Frontrunning: December 11


  • Wall Street Exhales as Volcker Rule Seen Sparing Market-Making (Bloomberg)

  • GM to End Manufacturing Down Under, Citing Costs (WSJ)

  • U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation (Reuters)

  • Ukraine Police Back Off After Failing to Stop Protest (WSJ)

  • First Walmart, now Costco misses (AP)

  • Dan Fuss Joins Bill Gross Shunning Long-Term Debt Before Taper (BBG)

  • China New Yuan Loans Higher Than Expected (WSJ)

  • China bitcoin arbitrage ends as traders work around capital controls (Reuters)

  • Blackstone’s Hilton Joins Ranks of Biggest Deal Paydays (BBG)

  • Europe sketches plan to close troubled banks (Reuters)

  • Madoff Planned Everything, Cried Before Arrest, Jury Told (BBG)

  • US and Japan differences stall Pacific Rim trade deal (FT)

  • FDIC Details Bailout Plans Without Taypayer Funds (WSJ)

  • China cuts more red tape, paves way for NDRC slim-down (Reuters)


 


Overnight Media Digest


WSJ


* House and Senate negotiators, in a rare bipartisan act, announced a budget agreement Tuesday designed to avert another economy-rattling government shutdown and to bring a dose of stability to Congress's fiscal policy-making over the next two years.


* The U.S. government's first major auction of wireless airwaves since 2008 has speculators panning for gold. After years of complaining about the need for more airwaves, none of the major carriers have signed up. Instead, the January auction is crowded with people who don't own networks but are hoping to cash in on a scarce asset.


* Discovery Communications Inc is considering a bid for Food Network majority owner Scripps Networks Interactive Inc said a person familiar with the matter, signaling that a consolidation wave among television channel owners may be on its way.


* Massachusetts gambling regulators set the table Tuesday for another public vote on whether the Suffolk Downs thoroughbred track near Boston's Logan Airport can proceed with efforts to land a $1 billion resort-casino.


* U.S. gun sales are slowing from their recent torrid pace. Smith & Wesson Holding Corp said late Tuesday that its profit in the three months ended Oct. 31 fell 20 percent from the year-earlier quarter as sales rose just 2 percent. That follows rival Remington Outdoor Co's forecast a day earlier for sales growth between about 34 percent and 37 percent for 2013, slowing from the 51 percent surge in the first nine months of this year.


* Thermal-coal prices may be running out of steam as Asian power producers wind down purchases after a period of pre-winter stockpiling and an underlying supply glut reasserts itself.


* Jon Brod, a veteran AOL Inc executive who co-founded the company's Patch network of local news sites, is expected to leave AOL early next year to join a startup, according to a person familiar with the matter.


* Entergy Corp's plan to shed its electricity-transmission business hit a wall on Tuesday when regulators in Mississippi rejected the transfer of the big utility's transmission assets to another company.


* After three years of seizing market share from Chinese rivals, foreign auto makers are starting to take it from each other. Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co are poised to end the year with significant market-share gains in the world's No. 1 auto market, having been quick to meet demand for sport-utility vehicles and new models tailored to Chinese tastes.


* U.S. natural-gas production hit its highest level since at least 2009 in November, according to a government report released Tuesday, and domestic production is expected to grow in 2014.


 


FT


Royal Bank of Scotland's finance director of just 10 weeks, Nathan Bostock, has resigned to become deputy chief executive of Santander UK.


Mining Giant BHP Billiton said it would invest $4 billion a year in its U.S. shale business, which it expects to generate $3 billion of cash annually by the end of the decade.


FirstGroup has received a letter from one of its biggest shareholders, urging the British bus and rail operator to sell its U.S. businesses in order to pay down debt.


Tesco Bank has laid out plans to enter the current account market within months, a move that will restrain its profit growth for the next few years.


3i Group's global head of healthcare is to leave the London-listed investment group after 12 years to raise his own fund.


 


NYT


* Mid- to high-end fashion brands are finding themselves as acquisition targets. In the latest deal, private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners agreed on Tuesday to buy Lucky Brand Jeans from the Fifth & Pacific Companies, the clothier formerly known as Liz Claiborne, for about $225 million.


* The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations said they would not complete a sweeping deal to reduce trade barriers by their own end-of-year deadline.


