Frontrunning: March 6

  • Spot the inaccuracies: Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation (Reuters)

  • Bank of England Extends Record-Low Rates Into a Sixth Year (BBG)

  • China's Chaori Solar poised for landmark bond default (Reuters), explained here previously

  • EU leaders meet in Brussels to address Ukraine crisis (FT)

  • Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say (Reuters)

  • China Raises Defense Spending 12.2% for 2014 (WSJ)

  • China Stock Index Rises as Developers Jump on Policy Speculation (BBG)

  • VTB Cancels New York Forum as U.S. Relations Sour (BBG)

  • IBM workers strike in China over terms of Lenovo takeover (FT)

  • College Board Redesigns SAT Exam Making Essay Portion Optional (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* The Obama administration further postponed a provision of the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, the latest in a series of changes that have delayed or pared back the health overhaul so much that many of its ambitious goals won't be achieved during its first years in full effect.

* More than 1,600 stockbrokers failed to disclose bankruptcy filings, criminal charges or other red flags in violation of regulations, without regulators noticing, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

* A crop of new lenders is jumping into the subprime personal-loan market, wooing consumers with flawed credit who have been neglected since the financial crisis.
* Bank of America Corp on Thursday will start offering a new checking account, capping a four-year effort to boost revenue from its most basic banking product without alienating customers and lawmakers.

* U.S. and European diplomats failed in a frantic, daylong effort to get Russia and Ukraine to begin direct negotiations aimed at ending Moscow's military incursion into the former Soviet state, raising the prospect of a protracted standoff.

* The United Nations special envoy to Crimea was threatened by a group of 15 to 20 men, some armed, who told him to leave Crimea as he was walking out of the Ukrainian naval headquarters in the regional capital on Wednesday, a senior U.N. official said.

* A federal probe into why General Motors Co took nearly 10 years to recall cars with a potentially deadly defect heated up on Wednesday as safety regulators demanded the auto maker answer 107 questions on its handling of a faulty ignition switch.

* Private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP is working to sew up a deal to buy Safeway Inc this week, though its efforts to do so have been complicated by supermarket giant Kroger Co, according to people familiar with the matter.

* The Bank of England suspended a staff member amid an internal probe into whether officials knew about or played a role in manipulation of foreign-exchange markets, sending a global investigation of banks to the top of London's financial hierarchy.

* In the months before Mt. Gox's collapse, the bitcoin exchange was coming under increasing pressure from one of its banks, which complained about an unmanageable volume of money transfers and repeatedly asked the exchange to close its account with the bank, people familiar with the situation say.

* General Electric Co gave Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt his second base pay raise in the 12 years since he took over, a reward for the company's 2013 performance when its stock rose more than 30 percent.



Diplomatic efforts to counter Russia's takeover of Crimea were in trouble on Wednesday after Kremlin refused to accept the legality of the new Ukrainian government and western allies scrambled to produce a united front on how tough a line to take with Moscow.

A two-decade-old European Union law could force Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland to shift their legal domicile from Edinburgh to London if Scotland becomes independent.

Exxon Mobil has promised cuts in capital spending and reduced its expectations of future production joining other oil majors like Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell.

A Bank of England employee was suspended and a new investigation launched after allegations that its officials condoned or were aware of market manipulation embroiling the bank into an escalating foreign exchange scandal.

Barclays decision to pay higher bonuses despite falling profits has some shareholders calling for a management shake-up at the top of its investment banking division, even as the group faces an escalating political row.



* A national safety agency sent the automaker a list of 107 compulsory questions about a defective ignition switch that has been linked to 13 deaths and the recall of 1.6 million cars.

* In an effort to curb illicit activity, Facebook will delete posts that seek to circumvent gun laws, restrict minors from viewing pages that sell guns and inform potential sellers that private sales could be regulated or prohibited where they live.

* John Travolta's mispronunciation of a name at the Oscars led the website Slate to create a feature to do the same with anyone's name - the kind of an interactive game now driving Web traffic.

* Three former top executives of Dewey & LeBoeuf, the giant law firm that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, are expected to be charged with misleading other lawyers and lenders about the financial health of the firm.

* In a post on LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman criticized Carl Icahn's campaign against eBay, arguing that the assault is rooted in short-term thinking that runs counter to Silicon Valley's focus on long-term growth.

