Stocks in the News: Ford, Lloyds, Perry Ellis


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

Shares of Lloyds Banking Group (LYG) soared more than 8% in London trading Friday after the company said it expects to return to a profit this year, helped by a steeper-than-expected drop in bad debts and further cost cutting. Lloyds lost 6.3 billion pounds ($9.63 billion) last year, after accounting for steep losses from bad loans. Lloyds is Britain's biggest retail bank. It is 41% owned by the British government after receiving a series of bailouts following the 2008 banking crisis. In premarket trading on Wall Street, Lloyd's shares were up more than 9%.

Ford Motor (F) shares lost some ground Thursday after rising to their highest level in five years on Wednesday when Moody's Investors Service revised upward several key ratings on the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker's debt. In trading Thursday, Ford shares lost 2.6% to end at $13.73, despite a positive showing by its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury nameplates in a new survey of long-term reliability. In premarket action Friday, Ford shares were 2 cents higher at $13.75.

Perry Ellis International (PERY) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit following prior-year write-downs. For the quarter ending Jan. 30, the clothing maker posted a profit of $8.5 million, or 64 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $21.6 million, or $1.58 a share. Shares of Perry Ellis ended Thursday's trading at $22.97 and were up more than 1% in premarket action.

The driver of a Prius hybrid who crashed her car into a stone wall in a New York City suburb failed to apply the brakes, federal investigators looking into the accident said in a brief statement Thursday. Information taken from the car's "black box" showed its "throttle was fully open" when the driver, a 56-year-old housekeeper, hit the wall. Local police disputed the findings, while Toyota Motor (TM) declined to comment on the findings, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide for problems with unintended acceleration since last fall. The March 9 crash happened a day after a now-famous incident involving a 2008 Prius that zoomed to over 90 miles an hour down a San Diego-area freeway. The driver, James Sikes, 61, told reporters the car accelerated on its own as he struggled for more than 20 minutes to bring it under control. Toyota officials have said Sikes' story is "inconsistent" with findings from its analysis of the car. Toyota shares ended Friday's trading in Tokyo up 2%.

Google (GOOG) plans to exit the Chinese market in April, according to a report Thursday in China Business News, which credited the information to an unnamed source. Details about the extent of the closures may be revealed by the company Monday, the newspaper said. Google shares were down about 1.5% in premarket trading.

Shares of Palm (PALM) were off by more than 15% in premarket trading Friday despite reporting higher-than-expected quarterly earnings and a smaller loss Thursday. The company said consumers are passing on its flagship Pre and Pixi phones for other brands of smart phone, such as the Apple (AAPL) iPhone or Google's (GOOG) Android-based phones. The lackluster results are further evidence that the one-time mobile pioneer is being trumped by rivals and could become a takeover target.

The three-year-old battle between Viacom (VIA) and YouTube involving copyright infringement went public Thursday after a federal judge ordered the release of documents in the court case. Viacom says YouTube, which is owned by Google, distributed more than 62,000 video clips that infringed its intellectual property, and that those clips were viewed more than 507 million times. Google has countered that it takes down infringing material when asked, as required by law.