According to some inside information, General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) is currently completing a deal with a consortium led by Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) and Blackstone Group. The deal is for the sale of GE’s real estate portfolio which is valued at $30 billion. Should the deal materialize, it will mark the biggest commercial real estate deal since Blackstone acquired Equity Office Properties Trust for $39 billion in 2007, including debt. This deal comes about at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to increase interest rates this year which will then push up financing costs. While Blackstone and GE have failed to comment, this deal is expected to be announced as early as Friday. It is evident that General Electric is stepping away from its global property investments and is shifting its focus on improving its profits from the sales of industrial products such as generators, jet engines, oil field equipment and electric grid gear. Industrial operations at GE are expected to add at least a 10% profit this year. In 2014, revenue from the company's real estate business declined 24% as a result of a decrease in net gains on property sales. After news about the deal was revealed, the shares of General Electric traded at $25.73, up 2.9 percent.
With a rally in the health care and energy sectors, U.S. stocks ended the volatile trading session on Thursday, higher. In four of the past 5 sessions, the main benchmark indices have advanced. Many investors have taken to the sidelines as a result of concerns that quarterly earnings will be lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) ended the trading session higher, up 0.3%, or 56.28 points, at 17,958.79. The best performer of the session on the Dow was General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE), which rose 0.72 points or 2.88% to trade at $25.73. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index (SPX) also closed up 0.4%, or 9.28 points, at 2,091.18. This increase was boosted by gains in energy stocks which rallied as a result of a rebound in oil prices. Also, the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) rose 0.5%, or 23.74 points, to 4,974.56. The worst performer on the tech heavy index was Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA) which traded down 17.93% to $2.38 in late trade.
The U.S. dollar (USD) is standing its ground and the greenback traded mostly higher on Thursday after data showed that jobless claims in the U.S. advanced less than expected last week. In their report, the Department of Labor said that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending April 4 rose to 281,000, up 14,000. The previous week’s total was at 267,000. Analysts were expecting initial jobless claims to rise by to 285,000 last week, up 18,000. The EUR/USD traded at 1.0682, up 0.92 percent while the GBP/USD declined 0.85% to trade at 1.4742. Against the currencies in Australia, Japan and Switzerland, the U.S. dollar traded mixed with AUD/USD up 0.20% to 0.7697, USD/JPY up 0.16% at 120.33 and with USD/CHF also up 1.02 percent and trading at 0.9758. Also, the U.S. dollar index was at 99.05, up 0.82%.
In commodity trading in Asia on Friday, crude oil prices eased. This comes as investors now turn their attention to the U.S. rig count data expected today from Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), the energy services firm. Last week, the number of nationwide gas and oil rigs declined to 1,028, down 20. To compare, last year this time, there were over one thousand eight hundred active rigs in the U.S. WTI crude oil for delivery in May traded at $50.74 a barrel, down 0.10%, on the NYMEX. On Thursday, Brent crude for delivery in May traded at $56.61 a barrel, up 1.91 percent or $1.06.