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By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - Earnings season shifts into high gear next week, and with nearly one-third of S&P 500 names set to post results, investors hope the news provides a catalyst to buy stocks and leave the market's recent weakness in the dust. Several behemoths, including Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, as well as Microsoft, McDonald's and AT&T , are due to report earnings. They'll be accompanied by highfliers like Netflix and Facebook, giving the first real cross-section of the state of corporate America as temperatures rise across the country and investors hope to put the cold weather behind them. Strategists will also be looking for clues on how badly China's slowdown hits U.S. corporate results.
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease. But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe.
(Reuters) - Michaels Stores Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, on Thursday confirmed that there was a security breach at certain systems that process payment cards at its U.S. stores and that of its unit, Aaron Brothers. The company said in January that it was working with federal law enforcement officials to investigate a possible data breach. Michaels Stores said the breach, which took place between May 8, 2013 and January 27, 2014, may have affected about 2.6 million cards, or about 7 percent of payment cards used at its stores during the period. There was no evidence that data such as customers' name or personal identification number were at risk, Michaels Stores said in a statement.
By Ross Kerber NEW YORK (Reuters) - Steve Farris runs a $33 billion Texas oil and gas company and turns, for advice, to a bearded Vermont environmentalist. As other energy firms battled climate change and anti-pollution activists in recent years, the Apache Corp chief executive instead built an alliance with Steven Heim, managing director of Boston Common Asset Management, one of the better-known socially responsible investment firms. These draw representatives from mainstream investment firms like T. Rowe Price, Gabelli & Co and Morgan Stanley & Co. "What I've been trying to do is to elevate the level of understanding of issues by the investors, not just the executives," Heim said. Others have taken notice as climate change becomes more of a business concern.
By monitoring the number of times people look for flu information on Wikipedia, researchers may be better able to estimate the severity of a flu season, according to a new study. Researchers created a new data-analysis system that looks at visits to Wikipedia articles, and found the system was able to estimate flu levels in the United States up to two weeks sooner than the flu data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were released. The new system examined visits to Wikipedia articles that included terms related to flulike illnesses, whereas Google Flu Trends looks at searches typed into Google. The research team wanted to use a database that is accessible to everyone and create a system that could be more accurate than Google Flu Trends, which has flaws.
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co and IBM Corp will again have to face a U.S. lawsuit claiming they encouraged race-based human rights abuses in apartheid-era South Africa, despite a series of recent court decisions limiting the right to pursue such cases. Reviving a 12-year-old lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan accepted an argument from a group of plaintiffs that corporations may be held liable under a 1789 law, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), that lets non-U.S. citizens pursue some cases in U.S. courts over alleged violations of international law.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's cable networks are expected to record high single-digit growth in operating income and domestic affiliate revenue from fiscal 2014 through 2016, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo told investors on Thursday. "We feel very good about the long-term growth of our cable business," Rasulo said at a meeting for investors at its ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Edited by Ronald Grover and Andre Grenon)
By Julia Edwards and Eric Beech WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors says that cars being recalled because of faulty ignition switches can be driven safely before repairs, based on more than 80 tests, but the automaker has not addressed a problem long known to potentially shut off the engine: a simple bump from a driver's knee. Safety advocates and engineers say the lack of testing for this factor undermines GM's claims that the cars are safe. As early as 2004, GM engineers complained that the ignition switch could be turned off if the key was bumped by a knee. A Texas judge on Thursday allowed the unrepaired cars to stay on the road, over the objection of safety advocates and plaintiffs lawyers who said there is no way, short of repairs, to ensure the ignition switch would not slip out of the run position, turning off the motor and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director Rajat Gupta is expected to begin his two-year prison term on June 17 for insider trading. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan directed Gupta to surrender by 2:00 p.m. EDT on that date to start serving his sentence, according to an order issued on Thursday. Gupta, 65, was convicted in June 2012 on securities fraud and conspiracy charges for having fed tips, from Goldman board meetings in the second half of 2008, to longtime friend Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund firm. Gupta is also a former global managing director of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He is the top corporate official convicted in a broad federal insider trading probe unveiled in October 2009, when charges against Rajaratnam were announced.
By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks ended a holiday-shortened week with mostly modest gains on Thursday, though the S&P 500 notched its biggest weekly advance since July as Morgan Stanley and General Electric rallied after strong results. The two were the latest to post earnings that topped expectations, helping to lift the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to their fourth straight daily advance. Tech bellwethers Google and IBM fell on disappointing figures and limited the broader market's gain. IBM's slide pushed the Dow into slightly negative territory at the close.
