- Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and vegetables in sanctions response (Reuters)
- Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit (Reuters)
- Headline of the day: Europe's Recovery Menaced by Putin as Ukraine Crisis Bites (BBG)
- Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy (Reuters)
- Almost 90% of Uninsured Won't Pay Penalty Under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 (WSJ)
- Germany’s Bond Advance Sends 2-Year Note Yield Below Zero (BBG)
- Gaza War’s Critics in Crosshairs as Israelis Back Offensive (BBG)
- The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (BBG)
- Bank of America Near $16 Billion to $17 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
- Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling (BBG)
- Americans Give Up Passports as Asset-Disclosure Rules Start (BBG)
- Google to Boost Encrypted Websites in Rankings (WSJ)
- The San Francisco 49ers' New Football Stadium Is a Dud (BBG)
- Drone crashes into famed hot spring at Yellowstone National Park (Reuters)
Overnight Media Digest
* Bank of America Corp and the Justice Department are close to a deal in which the bank will pay between $16 billion and $17 billion to resolve allegations of mortgage-related misconduct in the run-up to the financial crisis. (http://on.wsj.com/1vbZWze)
* The dust appeared to be settling on 21st Century Fox's brief pursuit of Time Warner Inc, as both entertainment conglomerates pointed to strong quarterly earnings and declared themselves well-positioned on their own. (http://on.wsj.com/1pY3f4J)
* President Barack Obama is focused on putting in place a global security structure that will last decades, but his handling of crises in the Mideast and Ukraine has driven support for his foreign policy to new lows. (http://on.wsj.com/1syF2qw)
* Almost 90 percent of the United States' 30 million uninsured won't pay a penalty under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 because of a growing batch of exemptions to the health-coverage requirement. (http://on.wsj.com/1kJvpEG)
* Google Inc wants to reward websites that are more secure. The world's most popular search engine said it is now giving bonus points in its ranking algorithm to Web pages that are encrypted. Google hopes the move will prod website developers to adopt technology that protects against hackers breaking into their websites and stealing users' information. (http://on.wsj.com/1syVYND)
* Talk of cracking down on U.S. corporations that move offshore is making some other companies nervous - notably, foreign-owned concerns, which are warning of cuts to their U.S. employment or investment if they are caught in the cross hairs. (http://on.wsj.com/1pDhFtJ)
* The failure of the biggest U.S. banks to convince regulators they can go bust without bringing down the financial system is likely to further strain an already tense relationship between Wall Street and Washington. (http://on.wsj.com/1pY541O)
* Sprint Corp's new boss is a 6-foot 6-inch Bolivian billionaire whose efforts could determine whether the wireless firm's decision to end a $32-billion plan to buy T-Mobile US Inc was a savvy, pragmatic move or a disaster. (http://on.wsj.com/X36WQ1)
* Without a Sprint Corp deal, T-Mobile US Inc has to weigh a possible merger with another suitor against going it alone in a market that is about to get more competitive and more expensive. (http://on.wsj.com/XFK49c)
* The number of people to have died in the worst Ebola outbreak in history has risen to at least 932, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, as overworked hospital staff struggled to quell the epidemic and in many cases became its front-line victims. (http://on.wsj.com/1ko5ty3)
* Walgreen Co faced investor backlash after deciding against relocating its corporate headquarters overseas as part of its acquisition of the rest of European drugstore chain Alliance Boots GmbH. (http://on.wsj.com/1kJERb9)
* Pfizer Inc has reached a $35 million settlement with 41 states and the District of Columbia over alleged improper marketing of its drug Rapamune, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Wednesday. (http://on.wsj.com/1oDznxI)
* A European spacecraft called Rosetta has become the first in history to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, a milestone in space exploration that could reveal valuable clues about how the solar system was created and how it evolved. (http://on.wsj.com/1syK6v7)
* As fighting between Israel and Hamas raged over the past week, Israeli tech companies had one of their best runs ever. Investors and buyers didn't stay away either, with one acquisition announced and four initial public offerings. Still, quite a few startups in the country's busy tech sector had staff called away on mandatory military reserve duty, as did some of their suppliers and business partners. (http://on.wsj.com/XFluWb)
* A collection of more than one billion website logins allegedly stockpiled by a Russian crime gang may not pose as much of a new security threat as a computer-security company suggested, other security researchers and cybercrime experts said. (http://on.wsj.com/1up6t5x)
Twenty-First Century Fox Inc has soothed investor concerns, saying that it will not make another offer for Time Warner Inc or any other large content company, after withdrawing its bid for the firm behind HBO and Turner.
