Frontrunning: March 18
- Lost Jet’s Path Seen as Altered via Computer (NYT)
- Fed Links Low Rates to “Persistent Headwinds” in Economy (Hilsenrath)
- Top German Court Clears Euro-Zone Bailout Fund (WSJ)
- U.S., EU set sanctions as Putin recognizes Crimea "sovereignty" (Reuters)
- Indian wealth effect: Sensex, Nifty hit life highs as domestic-focused firms rally (Reuters)
- China bond default has positive effect on local government groups (FT) - unless it's negative
- Russia tensions risk higher gas prices (FT)
- China Home-Price Growth Slows in Big Cities on Tight Credit (BBG)
- ECB's Weidmann says German surpluses "here to stay" (Reuters)
- Microsoft Office for iPad (AAPL) to be introduced this month (The Verge)
- Walmart to Offer Customers Credit for Used Video Games (NYT)
- BlackRock Hires JPMorgan’s Jones as Stock Investment Chief (BBG)
- Xbox chief Marc Whitten leaves Microsoft for Sonos (Verge)
- Hertz Spinning off Its Equipment Rental Business (AP)
- Renzi Wins Merkel Confidence Vote for Economic Change in Italy (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* Surging prices for food staples from coffee to meat to vegetables are driving up the cost of groceries in the United States, pinching consumers and companies that are still grappling with a sluggish economic recovery.
* General Motors said it recalled 1.7 million more vehicles as Chief Executive Mary Barra stepped up her response to the company's vehicle-defect problem, announcing three new safety recalls and vowing to change the way the auto maker handles recalls.
* A feud has erupted among distillers Brown-Forman Corp and Diageo Plc over a seemingly simple question: When is a whiskey "Tennessee Whiskey"?
* WhatsApp will soon belong to Facebook but the messaging app maker says it won't approach privacy the same way as its soon-to-be-parent company. On Monday, WhatsApp updated its app, rolling out a new user settings screen dedicated to privacy. It also published a blog post promising not to change what data it collects from users, and how it collects it.
* General Electric Co's retail credit business is facing a pair of probes from federal regulators over possible violations of consumer financial laws, disclosures that were released in paperwork for a planned initial public offering of the business.
* Langham Hospitality Group tapped on Monday a Ritz Carlton veteran as its new chief executive, part of the Hong Kong-based company's plan to expand its brands worldwide.
* Amazon.com Inc will begin shipping its long-awaited video-streaming device in early April, through its website as well as retailers including Best Buy Co and Staples Inc, said people familiar with the company's plans.
General Motors Co's new chief executive on Monday recalled more than 1.5 million vehicles, including some current models, acknowledging the Detroit automaker fell short in catching faulty ignition switches linked to 12 deaths.
The Bank of England is likely to announce an overhaul of its top officials as soon as Tuesday, as Governor Mark Carney prepares to unveil major reforms to the way Britain's central bank is managed.
Barclays Plc will try to take the sting out of a heated debate over bankers' bonuses on Tuesday by pointing to a drop in the value of shares given to its top executives even as the lender's Chief Executive Antony Jenkins is awarded a 4 million pound ($6.66 million) payout.
Irish brewer Guinness, owned by Diageo Plc, dropped sponsorship of New York City's St. Patrick's Day celebrations amid growing criticism of organizers' exclusion of gay and lesbian groups from the event.
Nigeria's suspended central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi has released a 27-page rebuttal to allegations of "gross misconduct", calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to reinstate him as the outrage grows over his accusations about missing oil revenues.
* Mary T. Barra, General Motors' chief executive, announced another round of wide-ranging recalls on Monday, a sign that the company was moving with a new sense of urgency on safety problems after it disclosed a decade-long failure to fix a defect tied to 12 deaths.
* Tesla Motors, the maker of high-end all-electric cars, has time till April 1 to comply with New Jersey's restrictive dealership laws that prevent the company from making any direct sales to customers. After Texas, Arizona and New Jersey, Ohio too is considering passing a similar legislation that protects the interests of car dealers and franchises.
* About 10 days after being identified by Newsweek magazine as the mysterious creator of the digital currency bitcoin, Dorian Nakamoto, a 64-year-old semi-employed engineer, has hired a lawyer and issued a statement unconditionally denying that he had any involvement in bitcoin.
* A bond insurer on Monday struck a blow against Detroit's proposal to exit bankruptcy, arguing in a new lawsuit that Detroit's approach would illegally discriminate against the city's third-biggest group of creditors - the investors who provided $1.4 billion for its workers' pensions nearly a decade ago.
* American manufacturing output recorded its largest increase in six months in February and factory activity in New York State expanded early this month, the latest signs that the economy is gaining momentum after being dampened by severe weather.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Russia's quick recognition of Crimea as an independent state is risking a second round of more damaging sanctions by the United States and the European Union that could unleash a new Cold War.
