Stocks in the News: KFT, FNM, AMR, AAPL

The following is a round-up of news likely to affect stock prices today:

Two sectors will be in focus today: airlines and retailers. Retail sales during the 2009 holiday shopping season climbed 3.6%, according to MasterCard Advisors unit SpendingPulse -- a better performance than last year. The airline sector will also be in focus since the failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines Detroit-bound jet led to new travel restrictions that increase costs and inconvenience.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% In retail, sales at high-end department stores such as Saks Inc (SKS) and Nordstrom (JWN) recovered after taking a beating in 2008, edging up 0.8%. Sales at specialty electronics chains such as Best Buy Co Inc (BBY) rose 5.9%, marking a comeback following dismal sales in 2008. Sales at specialty apparel retailers such as Gap Inc (GPS) and Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF) stabilized after a disastrous 2008 holiday season, edging down 0.4% with more signs of life after Black Friday this year.

Reuters reports that tighter security measures at U.S. airports could dampen enthusiasm for air travel, hurting the airline industry just as it seemed poised to recover from a period of bruising losses. Meanwhile, in Japan, sources told Reuters a bankruptcy for Japan Airlines has been proposed as an option to banks. AMR (AMR) which owns American Airlines, is down over 3.5% and Delta Air Lines (DAL) down 1.2% in premarket trading.

Italian chocolatier Ferrero is still examining its options on a possible bid for Britain's Cadbury PLC (CBY). Cadbury has rejected a $16.2 billion offer from Kraft (KFT). Hershey Co (HSY) and Ferrero have said they were contemplating bids.

The U.S. Treasury agreed to provide Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) with as much capital as they need over the next three years, in an effort to reassure the investors who bought the giant mortgage companies' debt, The Wall Street Journal reported. FNM shares jumped over 21%, FRE shares soared over 23% ahead of the bell.

Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (CALM) reported that fiscal second-quarter net income fell 41% on 3.8% lower sales. Shares rallied some 3.8% in premarket trade as results topped estimates.

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) informed major parts suppliers Friday that it plans to manufacture roughly 7.5 million vehicles world-wide in 2010, up 17% or so from the projection for 2009, the Nikkei reported.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc. (QCOR) said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted for review its supplemental new-drug application for H.P. Acthar to treat infantile spasms. Shares gained over 3% before the bell.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares reached their all-time high on Thursday as excitement builds over the expected release of its tablet computer, even though Apple has never acknowledged that a device exists. AAPL shares continued to climb nearly 1% in premarket action. Meanwhile, reports suggest that AT&T (T) has quietly stopped selling the iPhone in New York City because of data congestion.

Earnings estimates for Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (BNI) railroad acquisition could signal weaker-than-anticipated U.S. industrial activity in 2010, according to a report in the Dec. 28 issue of Barron's.

The heath-insurance sector could also be in focus today after the Senate on Thursday approved a sweeping White House-backed overhaul of the U.S. health-care system. Aetna Inc. (AET), Humana Inc. (HUM) and Tenet Healthcare Group (THC) are among such insurers.

Sony (SNE) is integrating its game-unit distribution network with the network it uses for its other products to reduce international shipping costs by as much as 25%.
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