* The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a rescue plan for the European Union's system for trading carbon-emission credits. The lawmakers hope to revive prices for carbon credits, which have been so low that the system is creating few incentives for smokestack industries to cut back on their emissions of greenhouse gases.


* New York State's top prosecutor is investigating why American cellphone carriers have yet to embrace anti-theft software on Samsung smartphones, raising questions about possible coordination among the biggest carriers.


* Two weeks after naming a new chief executive, Walmart announced on Tuesday that David Cheesewright, president of several overseas divisions, would soon take on all of the company's international operations.


* A new congressional report criticizes the federal government for awarding tens of billions of dollars in contracts to companies even though they were found to have violated safety and wage laws and paid millions in penalties. Issued on behalf of the Democratic senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, the report cited examples over the past six years.


* Wholesale businesses increased their inventories in October by the most in two years as their sales rose sharply, encouraging signs for economic growth in the final three months of 2013. Wholesale inventories grew 1.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.


* Advertising, journalism and technology continue to converge. The latest example: Vice Media's acquisition of Carrot Creative, a digital agency that creates apps, websites and games for media companies and brands. In its new home, Carrot will experiment with ways to distribute Vice's editorial content. The agency will also focus on building digital initiatives for brands that work with Vice.


* The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in a knotty environmental case over how to hold states responsible for air pollution that drifts across their borders and causes harm in downwind states.


 


Canada


THE GLOBE AND MAIL


* Millions of visitors to Canada would be charged a new fee under a proposed electronic security screening plan. The federal government is soliciting public comment on the plan to introduce online travel applications as a part of the sweeping perimeter security pact with the United States.


* As British Columbia Mines Minister Bill Bennett heads to Ottawa this week to make an impassioned pitch for the proposed New Prosperity copper-gold mine near Williams Lake, he is facing questions about his government's rejection of another, smaller open-pit project in a different part of the province.


Reports in the business section:


* Canada Goose Inc, the wildly successful company behind the ubiquitous high-end parka, has sold a majority stake to U.S. private equity giant Bain Capital in a move that allows it to aggressively push into new markets in the United States and overseas in places such as South Korea.


* A wave of Canadian companies has shifted into job-cut mode as competitive pressures, weaker commodity prices and the perception Canada is a costly place to do business dent confidence.


* Talisman Energy Inc said on Tuesday that it has reached a deal to sell its stake in a pipeline in Colombia, although at a lesser price than some analysts expected the company to fetch. Talisman will sell its 12 percent interest in the Ocensa pipeline for $595 million.


NATIONAL POST


* Ontario Power Generation immediately fired three executives on Tuesday following the release of a damning auditor-general report accusing the utility of unnecessarily driving up electricity prices through rampant nepotism, high labor costs and one of the province's most generous public-sector pension plans.


* Toronto's budget chief, Frank Di Giorgio, wants to cut all home buyers a break on the municipal land transfer tax at the expense of those trying to break into the real estate market for the first time.


FINANCIAL POST


* Air Canada said on Tuesday that it would be expanding its relationship with Air Georgian by awarding its regional affiliate several new U.S. cross-border routes that were previously flown by Chorus Aviation Inc.


* The threat to Canada's financial stability has eased for the first time in two years, but risks are never far away. A resurgent domestic housing market and large consumer debt, aided by still-tantalizingly low interest rates, remain major concerns to government and monetary officials.


* Intense lobbying by senior Canadian officials including federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has successfully blunted far-reaching implications for the country's largest banks from the biggest overhaul of financial regulation in the United States since the Great Depression.


 


China


CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL


- China should phase out "aggressive" fiscal policy, said a commentary in the paper. The consequences of such measures include a high long-term budget deficit, coupled with high risk hidden local debts, it said.


CHINA BUSINESS NEWS


- China's GDP growth is estimated to hit 7.5 percent next year, according to a survey of industry experts polled by the paper. Most predictions were within the range of 7 to 7.5 percent, while some estimates came in between 7.8 percent and 8 percent.


SHANGHAI DAILY


- Shanghai plans to build a small reservoir on the Taipu River to supply water to five of the city's districts, after tests on the Huangpu River showed standards failed to reach national levels for tap water resources. Water from the Taipu reservoir will supply Shanghai's Qingpu, Jinshan, Songjiang, Minhang and Fengxian districts.


