Icahn Eyes FirstEnergy; Robinhood Testifies in GameStop Hearing

Markets finished down Thursday, with the three major U.S. indices posting losses.

Meanwhile, initial jobless claims for regular state programs ticked unexpectedly upward for the week ending Feb. 13. Initial claims reached 861,000, an increase of 13,000 from the revised level of the previous week. This uptick breaks a previous downward trend that had pointed to an improving job market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 119 points, or about 0.4%, to finish at 31,493.

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Robinhood, Reddit and Roaring Kitty testify. Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Keith Gill, an investor known as “Roaring Kitty,” and Melvin Capital CEO Gabe Plotkin were among those who testified Thursday before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

The hearing revisited January’s GameStop (ticker: GME) trading frenzy. The Reddit-fueled fervor resulted in shares of GME soaring, a subsequent “short squeeze” and, at the height of the action, temporary restrictions on trading placed by brokerage platforms including Robinhood.

Representatives questioned witnesses on topics such as the practice of “payment for order flow,” the suicide of Robinhood user Alex Kearns and the consequences of short-selling.

FirstEnergy shares soar. Investor Carl Icahn’s plans to acquire a stake in FirstEnergy Corp. ( FE) pushed shares higher Thursday. The Akron, Ohio-based electric utility ended the day up more than 7%.

According to a regulatory filing, FE received a Feb. 16 letter that Icahn intends to acquire voting securities “in an amount exceeding $184 million but less than $919.9 million.” The acquisition depends “upon various factors including market conditions.”

FirstEnergy disclosed that it doesn’t know if Icahn has already purchased shares or derivatives — or what his intentions are for the acquisition.

Walmart boosts pay. Walmart ( WMT) reported fourth-quarter earnings Thursday and promised raises to about 425,000 employees. The retail giant says it will raise U.S. wages, increasing the average associate pay to more than $15 per hour.

Overall, however, an outlook for additional spending and slowing sales and profit had shares down more than 6% on the day.

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Icahn Eyes FirstEnergy; Robinhood Testifies in GameStop Hearing originally appeared on usnews.com

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