By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian markets could get a lift on Thursday after tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook beat Wall Street expectations, sending their stock up sharply and boosting Nasdaq futures. The Nasdaq futures were up 1 percent and the S&P 500 0.3 percent. Sentiment on the tech sector brightened after Apple decided to buy back $30 billion of its shares out to the end of 2015 and authorized a seven-for-one stock split. Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing forecasts.
By Edwin Chan SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has approved another $30 billion in share buybacks till the end of 2015 and authorized a rarely seen seven-for-one stock split, addressing calls to share more of its cash hoard while broadening the stock's appeal to individual investors. Activist investor Carl Icahn, who had famously called on the iPhone maker to boost its buyback program, tweeted his approval of the move on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing the roughly 38 million that Wall Street had predicted. But whether Apple can again produce a revolutionary new product remains the central question in investors' and Silicon Valley executives' minds.
Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway , said on Wednesday the company's BNSF railroad unit probably will not need to expand its rail car purchases as a result of delays in the Keystone pipeline construction. In addition, he said that the rail industry as a whole remains concerned about safety after a recent string of accidents. "It's true that the world is going to need an improved tank car," the iconic investor said in an interview with Reuters. How to transport oil by rail safety is "all" the industry is thinking about, he said Among the worries he cited was the potential for cyber attacks at Berkshire companies, particularly those with large physical facilities such as BNSF and utility operations.
By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday to snap a six-session winning streak as gains in Boeing and Gilead were offset by slides in AT&T and the wider biotech sector. AT&T Inc fell 3.8 percent to $34.92 a day after the Dow component reported earnings that beat expectations, offset by weak service revenue growth. Verizon Communications shed 1 percent to $47.43 while the S&P telecom sector index dropped 2.2 percent, easily making it the session's worst-performing sector. Biotech shares pulled the Nasdaq lower.
By Noel Randewich SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Leading mobile chipmaker Qualcomm said on Wednesday it could face a civil action from U.S. authorities over alleged bribery of officials associated with state-owned companies in China. With smartphone sales tapering off in the United States, China is a major market for Qualcomm, but doing business there has included disagreements over royalties and an antitrust investigation. In its fiscal second-quarter report, Qualcomm said it has received a notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission's Los Angeles office advising it of a preliminary determination to recommend an enforcement action against the company for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Qualcomm said the civil action could seek remedies including "disgorgement of profits, the retention of an independent compliance monitor to review the company's FCPA policies and procedures, an injunction, civil monetary penalties and prejudgment interest." Qualcomm said it first learned of and disclosed the SEC investigation in 2012.