CHINA DAILY


- China is using the annual Central Economic Work Conference as a platform from which to launch reforms focused on sustainable growth, said a commentary in the paper. The country can no longer afford to pursue the growth-at-all-costs economic model as it has meant the sacrifice of the environment and improvement in people's livelihoods for fast expansion, it said.


PEOPLE'S DAILY


- China should unswervingly adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, said a commentary in the paper that acts as the party's mouthpiece. Such commitment will lead to national revival and achieve dreams of glory for this generation of Chinese, it said.


 


Britain


The Telegraph


RBS FINANCE CHIEF NATHAN BOSTOCK QUITS AFTER JUST 10 WEEKS


Nathan Bostock, who was appointed finance director at RBS on Oct. 1, is to join Santander, as deputy chief executive.


FIRSTGROUP INVESTOR SANDELL PUSHES FOR U.S. BUSINESS SPLIT


An activist investor with a stake in FirstGroup has called on the bus and rail operator to boost shareholder value by more than 50 percent through a split from its U.S. businesses.


FORMER ASDA EXECUTIVE GIVEN TOP WALMART JOB


A former Asda executive has been handed one of the biggest jobs in the retail industry after being named chief executive of Walmart International. David Cheesewright, who is British, will run Walmart's 6,200 stores outside the US from February 1.


ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY SUMMONS BIG SIX ENERGY BOSSES TO DISCUSS PRICE RISES AND FUEL POVERTY


The Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the bosses of the Big Six energy companies to a private meeting on Wednesday to discuss fuel poverty and rising energy prices.


CARPETRIGHT WARNS OF 'VERY VOLATILE' UK ECONOMY


The flooring retailer Carpetright says trading in the UK remains "very volatile" despite signs that the economy is recovering.


The Guardian


FOXTONS ESTATE AGENT GAINS PROMOTION TO FTSE 250 INDEX


Foxtons, the estate agent that Londoners love to hate but cannot do without, is set to join the ranks of Britain's leading companies on Wednesday when it is promoted to the FTSE 250 index.


TESCO PUTTING UP PRICES FASTER THAN ANY OTHER UK GROCER, CLAIMS ANALYST


Tesco's UK strategy has been slammed in an outspoken note by a U.S. stockbroker that claims the retailer has put up prices faster than any other British grocer while its non-food ranges are more expensive than those at John Lewis.


The Times


CLOSING HEATHROW 'WOULD COST 250,000 JOBS'


The closure of Heathrow in favour of a new hub airport to the east of London would cost up to 250,000 jobs and turn the most prosperous region outside the capital into an economic wasteland, a report claims.


MORTGAGE LENDERS RELAX RULES DESPITE BUBBLE FEAR


Banks and building societies have begun to relax their mortgage lending standards in an early sign that a bubble may be building in the housing market.


The Independent


BANK'S MARK CARNEY DEFIES DOOMSTERS ON THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK FOR THE WEST


Fears that advanced economies, including Britain, might have entered a phase of "secular stagnation" were rejected last night by the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney.


 


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot


ANALYST RESEARCH


Upgrades


3M Company (MMM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura
Boise Cascade (BCC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Charles River Labs (CRL) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Children's Place (PLCE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Demand Media (DMD) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at JMP Securities
Dentsply (XRAY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
FirstEnergy (FE) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Groupon (GRPN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
ITC Holdings (ITC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
NanoString (NSTG) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Qualcomm (QCOM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Radware (RDWR) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill


Downgrades


Avanir (AVNR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho
BlackBerry (BBRY) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
Enzymotec (ENZY) downgraded to Underperform from Buy at BofA/Merrill
LabCorp (LH) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
MeadWestvaco (MWV) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Owens-Illinois (OI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Tortoise Energy (TYG) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
W.R. Grace (GRA) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird


