Avago Technologies Ltd agreed on Thursday to buy Broadcom Corp for $37 billion in the largest merger of chipmakers ever, turning a lesser known company run by a ferocious dealmaker into one of the biggest industry players. Avago, which serves the wireless and industrial markets, is offering Broadcom shareholders $17 billion in cash and Avago shares valued at $20 billion. Broadcom is best known for its connectivity chips, which are used widely in smartphones made by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd .
Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose for a fourth straight month in April to a nine-year high, buoying the outlook for the housing market and the overall economy. While other data on Thursday showed an unexpected increase in new applications for unemployment benefits, filings remained at levels consistent with a tightening labor market. The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 3.4 percent to 112.4, the highest level since May 2006.
Seven of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with the industrials sector falling the most, 0.4 percent, a day after the Nasdaq closed at a record high. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said there was still a lot of work to do before Greece and its international lenders could clinch a cash-for-reforms deal.
A U.S. interest rate hike this year would be a mistake, a top Federal Reserve official said on Thursday, and would represent a missed opportunity to boost employment and too-low inflation in an economy that has plenty of room to grow. "The (Fed policy-setting) committee needs to make policy choices that will lead to more great years like 2014," Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said in remarks prepared for delivery in Helena, Montana, citing the dramatic improvement in the U.S. labor market last year. The Fed must be "extraordinarily patient" about reducing monetary policy accommodation, he said, so the job market can return to the strength it had in 2006, before the financial crisis hit.
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four more Swiss banks have cut deals with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid possible prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes, the department said on Thursday.