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Feb 23, 2011

The Economist: New stories from The Economist February 23rd 2011



Democracy in America: Rahm Emanuel wins

Newsbook: Libya's uprising

Newsbook: Earthquake in New Zealand

Bagehot's notebook: Does Europe bankroll Arab despots?

Schumpeter's notebook: Saif al-Islam Qaddafi's PhD thesis

Free exchange: The Bank of England does the splits

Daily chart: Where GM crops are grown

Online debate: Is the "Twitter Revolution" a fiction?
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Evening Markett Wrap

Evening Market Wrap
Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 17:19
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Commentary
Stocks fell by substantial margins once again on Wednesday, with traders running to safety amid the ongoing chaos in key oil-supplying Arab nations. The concerns led to another spike in the price of oil, which hit a high of $100 a barrel. Meanwhile, a strong reading on existing home sales in the U.S. did little to dent the day's negative sentiment. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Economic News
Extending a recent upward trend, existing home sales in the U.S. rose for the third consecutive month in January, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Wednesday. NAR said existing home sales rose 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 5.36 million in January from a downwardly revised 5.22 million in December. Economists had expected sales to slip to 5.25 million from the 5.28 million originally reported for the previous month. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Corporate News
Engineering and construction company Fluor Corp. (FLR) on Wednesday reported a 21 percent decline in profit for the fourth quarter, reflecting one-time charges and lower revenues. However, the company maintained its earnings outlook for fiscal year 2011, saying it remains encouraged about future opportunities after three consecutive quarters of new award strength and backlog growth. The Irving, Texas-based company's net earnings for the fourth quarter was $117.1 million or $0.65 per share, down from $148.7 million or $0.82 per share in the year-ago quarter. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Off-price retailer TJX Companies Inc. (TJX) Wednesday reported lower fourth-quarter profit, hurt by charges related to the closure of A.J. Wright stores. On an adjusted basis, earnings rose from last year and topped analysts' forecast, reflecting higher sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The retailer also offered earnings outlook for the first quarter and full-year 2012 and announced its plans to repurchase shares and lift dividend. Fourth-quarter net income was $334.41 million or $0.84 per share, compared with $395 million or $0.94 per share a year ago. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons, Inc. (THI, THI.TO) said Wednesday its fourth quarter profit soared compared to a year ago, boosted by gains related to the sale of its interest in Maidstone Bakeries. Total revenues were down, as bakery sale costs were passed on to store owners. However, sales at established stores were strong in both the U.S. and Canada. A household name in Canada, Tim Hortons has been making inroads in U.S. markets, mainly in the northeast. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Satellite television company DirecTV (DTV) on Wednesday reported a turnaround to profit in the fourth quarter, as "highest subscriber additions in a decade" resulted in a 11 percent revenue growth. Both, adjusted earnings per share and revenue for the quarter topped analysts' expectations. The company's net income for the fourth quarter was $618 million or $0.74 per share, compared with net loss of $32 million or $0.03 per share in the year-ago period. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Home improvement retailer Lowe's Cos., Inc. (LOW) reported Wednesday a 39 percent year-over-year increase in profit for the fourth quarter, reflecting sales growth and higher margins. Both earnings per share and quarterly revenues topped analysts' expectations. Comparable store sales edged up 1.1 percent. The company also provided an earnings guidance for the first quarter, which could meet or miss estimates. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) reported Wednesday a profit for the first quarter, compared to prior year's loss, mainly benefited by higher tax benefit. On a pre-tax basis, the company posted a loss, however, narrower than last year, helped by lower costs and higher prices, despite a decline in home deliveries. First-quarter net income was $3.42 million or $0.02 per share, while prior year's loss was $40.75 million or $0.25 per share. On average, 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected loss of $0.07 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Political News
Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected the new mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, defeating five other candidates and receiving more than the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff election. With more than 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Emanuel has received 55.3 percent of the vote, easily overcoming his opponents. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Attorney General Eric Holder revealed Wednesday that the Obama administration will no longer defend the constitutionality of a Clinton-era law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages. While the Justice Department has defended the Defense of Marriage Act in the two years since President Barack Obama took office, Holder said that the president has now concluded that a section of the law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., released a statement Wednesday highlighting an independent economic analysis by Goldman Sachs that predicted that the spending cuts proposed by House Republicans would reduce U.S. economic growth by up to 2 percent. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

NYT: Afternoon Business News: A Test to Solar Energy Projects, on Environmental Grounds



BUSINESS

A Test to Solar Energy Projects, on Environmental Grounds

  By TODD WOODY
Five solar thermal projects in California are being challenged in court by labor, environmental and American Indian groups.

