- Carney Guidance Threshold Strained as BOE Holds Policy (BBG)
- Does one laugh or cry: China Tells Banks to Improve Disclosures in Shadow-Lending Fight (BBG)
- Big Business Doubles Down on GOP Civil War With Tea Party (BBG)
- CIA sued for records on possible role in Nelson Mandela arrest (RT)
- Bridge Scandal Destroys Christie's 'Nice Jerk' Image (BBG)
- Borrowers Hit Social-Media Hurdles (WSJ)
- U.S. Leverage in Iraq Tested As Fears of Civil War Mount (WSJ)
- Austerity drive cuts into Chinese inflation (FT)
- Dish Pulling Its Bid for LightSquared (WSJ)
- BlackRock agrees to end analyst surveys (Reuters)
- Germany defends economic policies after US criticism (FT)
- Bank of Korea Holds Rate Even as Yen Clouds Export Outlook (BBG)
- Credit Suisse sticks with money-losing U.S. brokerage (Reuters)
- BofA Fired Trader to Avoid Paying Bonus, Lawyer Says (BBG)
- Eurozone risks trying on mood of confidence (FT)
- Hong Kong Warns Against Outdoor Activity as Pollution Rises (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* The criminal trial of Jesse Litvak, a former Jefferies LLC trader in federal court, next month could have a big impact on a wide-ranging probe into whether banks cheated mortgage-bond clients in the years after the financial crisis, legal experts said.
* The chief executives of Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co will meet to try to reach a settlement before the next round of patent litigation begins later this year in California, according to a court filing late Wednesday.
* IBM is creating a business unit for its Watson supercomputer and starting a $100 million venture-capital fund to spur more apps built on the technology.
* BlackRock Inc agreed to terminate a survey program that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged enabled the asset-management firm to obtain market-moving information about companies from research analysts ahead of investors. The company also agreed to pay for the costs of the attorney general's investigation, but did not pay a fine or penalty.
* Dish Network Corp is pulling its bid for LightSquared Inc, the telecommunications company in bankruptcy that has wireless spectrum Dish has been coveting, according to people familiar with the matter.
* Japanese health regulators called for a criminal investigation of Novartis AG for advertisements touting the benefits of the company's most popular medicine based on altered research.
* E*Trade Financial Corp's online trading system shut down on Wednesday, frustrating customers and raising fresh questions about the security of electronic marketplaces.
* World Wrestling Entertainment Inc will launch the WWE Network, a subscription-only, online video channel that will air round-the-clock programming. Starting Feb. 24, the network will feature new programs and matches, an on-demand service and a six-decades-deep library for $9.99 a month. It will also include events previously available on pay-per-view TV, such as wrestling's version of the Super Bowl, WrestleMania.
U.S. drugmaker Forest Laboratories Inc is planning more acquisitions after it agreed to buy specialty pharmaceutical maker Aptalis from private equity firm TPG Capital for $2.9 billion.
French food group Danone said it would cut its supply contract with dairy exporter Fonterra and sue the New Zealand firm following a false alert last year that triggered the recall of its infant-milk products in eight countries, including China.
After the loss of his group's investment in music company EMI Group Ltd, British financier Guy Hands doubled his staff wages in 2013 in an effort to keep his private equity team at Terra Firma Capital Partners intact, according to financial statements filed at Companies House.
France's Havas appointed Yannick Bollore, the 33-year-old son of top shareholder Vincent Bollore, as chief executive of the world's sixth-biggest advertising agency, signalling the family's growing role on France's corporate stage.
British grocer J Sainsbury reported its slowest growth in nine years over the crucial Christmas trading period and cut its sales growth forecast, raising a red flag over the supermarket sector.
Eurotunnel is set to announce a agreement with British telecoms groups EE and Vodafone to allow the use of mobile phones and tablets during the journey through the world's longest undersea tunnel, according to people familiar with the plans.
* BlackRock Inc, the world's largest asset management company, agreed to end its practice of surveying Wall Street analysts to get clues about their views on companies before those changes are publicly issued.
* The Federal Reserve's decision in December to taper its bond-buying campaign reflected increased confidence in the economy and continued uneasiness about the stimulus effort, according to an official account of the December meeting.
* IBM announced a separate business division for Watson, its combination of powerful data-processing capabilities and software, and $1 billion as investment for it. The new division will have 2,500 employees, including programmers, researchers and experts, and will be located near the East Village in New York City.
* T-Mobile US Inc said it would cover the termination fees for individuals as well as up to five lines per family for consumers who leave their carrier. Customers can receive up to $650 in credit after trading in their phone.
* Macy's Inc reported solid holiday sales and announced several cost-cutting measures, including plans to lay off 2,500 employees. Macy's also said it would close stores in certain locations early this spring - in Irondequoit, New York, for example, and Murray, Utah - while opening Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores in other areas.
* Barnes & Noble named Michael Huseby, the head of its digital division, as its new chief executive, a job that has been vacant since William Lynch abruptly resigned from the company in July.
