Summary of business headlines: Apple releases strong results, CEO worries lighten-up; Goldman Sachs changes Facebook plan; Citigroup continues uphill climb; Wall Street ends higher.
USA-USCLOSE - Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking another medical leave of absence, but he's stepping away from his day-to-day role with his company in a strong position. Apple posted quarterly results that were well above expectations and the outlook was ahead of forecasts as well.
Over 7.3 million iPads and more than 16 million iPhones were sold in the last three months, despite growing competition from smartphones powered by Google's Android.Clyde Montevirgen follows the company for Standard and Poor's.
CLYDE MONTEVIRGEN, EQUITY ANALYST, STANDARD & POOR'S SAYING:
"We think that the iPhone will compete in the high-end of the handset market. The question is will that market grow fast enough to provide Apple the grow? And we think so. We think that the handset, smartphone market will grown 20 percent every year through 2014, so there is more than enough growth there."
Goldman Sachs has decided to block U.S. investors from a private investment in Facebook. The decision follows media scrutiny after details of the $1.5 billion investment plan were leaked. The investment will give wealthy clients a piece of Facebook, without triggering disclosure of the website's financials as required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, leaving the average investor waiting for an initial public offering.
Citigroup turned its first full-year profit since the financial crisis, but the road to recovery is a bumpy one. Fourth-quarter profits came in below forecasts due to a slump in trading revenues. But fewer loan losses did help the bottom line.
On Wall Street: the bulls ignored Citi's results and looked past worries about Apple - pushing the market to fresh 2008 highs.
Stocks in Europe rallied to their highest close in more than 28 months on hopes of a bigger EU bailout fund.
Conway Gittens, Reuters