- Senate-Passed Deal Means Higher Tax on 77% of Households (BBG)
- Bipartisan House Backs Tax Deal Vote as Next Fight Looms (BBG)
- Fresh stand-off looms after US cliff deal (FT)
- Congress Deal Averting Tax Increase Curbs Risk to States (BBG)
- How Colombian drug traffickers used HSBC to launder money (Reuters)
- Danes Face New Reality in Struggle to End Crisis, PM Says (BBG)
- Ban on demanding Facebook passwords among new 2013 state laws (Reuters)
- Oil Climbs to Three-Month High as U.S. House Passes Budget Bill (BBG)
- Cameron seeks bold steps from G8 leaders (FT)
- China to outstrip Europe car production (FT)
- North Korea Picks Stronger Economy, South Ties as Top 2013 Tasks (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* Congress broke a rancorous stalemate on Tuesday to pass legislation designed to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But the compromise bill, which blocked most impending tax increases and postponed spending cuts largely by raising taxes on upper-income Americans, left a host of issues unresolved and guaranteed continued budget clashes between the parties.
* Apple Inc was hit New Year's Eve by an armed robbery at one of the company's Paris stores, the first major robbery of an Apple store in France.
* South Korean steelmaker Posco said it and its partners have agreed to purchase a 15 percent stake in an ArcelorMittal-controlled iron-ore mining company in Canada for $1.1 billion.
* Royal Dutch Shell Plc suffered another potential setback in its attempt to drill for oil in U.S. Arctic waters when an offshore rig ran aground after breaking free from tow ships in high seas.
* Time Warner Cable Inc, which had warned of its intention to drop little-watched TV channels, agreed to at least temporarily extend carriage of several such channels ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline for renewal.
* Intel Corp's effort to develop an Internet-based TV service and associated hardware is taking longer than expected, people familiar with the company's plans say, in part due to delays in reaching content agreements with media companies.
* The recovering U.S. auto industry should hit its stride this year as new vehicle offerings, pickup-truck demand and a stable economy push sales above 15 million, automotive forecasting firm Polk predicts.
* Manufacturing activity in China expanded at a mild pace in December, a survey of businesses showed, suggesting the economy is rebounding, but fighting headwinds from weak conditions around the world.
* India's capital-markets regulator is taking steps to tame what has been one of the world's wildest IPO markets, with plans including forcing companies' founders to reimburse small investors for some losses.
* Ending a climactic fiscal showdown in the final hours of the 112th Congress, the House late on Tuesday passed and sent to President Obama legislation to avert big income tax increases on most Americans and prevent large cuts in spending for the Pentagon and other government programs.
* With the House of Representatives approval of a fiscal agreement late on Tuesday, investors were expecting a rally in the markets to start the New Year. But the surge was not expected to last long, with investors and economists quickly shifting their focus to several hurdles the economy faces in the coming months.
* Only the most affluent American households will pay higher income taxes this year under the terms of a deal that passed Congress, but most households will face higher payroll taxes because the deal does not extend a two-year-old tax break.
* One of Shell Oil's two Arctic drilling rigs is beached on an island in the Gulf of Alaska, threatening environmental damage from a fuel spill and calling into question Shell's plans to resume drilling in the treacherous waters north of Alaska in the summer. The rig, the Kulluk, broke free from a tow ship in stormy seas and ran aground Monday night.
* Energy drinks are the fastest-growing part of the beverage industry, with sales in the U.S. reaching more than $10 billion in 2012 - more than Americans spent on iced tea or sports beverages like Gatorade.
* The asset forfeiture unit of the United States attorney's office in Manhattan recovered about $3 billion in crime proceeds in 2012, including a Tyrannosaurus skeleton worth more than $1 million.
* An important gauge of China's giant manufacturing sector published on Tuesday showed a third successive month of expansion in December and underlined the view that the world's second-largest economy has settled into a mild rebound that is likely to extend into 2013.
* After a year of legal wrangling between the designer Tory Burch and her former husband, Chris Burch, who is also the owner of the clothing retailer C. Wonder, Ms. Burch announced that an agreement had been reached to settle all pending legal claims between the couple.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* The next step in the Harper government's transformation of Canada's immigration system will turn Ottawa into an online matchmaker, connecting would-be migrants with employers who want to hire them.
The web-based "Expression of Interest" system, to be in place by 2014, will be an invitation-only route for economic immigrants where prospective arrivals advertise their skills and qualifications on a Canadian government database that will be perused by employers.
* Ottawa is studying a list of 60 Russian officials who have allegedly gone unpunished over a major corruption and murder case in their home country, and now has to decide whether to ban them from Canada.
The situation places the Canadian government in the middle of a diplomatic spat between the United States and Russia that has grown to engulf the emotional issue of international adoptions.
