(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 dipped at the open on Thursday as investors continued to digest comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who raised the specter of an earlier-than-expected hike in interest rates.
** FORD MOTOR CO, $15.43, -0.32 pct
The automaker said it would provide employee electric vehicle charging stations at Ford facilities in the United States and Canada in conjunction with General Electric Co .
The company, which makes six models of electric vehicles, would install the first charging station network in Dearborn, Michigan. Facilities across the United States and Canada would follow.
** KB HOME, $18.5, -1.18 pct
At least three brokerages raised their target price on the stock after the U.S. homebuilder reported first-quarter profit as it sold homes at higher prices in California.
** XCEL ENERGY INC, $29.55, -1.01 pct
Analysts at Goldman Sachs downgraded their rating on the electric power and natural gas service provider to “sell” from “neutral,” citing regulatory risks in Minnesota regarding a $350 million rate increase in 2014 and 2015.
The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company had requested the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to authorize increases in base electricity rates in November last year.
** FIRST SOLAR INC, $70.2599, +1.24 pct
Six brokerage firms raised the price target on the solar panel maker’s stock after it forecast better-than-expected outlook for 2015 and 2016 on Wednesday.
First Solar said it expects to earn $4.50-$6.00 per share in 2015, compared with estimates of $3.68 per share. It also forecast net sales $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion in 2016.
** LENNAR CORP, $41.267, -0.18 pct
The second-largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue reported a 36 percent jump in quarterly profit as it sold more homes at higher prices but said it was too soon to predict the strength of the spring selling season.
** 3D SYSTEMS CORP, $61.06, -2.58 pct
** STRATASYS LTD, $114.63, -1.38 pct
** EXONE CO, $39.91, -8.78 pct
Hewlett-Packard Co said on Wednesday it will outline plans to enter the commercial 3D-printing market in June, and that it has solved a number of technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the high-tech manufacturing process.
3D printer maker ExOne reported a surprise quarterly loss on Wednesday as it sold fewer high-margin printers and forecast 2014 revenue below analysts’ estimates.
** HERMAN MILLER INC, $31.42, +9.44 pct
The office furniture maker on Wednesday forecast current-quarter profit above average analysts’ estimates as demand improved in EMEA and Asia.
** TRINA SOLAR LTD, $16.57, +0.18 pct
The solar power company adjusted its fourth-quarter profit to 21 cents per American Depositary Share (ADS) from the 13 cents it reported earlier this month after receiving $20.4 million from an unnamed customer in an arbitration settlement.
** CONAGRA FOODS INC, $30.04, +1.52 pct
The packaged food company’s quarterly profit beat analysts’ lowered estimates and the maker of Hunt’s tomato ketchup and Slim Jim beef jerky maintained its full-year earnings forecast.
** SUNEDISON INC, $21.11, +2.08 pct
The company, which is spinning of its semiconductor division to focus on its solar power business, said Samsung Fine Chemicals would purchase $100 million of its semiconductor unit’s shares in an initial public offering.
SunEdison also said it would buy a 35 percent stake in a polysilicon joint-venture from its partner Samsung Fine Chemicals and transfer the shares to the semiconductor unit. Samsung Fine Chemicals will retain 15 percent of the venture.
** GERON CORP, $2.3063, +1.15 pct
The U.S. drug developer said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered a halt to new patient enrollments in an early-stage trial of its blood cancer drug, imetelstat, over concerns about liver damage.
** HANWHA SOLARONE CO LTD, $3.785, +0.00 pct
The China-based solar panel maker said it signed a deal with Wuxi New District Administrative Committee to develop solar panels. The company will operate 100 megawatts of solar panels in Wuxi New District, China.
** STARBUCKS CORP, $76.45, +0.71 pct
The coffee chain is wrestling with higher costs for milk and coffee, the two ingredients in its popular lattes, but that does not mean its customers are going to pay more.
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, $34.71, -0.57 pct
** TOYOTA MOTOR CORP, $107.04, -1.51 pct
Toyota Motor Corp will pay a record $1.2 billion to resolve a criminal probe into safety issues, in a deal that could serve as a template for how U.S. authorities approach a similar investigation into General Motors.
** GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC, $53.92, -1.44 pct
** AGENUS INC, $3.61, -16.05 pct
An experimental cancer vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline, which uses Agenus’ technology, failed a late-stage study in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
GSK’s vaccine, which contains Agenus’ QS-21 Stimulon booster, also failed to help melanoma patients in another study last September.
** HEWLETT-PACKARD CO, $32.18, +1.77 pct
The PC maker will outline plans to enter the commercial 3D-printing market in June, saying it has solved a number of technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the high-tech manufacturing process.
** BIOTELEMETRY INC, $10.52, +7.24 pct
The medical technology company said it agreed to acquire the cardiac patient services business of privately owned Biomedical Systems Corp for $8.65 million. The acquisition is expected to generate $8 million-$9 million in revenue and $2.5 million-$3.0 million in EBITDA on an annualized basis, the company said.
** MICROSOFT CORP, $39.7, +1.10 pct
A former employee of Microsoft Corp is facing criminal charges after he allegedly passed trade secrets to a blogger in France, U.S. court documents showed.
** GUESS INC, $27.03, -6.02 pct
Apparel maker Guess forecast a surprise loss for the current quarter, citing weak traffic at its stores in North America and pressure in its wholesale business in Europe.
** ASSURED GUARANTY LTD, $25.72, -1.49 pct
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc must face a U.S. lawsuit seeking to force it to cover losses suffered by the bond insurer on a $1.15 billion securities offering backed by allegedly defective and fraudulent home loans.
** JPMORGAN CHASE & CO, $59.09, +1.36 pct
JPMorgan is selling its physical commodities business to Mercuria for $3.5 billion, the U.S. bank said on Wednesday, sweeping the fast-growing Swiss trading house into the top league of commodities traders.
** ING US INC, $36.28, +2.98 pct
Deutsche Bank raised the insurer to “buy” from “hold,” saying the reduction of ING Group’s stake in the company to less than 50 percent improves liquidity and the company should be able to join the S&P 500 as early as in August. The brokerage also raised the target price on the stock to $43 from $40. ING US was spun off by Dutch financial services company ING Group in 2013.
** BP PLC, $46.46, -1.82 pct
The oil company rejoined bidders for exploration and production leases in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and won 24 tracts after the U.S. government lifted a 16-month ban barring the company from new federal contracts.
** BANK OF AMERICA CORP, $17.59, +0.86 pct
Bank of America Corp is laying off workers at its global trading and investment banking divisions, Bloomberg reported quoting three people with direct knowledge of the decision.
** JABIL CIRCUIT INC, $18.09, -0.93 pct
Jabil Circuit forecast 2015 core earnings above Wall Street estimates as the struggling contract electronics maker expects to recover from the loss of its business with BlackBerry Ltd . (Reporting by Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)