March 12 - Summary: Herbalife reveals FTC inquiry, stock drops 7 percent; Candy Crush maker details sugary IPO; Wall Street bonuses soar to pre-crisis levels; European stocks hit by commodities rout. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Herbalife gets knocked down by word of another probe. This time the nutrition and weight loss company says the Federal Trade Commission is looking into operations. Herbalife says it will cooperate. This company has been at the center of controversy for over a year now. Activist investor Bill Ackman has called Herbalife a pyramid scheme, but others like Carl Icahn and George Soros have come to the company's defense. Shares of Herbalife tumbled more than 16 percent at the lows of the day but cut that loss to seven percent by the end of the session. Will investors have a crush for Candy Crush or tech IPO indigestion? King Digital Entertainment, the company behind the addictive digital game, filed for an IPO valuing the company at $7.6 billion. The stock is the latest hi-tech IPO and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street workers are rolling in the dough once again. Average bonuses jumped 15 percent last year to more than $164,000. That's the highest bank since the 2008 financial crisis and the third largest on record. The estimate is taken from tax records compiled by the New York Comptroller's office and does not even include stock options or other forms of deferred compensation. Speaking of Wall Street and rebounds, investors optimism is almost back to where it was before the partial government shutdown last fall. Retirees, most notably, leading the improvement, according to a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey. As for stocks - they moved little on Wednesday, as investors await the next catalyst. But the Nasdaq did end a four-day slide. European shares declined to one-month lows as China economic worries sparked a sell-off in commodities, hurting raw material stocks.