Initiations


3D Systems (DDD) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
ARC Group (ARCW) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
Access Midstream (ACMP) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Atlas Pipeline Partners (APL) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Avis Budget (CAR) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Brocade (BRCD) initiated with a Sell at Citigroup
C.H. Robinson (CHRW) initiated with a Hold at KeyBanc
CST Brands (CST) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Ciena (CIEN) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Cisco (CSCO) initiated with a Sell at Citigroup
Corning (GLW) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Cott Corp. (COT) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Crosstex Energy LP (XTEX) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
DCP Midstream (DPM) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
eHealth (EHTH) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
EQT Midstream Partners (EQM) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Ericsson (ERIC) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
ExOne (XONE) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
F5 Networks (FFIV) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
FactSet (FDS) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Garmin (GRMN) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Gartner (IT) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Hertz (HTZ) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
IHS Inc. (IHS) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Infoblox (BLOX) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Juniper (JNPR) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
MarkWest Energy (MWE) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
McGraw Hill Financial (MHFI) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Merit Medical (MMSI) initiated with a Buy at Noble Financial
Moody's (MCO) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Motorola Solutions (MSI) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Nielsen (NLSN) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Nokia (NOK) coverage assumed with a Buy at Citigroup
Overstock.com (OSTK) initiated with a Neutral at B. Riley
Polycom (PLCM) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Rambus (RMBS) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Regency Energy Partners (RGP) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Riverbed (RVBD) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Southcross Energy Partners (SXE) initiated with a Sell at Goldman
Stratasys (SSYS) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Summit Midstream (SMLP) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Targa Resources Partners (NGLS) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
USA Compression (USAC) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Verisk Analytics (VRSK) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Voxeljet (VJET) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Western Gas Equity (WGP) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
Western Gas Partners (WES) initiated with a Buy at Goldman


HOT STOCKS


HP (HPQ) CEO told CNBC doesn’t expect headwinds from macroeconomic environment in FY14
Home Depot (HD) sees meeting operating margin target one year earlier
Scripps Networks (SNI) surged after Variety reported Discovery (DISCA) weighing bid
GM (GM) to halt manufacturing in Australia by 2017
MasterCard (MA) announced 10-for-1 stock split, 83% dividend increase, $3.5B buyback
RadioShack (RSH) closed new five-year financing totaling $835M
Cameron (CAM) increased share repurchase authorization by $750M
Twitter (TWTR) said can now share, view photos via direct message
Salem Communications (SALM) acquired Twitter (TWTR) curation site, Twitchy.com
Northstar Realty (NRF) announced plan to spin-off asset management business
H&R Block (HRB) CEO Cobb said making progress with bank divestiture
Celanese (CE) to close two European manufacturing facilities


EARNINGS


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Phototronics (PLAB), Smith & Wesson (SWHC)


Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Joy Global (JOY), Miller Energy (MILL), Dominion Diamond (DDC), Mitcham Industries (MIND), H&R Block (HRB)


Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Peregrine (PPHM)


NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES



  • A broad new government rule, the so-called Volcker rule approved by five financial regulatory agencies, to limit risk-taking by Wall Street, will force banks to rethink virtually every aspect of their trading activities, setting the stage for more tumult at the largest U.S. financial institutions, the Wall Street Journal reports

  • Legislative proposals to study whether videogames are linked to real-life violence or mental health—prompted by a rash of mass shootings—have stalled amid a campaign by the industry (MSFT, SNE, NTDOY) to quash the efforts, according to lobbying records and lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reports

  • General Motors (GM) said it would stop making cars in Australia by 2017 due to high costs and a cripplingly strong currency, fueling fears Toyota Motor (TM) will follow suit and put the entire local autos industry at risk, Reuters reports

  • Europe's second highest court upheld a decision today by EU regulators clearing Microsoft's (MSFT) $8.5B takeover of Skype in 2011, rejecting a challenge by Cisco Systems (CSCO), Reuters reports

  • Fed officials are renewing a debate over cutting interest paid to banks on excess reserves, a move aimed at convincing investors that tapering its bond-buying isn’t the same as tightening its monetary policy, Bloomberg reports

  • Blackstone Group (BX), which has put $1B of equity this year into Asian real estate, says it’s poised for more deals in the region as maturing funds sell assets and banks retreat amid new regulations, Bloomberg reports


SYNDICATE


Allison Transmission (ALSN) sells 12.5M shares for selling stockholders
American Midstream Partners (AMID) files to sell 2.4M common units for partners
Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) files to sell 19.28M shares of common stock for holders
Autohome (ATHM) 7.82M share IPO priced at $17.00
Cell Therapeutics (CTIC) files to sell 15.67M shares of common stock for holders
Exa Corp. (EXA) files to sell $75M in common stock for holders
Gevo (GEVO) files to sell stock units, convertible senior notes, warrants
HomeAway (AWAY) files to sell 5.5M shares of common stock
Teekay (TK) files to sell 5.7M shares of common stock for holders
TravelCenters (TA) 6.5M share Secondary priced at $9.25

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