* Luntz Global's founder Frank Luntz is selling a majority of his stake in the marketing consultancy firm to advertising company MDC Partners. The Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* The December ice storm that left hundreds of thousands of Toronto residents without power cost the city about C$106 million ($98 million), according to a report from the city staff.
Reports in the business section:
* A fiery derailment in New Brunswick on Tuesday night was the third time a crude-laden train caught fire in recent weeks in Canada. Three of the tank cars that derailed were loaded at a terminal in southwestern Manitoba, Canadian National Railway Co said.
* Vivian Bercovici, appointed Canada's new ambassador to Israel on Wednesday, is a lawyer and outspoken commentator on Middle East issues who has criticized Palestinian leaders for their "intransigence" and "ideological commitment" to Israel's destruction.
* Canada's two most-read medical journals contain up to five times as much pharmaceutical advertising as major journals in other countries, according to a study that urged the publications - the Canadian Medical Association Journal and Canadian Family Physician - to avoid drug-company promotion entirely.
* Western Canada Select, a key Canadian oil blend, is trading at its highest level in five months as export jams clear, new refinery demand comes online and frigid weather contributes to production snafus in northern Alberta. This is adding to optimism that more profitable days are ahead for Canada's oil industry.
* A group of prominent Quebecers is urging the Parti Québécois government to move ahead with oil development as concern builds over the province's financial predicament. The "Manifesto to benefit collectively from our oil" comes at a time when economists at the Royal Bank of Canada warn that Quebec's economy may be entering a period of slow growth, challenged by deteriorating working-age population numbers and the highest debt-to-GDP ratio of all the provinces.
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
- A new round of policy innovations to enhance trade in service will come out soon, aiming to support the listing and bond issuing of qualified Chinese outsourcing companies, according to people familiar with the matter.
- China's state council, or cabinet, announced at an executive meeting on Wednesday that basic pension payments will rise by 10 percent effective Jan. 1, 2014.
- China had the highest number of outbound tourists and amount of overseas spending in the world last year. Ninety-seven million Chinese traveled abroad in 2013, a 17 percent rise compared with the year before, according to the China National Tourism Administration.
- China's president Xi Jinping has called for the Communist Party to have a greater role in guiding the country's political and legal affairs, urging a balance between "vitality and order", on a central political and legal work meeting held over the past two days.
- China should have longer holidays, according to a report issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Science, which suggested adding two to six days of public holidays and extending Spring Festival holiday and restoring the May Day holiday to a week.
- We should uphold the Communist Party's leadership in China's political and legal affairs, said a commentary in the paper that acts as the Party's mouthpiece. The Party's policy and the country's law all reflect mind of the people, it said.
PREMIER LEAGUE AIMS TO PIT BSKYB AGAINST BT IN EARLY TV RIGHTS SALE
BT Group Plc and BSkyB may have to engage in a new multi-billion-pound battle for pay-TV supremacy as early as this year, because the Premier League wants to bring forward the next auction of football broadcasting rights by up to six months.
ARM CHIEF SIMON SEGARS EXPECTS LOW-COST SMARTPHONES TO DRIVE SALES
ARM Holdings' chief executive has said the emergence of low-cost smartphones and Apple's move into China will drive sales at the British microchip designer. Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Simon Segars said that as the price of mobile phones falls, billions of people are going to be able to upgrade to newer models.
HOUSE PRICES RISE 7.5 PCT OVER YEAR DESPITE DECEMBER DIP
House prices went up 7.5 percent over 2013 - despite a dip in December, according to the country's biggest lender. Halifax, which bases it monthly index on mortgages it has agreed, had predicted movement of -2 percent to 2 percent over the course of 2013, but a stronger than anticipated recovery in the wider economy, combined with government stimulus including the Help to Buy scheme, led to stronger growth.
MOTHERCARE SHARES PLUNGE 30 PCT ON CHRISTMAS TRADING PROFIT WARNING
Mothercare Plc shares plunged 30 percent on Wednesday after the mums and baby store admitted Christmas trading had been hit by heavy discounting and poor toy sales.
'DIDDYAGEO' MARRIAGE IS SOAKED IN TEQUILA
Drinks giant Diageo Plc and the celebrity rapper turned business tycoon Sean "Diddy" Combs have joined forces to acquire DeLeón, an "ultra-premium" tequila brand, in an effort to replicate their success with the company's fast-growing Cîroc vodka.
SAINSBURY'S AHEAD, BUT ONLY JUST
J Sainsbury, the only one of Britain's big four supermarkets to defy the challenging grocery market in recent months, has cut its sales forecast for the year after a late burst of shoppers on the eve of Christmas failed to compensate for a weak autumn.