Oil Prices Rise on Reports of Disruptions in Libya

By CHRISTINE HAUSER
Oil prices in New York briefly touched $100 a barrel as investors worried about how the Libyan crisis would end and what the impact on oil production would be.

4 Bankers Accused of Helping Americans Evade Taxes

By LYNNLEY BROWNING and JULIA WERDIGIER
The latest charges signal that the authorities are rapidly broadening their investigation of offshore banks selling services that allow people to evade taxes.

Supreme Court Allows Suit Over Rear Seat Belts

By ADAM LIPTAK
Although federal regulations did not require lap-and-shoulder seat belts in the rear seats, a suit over the issue can now proceed.
DealBook

Signs of a 'Turnaround' for the Banking Industry

By ERIC DASH
But the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says that its list of "problem banks" has grown to 884, or just over one in nine lenders.

Financial And Forex Info | Daily Investor Update: Nasdaq mulls NYSE bid in exchange deal dash





News

LATEST NEWS
Wall St stocks end down for 2nd day
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed down for a second straight session on Wednesday as Libya's violence sent oil prices briefly to $100 a barrel and tech shares sank, adding credence to calls for a market correction. | Full Article

Nasdaq mulls NYSE bid in exchange deal dash
February 23, 2011 02:11 PM ET
NEW YORK/TORONTO (Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX Group Inc could launch a rival bid for NYSE Euronext to avoid being left on the sidelines, a source said, as traditional exchanges race to merge to see off upstart electronic rivals. | Full Article
Home sales rise, price slump points to weakness
February 23, 2011 02:12 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sales of previously owned homes set their highest rate in eight months in January, but more than a third of purchases were distressed properties and prices hit a nearly nine-year low. | Full Article
Apple shareholders nix succession but OK board rule
February 23, 2011 03:19 PM ET
CUPERTINO (Reuters) - Apple Inc shareholders rejected demands that the company disclose a succession plan for ailing CEO Steve Jobs but approved a proposal giving them a bigger say in the appointment of directors. | Full Article
Madoff trustee hits SEC's top attorney with suit
February 23, 2011 12:09 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The top attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission is being sued over allegations his family's estate wrongfully received over $1.5 million in phony profits from Bernard Madoff's massive fraud. | Full Article



Financial And Forex Info News | The Australian Business Briefing: Wall St slumps on oil price fears









Update for Thu Feb 24 08:39:56 EST 2011  
Wall St slumps on oil price fears
Aus Bus Pix Wall St 110224 UPDATED Jonathan Cheng US stocks piled on a second session of steep losses today on concerns over rising oil prices and disappointing sales at Hewlett-Packard.
 
US oil price strikes $US100 a barrel
NYMEX oil traders Dan Strumpf US oil touched $US100 a barrel for the first time in more than two years today, boosted by violent unrest and supply disruptions in Libya.
 
Apple investors reject succession plan
Apple Ian Sherr WITH Steve Jobs absent, a measure that would have required Apple to outline succession plans doesn't appear to have passed its AGM.
 
Facebook frenzy stirs up watchdog
Facebook - Thumbnail (100x75) Murad Ahmed THE huge demand for shares in the private companies that own Facebook and Twitter has fired up the US financial watchdog.
 
Murdoch to put Ten under microscope
Lachlan Murdoch James Chessell ACTING Ten Network Holdings chief executive Lachlan Murdoch will look closely at its struggling news services and digital sports channel.
 
Suncorp's perfect storm
earthquake Andrew Fraser A HORROR run of floods, earthquakes, heavy storms and cyclones has cut nearly 40 per cent from Suncorp's profit over the last six months.
 
Tata Steel yet to decide on Riversdale
coal Satish Sarangarajan TATA Steel, the world's seventh-largest steelmaker by capacity, said today it hasn't made a decision on its Riversdale Mining stake yet.
 
Tyco buys Signature Security for $171m
people shadows Matt Jarzemsky TYCO International says it has agreed to buy the largest Australian-owned electronic security business for $171 million.
 
Financial Markets
Wall St slumps on oil price fears
Aus Bus Pix Wall St 110224 UPDATED Jonathan Cheng US stocks piled on a second session of steep losses today on concerns over rising oil prices and disappointing sales at Hewlett-Packard.
 
Gold rises for a fourth straight day
US oil price strikes $US100 a barrel
 
Financial Markets Coverage
 
Mining & Energy
Tata Steel yet to decide on Riversdale
coal Satish Sarangarajan TATA Steel, the world's seventh-largest steelmaker by capacity, said today it hasn't made a decision on its Riversdale Mining stake yet.
 
