Top 10 News Items for 03/11 to 03/15: Say Hello to Pope Francis; Banks Pass Test; BlackBerry's Welcome Surprise

March 15, 2013 4:33 PM EDT
1. On Wednesday afternoon, the wait was over as Argentina's cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pope. Bergoglio took the papal name of Francis I and showed some acumen for social media with the account @Pontifex posted the message "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM" on Twitter.

2. Following a new round of stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve, results were released on Thursday night. Largely, most banks passed with flying colors, though there were a few notable names asked to resubmit plans. For a summary, click here.

3. BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY) popped mid-week following an announcement that "one of its established partners has placed an order for one million BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments starting immediately." The company noted that it was the largest single purchase order in BlackBerry's history. For more coverage, click here.

4. Close, but no cigar. The S&P 500 looked to be the next U.S. index to reach a record level this week. Following the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting $14,539.29 on Thursday, capping a nine-session winning streak, the S&P was just points from 1,565, which was reached in October 2007.

5. Samsung released its latest smartphone -- the Galaxy S IV -- on Thursday to much fanfare. And we mean a lot of fanfare. Aside from the typical executive lecture, which came in the form of Samsung mobile Chief J.K. Shin, Samsung also put on a literal Broadway show to demonstrate how the new device would be better integrated into users' lives. For more color, click here.

6. According to latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, advance monthly sales retail sales rose 1.1 percent in February, versus an expected gain of just 0.5 percent. Excluding-auto sales, retail sales rose 1 percent. Total sales for the December 2012 through February 2013 period were up 4.5 percent from the same period a year ago. The December 2012 to January 2013 percent change was revised from +0.1 percent to +0.2 percent.

7. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is slumping in late trading amid new capital actions, which include a $6 billion stock buyback as well as 38 cent quarterly dividend, as a Senate subcommittee breathed fire at the bank over its CIO loss last year. The 301-page report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said JPMorgan withheld key information and "mischaracterized high-risk trading as hedging." Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin said that JPMorgan "piled on risk, ignored limits on risk taking, hid losses, dodged oversight and misinformed the public." For more on the litigation, click here.

8. As far as Ron Johnson is concerned, he has no plans to relinquish the role of JCPenney (NYSE: JCP) CEO. Speculation earlier in the week was rampant that Johnson might be ousted following recent quarterly results that came in worse than expected. Executive meetings and a statement from the company dismissed the rumors. For more color, click here.

9. Gold (NYSE: GLD) had a shaky week amid reports that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission might undertake a probe into the operations of the London Bullion Market Association, where a handful of banks meet twice daily to price gold and silver. The CTFC is looking into whether the practice is transparent enough. No formal investigation has been opened on the matter.

10. Let them drink soda! NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to take the fizz out of soda sales hit a speed bump this week. He was looking to put the kibosh on sports venues, service stations, and other locales from selling extraordinarily large sugary drinks, but the effort was struck down just one day before it was slated to go into effect. New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling commented that NYC is "enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations," according to the WSJ. "The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole...the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule," he continued.

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