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Snap tops expectations in pricing of long awaited IPO

Snap Inc priced its initial public offering above its target range on Wednesday, raising $3.4 billion as investors set aside concerns about its lack of profits and voting rights for a piece of the hottest tech IPO in years. At $17 a share, the parent of popular disappearing-messaging app Snapchat has a market valuation of roughly $24 billion, more than double the size of rival Twitter and the richest valuation in a U.S. tech IPO since Facebook in 2012. The company had targeted a valuation of between $19.5 billion and $22.3 billion. The book was more than 10 times oversubscribed and Snap could have priced the IPO at as much as $19 a share, but the company wanted to focus on securing mutual funds as long-term investors rather than hedge funds looking to quickly sell, the source said. The share sale was the first test of investor appetite for a social-media app that is beloved by teenagers and 20-somethings who use it to apply bunny faces and vomiting rainbows onto selfies but faces a challenge in converting "cool" into cash. Despite a nearly 7-fold increase in revenue, the Los Angeles-based company's net loss jumped 38 percent last year. It faces intense competition from larger rivals such as Facebook as well as decelerating user growth. Snap priced 200 million shares on Wednesday night at $17, above its stated range of $14 to $16 dollars a share.

The sale had the advantage of favorable timing. The market for technology IPOs hit the brakes in 2016, marking the slowest year for such launches since 2008, and investors are keen for fresh opportunities. The launch could encourage debuts by other so-called unicorns, tech start-ups with private valuations of $1 billion or more. Investors bought the shares despite them having no voting power, an unprecedented feature for an IPO despite years of rising concerns about corporate governance from fund managers looking to gain influence over executives. Snap is set to begin trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SNAP.

OVERNIGHT MILLIONAIRES Although Snap is going public at a much earlier stage in its development than Twitter or Facebook, the 5-year-old company is valuing itself at nearly 60 times revenue, more than double the 27 times revenue Facebook fetched when it went public in 2012. To justify its suggested valuation and fend off concerns about slowing user growth, Snap has emphasized how important Snapchat is to its users, how long they spend on the app and the revenue potential of the emerging trend for young people to communicate with video rather than text.

Exclusive: SEC advisory committee to question Snap's transparency for investors BOSTON An investor committee that advises the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will next week review if Snap Inc's decision to deny shareholders voting rights might also reduce the social media company's public disclosures on executive pay and other governance matters, the head of that committee told Reuters on Wednesday.

Facebook's Oculus cuts price of virtual reality set by $200 SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc's virtual reality unit Oculus has cut $200 from the total price of its flagship hardware set, in a bid to expand the system's base of video game players, the company said on Wednesday.

U.S. appeals court tosses patent verdict against Apple A federal appeals court has thrown out a jury verdict that had originally required Apple Inc to pay $533 million to Smartflash LLC, a technology developer and licenser that claimed Apple's iTunes software infringed its data storage patents.

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Wall Street slips ahead of Trumps address to Congress

U.S. stocks dipped Tuesday morning, dragged down by financial and consumer discretionary shares, with investors awaiting President Donald Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress. Trump's promises of tax reform, infrastructure spending and simpler regulations have sparked a post-election rally that has propelled the main U.S. market indexes to record highs."What we're looking for tonight is just more meat on those bones," said Mark Spellman, portfolio manager at Alpine Funds in Purchase, New York."We've gotten these generalities and we're trying to figure out how things are going to be constructed," he said. The address at 9:00 p.m. ET (0200 GMT) could touch on tax reforms, defense spending and his plans to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system. But on Wall Street, financial and consumer discretionary stocks dropped, pulling down the major indexes.

Target (TGT. N) fell 12.2 percent and was on track for its worst day since December 2008 after the retailer's full-year profit forecast missed estimates and the company said it would take a $1 billion hit to margins. Also weighing on sentiment was data that showed U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter. The dollar dropped 0.3 percent to 100.85 against a basket of major currencies, while prices of safe-haven gold edged up by a similar degree.

At 11:06 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average . DJI was down 0.37 points, or flat, at 20,837.07, the S&P 500 . SPX was down 2.46 points, or 0.10 percent, at 2,367.29 and the Nasdaq Composite . IXIC was down 17.85 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,844.05. Four of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, while three rose. The rest were little changed. Charles Schwab (SCHW. N) was the top drag on the financial sector . SPSY after the company said it would reduce its ETF trade and online equity commissions, following similar cuts by Fidelity Investments. TD Ameritrade (AMTD. O) dropped 9.3 percent and was the top loser on the Nasdaq.

U.S. economy slows in the fourth-quarter; consumer spending remains bright spot WASHINGTON U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter as previously reported, with robust consumer spending offset by downward revisions to business and government investment.

Wilbur Ross sworn in as secretary of commerce WASHINGTON Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was sworn in as U.S. commerce secretary on Tuesday after helping shape Republican President Donald Trump's opposition to multilateral trade deals.

Comcast to buy remaining 49 percent stake in Universal Studios Japan Comcast Corp said on Tuesday it would buy the 49 percent it does not already own in Universal Studios Japan (USJ) for 254.8 billion yen ($2.27 billion) as the No. 1 U.S. cable operator seeks to expand its Asian theme parks business.