Lower Open On Sluggish European Growth

Jobless claims fell more than expected last week but sluggish economic growth in Europe weighed the markets down to a lower open with the Dow slipping 8 points to 13,974. Nasdaq lost 6 points to 3190.

On the upside

Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital will pay a premium of approximately $23.2 billion in cash to acquire H. J. Heinz (NYSE: HNZ).

Anheuser-Busch InBev responded to a Justice Department lawsuit by revising its $20.1 billion acquisition offer for Grupo Modelo.  Approval of the new plan could clear the way for Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ) to acquire the 50% stake of Crown Imports that Anheuser-Busch InBev owns.

Artio Global Investors (NYSE: ART) fell to a loss for the fourth quarter but the results were better than expected.

On the downside

ARMOUR Residential REIT (NYSE: ARR) priced its public offering of 65 million common shares.

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) reported higher fourth quarter earnings but the results fell short of analyst expectations and the telecommunications company cut its quarterly dividend from $0.725 per share to $0.54 per share. Shares of rivals Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR) and Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) also fell.


Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM) reported higher first quarter earnings and revenue but lowered its full year sales guidance.

In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of 7 to 5 on the NYSE and by nearly 5 to 4 on Nasdaq. The broader S&P 500 index eased a point to 1518.

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