Frontrunning: January 6
- 'Life-threatening' cold bites Midwest, heads east (Reuters)
- Gold Analysts Get Most Bullish in a Year After Rout (BBG)
- Asian Stocks Fall Most in Three Weeks on China Services (BBG)
- Angela Merkel in skiing accident, cancels visits (Reuters)
- High-Speed Traders Form Trade Group to Press Case (WSJ)
- Toyota and Honda post record China sales (FT)
- China Shadow Banking Risks Exposed by Local Debt Audit (BBG)
- J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $2 Billion to U.S. in Penalties in Madoff Case (WSJ)
- Corruption trial of Trenton, N.J., mayor starts Monday (Reuters)
- Activist Investors Gain in M&A Push (WSJ)
- Car Makers at Consumer Electronics Show Tout Ways to Plug Autos Into the Web (WSJ)
- Bond Tab for Biggest Economies Seen at $7.43 Trillion in ’14 (BBG)
- Central Banks Split on Stimulus in 2014 as Fed Tapers (BBG)
- India considers easing gold import curbs (Reuters)
- Economists Spar on Path to Faster Recovery (WSJ)
- Goose meat tests positive for H7N9 in Chinese city (Xinhua)
Overnight Media Digest
* Auto makers aim to make 2014 the year that cars connect to the Web in a big way, and they are stepping up their land rush with Silicon Valley to compete for customers who go online on the road.
* In taking Facebook public and reshaping it around mobile phones, Mark Zuckerberg, the often-stubborn, idealistic 29-year-old chief executive, has shown growing attention to the bottom line.
* Financial shares last year had their strongest showing since 1997 and many portfolio managers are betting firms with large lending operations are poised to profit from gains in U.S. employment and output.
* To counter what they say is the industry's unfair reputation as a disruptive force in the markets, a group of high-frequency firms have hired a pair of heavy-hitting political strategists and formed a trade group to press their case with regulators and lawmakers.
* A dispute playing out in federal court over a blockbuster cancer treatment underscores the tensions that can surface in research collaborations and licensing agreements with academia.
* Investors are heading to Pakistan and braving one of the world's most dangerous countries to benefit from a newly elected government that is rolling out an economic program to aid the struggling economy.
* Boeing Co's contract deal with its largest union cements a key portion of its effort to aggressively control costs and avoid disruptions for one of its most important new jetliners in years.
* XPO Logistics said it agreed to acquire Pacer International in a deal valued at $335 million.
British finance minister George Osborne will on Monday warn that years of spending cuts lie ahead even as Prime Minister David Cameron promised on Sunday to protect pensioners' income if his Conservative party wins the 2015 election.
The European Commission is poised to relax financial reforms so that banks do not have to separate risky activities from lending operations, according to a draft proposal.
There is likely to be further consolidation among U.S. electricity companies, which are facing a future of slow demand growth, chief executive of the largest U.S. power company Duke Energy Corp said.
Autonomy, the British software company accused of accounting irregularities by its U.S. owners Hewlett-Packard, booked revenues from uncompleted transactions at the end of a number of quarters to meet sales targets, according to a document from the U.S. Air Force.
Private companies and charities that provide services to the NHS will for the first time face scrutiny of their funding arrangements and liquidity in an effort to avoid harming patients in case they run into financial difficulty or collapse.
An appetite for risk has returned to the finance chiefs of Britain's biggest companies, which are looking to expand into new markets or introduce new products as the economic recovery takes hold.
* JPMorgan Chase & Co is nearing a $2 billion settlement with federal authorities to resolve suspicions that the bank ignored signs of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the case.
* Ireland is using grants and tax breaks to help small start-ups compete with Silicon Valley giants that employ thousands in Dublin.
* A number of changes in the capital markets, the venture capital industry and the public equity markets have conspired to make it easier than ever for unproven start-ups to be valued at $1 billion or more. However, some consider this a sign of too much money is chasing too few good ideas and fear a new dot-com bubble.
* TV makers at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be showing off a range of sets that can connect to the Internet and run apps.
* Alumni of ThinkFilm, a small, short-lived movie distributor, have become a force in an industry that has been learning to think smaller, make do with less and live more by wit than a fat bankroll.
* Two Harvard economists conclude in a new study that, relative to previous American financial crises, the current economy is doing substantially better.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada would face global pressure to raise interest rates in 2014 as the United States begins to step back from its policy of economic stimulus through intervention in bond markets.
* New Democratic Leader Thomas Mulcair celebrated a record monthly fundraising haul by his party, driven by "bite-sized chunk" donations from NDP faithful. The Official Opposition took in $800,000 for the final month of 2013, ahead of its $750,000 goal, and set a party record in online fundraising.
