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By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 hit a record high on Wednesday, lifted by bullish earnings from companies like Apple and Microsoft, though technical resistance and conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip kept gains in check. The S&P touched a record above 1,989 but the 1,985-1,990 area was developing into technical resistance, analysts said. News of two Ukrainian fighter jets being downed Wednesday, near the area where a passenger jet was shot down last week, added to caution on markets. "What we have today is a testing of the (resistance level) on the S&P," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
(Reuters) - A rise in margins has raised hopes that Apple Inc may be able to hold the line on pricing ahead of the launch of new iPhones later this year. Apple's shares rose 3.3 percent to a 22-month high of $97.88 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday. Apple's gross margin rose to 39.4 percent in the third quarter from 36.9 percent a year earlier, and the company forecast current-quarter margins of 37-38 percent. "With (gross margins) stabilizing (year-on-year) and core demand trends solid, we think investors will want to own Apple stock (going) into bigger-screen iPhone 6 and ecosystem-expanding iWatch/iBand launches," Evercore Group analysts wrote in a note.
Whirlpool Corp on Wednesday reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as sales fell in every region except North America. The news sent shares of Whirlpool, the world's largest maker of home appliances, down as much as 5.5 percent. Whirlpool, which sells its washers and dryers, stoves, and refrigerators under its own name as well as brands including Maytag, KitchenAid and Jenn-Air, said it had sold $4.7 billion in goods during the quarter, unchanged from a year earlier. The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company said sales gains in North America were offset by weakness in the rest of the world, including Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Without thinking, humans tend to mimic the facial expressions of others. This empathetic response is so strong that people might even instinctively copy the facial expressions of creepy robots, a new study suggests. Researchers observed how students interacted with a robot made to look like physicist Albert Einstein to explore the phenomenon of facial mimicry. This instinctive human quirk, also observed in chimps, causes individuals to subconsciously mimic each other's facial expressions.
Settlement talks set for Wednesday between Argentina and bondholders who did not participate in the country's past debt restructuring have been postponed, the court-appointed mediator said. Daniel Pollack, a New York lawyer appointed to oversee the settlement discussions, had scheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. EDT after a U.S. judge ordered the parties to meet "continuously" until a deal is reached.
By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators unveiled rules on Wednesday that will force "prime" money market funds used by large institutions to float their share price, in an effort to reduce the risk of investor runs. The Securities and Exchange Commission's new rules, which are expected to be adopted later Wednesday, come after more than two years of struggling to agree on how to craft reforms that will help prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2008, the Reserve Primary Fund's heavy exposure to Lehman Brothers led panicked investors to yank out their money, causing the fund to 'break the buck' when its net asset value fell below $1 per share. The Federal Reserve was ultimately forced to backstop the industry until the chaos subsided.
(Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast, helped by strong sales of snacks such as Lays and Doritos chips in North America. Shares of the maker of Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay snacks and Tropicana juice rose 2.3 percent to $91.25 before the bell. The company said organic revenue grew 5 percent in its global snacks business, partly due to price hikes. Organic revenue rose 2 percent in its beverages business. Snack volumes in North America grew 2. ...
Boeing Co reported a 52 percent increase in quarterly profit, helped by a rise in commercial aircraft deliveries, and raised its full-year earnings forecast. Still, that was not enough for the company to beat Wall Street's average revenue estimate. Boeing's shares, which have gained 21 percent in the past year, were down 1 percent at $128.40 premarket on Wednesday. The company said commercial aircraft deliveries rose 7 percent to 181, including 30 Dreamliner jets, in the second quarter ended June 30.
Ouch! The bacterium that causes toothaches has become more diverse over the course of human history, a new study finds. Streptococcus mutans is a nasty little bacterium that lurks in the mouth, frequently causing tooth decay and cavities. Now, a new analysis of the bacteria's DNA extracted from human teeth dating back to the Bronze Age reveals the bug has been mutating randomly over the years, becoming more diverse as the human population grows, perhaps because it has more mouths to fill.
(Reuters) - Delta Air Lines reported a higher second-quarter profit on Wednesday as it flew fuller planes and enjoyed higher passenger revenue in the United States and Europe. Delta expected unit revenue - a benchmark gauge known as passenger revenue per available seat mile - to grow 2 percent to 4 percent in the current quarter.
