- UK economy shows 0.3% growth (FT)
- Texas University Fund Sold $375 Million in Gold Bars (BBG)
- Spain Jobless Rate Breaches 27% on Recession Woes (BBG)
- Letta calls for easing of austerity policies (FT)
- Italy Led by Letta Brings Berlusconi Back as Winner (BBG)
- Fed Debate Moves From Tapering to Extending Bond Buying (BBG)
- South Korea wants talks with North on shuttered industrial zone (Reuters)
- Republicans advance bill to prepare for debt ceiling fight (Reuters)
- Republicans claim White House failed to warn on severity of cuts (FT)
- Xi meets former US heavyweights (China Daily)
- Next BoE chief Carney says clear framework key to policy success (Reuters)
- Chinese roll out red carpet for Hollande (FT)
- UK premier David Cameron presses EU on tax evaders (FT)
- Slovenian Banks Need $1.2 Billion by July 31, May Require More (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
Corp Fin News
* Verizon Communications Inc has hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from joint venture partner Vodafone Group Plc, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
* Emergency Medical Services Corp, the largest U.S. provider of ambulance services, has selected underwriters for a $750 million initial public offering, two people familiar with the matter said.
* China's largest search engine, Baidu Inc, is in the process of acquiring Chinese online video firm, PPS Net TV, for between $350-$400 million, China Business News reported on Thursday, quoting sources.
* Carlyle Group LP's Synagro Technologies Inc is preparing to file soon for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
* Croesus Retail Trust, which focuses on retail real estate in Japan, launched a $292 million Singapore initial public offering on Thursday, a person with direct knowledge of the plans said.
* Italian regional lender Banca Carige is expected to raise at least 200 million euros ($259.9 million) from the sale of its asset management unit and its stake in a local highway company, a financial source said.
* Large shareholders in German public sector insurers Provinzial Nordwest and Provinzial Rheinland are pushing for the two to merge and put paid to an advance from Allianz, three people familiar with the situation said.
* Carlyle Group is in early-stage discussions with India's Bharti Airtel to acquire a minority stake in the company's digital TV unit, Business Standard reported.
* Complaints about air-travel delays in recent days have prompted Democrats in Congress to reconsider their strategy for dealing with across-the-board spending cuts.
* U.S. authorities put alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev on two separate watch lists in 2011 after Russian security agencies twice reached out to their American counterparts.
* GE Capital is quietly cutting off lending to gun shops, as the company rethinks its relationship to firearms amid the fallout from the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
* With top executives' pay a hot-button topic, some companies in Chapter 11 are simply keeping the information out of the view of creditors and anxious employees.
* Honda Motor expects its U.S. car sales in April to be up from a year ago, driven by strong demand from individual customers.
* Corporate board members are increasingly using a type of opaque trading plan that was originally intended primarily for executives, drawing attention from a federal prosecutor.
* Metropoulos & Co, one of the companies that bought the Twinkie, HoHo and Ding Dong brands out of bankruptcy, said it won't use union labor when it reopens the plants.
* Sprint and T-Mobile, two big U.S. wireless carriers, said they would delay the release of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S 4 smartphone, citing inventory shortages.
* IBM Chief Executive Virginia Rometty delivered a rare companywide reprimand in the wake of a poor earnings report last week, saying the sprawling technology company needed to move faster and respond more quickly to customers.
* Amid an increasingly partisan atmosphere, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration told skeptical Republicans on Wednesday that automatic budget cuts had forced the FAA to run somewhat like a starving airline: it has reduced its inventory of spare parts, stopped hiring and training new employees, and cut back on modernization.
* The University of California will lead a $9 million effort financed by the National Institute of Mental Health to identify promising drugs for autism and conduct early tests.
* Sprint Nextel, wanted as an acquisition by both SoftBank of Japan and Dish Network, posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Wednesday, but its customer growth suffered as its Nextel network wound down.
* Amazon.com Inc is developing a television set-top box and has begun discussions with outside providers of content to distribute their video services to the device, according to three people briefed on the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product had not yet been announced and remained confidential.
* Zynga Inc reported that its revenue was down 18 percent from the year-ago quarter, results that prompted shares to slip in after-hours trading. The company's number of daily active users, or people who logged into its games once a day, dropped 21 percent. However, it did report a small profit.
* Consumer product maker Procter & Gamble Co said that its third-quarter profit rose 6 percent, helped by cost cuts and improvements in North America.
But its fourth-quarter forecast fell short of Wall Street's expectations as a result of a mixed response to new products and what the company called "choppy" market conditions that led to modest revenue gains.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Ontario's government has intervened to help preserve the freshwater research station controversially shuttered by the federal government.
* Rescuers were clawing through the rubble to free dozens of people in Savar, Bangladesh, after the collapse of an eight-storey building that housed garment factories, some of them suppliers to Loblaw Cos' Joe Fresh and other Western brands.
The death toll rose to 175 after an overnight search, officials said on Thursday, and the toll could climb because many people are still trapped inside.
Reports in the business section:
* Increasing supplies will see the discount on Western Canadian heavy oil grow once again by the third-quarter of this year, says Cenovus Energy Inc, as the oil giant moves to using rail to transport oil sands crude by 2014.