Reports in the business section:
* Canadian pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc's chief is likely to address future growth and pressure for acquisition on Thursday's post-earnings conference call. Francois Coutu will likely face questions about where growth is going to come for the chain's relatively limited Quebec market and in the face of increasing competition and consolidation.
* Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale said her government would ask large consumers of energy to conserve power as the province grapples with power outages and rolling blackouts following a heavy storm. Thousands of households in Newfoundland remained without power after a fire at a terminal station just hours after a powerful blizzard ripped through the region.
* The Lobster Council of Canada launched a campaign to promote the Canadian essence of lobster, and to create a logo that sets its apart from shellfish from other regions.
SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS
- Guangdong province officials have delegated more decision-making and application approval authority to the Qianhai Free Trade Zone, which was designed to serve as a test bed for currency and capital account reform.
- Nearly 37,000 official were probed for graft in the first 11 months of last year as China steps up a sweeping campaign against official corruption, procurators said.
- Samples of goose meat taken from a market in southern Chinese province of Guangdong have tested positive for H7N9 avian influenza, the local health authorities said.
- A commentary by the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China criticised Southeast Asian countries for failing to adequately criticise Japanese prime ministry Shinzio Abe for a recent visit to the Yakusuni Shrine, which houses the graves of multiple convicted war criminals.
- Twenty-one police officers and government officials were engaged in drug dealing in the Boshe village in Guangdong province, where three tonnes of crystal methamphetamine was seized in recent raids.
CHINA BUSINESS NEWS
- Sources said an official document aimed at tightening supervision of China's rapid growing shadow banks has been issued to banks.
GEORGE OSBORNE TO CUT TAXES BY EXTENDING AUSTERITY AND CREATING SMALLER STATE
George Osborne will set out plans to cut taxes by extending the austerity programme and creating a permanently smaller State. The Chancellor will say in a speech in Birmingham that Britain must face up to "hard truths" about the need to make more cuts and reforms to get a stable economy.
ECONOMIC SHIFT AWAY FROM CHINA TO THE WEST WILL DICTATE COMMODITY PRICES IN 2014
Commodities investors are shifting their strategic focus away from China for 2014 as they search out clues as to the direction of prices. The global economic narrative is changing rapidly, with the emphasis moving from Asia and the fast-growing markets in the East, back to the developed West.
UK MANUFACTURING TIPPED FOR STRONGEST GROWTH IN EUROPE
Britain's manufacturers will enjoy faster growth than those in Germany or any other western European economy this year from rising demand at home and abroad, according to a report.
GEORGE SOROS WARNS THAT CHINESE SLOWDOWN IS BIGGEST WORRY IN 2014
George Soros is worried about China, and we should take note. The hedge fund boss, who built his fortune betting on the world's money markets, is concerned that 20 years of rapid growth is about to run out of steam.
DEVELOPER'S GRAND DESIGN FOR LUXURY RETAIL AT O2
Land Securities has signed a six-month exclusivity agreement with AEG Europe, one of the world's largest concert promoters and owner of O2 Arena in Greenwich, to negotiate options for jointly developing a luxury retail centre in an unused part of the former Millennium Dome.
THE DAYS OF BELT-TIGHTENING ARE OVER AND HOMEBUYERS ARE HEADING FOR THE COUNTRY
Forget luxury homes in Notting Hill or Wimbledon Village - the property hot spots this year will be in London's commuter belt. According to the nationwide estate agent Jackson-Stops & Staff, househunters will be heading for the likes of Weybridge, Esher, Cobham and Oxted in Surrey and Sevenoaks, in Kent.
ASIAN TYCOON LI KA-SHING'S EMPIRE TAKES UP TO 630 MLN STG FROM BLACKOUT ENERGY FIRM
The Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing's offshore-controlled family companies could have channelled as much as 630 million pounds in the past three years out of the UK electricity distribution network blamed for the Christmas blackouts.