Gold rises for a fourth straight day
US oil price strikes $US100 a barrel
 
More Mining & Energy Coverage

Financial And forex Info: The Australian Capital Circle: Christchurch tragedy devastates a nation




Capital Circle Newsletter

Christchurch tragedy devastates a nation
Amid the devastation in New Zealand, the island nation is pulling together to rebuild and recover.

The PM's day, per the press office: Julia Gillard is in Canberra today. She will meet a congressional delegation ahead of her visit to the United States, which begins in the US on March 6 and ends on March 11.
Back in town: Lobbying firm GPR services - the business owned and run by Greg Peter Rudd - is setting up shop in Canberra. Mr Rudd told Capital Circle yesterday he had left Beijing, was selling up in Brisbane and would spend 70 per cent of his time in Canberra and 30 per cent in China, where son Lachlan is still running the GPR Asia office. So why come back to Canberra? "The reality was that while Kevin was PM it was too difficult to be a political lobbyist because his gamut covered everything." Mr Rudd is no stranger to Capital Hill, having previously worked as chief of staff to former Keating Government minister Con Sciacca between 1990 and 1996.
Capital Circle hears that drinks at the British High Commission went well last night, with the drinks flowing and the cucumber sandwiches just right. Worth noting that our British friends have sniffed the political wind blowing from the Senate. A copy of the guest list, handed to Capital Circle, shows that a handful of advisers from Greens Leader Bob Brown's office were invited, whereas Liberals were in short supply on the night.
Late-breaking in Senate Estimates last night: Treasury executive director from the markets group, Jim Murphy, said his department had advised Wayne Swan on the pros and cons of banning mortgage exit fees - but denied the Treasury had told Mr Swan not to ban exit fees.
"I might say that the documents released under FOI to the shadow treasurer refer to internal working documents that we use to determine policy position that we will put to the government," Mr Murphy told said. "I just want to put on the record that the policy position that was put to the government and put to the treasurer was that exit fees should be banned." (AAP)
Read more...

MarketWatch Personal Finance Daily: Saving consistently pays off

MarketWatch

Personal Finance Daily
FEBRUARY 23, 2011

Wednesday's Personal Finance Stories

By MarketWatch



Don't miss these top stories:
It's been a tough decade for 401(k) savers, but new data suggest that consistency pays off. Andrea Coombes writes in her Ways and Means column today that the average balance among people who stuck with their plan for the past 10 years more than tripled by the end of 2010, according to Fidelity Investments' latest analysis of the plans it manages for 11 million participants.

Also in today's offerings, Marshall Loeb says businesses shouldn't overlook the 65-and-older age group. This is a growing and increasingly powerful demographic. These senior citizens have money and they're not afraid to spend it, he writes.

Anne Stanley , Managing Editor, Personal Finance

Balances rise for consistent 401(k) savers

Fidelity Investments's latest data analysis shows that consistency can pay off for 401(k) participants, but it doesn't mean you'll save enough.
Read more: Balances rise for consistent 401(k) savers.


SPENDING & SAVING

Older Americans are powerful consumers

Business people who are eager to sell increasing amounts of their goods and services may be ignoring an active category of consumers. It consists of people aged 65 and over — a group that now numbers about 37 million, or an estimated 12% of the population.
Read more: Older Americans are powerful consumers.


REAL ESTATE

Existing-home sales rise as prices suffer

Sales of existing homes rose a seasonally-adjusted 2.7% in January for the fifth monthly rise in six, a trade group said Wednesday as it also announced a major review into the quality of its data.
Read more: Existing-home sales rise as prices suffer.


ECONOMY & POLITICS

Biggest banks must be broken up, Fed's Hoenig says

The systemic risks to the U.S. economy from the biggest U.S. banks are even worse in the wake of Washington efforts to reform the regulatory system, says Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig.
Read more: Biggest banks must be broken up, Fed's Hoenig says.


Public pensions are the least of our worries

Fixing budget holes today won't help if we don't invest in making the economy of tomorrow much stronger.
Read more: Public pensions are the least of our worries.


War: the second derivative of the financial crisis

We've witnessed a surreal sequence of events the last few years that shifted the course of world history.
Read more: War: the second derivative of the financial crisis.


INVESTING

How to boost your investment income

If you need to live off your savings and investments, you're having a tough time right now. For tens of millions of Americans, it's a struggle.
Read more: How to boost your investment income.


How to trade the oil panic

Chaos in Libya is disrupting global markets, giving investors several ways to make some money.
Read more: How to trade the oil panic.


