HEINZ CRAFTS BIG ACQUISITION
H.J. Heinz Co. is buying Kraft Foods Group Inc., creating what the companies say will be the third-largest food and beverage company in North America. Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special dividend of approximately $10 billion, or $16.50 per share. The deal was engineered by Heinz’s owner, the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
KEY EUROPEAN INDEX RISES
A closely watched survey is showing a bigger-than-expected increase in German business confidence as managers in Europe’s largest economy take a brighter view of its outlook for the next six months. The Ifo institute’s monthly confidence index registered its fifth consecutive rise in March and topped analyst forecasts.
MERCK JOINS BIG BUYBACK PARADE
Merck & Co has joined the parade of companies, including Lowe’s Co, JP Morgan and General Motors, that have recently announced multibillion dollar share buybacks. The drugmaker said its board authorized a $10 billion buyback program that goes on top of the $1.7 billion still remaining in its previous program.
World stock markets drifted Wednesday as the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates and lingering fears about China’s weakening growth helped keep investor sentiment in check. Several Asian trading indexes rose slightly, European shares were mixed, and U.S. stocks S&P 500 futures were nearly unchanged.
DATA WATCH: DURABLE GOODS
The Commerce Department releases the latest durable goods data at 8:30 a.m. Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in January.