movement disorders, and continue to evaluate our plans in the seizure indication," Unltragenyx Chief Executive Emil Kakkis said in Wednesday's announcement. Ultragenyx shares fell to $73 in late trading after closing with a 0.8% increase at $78.36.

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Share of Calvin Klein parent PVH soar after earnings

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:31:37 GMT

Shares of Calvin Klein parent PVH Corp. jumped nearly 8% late Wednesday after the company reported quarterly earnings above expectations and revenue that met guidance and Wall Street forecasts. PVH said it earned $101 million, or $1.26 a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $134 million, or $1.63, a year ago. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned $1.23 a share, compared with $1.52 a share a year ago. Revenue reached $2.1 billion in the quarter, flat compared to the prior year. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of $1.19 a share on sales of $2.1 billion in the quarter. PVH's board authorized a $750 million increase and extension until June 2020 for the company's share buyback program, the company said. Shares of PVH, which also owns Heritage Brands and Tommy Hilfiger, had ended the regular session down 2%.

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Five Below shares rally on company's earnings beat, new-store openings

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:17:32 GMT

Shares of Five Below Inc. rose nearly 7% late Wednesday after the discount retailer reported per-share earnings above expectations and called for more store openings. Five Below said it earned $49.8 million, or 90 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $42 million in the year-ago period. Net sales rose to $388.1 million, from $326.4 million a year ago, the company said. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected per-share earnings of 89 cents a share on sales of $388 million. The company said it plans to open about 100 new stores in 2017, including locations in California. Net sales for the first quarter are expected to be between $228 million and $232 million, assuming a 2% increase in comparable-store sales. Per-share earnings were seen between 12 cents and 14 cents in the first quarter, the company said. The stock ended the regular trading session down 1.9%.

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Nike's biggest-ever price drop can be blamed for Dow's fifth-straight loss

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:13:24 GMT

Nike Inc. is an easy scapegoat for the Dow Jones Industrial Average's fifth-straight loss Wednesday, as the athletic apparel company's stock suffered its biggest price decline since it went public in December 1980. The stock plunged $4.09, or 7.05%, after the company provided late Tuesday a tepid sales outlook along with its fiscal third-quarter results. The price decline shaved about 28 points off the price of the Dow, which closed down 6.71 points. In comparison, the S&P 500 closed up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5%. Meanwhile, Nike's one-day percentage decline was the biggest since June 29, 2012. The stock has lost 17% over the past 12 months, while the Dow has climbed 18%.

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U.S. stocks eke out gains; Nike drop weighs on Dow

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:03:30 GMT

The U.S. stock market rebounded from the previous day's selloff to close slightly higher Wednesday as gains in tech stocks helped lift the main indexes. However, a 7% drop in Nike Inc. shares weighed on Dow industrials, which posted a fifth consecutive decline. The S&P 500 advanced 4.43 points, or 0.2%, to 2,348.45, with technology shares leading the gains. The Nasdaq Composite closed 27.82 points, or 0.5%, higher at 5,821.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 6.84 points, or less than 0.1% lower at 20,661.17, extending a losing streak to a fifth day.

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Frontier Communications' stock sinks to 33-year low after Goldman downgrades to rare sell rating

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:46:04 GMT

Shares of Frontier Communications Corp. plunged 12% in active trade Wednesday, toward the lowest close in three decades, after Goldman Sachs turned bearish on the telecommunications company. Analyst Brett Feldman downgraded Frontier to a rare sell rating, after being at neutral since September 2014. Of the 2,902 companies covered by Goldman analysts, only 14% are rated sell. Feldman slashed his stock price target to $1.50, which is 28% below current levels, from $3.00. Feldman said he's concerned that Frontier may have to suspend its dividend after the first quarter in order to "build liquidity to address significant debt maturities" in 2020 to 2022. He believes that at current prices, investors are only pricing in a 50% dividend cut, which Feldman said "would not be sufficient" to drive meaningful debt reduction, and is therefore not likely to support the stock. The current annual dividend yield of 42 cents implied a 20.19% dividend yield. The shares recently traded at $2.08, which puts it on track for the lowest close since Aug. 3, 1984. Volume of 94.4 million shares was about double the full-day average, and enough to make the stock the most actively traded on the Nasdaq exchange. The stock has plunged 38% year to date, while the iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF has lost 6.5% and the S&P 500 has gained 4.9%.

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No 'Plan B' for health care if bill doesn't pass House Thursday, Spicer says

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:29:15 GMT

There is no "Plan B" for health care if a vote in the House on Thursday does not pass, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. "This bill represents the best chance of repealing and replacing Obamacare," Spicer said about the American Health Care Act. Some conservative House members remain holdouts on the bill, saying it won't lower premiums. Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, said he's "very confident" Republicans will have the votes.

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Four people dead, 20 injured in London terrorist attack: police

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:18:52 GMT

Four people have died, including one police officer, in a terrorist attack near the Houses of Parliament in London, Metropolitan Police said late Wednesday. Twenty people have been injured, said Mark Rowley, acting deputy commissioner of the Met Police, at a press conference. The incident began Wednesday afternoon on Westminster Bridge, where a car plowed into numerous people, including three police officers. A crime scene in the area surrounding Westminster remains in place as police recover evidence.

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Oil prices pare losses as traders turn attention to drop in U.S. gasoline supplies

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:00:38 GMT

Oil prices nearly erased earlier losses Wednesday afternoon. Prices had been set to settle at their lowest level since late November after U.S. government data revealed a rise of 5 million barrels in crude supplies to a record 533.1 million barrels for the week ended March 17. But the data also showed that gasoline inventories fell by 2.8 million barrels. Reformulated gasoline "and the summer driving season is leading us back from the November lows on crude," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group. May WTI crude fell 7 cents, or 0.2%, to trade at $48.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after tapping lows closer to $47.

