MARKET PULSE-Wal-Mart, Safeway, Walter Energy, AVG Tech, Conn's

Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:49am EST
 
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(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stocks rose modestly at the open on Thursday after an industry report showed U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated in February at its fastest pace in nearly four years, countering an earlier report that showed a drop in China's factory activity. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.04 percent at 16,047.12, the S&P 500 was up 0.03 percent at 1,829.3 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.08 percent at 4,234.532.

** FACEBOOK INC, $66.61, -2.13 pct

** BLACKBERRY LTD, $9.365, +3.94 pct

The world's largest social network will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that places the company closer to the heart of mobile communications and may bring younger users into the fold. But many balked at the price tag.

Facebook is paying $42 per user with the deal, dwarfing its own $33 per user cost of acquiring Instagram. By comparison, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten just bought messaging service Viber for $3 per user, in a $900 million deal.

However, some analysts said the deal made strategic sense as it will solidify the company's position as a leader in mobile.

For a graphic on price paid per user, (link.reuters.com/mej96v)

The stunning bid pushed up shares of BlackBerry Ltd as it put a rough valuation metric around the Canadian smartphone maker's own BlackBerry Messaging service.   Continued...