Ominous parallels to market last April

The similarities between today's stock market and the one that prevailed late last April are striking — and disturbing. Bullish sentiment then was disturbingly high, and it's almost as high today. And on both occasions the market was caught by surprise by geopolitical crises.
Read more: Ominous parallels to market last April.


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The Washington Post Afternoon Edition: Most Read Opinion Columns: (4) Side effects of the GOP's war on family planning

Washington Post

1) Rush Limbaugh binges on anti-Michelle Obama vitriol

Rush Limbaugh has no right to chew away at Michelle Obama on nutrition.

2) Wisconsin is only part of the GOP war against unions

The Republican war on unions goes far beyond Wisconsin.

3) Obama's moment in the Middle East - and at home

There's been something strikingly lacking in the administration's response to Arab unrest.

4) Side effects of the GOP's war on family planning

Beware the many side effects of the GOP's plans to cut funding.

5) Dear Moammar Gaddafi . . .

Going down in flames would be a fitting end for the criminal you've become.

6) A tough balancing act for Jordan

King Abdullah must juggle the old guard and new reformers if he wants stability.

7) Wisconsin: It's about democracy

Unions' fight is the fight of every U.S. worker.

8) Government pensions, an obesity epidemic

Government workers, on our dime, have run off with pensions they do not deserve.

9) Out of Wisconsin, a lesson in leadership for Obama

The Wisconsin governor's comportment in the budget crisis makes three things clear.

10) Once again, the gun lobby escapes common-sense regulation

LAW-ABIDING GUN dealers and gun owners have rights. So says the Second Amendment and so says the Supreme Court. But that doesn't make common-sense regulation unconstitutional.

Financial And forex Info: Metal


 
New York Metals  Market Spot  Prices   At Close


TodayChangeWeek AgoMonth AgoYear Ago
Gold$1,414.85+$12.80$1,374.80$1,341.40$1,104.10
Silver$33.39+$0.46$30.70$27.50$15.92
Platinum$1,779.30-$8.30$1,836.00$1,823.50$1,513.00
Palladium$774.30-$29.15$840.50$816.00$435.55 

Source:  CMI Gold And Silver Daily Prices

Daily Market Analysis

Daily Market Analysis
Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 09:16



The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Wednesday, with some buying interest likely to emerge on bargain hunting following yesterday's sharp declines. Global cues are not very encouraging, with the Asian markets closing mostly lower, while the European markets are also moving to the downside. Commodities prices are seeing extended strength amid the weakness of the dollar. If the existing home sales report to be released shortly after the markets open come in stronger than expected, the initial buying could find follow through. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Morning Market Briefing

Morning Market Briefing
Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 09:17


Commentary

Stocks are poised to open Wednesday's session modestly higher, with traders looking to do some bargain hunting after yesterday's massive sell off. Nonetheless, ongoing chaos in the Middle East remains a key headwind to any substantial upside. The major index futures are all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 28 points. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Economic News

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens on Wednesday urged Australian residents to save rather than spend as a means of dealing with the country's mining boom. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Japan saw a merchandise trade deficit of 471.4 billion yen in January, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday, falling into the red for the first time in 22 months. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Hong Kong will take adequate measures to alleviate the risk of a property bubble, Financial Secretary John Tsang said in his budget speech on Wednesday. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Singapore's annual inflation accelerated unexpectedly in January, to the highest level since December 2008, on higher transportation and housing cost, official data showed Wednesday. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

More British policy makers turned hawkish in February amid rising inflationary pressure, the Bank of England showed Wednesday. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Eurozone industrial new orders unexpectedly rose in December as France and Italy outperformed, offsetting a decline in Germany. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Earnings News

