Dow futures lower … Oil rises … Unilever buyback
HONG KONG (AP) – Most Asian and European shares rose and oil prices touched fresh multi-year highs today as improving optimism about the global economy helped investors shake off worries about geopolitical risks for the moment. Wall Street is poised to open slightly lower. Dow futures were less than 0.1 percent lower and broader S&P 500 futures dipped 0.1 percent.
NEW YORK (AP) – Oil futures rose to their highest in nearly 3 1/2 years. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 76 cents to $69.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.95, or 2.9 percent, to settle at $68.47 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude added 42 cents to $74.38 per barrel in London. The dollar strengthened to 107.34 yen from Wednesday’s 107.24 yen.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Unilever says it’s planning a share buyback worth up to 6 billion euros ($7.4 billion) later this year. Unilever says that sales in the first quarter were hit by unfavorable currency exchange rates and fell 5.2 percent compared with the same period last year. However, the company adds that underlying sales growth was 3.4 percent.
GENEVA (AP) – Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis says net income jumped 12 percent in the first quarter. It points to explosive growth in its heart-failure drug Entresto as its rollout continues, and powerful double-digit percentage growth for psoriasis drug Cosentyx.
BANGKOK (AP) – The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has agreed to step up investments in Thailand. The founder of the online shopping giant, Jack Ma, met with Thailand’s prime minister and signed an agreement to help set up a “smart digital hub” to facilitate trade between Thailand, China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.