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Buybacks and Fed minutes drive markets


US markets closed higher on Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting, which showed the policy-setting committee was split on the path for interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 63.12 points, or 0.2%, to 25,954.44 with the Nasdaq adding 2.3 points to 7,489.07, logging gains for eight sessions in a row. The S&P 500 index rose 4.94 points, or 0.2%, to 2,784.70.

European markets also closed higher, as buyback announcements from heavyweights Lloyds Banking Group PLC and Glencore PLC lifted share prices and kept markets mostly positive, countering lower profits at both firms. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.1% to 369.44 with Germany’s DAX climbing by 0.2% to 11,331.97. The UK’s FTSE 100 remained mostly flat at 7,183.67.

The MSE Equity Price Index gained 0.18% backed by gains from 7 companies. The strongest performance was by BMIT Technologies Plc which rebounded 2.8% to €0.545 on its third trading session. HSBC bank Plc recovered from Tuesday’s loss and closed 1.82% higher at €1.68 whilst Simons Farsons Cisk Plc added a further gain of 1.74%.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold

Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled a $1,980 smartphone with a foldable screen, a dramatic shift in the mass market for phones. The South Korean tech giant’s Galaxy Fold resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm). The device is not the first foldable-screen phone, but the company’s brand, reach and technological prowess makes it the most advanced folding phone for the mass market. It’s a leap that rivals the category shifts not seen since smartphones took off with a broad audience more than a decade ago.

Samsung’s new device has a 4.6-inch screen when used as a phone and can unfold into a tablet with a 7.3-inch screen, Samsung said Wednesday during a demonstration. During a demonstration kicking off its Unpacked event in San Francisco, the company said the new phone, called the Galaxy Fold, will be available April 26 and will come in four colors: black, blue, silver and green. Users will also be able to customize the color of the folding hinge.

Barclays promises more Buybacks

Barclays Plc’s Jes Staley promised more buybacks and dividends to shareholders as the bank’s traders outperformed most of their Wall Street and European peers. “We will use the strong capital generation of the bank to return a greater proportion of those earnings to shareholders by way of dividends and to supplement those dividends with additional returns, including share buybacks,” Staley said.

Fourth-quarter income at the London-based firm’s markets unit fell 2.5 percent from a year earlier to 945 million pounds ($1.2 billion), a performance that beat many of the bank’s rivals. The stock rose the most in almost a year, giving Staley more ammunition as he pushes back against Edward Bramson, the activist investor.