* Two small technology companies have launched a legal action against Bell Canada and its sister firm Bell Aliant Inc , worth at least C$350 million ($340.72 million), for allegedly infringing on a patent when the telecoms launched new Internet-based TV services.
* Canada slammed a top United Nations official Wednesday for suggesting the Boston Marathon attacks were the result of the United States "global domination project" and Washington's policy on Israel.
* Hunter Harrison said Wednesday that efforts to restructure Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd are gathering steam, as the straight-talking chief executive delivered a record first-quarter, that he said lays the ground work for CP's best year ever.
* Burger King Worldwide said Wednesday it has sold its Canadian subsidiary, including 94 company-owned restaurants, to Redberry Investments.
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
- China's AVIC Capital said it will raise not more than 5 billion yuan ($809 million) through a private placement of shares. The funds raised will be invested in its subsidiaries.
SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS
- China has allocated 302.98 million yuan of special funds to support monitoring of bird flu, according to the official website of the Ministry of Finance.
- The urbanization rate will reach 70 percent in 2030, according to a report released by China Construction Investment Capital Research Institute and Social Science Academic Press(China). Urbanization has played an important role in economic growth, the report said.
- China and Canada will sign an agreement to share assets that Chinese fugitives illegally transfer to Canada, Canadian Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques told the paper in an interview. The negotiations are at an advanced stage and an agreement will be reached over the next few months.
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday urged China's State Council, or the cabinet, to make more efforts to minimize casualties and resettle residents affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that jolted the southwestern Sichuan Province.
Akamai (AKAM) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Apple (AAPL) upgraded to Buy from Long-Term Buy at Hilliard Lyons
Canadian Pacific (CP) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Enerplus Resources (ERF) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
F5 Networks (FFIV) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura
Federal-Mogul (FDML) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
First Niagara (FNFG) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
IPC The Hospitalist Co. (IPCM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Procter & Gamble (PG) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
ServiceNow (NOW) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
TriQuint (TQNT) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Unitil (UTL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Capital
Yum! Brands (YUM) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Air Products (APD) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities
Ashland (ASH) downgraded to Hold from Buy at KeyBanc
Cullen/Frost (CFR) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Interface (TILE) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Intuit (INTU) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Intuit (INTU) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
McGraw-Hill (MHP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Noranda Aluminum (NOR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
NuStar Energy (NS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
SEI (SEIC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
T. Rowe Price (TROW) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
TC PipeLines (TCP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Valley National (VLY) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Bonanza Creek (BCEI) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Diamondback Energy (FANG) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
General Growth (GGP) initiated with a Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Gulfport Energy (GPOR) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Matador (MTDR) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Midstates Petroleum (MPO) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
NICE Systems (NICE) initiated with a Market Perform at JMP Securities
Towerstream (TWER) initiated with an Overweight at Evercore
Workday (WDAY) initiated with a Market Perform at BMO Capital
Google (GOOG) offered remedies to resolve EU antitrust concerns
AstraZeneca (AZN) sees 2013 EPS decline “significantly larger” than sales decline
Brink's (BCO) reaffirmed FY outlook, including organic revenue growth 5%-8%
Nexstar (NXST) acquired Communications Corporation of America, White Knight for $270M
Jarden (JAH) said can deliver 3%-5% top-line organic growth in FY13
R.R. Donnelley (RRD) to withdraw Chicago Stock Exchange listing, retain NASDAQ listing
Western Union (WU) announced five-year agreement with Mexico’s Banorte
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Helmerich & Payne (HP), Time Warner Cable (TWC), Nielsen (NLSN), Potash (POT), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), AstraZeneca (AZN), O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY), Vale (VALE), Cliffs Natural (CLF), Crown Castle (CCI), Crocs (CROX), Qualcomm (QCOM)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Safeguard Scientifics (SFE), JAKKS Pacific (JAKK), PetroLogistics (PDH), American Railcar (ARII), Hill-Rom (HRC), Churchill Downs (CHDN), MetroPCS (PCS), International Shipholding (ISH), Assurant (AIZ), TrueBlue (TBI), CAI International (CAP)
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Dunkin' Brands (DNKN), Raymond James (RJF), Susquehanna (SUSQ)
- Apple’s (AAPL) announcement that it plans to borrow for the first time could be as well received as its smartphone launches. Investors are desperate to take cash off the sidelines, even on high-quality securities that will yield relatively little, the Wall Street Journal reports
- Verizon Communications (VZ) hired advisers to prepare a possible $100B cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from its partner Vodafone (VOD),sources say, Reuters reports
- Starbucks (SBUX),which has faced criticism for its low tax rate in the U.K., has sought new tax breaks in the U.S. in comments to a congressional committee, Reuters reports
- Central banks, guardians of the world’s $11T in foreign-exchange reserves, are buying stocks in record amounts as falling bond yields push even risk-averse investors toward equities, Bloomberg reports
Oxigene (OXGN) files to sell 4.3M shares of common stock for holders
ProLogis (PLD) intends to offer 31M shares of common stock