LOANS TO BUSINESSES SET TO RISE AS DEMAND FOR CREDIT INCREASES, SAYS BANK OF ENGLAND
Banks are finally turning on the credit taps to Britain's businesses after a "significant" surge in loans in the final quarter of last year, the Bank of England said on Wednesday. Its latest credit conditions survey said the overall availability of loans had "increased significantly" for both small and large businesses and that lenders were anticipating a further increase early this year.
EUROZONE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE REMAINS STABLE AT 12.1 PCT
Eurozone unemployment was stable in November, prompting some analysts to suggest that the region's problems might be beginning to abate. Although the jobless number rose 4,000 in the month, that followed a large fall in October and left the total rate at 12.1 percent for the eighth consecutive month, according to Eurostat.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Aetna (AET) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Albemarle (ALB) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
AstraZeneca (AZN) upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies
Autodesk (ADSK) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore
Avery Dennison (AVY) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
City National (CYN) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Commerce Bancshares (CBSH) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Dominion (D) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
DuPont (DD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
HCP Inc. (HCP) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
J.C. Penney (JCP) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Knight Transportation (KNX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
McDonald's (MCD) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Medical Properties Trust (MPW) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Public Storage (PSA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Riverbed (RVBD) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank
Riverbed (RVBD) upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies
SunTrust (STI) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
TriState Capital (TSC) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Valspar (VAL) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
ADA-ES (ADES) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
ARM Holdings (ARMH) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
ASUR Airports (ASR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
Agrium (AGU) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Allegiant Travel (ALGT) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Alpha Natural (ANR) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
American Equity (AEL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) downgraded to Underweight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Denbury Resources (DNR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
EnerNOC (ENOC) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
First Niagara (FNFG) downgraded to Underperform from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Global Payments (GPN) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Highwoods Properties (HIW) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
MeadWestvaco (MWV) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Mondelez (MDLZ) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
NVIDIA (NVDA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
Novartis (NVS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
OCI Partners (OCIP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Patterson Companies (PDCO) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
STMicroelectronics (STM) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
SkyWest (SKYW) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Spirent Communications (SPMYY) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Sprint (S) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Teck Resources (TCK) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
United Natural Foods (UNFI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Walter Energy (WLT) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
Yum! Brands (YUM) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
ADA-ES (ADES) initiated with a Buy at Brean Capital
CVS Caremark (CVS) initiated with an Outperform at Leerink
Cytec Industries (CYT) initiated with a Hold at Stifel
Cytec Industries (CYT) initiated with a Hold at Stifel
Haynes (HAYN) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Rex Energy (REXX) initiated with an Outperform at Northland Securities
Spirit Realty (SRC) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Twitter (TWTR) initiated with an Underperform at Cowen
Woodward (WWD) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
XOMA (XOMA) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
McKesson (MCK) made final offer for Celesio (CAKFY), increased price to EUR 23.50 per share
Macy's (M) to cut about 2,500 employees, close five stores in the early spring. Estimated savings of about $100M per year, beginning in 2014.
Macy's (M) sees FY14 EPS $4.40 to $4.50, consensus $4.32
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) gained accelerated FDA approval for combination use of Mekinist, Tafinlar
SYNNEX (SNX) entered strategic relationship with Google (GOOG)
WWE (WWE) to launch WWE Network on February 24
Extra Space Storage (EXR) acquired self storage portfolio of 17 assets in Virginia for $200M
Bath & Beyond (BBBY) sees approximately 30 store openings in FY14 across all concepts.
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
VOXX International (VOXX), Global Payments (GPN), WD-40 (WDFC)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Texas Industries (TXI), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), EXFO Inc. (EXFO), Ruby Tuesday (RT)
- Dish to pull LightSquared bid, WSJ reports
- Novartis (NVS) facing criminal investigation in Japan over drug advertising, FT reports
- Regulators consider Volcker exemption for smaller banks' CDOs, Bloomberg reports
- Lenders use social media to check borrowers' creditworthiness, WSJ reports
- IBM (IBM) to create new $1B Watson business unit, FT reports
- UBS (UBS) may spin off investment bank, Bloomberg reports
- Credit Suisse (CS) bets on a turnaround for money-losing U.S. brokerage, Reuters reports
- BlackRock (BLK), NY attorney general agreement ends analyst surveys, Reuters reports
- Apple (AAPL), Samsung (SSNLF) CEOs to attend mediation in U.S. patent fight, Reuters reports
- Explosion reported at Amgen (AMGN), SFGate.com reports
- Qihoo 360 (QIHU) denies Alibaba interested in investing, China Daily reports
Aeterna Zentaris (AEZS) files to sell common shares and warrants
Blackstone Mortgage (BXMT) files to sell 8.5M shares of common stock
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) 2.441M share Secondary priced at $36.00
Intellicheck (IDN) 7.78M share Secondary priced at 45c
Receptos (RCPT) 3.32M share Secondary priced at $30.75
Virtusa (VRTU) 2.3M share Secondary priced at $34.50
S.A.V.E. Partners calls on USA Technologies (USAT) to explore sale