Reports in the business section:
* A slowing housing market and uncertainty over the shape of a deal on the U.S. "fiscal cliff" are putting a lid on projections for economic growth and stock market gains in 2013. Most forecasts see Canada's GDP expanding by only 1.8 percent or so in 2013, down from an estimated 2.0 percent in 2012.
* Public confidence in Canada's national police force has dropped "significantly" over the past five years, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Postmedia News and Global Television.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
-- An investigation into the setting of Hong Kong's interbank interest rates is unlikely to reveal any misconduct that had a major social impact because rates have been low for years, says the Hong Kong Association of Banks. (link.reuters.com/hub94t)
-- After a sharp fall in rentals in the core Central district, the worst for Hong Kong's office leasing market is over, property consultants say. (link.reuters.com/jub94t)
-- Stable demand from local luxury home buyers in Beijing may continue to help the capital city's top-end property market grow steadily this year despite the government's ongoing tightening measures. (link.reuters.com/kub94t)
HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL
-- Rent of the 10 largest housing estates by turnover increased by about 20 percent over 2012.
SING TAO DAILY
-- Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd ranks No.1 in total area sold in the mainland property market in 2012, while China Vanke Co Ltd takes the lead in sales revenue.
-- Aluminum Corp of China bought a 23.66 percent stake in Ningxia Electric Power Group from Huadian Power International Corp Ltd for 1.36 billion yuan ($218.29 million).
-- Danish audio equipment maker Bang & Olufsen, in tandem with luxury goods distributor Sparkle Roll Group Ltd, is setting the stage to be seen and heard in the mainland. (link.reuters.com/pub94t)
Fly on the Wall 7:00 am Market Snapshot
Brunswick (BC) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
C.R. Bard (BCR) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Marriott (MAR) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
Olympic Steel (ZEUS) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
PAREXEL (PRXL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Pepco Holdings (POM) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Quidel (QDEL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Smithfield Foods (SFD) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
U.S. Steel (X) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Urban Outfitters (URBN) upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies
Valspar (VAL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Walgreen (WAG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Alliant Energy (LNT) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
American Eagle (AEO) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Ann Inc. (ANN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Ascena Retail (ASNA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Brown Forman (BF.B) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Hovnanian (HOV) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
IDACORP (IDA) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
LinkedIn (LNKD) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Mindray Medical (MR) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
NTELOS (NTLS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Ross Stores (ROST) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Skullcandy (SKUL) downgraded to Underperform from Buy at Jefferies
Starwood Hotels (HOT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
Target (TGT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Tilly's (TLYS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Wellpoint (WLP) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
AbbVie (ABBV) initiated with an Outperform at BMO Capital
Abbott (ABT) initiated with an Outperform at BMO Capital
Alon USA Energy (ALJ) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Alon USA Partners (ALDW) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Facebook (FB) coverage assumed with a Neutral at Cowen
Western Gas Equity (WGP) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
Western Gas Partners (WES) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
House passed 'fiscal cliff' bill, President Obama to sign
ArcelorMittal (MT) to sell 15% interest in ArcelorMittal Mines Canada for $1.1B
Avis Budget (CAR) to acquire Zipcar (ZIP) for $12.25 per share in cash
Scott Griffith to remain Zipcar CEO
Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) Chairman Irving Azoff resigned
Middleby (MIDD) acquired Viking Range for $380M
The recovering U.S. auto industry (F, GM, FIATY, TM) should hit its stride this year as new vehicle offerings, pickup-truck demand and a stable economy push sales above 15M, the Wall Street Journal reports
Growth in broadband revenue has helped cable operators offset a stagnant pay-TV market, but the industry (GOOG, VZ, TWC, CMCSA, CALX, CHTR) is resisting pressure from local governments, businesses and universities to offer ultrafast Internet service, opening the door to new competitors, the Wall Street Journal reports
U.S. stocks are poised for gains to begin the year after passage of a bill to avoid harsh tax hikes that would have hit most Americans and crimped economic growth, Reuters reports
U.S. sales of warplanes, anti-missile systems and other weapons to China's and North Korea's neighbors appear set for significant growth (LMT, NOC, GD, BA) amid regional security uncertainty, Reuters reports
Middle East and North Africa equities are set to outperform emerging markets as higher dividends and state-funded expansion attract investors looking for better returns, says Franklin Templeton Investment Management, Bloomberg reports
Oil increased to the highest level in over 10 weeks in New York--as much as 1.1%--after lawmakers reached a deal to avert automatic tax increases and spending cuts that threatened growth in the U.S. economy, Bloomberg reports
Asia Entertainment (AERL) files to sell 7.8M shares for holders