May 21 - Stocks climbed after Fed minutes; Reynolds, Lorillard in merger talks; Ebay hacked; Earnings from Tiffany, Lowe's, Target; Apple unseated by Google as top brand. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Stocks climbed higher, erasing the previous day's broad selloff. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting showed, even though the central bankers did discuss eventually tightening monetary policy, no decisions were made on which tools to use. Moody's Analytics John Lonski: (SOUNDBITE) JOHN LONSKI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH GROUP (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "The Fed now appears to be applicably recognizing that there has been some downshifting of economic growth potential, and, as a result, the Fed has repeated time and again, that, even after the U.S. economy reaches full employment, and two-percent inflation, relatively low interest rates may be with us longer than most currently anticipate." The markets liked the comments. The Dow the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq all closing with solid gains. eBay said client information including emails, addresses and birthdays - but no financial data - was stolen in a hacking attack between late February and early March. There is no evidence that PayPal was affected. eBay shares plunged on the news. Reynolds American is in active talks to buy Lorillard. Sources tell Reuters, the deal between the second and third largest U.S. tobacco companies would be complex. British American Tobacco has a 42 percent stake in Reynolds. Lowe's sales picked up in May after severe winter hurt first quarter results. The company also kept its full-year sales growth forecast, but that didn't help the stock, which fell back in Wednesday's session. Tiffany raised its full-year profit forecast. The jewelry retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly results driven by sales in the United States, its biggest market. The stock was up about 8 percent. Target reported a 16 percent drop in quarterly profit, but showed some progress in rebuilding customer confidence after a massive data breach in the U.S. and a botched expansion into Canada. Target shares edged higher. Netflix will launch in six more European countries, including France and Germany, this year. The company is up against a patchwork of local rules and competitors who are already in a price war. Speaking of Europe, the major indexes there finished the day higher. And Apple is no longer the world's most valuable brand. It's now Google. Google is now worth $159 billion, putting it in the #1 position on the 2014 BrandZ top most valuable brand list.