Morning Business Memo:
Investors' love affair with Apple is back on after the world's leading technology company reported blowout earnings. Apple shares shot up more than 9 percent in pre-market trading - after falling steadily over the past two weeks. Skeptics questioned whether the expensive iPhone would go over well in China and other developing nations, where incomes are far lower than in the west. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts "it was an incredible quarter in China." Apple's stunning earnings gave a lift to global stock market averages. Asian, European, and US futures all rose after Apple said its first quarter profit nearly doubled.
… And it's not just Apple. Other big names are reporting stronger than expected first-quarter profits. The winners include AT&T, Verizon and the industrial giant 3M. Bloomberg News says profit has outpaced forecasts for 82 percent of Standard & Poor's 500 Index companies that have reported so far this earnings cycle. "Earnings rose 12 percent on average through yesterday, exceeding the 0.6 percent increase analysts projected," according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
What will Ben Bernanke say about the economy and interest rates? The Fed Chairman holds a news conference today after policy makers end their two day meeting. Thanks to an improving economy the Fed may hint that it won't likely launch any new program to lower longer-term rates. That would be a switch from three months ago, when Bernanke and his colleagues ended their January meeting appeared to suggest that they were edging closer to a third round of bond buying.
Two major retailers in South Korea have suspended sales of US beef, following the discovery of mad cow disease in a dairy cow in California. South Korea is the fourth largest importer of US beef. Government officials there say they will step up beef inspections. Officials in Japan say there's no reason to restrict imports, but the discovery is a blow to American beef exporters.
More competition for online TV. AOL is launching a video network that will gather its programming onto one platform. AOL says the network will feature 14 content channels available online, on mobile, on tablets and through TV-connected devices. AOL On will pull from some 320,000 short-form videos from several platforms. The company also announced seven new original series.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc