Summary: Oracle's Larry Ellison in surprise exit as CEO; Alibaba prices at $68 in world's biggest IPO; Stocks close at record highs; Apple goes on security defensive ahead of iPhone 6 debut. Conway G. Gittens reports.
A surprise move from one of America's richest corporate leaders. Larry Ellison is stepping down as the CEO of Oracle. His job will be split between two executives. He will, however, remain on as Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer. Shares fell after hours since the software giant also announced weaker-than-expected quarterly results. Alibaba shares pricing today after the market close. The Chinese e-commerce giant pricing at $68, the top end of the expected range, raising a record-breaking $21.8 billion. The company, which handles more transactions than Amazon and eBay combined, will be worth $168 billion when it begins trading on the NYSE on Friday. Wayne Kaufman of Phoenix Investments: SOUNDBITE: WAYNE KAUFMAN, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, PHOENIX INVESTMENTS (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "I think that the stock easily will open in the mid-70s (dollars). It is certainly possible that it does open around $80. With the amount of shares that are going to be outstanding, which right now is still a little bit of a moving target, about $81 would give Alibaba a $200 billion market cap." Financial stocks lead the Dow and S&P 500 to record territory, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates low, but maintained the first rate hike might come next year. Amazon ramping up its move into hardware with six new or upgraded Kindle devices. There's a $200 high-end model, but also a low-end reader aimed at attracting new customers in China. This year alone, Amazon has launched a set-top box, a grocery ordering wand and a smartphone. Amazon shares were up during the day. Remember those headlines with Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Apple over stolen nude photos? Now the company's CEO Tim Cook wants to reassure customers their data are safe and not being sold to others. The letter posted on Apple's website comes one day before the iPhone 6 goes on sale at retail locations. Shares of Apple rallied ahead of the closely watched launch. On to the economy... The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week. Other reports show some weakness in home building and factory activity. But the underlying trend points to an economy that's slowly improving. European markets closed mixed, hours ahead of the outcome of the Scotland vote whether to break away from the U.K.