* Canada is joining the European Union and the United States in slapping additional sanctions on those it blames for threatening Ukraine's sovereignty, retaliating against what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has branded the "Putin regime."
Reports in the business section:
* Whitecap Resources Inc said on Monday that it was buying Western Canadian oil and gas properties from Imperial Oil Ltd for C$855 million ($773.65 million). The deal pushes the energy industry's tally for merger and acquisition activity for the quarter to C$7 billion.
* Zach Paikin, a rising star in the Liberal party, has decided not to run in the next election because leader Justin Trudeau has broken a "key promise" to hold open nominations in federal ridings across the country.
* Donna Kennedy-Glans became the second MLA to announce she would sit as an independent, further imperilling Alberta premier Alison Redford's already-shaky long-term leadership prospects.
* Canada and the European Union have reached an agreement in principle on a free-trade deal that will give Canadian businesses preferential access to an EU market of 500 million consumers and lead to what the federal government says are cost savings for consumers.
* BlackBerry Ltd has laid off 120 employees in its product development and wireless technology divisions as part of an ongoing cost-cutting plan, the company said.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
-- Hutchison Whampoa has put on hold plans to build a luxury house at a government-owned green-belt site on The Peak after neighbours voiced their opposition and district councillors demanded a rethink.
-- The People's Bank of China has issued two drafts for consultation aimed at cracking down further on internet finance by limiting online shopping and money transfers for online-payment service providers, according to mainland media reports.
-- Hong Kong exporters are much more confident about their prospects in the first quarter of 2014, driven by machinery product orders as manufacturers gear up for a rebound in demand, a quarterly survey by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council showed.
-- Mainland police have handed over the two men alleged to have brutally hacked former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to in Sai Wan Ho last month.
-- MTR Corp will invite developers to submit expressions of interest for the Lohas Park phase four project in Tseung Kwan O on Tuesday, sources said. The development is expected to fetch as much as HK$2.5 billion ($321.93 million).
-- Mainland industrial park developer Optics Valley Union opens its retail book to raise up to HK$1.09 billion in its Hong Kong initial public offering. Trading debut is scheduled for March 28.
HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL
-- Tencent on Wednesday and Thursday sold an aggregate 563 million shares of ChinaVision Media for HK$1.01 billion ($130.06 million), reducing its stake to 1.23 percent from 8 percent, according to a stock exchange disclosure. The share sale came a day after Alibaba announced the acquisition of 60 percent of ChinaVision for HK$6.2 billion.
HONG KONG ECONOMIC TIMES
-- Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing, which registered HK$1.95 billion net profit for 2013, expects its paper sales to achieve double digit growth this year as a new machine commences production, according to chief executive officer Lee Man Bun.
-- China Resources Power has no intention of participating in the Hong Kong power supply business and the suggestion from two of its executives to "nationalise" the city power supply assets was their personal view only, said executive vice chairman Zhang Shenwen.
MONEYSUPERMARKET CO-FOUNDER BANKS 100 MLN STG
Simon Nixon, the businessman who founded the price comparison site Moneysupermarket.com after dropping out of university, has landed another 100 million pound ($166.44 million) windfall after selling a further 10 percent stake in the company.
DIAGEO TAKES ON JACK DANIEL'S IN ROW OVER HOW WHISKY CAN BE MADE
Diageo wants distilleries to be allowed to make Tennessee whiskey in reusable barrels, much to the horror of Jack Daniel's maker Brown-Forman Corp.
BANK OF ENGLAND REFORM ANNOUNCEMENT EXPECTED FROM MARK CARNEY
A major overhaul of the Bank of England is expected to be signalled today alongside the appointment of a new deputy governor.
VODAFONE'S PURCHASE OF ONO FUELS TALK THAT BIG UK ACQUISITION MIGHT BE NEXT
Vodafone has sparked speculation that it might be on the verge of a big UK acquisition after confirming it has used 6 billion pounds of its cash warchest to buy Ono, Spain's largest cable operator.
MORRISONS EMPLOYEE ARRESTED AS PART OF SALARY LEAK INVESTIGATION
A Morrisons employee has been arrested in connection with the theft and publication of personal details of thousands of the supermarket's staff last week.
JUST EAT AIMS TO RAISE 100 MLN STG IN FLOTATION
Just Eat, which uses the slogan "give hunger the finger", has announced plans for stock market listing that could value the online takeaway service at as much as 900 million pounds.
DYSON RECALLS 'FIRE-RISK' HEATERS
Dyson is recalling more than 1 million hot and cool fans over fears they could pose a fire risk. The recall was issued by the company on Monday after "a small number" short-circuited, causing a small internal fire.
ROYAL MAIL TURNS CLOCK BACK WITH CAPITAL CONTRACT
The pleasure of delivering many Londoners their council tax bills, parking fines and other local bureaucratic paperwork is to revert to the Royal Mail.