Off-price apparel retailer The TJX Companies Inc. (TJX) Wednesday reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit largely due to store-closing charges. Net sales, however, rose 7%, with comparable store sales rising 2%. Adjusted earnings topped estimates, but revenues fell short of expectations. The company also issued first-quarter and the corresponding fiscal year comparable sales and earnings outlook. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) Wednesday reported a first-quarter profit, reversing from the loss in the previous year, thanks to a higher tax benefit and lower write-downs. Revenues inched up 2% on a 7% rise in average delivery prices. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Home improvement retailer Lowe's Companies Inc. (LOW) said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit increased 39% from the prior year as a result of a higher revenues and gross margin. Revenues rose 3.1%, with comparable store-sales going up 1.1%. The quarterly results exceeded expectations. The company also issued first-quarter and fiscal 2011 outlook. Expected earnings for the first quarter could miss or match analysts' estimates. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Pay television service provider DirecTV (DTV) Wednesday reported a profit for the fourth quarter compared to a loss last year. Revenues increased 11% on growth in new subscribers and also higher average monthly revenue in the US market. Both adjusted earnings and revenues beat the market view. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Restaurant chain operator Tim Hortons Inc. (THI) Wednesday said fourth-quarter profit increased sharply on a one-time gain from sale of assets. Revenues declined 3.5% primarily due to a sale-related charge being recorded therein. The company also issued 2011 earnings guidance and said its Board has hiked the quarterly dividend by 31%. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Natural gas provider Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) Tuesday reported a profit for the fourth-quarter, swinging back from a loss it made last year, thanks to one-time gains. Revenues, however, declined as a result of lower realized prices. While adjusted earnings topped estimates, revenues missed. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) said Tuesday fourth-quarter profit rose from the prior year, thanks to higher demand, especially in the BRIC countries. Adjusted earnings exceeded expectations, but revenues disappointed. It issued a second-quarter financial guidance, and the expected earnings and revenues are both below consensus. HP also raised its fiscal 2011 earnings per share outlook, but lowered the revenues expectation. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Company (HTZ) announced Tuesday that fourth-quarter loss narrowed marginally on lower one-time losses. Revenues increased 5.5% thanks to car rentals increasing 5.8%. Adjusted earnings beat analysts' estimates, while revenues were in line with the Street view. The company also issued full year 2011 financial guidance. (Feb 23, 2011) Full Article

Todays WS Events

American Tower Q4 10 Earnings Conference Call At 8:30 AM ET
American Tower Corp. (AMT) will host a conference call at 8:30 AM ET, February 23, 2011, to discuss its Q4 10 earnings result. To access the webcast, log on to www.americantower.com/atcweb/irpages/irhome.asp To participate in the call, dial (866) 740-9153 (US) or (706) 645-9644 (International), access code 39411530. A replay of the call can be heard by dialing (800) 642-1687 (US) or (706) 645-9291 (International), access code 39411530. (Feb 23, 2011)

Lowe's Q4 10 Earnings Conference Call At 9:00 AM ET
Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW) will host a conference call at 9:00 AM ET, February 23, 2011, to discuss its Q4 10 earnings results. To access the live webcast, log on at www.Lowes.com/investor A replay of the call can be heard by dialing 800-642-1687 (US) or 706-645-9291 (International) with ID 41539324. (Feb 23, 2011) 

Kellogg To Present At CAGNY Conference; Webcast At 7:45 AM ET
Kellogg Company (K) will present at the 2011 Consumer Analyst Group of New York. The event is scheduled to begin at 7:45 AM ET on February 23, 2011. To access the webcast, log on at http://investor.kelloggs.com (Feb 23, 2011)

International Paper To Present At Credit SuisseConference; Webcast At 10:30 AM
International Paper (IP) will speak at the Credit Suisse Global Paper & Packaging Conference in New York City. The event is scheduled to begin at 10:30 AM ET on February 23, 2011. To access the live webcast, log on at www.internationalpaper.com (Feb 23, 2011)

The Coca-Cola To Present At CAGNY Conference; Webcast At 12:30 PM ET
The Coca-Cola Company (KO) CEO Muhtar Kent will present at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Conference in Boca Raton, Florida. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:30 PM ET on February 23, 2011. To access the webcast, log on to www.thecoca-colacompany.com/investors/index.html (Feb 23, 2011)

Financial And Forex Info | Reuters - Before The Bell: Futures rebound after sell-off; HP pressures techs







LATEST NEWS
Futures rebound after sell-off; HP pressures techs
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures rose on Wednesday, a day after Wall Street suffered its worst session since August on geopolitical turmoil in Libya. | Full Article

Nasdaq mulls NYSE bid in exchange deal dash
February 23, 2011 07:49 AM ET
NEW YORK/TORONTO (Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX Group Inc could launch a rival bid for NYSE Euronext to avoid being left on the sidelines, a source said, as traditional exchanges race to merge to see off upstart electronic rivals. | Full Article
Newsmaker: Vision question haunts Apple CEO-in-waiting
February 23, 2011 05:01 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - For Tim Cook, the small-town football fanatic turned steward of the world's largest technology company, it always comes back to the vision question. | Full Article
Lowe's issues weak outlook despite strong Q4
February 23, 2011 07:47 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - No. 2 U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc gave a lackluster outlook for the current quarter despite strong fourth-quarter results, and its shares fell. | Full Article
WellPoint starts paying dividend, backs 2011 view
February 23, 2011 06:50 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - WellPoint Inc said on Wednesday that it had initiated a dividend, the third major U.S. health insurer to recently start offering a substantial payout to its shareholders. | Full Article