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Starbucks to create 240,000 jobs globally, 68,000 in the U.S.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:49:15 GMT

Starbucks Corp. plans to create 240,000 new jobs around the world, 68,000 in the U.S., the company announced along with other initiatives at its annual investor meeting Wednesday. The new jobs will come as the company opens 12,000 new cafes by fiscal 2021, 3,400 of those stores will be in the U.S. The company plans to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses, after reaching a prior goal of hiring 10,000. Starbucks came under fire last month after President Donald Trump supporters started the #BoycottStarbucks campaign in response to the company's pledge to hire 10,000 refugees around the world. The company has now formally partnered with the United Nations' refugee agency to reach candidates. After announcing gluten-free and vegan additions to its menu on Tuesday, Starbucks has also announced the launch of the Starbucks Mercato menu in more than 100 Chicago stores on April 11. The lunch menu will include salads and sandwiches to meet a variety of dietary needs with leftover items donated nightly to local food banks through the Starbucks FoodShare program with Feed America. The My Starbucks Barista app, which allows voice and messaging ordering, is being rolled out to iOS users, and the mobile order-and-pay platform is being expanded to Ford Motor Co. cars equipped with Sync 3 technology later this year. This is Chief Executive Howard Schultz's final annual meeting before moving to the executive chairman role. Kevin Johnson will succeed him on April 3, as previously announced. Starbucks shares are up 0.8% in Wednesday trading, and down 5.7% for the past year. The S&P 500 index is up 14.5% for the last 12 months.

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Scottish lawmakers' debate on independence halted after London attack

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:18:50 GMT

The Scottish parliament's debate related to a new independence referendum was suspended on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report citing the lawmaking body's speaker. The halt came after shots were fired near the U.K.'s Houses of Parliament in London, in an apparently concerted attack including the stabbing of a policeman and a car driving at people outside the building. Authorities said they were treating the attack as a terrorist incident. Scotland has appeared headed for a second independence referendum, sparked by the U.K.'s planned exit from the European Union.

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Two people shot outside U.K.'s parliament: reports

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:06:37 GMT

Two people have been shot outside U.K.'s parliament, according to a Sky News report Wednesday, and Westminster is on lockdown. An alleged assailant has been shot at the parliament by armed police, according to a Reuters report.

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EIA data show hefty increase in U.S. crude supplies

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:35:39 GMT

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that domestic crude-oil supplies rose by 5 million barrels for the week ended March 17. That marked the tenth increase in 11 weeks. The American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday reported a 4.5 million-barrel climb, according to sources, while analysts polled by S&P Global Platts forecast a rise of 2 million barrels. Gasoline supplies fell by 2.8 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles declined by 1.9 million barrels last week, according to the EIA. May crude lost 95 cents, or 2%, to $47.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was trading at $47.69 before the supply data.

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Viacom looks to bring in former Fox executive as Paramount Pictures chief: reports

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:50:32 GMT

Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures is nearing a deal with industry veteran Jim Gianopulos to serve as the studio's chairman and chief executive, according to Variety. Gianopulos is currently on his way out as chairman and chief executive at 20th Century Fox , which announced last summer that he would step down once his contract expires on June 30, 2017. If Viacom and Gianopulos agree to terms, he will take the helm following Brad Grey's exit earlier this year. Grey led the studio for 12 years. Viacom is looking to turn its fortune around under new Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish after a tumultuous year rife with management infighting. The company has designated its floundering Paramount Pictures film division as key to its strategy. Viacom's publicly-owned class B shares have gained just 3% in the trailing 12-month period, while the S&P 500 index is up more than 14% during the same time frame.

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U.S. stocks open lower as Trump's health-care plan meets resistance

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:31:45 GMT

U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index posted their largest one-day losses since September. The S&P 500 index shed 1 point, or 0.1%, to 2,342, while the Dow slipped 36 points, or 0.2%, to 20,628. The Nasdaq fell 3 points, or 0.1%, to 5,790. Market strategists attributed the drop to signs that President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress might take longer to implement a slate of promised fiscal-stimulus measures than previously believed. The Republican plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare has been met with resistance from some conservative lawmakers, raising concerns that the House bill might not pass when it comes up for a vote on Thursday. In individual stock trading, Sears Holdings Corp. shares plummeted after the struggling retailer warned that the company could cease operations if its turnaround plan fails. Bank stocks struggled, with shares of Bank of America Corp. , Wells Fargo & Co. , Citigroup Inc. , J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. all moving lower.

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Sears shares sink after filing raises concerns about its ability to 'continue as a going concern'

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:12:16 GMT

Sears Holdings Corp. shares sank 15.4% in Wednesday premarket trading after the struggling retailer warned that it has "substantial doubt" that it would be able to "continue as a going concern" if its turnaround plan failed. Sears announced a $1 billion restructuring effort in February that includes staff cuts and store closures. In its 10-K filed Tuesday, it said it is also exploring options with its remaining assets, including the Home Services business and the Kenmore and DieHard brands. "We believe that the actions discussed above are probable of occurring and mitigating the substantial doubt raised by our historical operating results and satisfying our estimated liquidity needs 12 months from the issuance of the financial statements," the company said. "However, we cannot predict, with certainty, the outcome of our actions to generate liquidity, including the availability of additional debt financing, or whether such actions would generate the expected liquidity as currently planned." Sears reported outstanding borrowings of $4.2 billion as of Jan. 28, 2017, up from $2.98 billion last year. Sears shares are down 38.6% for the past year while the S&P 500 index is up 14.4% for the period.

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