Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street stock futures are mixed this morning as quarterly earnings reports keep rolling in.
Results are hitting the tape from the likes of Dow stocks 3M (MMM), Caterpillar (CAT), and Procter & Gamble (PG) this morning, and later we’ll hear from Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), and Google (GOOG).
Today’s must-read story is by Fortune’s Erika Fry: A story on a Boston-area biotech that may be closer than ever to solving the puzzle of Alzheimer’s Disease. You can watch a video on the story here:
Here’s what else you need to know about today.
1. Tech giants report.
Big-name technology companies will be in focus after the close of trading today when Microsoft, Google and Amazon report earnings.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, is expected to report a sharp fall in third-quarter profit as sales of personal computers remain sluggish. Search engine giant Google is expected to report higher revenue and profit for the first quarter, although a strong dollar is likely to weigh on results, analysts say. Google, which has been officially accused by the European Union of cheating consumers and competitors, is also being investigated for its Android mobile operating system. Analysts say the latter could prove to be a bigger threat to Google’s future profitability.
E-commerce company Amazon.com will report its first-quarter results amid an improvement in investor sentiment after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings beat expectations. A moderation in shipping losses and normalization of international growth rate are likely to benefit Amazon’s results. Investors will watch out for comments on the increase in paid membership for Amazon Prime, margin growth in the company’s cloud computing arm Amazon Web Services and sales growth in the media business and logistics operations.
2. P&G’s sales down.
Procter & Gamble said Thursday its sales fell for the fifth quarter in a row, hurt by a stronger dollar and lower demand for its beauty, hair and personal care products. Net income attributable to P&G fell to $2.15 billion, or 75 cents per share, in the third quarter ended March 31, from $2.61 billion, or 90 cents per share, a year earlier. The world’s largest household products maker’s revenue fell to $18.14 billion from $19.64 billion. Roughly two-thirds of the company’s sale in fiscal 2014 was from outside North America.
3. Petrobras comes clean.
Brazilian oil giant Petrobras said it lost $8.8 billion in the fourth quarter after taking a write-down of $16.8 billion in the wake of a massive corruption scandal. The 2014 full-year net loss of 21.6 billion real, which exceeds the company’s total accumulated profit for nearly four years, comes as new chief executive Aldemir Bendine seeks to restore investor confidence. A widening international probe of contract fixing, bribery and political kickbacks at the company, formally called Petroleo Brasileiro SA, led to lengthy delays in publishing the results.
4. Cable deal in the balance.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission appears to have thrown a wrench in Comcast’s (CMCSA) $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable (TWC), according to The Wall Street Journal. FCC staff have reportedly recommended the agency put the deal in the hands of an administrative law judge, a move the Journal said would be taken “as a strong sign that the FCC doesn’t believe the deal is in the public interest.” A hearing could be a drawn-out process, and some regulatory experts describe the procedure as a deal-killer, although Comcast would be entitled to make its case for the acquisition.
5. Flash crash stash.
Nearly five years after the so-called “flash crash”—when the market dropped hundreds of points in the span of a few minutes on May 6, 2010—authorities have arrested a trader that they believe helped cause the swoon.
But the alleged culprit, a U.K.-based futures trader named Navinder Singh Sarao, didn’t actually make a whole lot of money off the flash crash, reports Fortune’s Jen Wieczner. The U.S. Justice Department’s criminal complaint against Sarao says that he netted $879,018 in profits on the day of the crash, Wieczner says — that’s a relatively small haul compared to Sarao’s gains on other days where he used the same trading strategy, according to the indictment.
—Reuters contributed to this report.