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.
Fiat Chrysler has reached an agreement to start producing Jeep vehicles in China with partner Guangzhou Automobile Group Co , the companies said on Saturday, as Fiat tries to catch up with competitors in a fast-growing market. The plan to produce three new Jeep vehicles in China for the domestic market, through the GAC Fiat joint venture, has received the necessary government approvals, the companies said. GAC Fiat is also considering making a Jeep uniquely designed for China, where the Italian carmaker hopes the successful sport-utility brand can help it make up lost ground behind long-established rivals.
(Reuters) - Comcast Corp is in talks with Charter Communications over selling or spinning off roughly 3 million subscribers worth approximately $18 billion to $20 billion as part of the divestitures related to its $45.3 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable , according to a source familiar with the matter. The talks center around either a straight sale of 3 million or so subscribers, or the potential creation of a spinoff in which Charter would buy a substantial minority stake, the source added. There may be other options the two companies are discussing, the source said, adding that while the negotiations with Charter are serious, they are still in the early stages and could fall apart. Other cable companies also are interested in Comcast's divested subscribers, according to the source.
Volkswagen has agreed the basic concept and design of a budget car for emerging markets, a VW manager told Reuters, nearing the project's completion after a long struggle to meet cost targets for the vehicle. "The concept and design are now in place," Hans Demant, responsible for the so-called budget car project at VW, told Reuters on the eve of the Beijing auto show. "We will produce all components in China." Demant's comments are more upbeat than those of VW brand development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser who said at last month's Geneva auto show that it was becoming more difficult to hit cost goals for the budget car, adding it made no sense to approve a vehicle that was not meeting in-house targets. VW lacks a strong presence in markets such as India and southeast Asia which are dominated by no-frills models, and without a successful budget car, analysts have questioned whether the group will be able to meet its goal of becoming the world's biggest carmaker by 2018.