The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:
BP (BP) finally made promising strides in its latest effort to stem the flow of oil spewing from a ruptured pipe deep in the Gulf of Mexico. After weeks of failed efforts, the oil giant Thursday was able to sheer off the top of the broken pipe with huge shears and lower a containment cap over the well. Ecological damage caused by thousands of gallons of leaking oil became dramatically evident Thursday after dozens of birds, including some once-rare brown pelicans, were discovered covered in thick brown goo. Wildlife officials caught the birds, which were taken to a rehabilitation center. Shares of the company gained more than 4%, and were fractionally higher in premarket trading Friday.
AstraZeneca (AZN) is seeking permission from European regulators to begin marketing a drug that combines low-dose aspirin with its popular ulcer drug, Nexium. Known as Axanum, the product is intended for heart patients who develop gastric disorders from taking low-dose aspirin by itself, the pharmaceutical company said Friday. Earlier this week, AstraZeneca said U.S. regulators have asked for more information about Axanum, delaying approval.
McDonald's (MCD) is recalling some 12 million "Shrek"-themed drinking glasses after the toxic metal cadmium was discovered in the painted designs on the glasses. The burger giant sold the glasses for $2 as part of a promotional campaign for the latest installment of the DreamWorks Animation (DWA) franchise, "Shrek Forever After." The artwork depicts characters from the movie. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which announced the voluntary recall early Friday, warned consumers to immediately stop using the glasses. McDonald's said it would post instructions on its website next week regarding refunds.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) stock zoomed up nearly 7% to $37.58 a share Thursday after the trendy retailer said it is having to discount its clothing less to drive sales. Still, sales last month fell 3% at stores open for at least a year. In premarket action Friday, Abercrombie shares were down about 0.5%.
Anadarko Petroleum (APC), the Texas oil company that owns a stake in BP's leaking Gulf well, said Thursday it may shift spending on capital projects to other regions after the U.S. extended a ban on deep-water drilling, the Denver Post reported. Capital spending this year will still total between $5.3 billion and $5.6 billion, as forecast before the April 20 rig explosion that triggered the oil spill, Anadarko said.
Shares of Borders Group (BGP) rose sharply Thursday after the struggling bookseller said tobacco executive Bennett LeBow, who invested $25 million in the company just weeks ago and became chairman, had been named chief executive. LeBow is Border's fourth CEO in 18 months. Interim-CEO Mike Edwards was named president of Borders Group, and president and chief executive of the company's principal unit, Borders Inc.
Irish biotechnology company Elan (ELN) said Chief Executive Kelly Martin will step down in 2012. Martin, hired in 2003 to turn Elan around following an accounting scandal, lost shareholder confidence after accusations that he wasted money and bungled marketing of the company's chief drug, Tysabri, to treat multiple sclerosis. News of Martin's pending retirement comes about six weeks after the company said Chairman Kyran McLaughlin would retire.
Shares of SonicWALL (SNWL) jumped 25% Thursday to $11.28, after the network-security-systems company said it had agreed to be acquired by investors in a $717 million deal.
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