CUTTING HS2 COST WOULD BE IRRESPONSIBLE, SAYS NEW BOSS
Crewe should become the centre of transport for the North, David Higgins, the new boss of the HS2 high-speed railway, said in a report that argues in favour of accelerating the project.
CAPITA LANDS 90 MLN STG CALL CENTRE DEAL WITH JOHN LEWIS
John Lewis has chosen Capita to manage one of its online operations in a contract worth more than 90 million pounds. The outsourcing company will manage the retailer's call centre for its internet shopping service.
SIR JON CUNLIFFE WARNS GLOBAL BANKS 'STILL TOO BIG TO FAIL'
Bank of England deputy governor Jon Cunliffe has warned there are still global banks which could not be wound up successfully without causing damage.
Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Consumer Price Index for February at 8:30--consensus up 0.1% from prior month
Housing starts for February at 8:30--consensus up 3.4% from prior month
Building permits for February at 8:30--consensus up 1.6% from prior month
21Vianet (VNET) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Alliance Fiber Optic (AFOP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley
CACI International (CACI) upgraded to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital
CM Finance (CMFN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Flowers Foods (FLO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Fortress (FIG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities
HP (HPQ) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
L-3 Communications (LLL) upgraded to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital
Marketo (MKTO) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS
Nabors Industries (NBR) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
North American Energy (NOA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Pan American Silver (PAAS) upgraded to Sector Performer from Underperformer at CIBC
Universal Health (UHS) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Astoria Financial (AF) downgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Cisco (CSCO) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
E-House (EJ) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Fortuna Silver Mines (FSM) downgraded to Sector Performer from Outperformer at CIBC
Umpqua Holdings (UMPQ) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Coach (COH) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Community Bank System (CBU) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
EP Energy (EPE) initiated with a Buy at Topeka
Fluor (FLR) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Foster Wheeler (FWLT) initiated with a Market Perform at Cowen
G-III Apparel (GIII) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Kate Spade (KATE) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
M/I Homes (MHO) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Michael Kors (KORS) initiated with an Underweight at Barclays
NCI Building Systems (NCS) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Nordstrom (JWN) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
PVH Corp. (PVH) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Popular (BPOP) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
Ralph Lauren (RL) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Sequential Brands (SQBG) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Vince Holding (VNCE) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Wynn Resorts (WYNN) initiated with a Hold at Ascendiant
Hertz (HTZ) announced a new $1B share repurchase program, says board approved separation of equipment rental business; Hertz CEO Mark Frissora will continue as CEO of Hertz after HERC separation
Wal-Mart (WMT) to accept used video games for store credit
Microsoft (MSFT) says Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer of Xbox, to leave company
American Express (AXP) announced plans to spin off its business travel unit and form a joint venture with an investor group led by Certares; the joint venture investor group will invest $900M for a 50% stake
Prosensa Holding (RNA) reported "encouraging" results from a Phase II trial of drisapersen for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Galena Biopharma (GALE) disclosed an SEC investigation into the company related to an outside investor relations firm retained by Galena in 2013
Alphatec (ATEC) announced an agreement with OrthoTec to settle its ongoing litigation, with Alphatec agreeing to pay OrthoTec $49M over the next seven years in cash
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Global Power Equipment (GLPW), Kythera (KYTH), Apricus Biosciences (APRI), Trovagene (TROV)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Hertz (HTZ), Fortuna Silver Mines (FSM), Synergy Pharmaceuticals (SGYP), Galena (GALE), Health Insurance Innovations (HIIQ), Acorn Energy (ACFN), DTS, Inc. (DTSI), Fate Therapeutics (FATE), Intrawest Resorts (SNOW), Connecticut Water (CTWS), Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX)
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Amazon (AMZN) to ship video-streaming device in April, WSJ says
Amazon's (AMZN) set-top box will have Chromecast-like form factor, TechCrunch says
Comcast (CMCSA) may be pushing into new digital home market, DigiTimes says
General Electric's (GE) retail credit unit facing federal probes, WSJ reports
Microsoft (MSFT) to discuss cloud, mobile computing at event on March 27, Re/code says
Microsoft Office (MSFT) for iPad (AAPL) to be introduced this month, The Verge says
BlackRock (BLK) hires JPMorgan's (JPM) Christopher Jones as chief investor officer for stocks in the Americas, Bloomberg reports
Caterpillar (CAT) protests rail contract awarded to Siemens (SI), Cummins (CMI), WSJ reports
Choice Hotels (CHH) files to sell 3M shares of common stock for holders
Criteo (CRTO) files to sell 5.25M American Depositary Shares
First Republic Bank (FRC) files to sell 3.5M shares of common stock
Golub Capital (GBDC) files to sell 3.5M shares of common stock
Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM) files to sell 15M shares of common stock for holders
Tompkins Financial (TMP) files to sell $70M of common, preferred stock
Veeva (VEEV) files to sell $300M in common stock for holders
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