Apple sets dividend and share buy back; US stocks hit 4 year highs; NZ$ up on hope for soft Chinese landing; UPS to buy TNT Express
Here's my summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am, including news Apple has finally decided to pay back some of its near US$100 billion cash pile.
Apple said it would start paying a US$2.65/share dividend each quarter and buy back US$10 billion worth of shares. This represents a dividend yield of 1.8% for Apple, which would not normally get investors excited. But this is a major shift from Apple, which has previously preferred not to pay dividends and instead reinvest its profits.
Apple's announcement and hopes for more dividends from US banks after they passed stress test tests boosted US stocks around 0.6% to their highest levels since May 2008. They are now just 9.7% below their October 2007 record highs. See more here on US stocks at Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand dollar edged up overnight to around 82.7 USc after various comments that China appeared headed for a soft landing rather than a hard landing. IMF official Zhu Min said China would avoid a hard landing, even as data emerged that Chinese new apartment prices fell in 45 of 70 cities in February from January. See more here at Bloomberg.
Also, Reserve Bank of Australian Governor Glenn Stevens said in a speech that China's economy continued to grow and could surpass America's within a decade at its targeted growth rate of around 7.5%. This helped boost the Australian dollar slightly. See more here at Bloomberg.
Meanwhile on the mergers and acquisitions front, America's UPS has announced plans to buy TNT Express for US$6.8 billion in a deal that will see it match Deutsche Post's DHL in size in Europe. See more here at Bloomberg.