By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - Earnings season shifts into high gear next week, and with nearly one-third of S&P 500 names set to post results, investors hope the news provides a catalyst to buy stocks and leave the market's recent weakness in the dust. Several behemoths, including Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, as well as Microsoft, McDonald's and AT&T , are due to report earnings. They'll be accompanied by highfliers like Netflix and Facebook, giving the first real cross-section of the state of corporate America as temperatures rise across the country and investors hope to put the cold weather behind them. Strategists will also be looking for clues on how badly China's slowdown hits U.S. corporate results.
By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks ended a holiday-shortened week with mostly modest gains on Thursday, though the S&P 500 notched its biggest weekly advance since July as Morgan Stanley and General Electric rallied after strong results. The two were the latest to post earnings that topped expectations, helping to lift the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to their fourth straight daily advance. Tech bellwethers Google and IBM fell on disappointing figures and limited the broader market's gain. IBM's slide pushed the Dow into slightly negative territory at the close.
(Reuters) - Michaels Stores Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, on Thursday confirmed that there was a security breach at certain systems that process payment cards at its U.S. stores and that of its unit, Aaron Brothers. The company said in January that it was working with federal law enforcement officials to investigate a possible data breach. Michaels Stores said the breach, which took place between May 8, 2013 and January 27, 2014, may have affected about 2.6 million cards, or about 7 percent of payment cards used at its stores during the period. There was no evidence that data such as customers' name or personal identification number were at risk, Michaels Stores said in a statement.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's cable networks are expected to record high single-digit growth in operating income and domestic affiliate revenue from fiscal 2014 through 2016, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo told investors on Thursday. "We feel very good about the long-term growth of our cable business," Rasulo said at a meeting for investors at its ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Edited by Ronald Grover and Andre Grenon)