By Brenda Goh and Paul Carsten SHANGHAI/LANGFANG China (Reuters) - Shanghai police said on Wednesday they detained five people in an investigation into a Chinese-based supplier of foreign fast-food brands including KFC and McDonald's Corp over allegations the firm supplied out-of-date meat. The five detained include the head of the company - Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC - and the firm's quality manager, the police said in an online statement. McDonald's, Yum Brands Inc, the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, and coffee chain Starbucks Corp are among global brands to have pulled products from their outlets after it emerged that Shanghai Husi supplied expired meat to clients in China, as well as Japan, in the latest in a series of food safety scandals in the country. Earlier, the official Xinhua news agency cited the Shanghai food and drug watchdog as saying that food safety violations at Shanghai Husi were company-led rather than the acts of individuals.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found serious problems in Deutsche Bank's U.S. operations, including shoddy financial reporting, weak technology and inadequate auditing and oversight, a person close to the matter told Reuters. In a letter to the German lender's executives last December, a senior official with the New York Fed described financial reports produced by some of the bank's U.S. divisions as "low quality, inaccurate and unreliable", said the source, who is familiar with the letter. The New York Fed, as the U.S. central bank's eyes and ears on Wall Street, directly supervises the biggest U.S. and foreign banks, partly through embedded regulators who go to work each day inside the banks. Deutsche Bank shares lost 1.8 percent in early trading, the biggest decliners on both Germany's blue-chip index and among the European banking sector, on fears that U.S. regulators could take action against the bank.
Less than a year from now, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will make the first-ever visit to Pluto, potentially revolutionizing scientists' understanding of the dwarf planet. Researchers hope New Horizons will lay some of those questions to rest when it flies by Pluto on July 15, 2015. "Many predictions have been made by the science community, including possible rings, geyser eruptions, and even lakes," Adriana Ocampo, program executive for NASA's New Frontiers program, said in a statement. The best images from NASA's famous Hubble Space Telescope simply show Pluto's spherical shape and reddish color.
An autonomous quadcopter could be landing space rovers on the Martian surface in future explorations of the Red Planet. The European Space Agency's (ESA) "dropship" quadcopter steers itself, and can identify suitable areas to safely lower and land a rover onto the rocky surface of Mars. Any unmanned rover lander headed for the Red Planet must be autonomous. After a parachute slowed Curiosity's descent, this autonomous structure took over.
Elephants are known for their impressively long trunks, but perhaps less well known is the large number of genes that code for their sense smell. "Rats had the record for the largest number of [these] genes," said the study's lead researcher Yoshiihito Niimura, a researcher of molecular evolution at The University of Tokyo in Japan. The findings support other research on the pachyderm's superior sense of smell. African elephants can smell the difference between two tribes living in Kenya: the Maasai, whose young men prove their virility by spearing elephants, and the Kamba, farmers who usually leave elephants alone, reported a 2007 study published in the journal Current Biology.
Nora Beirne, a senior keeper at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. When I went to The College of New Jersey, I was an English major, but I took several pre-med classes. Then, in my senior year, Pat Thomas — associate director of the Bronx Zoo and vice president and general curator for the Wildlife Conservation Society — gave a talk to the biology department. In six years as a zoo keeper, I've trained red pandas for injections, fed black bears jelly off a spoon and held a komodo dragon.
Homer Hickam is The New York Times No. 1 best-selling author of "Rocket Boys" — also known as "October Sky" (Dell Publishing, 2000) following the book's adaptation to film — and the "Helium-3" novels "Crater" (Thomas Nelson, 2012), "Crescent" (Thomas Nelson, 2013) "Crater Trueblood and The Lunar Rescue Company" (Thomas Nelson, 2014), as well as a retired NASA engineer. There, a ghost town awaits, the previous residents scared off by weird emanations of LTP.
Humans are getting taller; Most of the transformations that occur within such a short time period "are simply the developmental responses of organisms to changed conditions," such as differences in nutrition, food distribution, health care and hygiene practices, said Stephen Stearns, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University. But the origin of these changes may be much deeper and more complex than that, said Stearns, pointing to a study finding that British soldiers have shot up in height in the past century. "Evolution has shaped the developmental program that can respond flexibly to changes in the environment," Stearns said.