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  • The benchmark S&P 500 breached the 2,700-mark for the first time shortly after open on Wednesday, while the Nasdaq and the Dow hit records on a strong run in technology stocks.
  • Investors were awaiting minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting, scheduled to be released later Wednesday due at 2:00 p.m. ET.
  • Advanced Micro Devices added 5.4%, while Nvidia climbed 3.7%, extending Tuesday’s gains.
  • The Register reported that some Intel processors have a fundamental design flaw that would require a significant security update of Linux and Windows operating systems.
  • Shares of Valeant rose 6% following the firm’s announcement that it paid down an additional $300 million in debt with cash on hand.

Ford, GM Sales Beat Estimates

  • Ford’s light vehicle deliveries rose 1.3% to 240,910.
  • GM reported a less dramatic monthly drop of 3.3% to 308,539.
  • Fiat Chrysler reported an 11 percent decline to 171,946.

Intel’s Reported Bug Hits the Chipmaker’s Stock, Boosts Rival AMD

  • Intel has a bug that lets some software gain access to parts of a computer’s memory that are set aside to protect things like passwords.
  • All computers with Intel chips from the past 10 years appear to be affected, the report said.
  • Rival AMD shares surged as much as 7.2%.

American Airlines, Southwest employees to get tax bill bonus

  • U.S. airlines American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said on Tuesday that they would give their employees a $1,000 bonus in light of the recent U.S. tax bill.
  • The airlines join a host of other companies such as AT&T, Boeing and Wells Fargo promising to pay bonuses or invest more in training after the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years, which cuts the corporate tax rate.

Amazon grabbed 4 percent of all US retail sales in 2017, new study says

  • Amazon was responsible for about 44% of all U.S. e-commerce sales last year, or about 4 percent of the country’s total retail sales figure, according to data from One Click Retail.
  • The fastest-growing product groups on in 2017 included luxury beauty and pantry items, the firm found.
  • The most dollar sales were tied to consumer electronics (more than $8 billion), such as the Amazon Echo devices.

Dominion Energy to Buy Scana, Absorb Costs of Failed Nuclear Plant

  • Dominion Energy has struck a deal to buy troubled energy company Scana in an all-stock transaction valued at about $7.66 billion.
  • Under the terms of the agreement each Scana shareholder will receive roughly two-thirds of a Dominion share, or about $53.71 per share based on Dominion’s Tuesday closing price.
  • The Dominion price would represent a 28% premium from Scana’s closing price on Tuesday.
  • The companies said including debt the deal is worth about $14.6 billion.

Drug Firm Spark Therapeutics Will Charge $850,000 for Vision-Loss Gene Therapy

  • Spark said it would charge $850,000 a patient for a pioneering new treatment for a hereditary form of vision loss—below the $1 million price tag the company had considered, but still a milestone for ever-rising drug prices in the U.S.
  • The injected gene therapy treats a rare form of vision loss caused by an inherited genetic mutation, and it improved vision in a high proportion of patients in clinical testing. Spark intends it as a one-time treatment, though researchers don’t know how long the benefit will last.

Spotify hit with $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit

  • Music streaming company Spotify was sued by Wixen Music Publishing last week for allegedly using thousands of songs, including those of Tom Petty, Neil Young and the Doors, without a license and compensation to the music publisher.
  • Spotify failed to get a direct or a compulsory license from Wixen that would allow it to reproduce and distribute the songs, Wixen said in the lawsuit, filed in a California federal court.

Samsung’s U.S. washing machine factory to begin operations in Jan

  • Samsung plans to begin operating its new washing machine factory in the United States this month, a top executive said.

Pershing Square, Valeant to appear in court on insider trading suit settlement

  • A U.S. court on Tuesday asked Valeant and activist investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square to appear for a hearing to discuss the proposed settlement in an insider trading lawsuit.
  • The hearing, set for Jan. 16, comes after Pershing Square and Valeant last week decided to pay $290 million to settle the lawsuit that accused them of insider trading before bidding for Allergan in 2014.
  • The lawsuit was filed on behalf of investors who sold Allergan shares in the two months before Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant made an unsolicited $51 billion bid for Allergan.

Roku building a voice assistant as it chases Amazon, Google

  • Roku announced a new voice assistant on Wednesday.
  • It plans to launch it to current devices sometime this fall.
  • Partners will be able to build smart speakers with the voice assistant tech built-in.

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Manufacturing in the U.S. Just Accelerated to Its Best Year Since 2004

  • The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said Wednesday its closely watched purchasing managers index rose to 59.7 in December from 58.2 the prior month, hitting the highest level since September.
  • A reading above 50 indicates activity—as measured by factors like sales, production and prices—is expanding across the factory sector. A number below 50 signals contraction.

U.S. construction spending rises to record high in November

  • The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that construction spending rose 0.8 percent to an all-time high of $1.257 trillion. October’s construction outlays were revised down to show a 0.9 percent rise instead of the previously reported 1.4 percent gain.

Mortgage applications drop in final weeks of 2017

  • Mortgage applications dropped 2.8% from two weeks ago, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.
  • The Refinance Index decreased 7% from two weeks ago, continuing the previous 3% drop.
  • The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 52% of total applications, up from 51.8% the week before.
  • The MBA reported mortgage interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($424,100 or less) remained unchanged from last week’s 4.25%.

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Petrobras to Pay $2.95 Billion to Settle U.S. Suit Over Corruption

  • Brazilian state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro said Wednesday that it would pay one of the highest-value settlements in history to end a class-action lawsuit by U.S. investors who had sought to recoup corruption-related losses.
  • Petrobras, as the company is known, said it agreed to pay $2.95 billion to resolve claims by investors who bought its U.S.-listed shares or bonds between January 2010 and July 2015.

If approved, the settlement would likely rank as the fifth-largest on record for securities class-action suits.

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  • Martin Luther excommunicated by Pope Leo X (1521)
  • Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began (1870)
  • Congressional proceedings were televised for the first time (1947)
  • Sir Edmund Hillary reached the South Pole overland (1958)
  • Alaska became the 49th state in the United States (1959)

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