The discovery, announced on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin. The star’s outermost planet, designated Kepler-186f, receives about one-third the radiation from its parent star as Earth gets from the sun, meaning that high noon on this world would be roughly akin to Earth an hour before sunset, said astronomer Thomas Barclay, with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “This planet is an Earth cousin, not an Earth twin,” said Barclay, who is among a team of scientists reporting on the discovery in the journal Science this week. NASA launched its Kepler space telescope in 2009 to search about 150,000 target stars for signs of any planets passing by, or transiting, relative to the telescope’s point of view.
The ongoing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner has suffered yet another setback, as officials confirmed today (April 17) that an oil slick discovered earlier this week in the southern Indian Ocean did not come from the plane. An Australian ship, called Ocean Shield, spotted the slick on Sunday (April 13), and investigators collected a sample of the water to try to determine the oil's origin. "Preliminary analysis of the sample collected by [Australian Defense Vessel] Ocean Shield has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fuel," officials from Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center, which is overseeing the search operations, said in a statement. "This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the seafloor within the predicted limits of the current search area," Joint Agency Coordination Center officials said in a statement.
A federal judge on Thursday rejected a bid to compel General Motors Co to tell customers to stop driving millions of cars that have been recalled for defective ignition switches. Attorneys representing Charles and Grace Silvas, the owners of a recalled 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, had sought an emergency order directing GM to issue "park it now" notices for the 2.6 million vehicles that have been recalled since February over the switches. GM opposed the motion, arguing that the vehicles were safe to drive as long as nothing extra was attached to the key while it was in the ignition. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, Texas, denied the request in a ruling on Thursday, saying that she would defer to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency that oversees auto safety.
For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-sized alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an "Earth cousin" that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life. The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. "One of the things we've been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told Space.com.
The discovery, announced on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin. The star's outermost planet, designated Kepler-186f, receives about one-third the radiation from its parent star as Earth gets from the sun, meaning that high noon on this world would be roughly akin to Earth an hour before sunset, said astronomer Thomas Barclay, with NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "This planet is an Earth cousin, not an Earth twin," said Barclay, who is among a team of scientists reporting on the discovery in the journal Science this week. NASA launched its Kepler space telescope in 2009 to search about 150,000 target stars for signs of any planets passing by, or transiting, relative to the telescope's point of view.
Hundreds of Neanderthals' genes were turned off while the identical genes in today's humans are turned on, the international team announced in a paper published online in Science. They also found that hundreds of other genes were turned on in Neanderthals, but are off in people living today. Among the hundreds: genes that control the shape of limbs and the function of the brain, traits where modern humans and Neanderthals differ most. "People are fundamentally interested in what makes us human, in what makes us different from Neanderthals," said Sarah Tishkoff, an expert in human evolution at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the new study.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New claims for jobless benefits hovered near their pre-recession levels last week and manufacturing in the Mid-Atlantic region accelerated in April, suggesting an upswing in economic activity after a brutally cold winter. Coming on the heels of fairly bullish data on retail sales and industrial production, Thursday's reports also hinted job growth may be picking up slightly. "The data add further evidence to the notion that the economy has exerted positive momentum at the start of the second quarter," said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department said, but stayed close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This may be the role reversal to end all role reversals. That's why I was really surprised to see the structure," entomologist Kazunori Yoshizawa of Japan's Hokkaido University said by email. Yoshizawa said that although sex-role reversal has been documented in several different types of animals, these insects are the sole example in which the "intromittent organ" - the male sex organ - is reversed, Yoshizawa said. Yoshizawa said the females of Neotrogla can hold male mates coercively using their gynosome.
As anyone who's ever paid a health insurance premium or a hospital bill knows, medical care is expensive. What Americans may not know is that residents of other countries don't pay nearly as much for the same things. The latest data from the International Federation of Health Plans, an industry group representing health insurers from 28 countries including the United States, once again illustrates that American patients pay the highest prices in the world for a variety of prescription drugs and common procedures like childbirth and hospital stays. ...
Co-authored with Arthur Phillips, research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Directorships, 2008 - 2012: 5* Total director compensation, 2008 - 2012: $3,626,109** Average annual director compensation, 2008 - 2012: $725,222 Average compensation per full year of service as director: $244,276 *Zedillo was a director of the Electronic Data Systems Corporation from October 2007 to August 2008; however, compensation for his service in 2008 is not available and therefore not included in the above calculations. ...