* The private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is making a bigger push into the North American energy business.

* While Paul Tudor Jones II can still claim long-term annual returns of close to 19.5 percent in his $10.3 billion flagship fund, Tudor BVI Global, it has been 11 years since he last hit that level.




* Alberta's opposition parties criticized Premier Alison Redford over travel expenses, including her international trips, for the second day in a row of a new legislature session.

* If the early signals are correct, the Fraser River could have the biggest salmon run in British Columbia history this summer, with up to 72 million sockeye returning.

Reports in the business section:

* Chrysler Group LLC walked away from talks with the federal and Ontario governments after they asked how much of its proposed C$3.6 billion ($3.25 billion) investment would be spent in Ontario - a request that was likely to draw out negotiations and delay the company's effort to bring a new minivan to market.

* Cisco Systems Inc said on Wednesday that it has chosen Toronto as one of its four new global innovation hubs, a C$100 million ($90.40 million) investment. The move, which follows a December announcement by the Ontario government that it will give financial support to help the company expand, adds to a sense of momentum around the province's tech sector.


* Joaquin Roberto Meza Delgado, a former senior diplomat for El Salvador who fought for years to stay in Canada after being accused of embezzling diplomatic funds meant for his country's consulate in Vancouver, has been returned to his homeland where he was promptly arrested at the airport.

* An analyst at Canada's anti-terrorism financing agency was stripped of her security clearance and position after she acknowledged meeting Russian diplomats at social events in Ottawa, according to court documents released Wednesday.


* The pundits have been calling for a housing correction in Canada for two years now, but somehow prices and sales, especially in the country's big cities, keep defying gravity. A poll out Wednesday found that 34 percent of Canadians surveyed are willing to enter a bidding war and fight it out to secure a property, 21 percent more than a year ago.

* Canada's insistence that tomato juice be extracted from "sound, ripe, whole" tomatoes instead of paste - a higher standard than in the U.S. - has partially saved an H.J. Heinz Co plant marked for closing by Warren Buffett's private-equity partner.




- China supports development of insurance products for online retail sales, said Xiang Junbo, the chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission, adding that the launch of regulations "will not be too slow".

- China has earmarked 10 billion yuan ($1.63 billion) to fight air pollution in the first half of this year, said Zhou Shenxian, Minister of Environment Protection.


- China is on track to meet its target to slash overcapacity in bloated industries by 2014, said an official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, adding that the ministry has stepped up efforts to ensure companies with outdated capacity are shut. Beijing has said it will eliminate 27 million tonnes of steel, 420 million tonnes of cement and 350 million tonnes of flat-glass production capacity this year.


- Yu E Bao, a money-market fund promoted by Alipay, may promote a substantial increase in social financing costs, said Ma Weihua, member of the national committee of CPPCC and former president of China Merchants Bank.


- China's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, will launch a self-imposed reform that will reduce its own power as part of the central government's campaign to give the market play a greater role, Chairman Xu Shaoshi said.



The Telegraph


Rolls-Royce is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, following allegations that its executives bribed officials in Indonesia, China and India in order to win lucrative contracts.

The Guardian


Bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays have handed their bosses almost 1 million pounds ($1.67 million) in shares to sidestep the new rules from Brussels which are intended to clamp down on bankers' pay.


British companies hired staff at the fastest rate in 16 years in February, as growth in orders and broader economic recovery fuelled confidence.

The Times


Mark Carney has been called before MPs to respond to allegations that the Bank of England turned a blind eye to traders who were rigging the multi- trillion-dollar currency markets.


Barclays handed eight of its high-rolling investment bankers pay and bonuses of more than £5 million each last year in the latest sign that largesse in the financial sector is alive and well.

The Independent


Emerging markets bank Standard Chartered saw profits drop for the first time in a decade last year and its chief executive Peter Sands is taking a 21 per cent cut in his annual bonus.


Online white goods firm AO has written to suppliers asking them to clarify whether Dixons get better terms than they do, The Independent understands.



Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot


Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Jobless claims for week of Mar. 1 at 8:30--consensus 338K
Unit labor costs for Q4 at 8:30--consensus -0.5%
Nonfarm productivity for Q4 at 8:30--consensus 2.4%
Factory orders for January at 10:00--consensus -0.5%



Allegiant Travel (ALGT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Axiall (AXLL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Biogen (BIIB) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Bob Evans (BOBE) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Miller Tabak
Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
H&E Equipment (HEES) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Hawaiian Holdings (HA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Inphi (IPHI) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Kirkland's (KIRK) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Materion (MTRN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Navios Maritime (NM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
Northern Tier (NTI) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
NuStar Energy (NS) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
Tiffany (TIF) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Yum! Brands (YUM) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird


Brixmor (BRX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Continental Resources (CLR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Emeritus (ESC) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Hilltop Holdings (HTH) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James
MarkWest Energy (MWE) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
New York Mortgage (NYMT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at MLV & Co.
OCI Resources (OCIR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Redwood Trust (RWT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Southcross Energy Partners (SXE) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Spark Networks (LOV) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair


Alcobra (ADHD) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Alon USA Partners (ALDW) initiated with an Underweight at Barclays
Amedica (AMDA) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Ascena Retail (ASNA) initiated with a Positive at Susquehanna
Nordson (NDSN) initiated with a Neutral at RW Baird


Ford (F) reported February China sales up 67% to 73,040 vehicles sold
Staples (SPLS) announced plans plans to close up to 225 stores in North America by end of 2015
Exxon Mobil (XOM) to build halobutyl rubber, hydrocarbon resin plants in Singapore
Biodel (BIOD) announced a commercial manufacturing agreement with Emergent BioSolutions (EBS)
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals' (TKMR) anti-Ebola viral therapeutic received Fast Track designation from the FDA
A study by Sangamo BioSciences (SGMO) showed that treatment with the company's ZFN-modified T-cells provide functional control of HIV without antiretroviral drugs
Stage Stores (SSI) announced the sale of Steele's off-price division to Hilco Global
Logitech (LOGI) announced a $25M share buyback program and introduced a long-term financial model, including annual non-GAAP operating profit margin greater than 10%.


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Descartes Systems (DSGX), Safeguard Scientifics (SFE), SP Plus Corp. (SP), WuXi PharmaTech (WX), Giant Interactive (GA), Zogenix (ZGNX), Synacor (SYNC), Boyd Gaming (BYD), ValueVision (VVTV)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Stage Stores (SSI), Joy Global (JOY), Staples (SPLS), Costco (COST), Carriage Services (CSV), Universal American (UAM), General Communications (GNCMA), TG Therapeutics (TGTX)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Air Transport Services (atsg), Semtech (SMTC), Receptos (RCPT)


Darden (DRI) cancels meeting amid pressure from investors, Reuters reports
eBay (EBAY) CEO John Donahoe says several of its top shareholders agree PayPal should stay put, Reuters reports
Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) CEO said  sees sale of T-Mobile US (TMUS) less likely in near-term, Bloomberg reports
DirecTV (DTV) discussing internet rights deal with Disney (DIS), Reuters reports
IBM (IBM) workers strike in China regarding terms of Lenovo (LNVGY) takeover, FT reports
Michigan AG: Chesapeake (CHK), Encana (ECA) face criminal antitrust charges, Reuters reports
Rolls-Royce (RYCEY) says cooperating with authorities on bribery allegations, FT reports
GM (GM) faces increased government pressure over delayed recall, WSJ reports
Foxconn to land 90M iPhone 6 (AAPL) orders in 2014, DigiTimes reports
Obama administration gives health plans additional two year reprieve (HUM, UNH, HNT, AET, MOH, CNC, AGP, HS, WLP, WCG, CI), WSJ reports


Constellium (CSTM) will offer 12.56M Class A ordinary shares for Apollo affiliate
Cousins Properties (CUZ) files to sell 8.7M shares of common stock
Dara BioSciences (DARA) files to sell 2.17M shares of common stock for holders
iCAD (ICAD) files to sell 2M shares of common stock
Medical Properties Trust (MPW) files to sell 8M shares of common stock
Primero Mining (PPP) announces 31.15M share offering by Goldcorp
Sun Communities (SUI) files to sell 4.2M shares of common stock
Synageva (GEVA) 2M share Secondary priced at $105.75

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