Market Minute: Microsoft Chairman Under Fire; Apple's Eye-Popping Wealth

One of America's most-respected men comes under fire, and an unbelievable number about Apple's wealth. Those stories and more are what's in Wednesday's Market Minute.

Investors shook off the uncertainty of the partial government shutdown Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 62 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 13 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) jumped 46 points.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesMicrosoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates

Three of the biggest investors in Microsoft (MSFT) are calling for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the company he founded. According to Reuters, these investors worry that Gates power would limit the ability of the company's yet-to-be-named new chief executive officer. Current CEO Steve Ballmer announced in August that he plans to retire next year.

We all know that Apple (AAPL) is a huge company, but get this: according to Moody's, Apple now controls 10 percent of all corporate cash, not counting financial companies. Its cash horde totals $147 billion. Add in the cash held by Microsoft, Google (GOOG), Cisco (CSCO) and Pfizer (PFE), and those five companies hold 1 in 4 dollars in corporate America.

Apple stock rose Tuesday after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he knows what the company should do with some of that money. He's pushing for a $150 billion stock buyback.

Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) and American Express (AXP) are jointly rolling out a new technology to make Internet and smartphone purchases safer. The companies say their "digital tokens" would reduce fraud.

Three big initial public offerings hit the market today:

  • The company that owns the famed Empire State Building here in New York has priced the offering for the real estate trust at $13 a share, raising $930 million. That's at the low end of expectations.

  • But the real estate brokerage firm Re/Max is selling shares at $22, which is above the target range -- as the housing recovery continues to attract investor interest.

  • The third IPO is from Burlington Stores. The parent of Burlington Coat Factory priced its shares at $17, also above expectations.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.