CARNEY WINS APPROVAL OF FINANCE DIRECTORS
Britain's finance directors "like what they've seen" of Mark Carney in his first six months as Bank of England Governor, according to Deloitte's top number-cruncher.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Abbott (ABT) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Ameren (AEE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Bonanza Creek (BCEI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
Boston Scientific (BSX) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
ConocoPhillips (COP) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
DaVita (DVA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Exelixis (EXEL) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Genworth (GNW) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Grifols (GRFS) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
HSBC (HBC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Halliburton (HAL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
Idenix (IDIX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Ingram Micro (IM) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
M&T Bank (MTB) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
MGM Resorts (MGM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
McKesson (MCK) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
PPL Corp. (PPL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Regions Financial (RF) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
RetailMeNot (SALE) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
SolarCity (SCTY) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman
SolarWinds (SWI) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore
St. Jude Medical (STJ) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
SunTrust (STI) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
Trulia (TRLA) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Ventas (VTR) upgraded to Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital
Vertex (VRTX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Wabash (WNC) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Wynn Macau (WYNMF) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Wynn Resorts (WYNN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
YPF SA (YPF) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Zillow (Z) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
ARIAD (ARIA) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
ARRIS (ARRS) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Alliant Energy (LNT) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Apple (AAPL) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Standpoint Research
BancorpSouth (BXS) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
CA Technologies (CA) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Evercore
CMS Energy (CMS) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
City National (CYN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Con-way (CNW) downgraded to Underperform from Buy at BofA/Merrill
eBay (EBAY) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Entergy (ETR) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
First Solar (FSLR) downgraded to Sell from Buy at Goldman
HealthSouth (HLS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Hess Corp. (HES) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho
HollyFrontier (HFC) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
Hologic (HOLX) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Host Hotels (HST) downgraded to Outperform from Top Pick at RBC Capital
Liberty Media (LMCA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
MetLife (MET) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Pernix Therapeutics (PTX) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Cantor
PetSmart (PETM) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Prosensa (RNA) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Riverbed (RVBD) downgraded to Hold from Strong Buy at Needham
Sanofi (SNY) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Sarepta (SRPT) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
Twitter (TWTR) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Wendy's (WEN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Wisconsin Energy (WEC) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
AIG (AIG) reinstated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Autohome (ATHM) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Autohome (ATHM) initiated with a Sell at Goldman
Clean Energy (CLNE) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Houghton Mifflin (HMHC) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
IAC (IACI) initiated with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
JinkoSolar (JKS) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Physicians Realty Trust (DOC) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
RE/MAX Holdings (RMAX) initiated with a Market Perform at JMP Securities
Scorpio Bulkers (SALT) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Trina Solar (TSL) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Valero Energy Partners (VLP) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Valero Energy Partners (VLP) initiated with an Outperform at Wells Fargo
Men's Wearhouse (MW) began cash tender offer for JoS. A. Bank (JOSB) at $57.50 per share
Boeing's (BA) machinists union accepted contract extension tied to 777X aircraft
Liberty Media (LMCA) offered to acquire Sirius (SIRI) in a deal valued at $3.68 per share
T-Mobile (TMUS) CEO Legere called AT&T’s (T) plan to offer customers a credit to switch from T-Mobile a “desperate move”
Google (GOOG) acquired Bitspin, terms not disclosed
BE Aerospace (BEAV) agreed to acquire LT Energy and Wildcat Wireline for $265M
Samsung (SSNLF), Rambus (RMBS) signed 10-year licensing agreement
Verint Systems (VRNT) to acquire KANA Software for $514M
- Aggressive investors were a driving force behind a number of deals at big companies in 2013. According to FactSet SharkWatch, there were 10 instances in 2013 in which a U.S. company agreed to break itself up or sell or exit businesses after an investor pushed it to make such changes, even if the moves didn't always satisfy the activist, the Wall Street Journal reports
- U.S. prosecutors and regulators are expected to announce this week that JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will pay over $2B in penalties for alleged failures to warn about Bernard L. Madoff's massive fraud, sources say, the Wall Street Journal reports
- U.S. cable and satellite television operators, already locking horns with programmers over subscriber fees, are now squaring off over the mobile apps that viewers are increasingly using to watch TV (NFLX, DISH, DIS, TWC, DTV, CMCSA, VZ), Reuters reports
- Toyota Motor (TM) and its two local joint-venture partners sold more than 900,000 vehicles in China last year, according to two executives, beating its annual sales target after tensions eased in a territorial row between Japan and China, Reuters reports
- Samsung (SSNLF), which sells almost one of every three smartphones, wants to parlay that technology into automotive navigation and entertainment systems for an industry that makes more than 80M vehicles a year (GM, VLKAY, TM, INTC, QCOM, NVDA), Bloomberg reports
- Apple (AAPL), facing behind-the-scenes pressure from some shareholders to add more female directors and executives, has taken a step to address the criticism and diversify its board, Bloomberg reports
National Oilwell (NOV) could rise 30% with a split-up
Plum Creek Timber (PCL) could drop 20%
Invesco (IVZ) could reach mid-$40s in 2014
Future for Sanofi's (SNY) contingent-value rights 'doesn't look bright'
Fiat (FIATY) could double in a couple of years
Unni-Pixel (UNXL) may not recover
Cvent (CVT) files to sell 4.8M shares of common stock