Legal & General Group Plc is exploring a possible multibillion pound "bulk" annuity deal with North American and European firms, as the insurer strives to lessen the impact of a decline in individual annuities sales in the UK.
Lloyds Banking Group Plc has decided to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by some of its investors, which could possibly be one of the largest ever, in terms of damages claimed, to be heard by the English courts.
Standard Chartered Plc has warned that it expects to pay a fine to New York's financial regulators for failing to draw their attention to suspicious transactions - less than two years after it first fell short of complying with U.S. sanctions laws.
SoftBank Corp CEO Masayoshi Son has blamed U.S. competition watchdogs for its subsidiary, Sprint Corp, having to give up its chase of Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile US Inc.
Buyout funds including Bain Capital and Apax are expected to make final offers for U.S.-based Toms during the next few weeks, valuing the footwear company, which donates a pair of shoes for every one it sells, at between $600 million and $700 million, sources have said.
African Minerals Ltd has revealed that it investigated Chairman Frank Timis in relation to allegations that the founder and two other directors personally gained from a $50 million payout made by the iron ore miner to commodity trading group Global Iron Ore Cyprus.
* Bank of America Corp and the U.S. Justice Department have reached a tentative deal to settle an investigation into the sale of toxic mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis. The tentative deal is expected cost Bank of America more than $16 billion. (http://nyti.ms/1ko1uS4)
* Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, the two Americans infected with Ebola in West Africa, appeared to be responding to an experimental medicine devised by an obscure biotechnology company with ties to the Defense Department. Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the primary developer of the drug, was consumed Wednesday with how to manufacture more of it with an eye to providing the drug to more patients, probably in the form of clinical trials. (http://nyti.ms/1uoRVTq)
* Searching for ways to hit back at Western sanctions without causing Russian consumers too much pain, President Vladimir Putin gave his government a broad mandate to issue one-year bans on food and agricultural imports. But he included a proviso that the bans be lifted if they drive up prices or cause undue dependence on a single source. (http://nyti.ms/1nugtEU)
* Google Inc and Barnes & Noble Inc are joining forces to tackle their mutual rival Amazon.com Inc , zeroing in on a service that Amazon has long dominated, the fast and cheap delivery of books. Book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express, Google's fledgling online shopping and delivery service. (http://nyti.ms/V3kyZA)
* High-speed rail was supposed to be U.S. President Barack Obama's signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China.(http://nyti.ms/V3223I)
* The Italian economy shrank in the second quarter, according to an official estimate on Wednesday, taking economists by surprise and provoking concern that violence in Ukraine and tension with Russia could be pushing the broader eurozone back into recession. (http://nyti.ms/1ko5kuk)
* Bitcoin supporters are stepping up the pressure on New York State's top financial regulator to extend the comment period for the state's new virtual currency rules. (http://nyti.ms/1pDiOS2)
* Financial prosecutors in Greece are asking the former head of the central bank there to explain his actions in approving a bank sale to a Greek businessman later jailed on fraud charges. (http://nyti.ms/1y7DuU8)
* The European market for initial public offerings has been on fire this year, with 200 deals raising $58 billion, compared with 89 deals worth $15.2 billion in the same time period a year ago. Rob Leach, BlackRock Inc's head of capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, recently sent an email to bankers, reminding them that quantity does not equal quality. It was at least his second attempt to address "failing IPOs" this year. (http://nyti.ms/1lCc4Qs)
* Deal-making has boomed this year. So has deal-breaking. So far this year, $428.2 billion of deals have been withdrawn. That is the highest level for this period since 2007, when $566.8 billion of deals were withdrawn. And it far surpasses the level of withdrawn deals for all of 2013, which was $278.5 billion. (http://nyti.ms/1AWqyVi)
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Canada's employment minister Jason Kenny said Ottawa will "vigorously defend" the interests of two Canadian citizens detained in China on spying allegations, and raised concerns about religious freedom in that country. Kenney told reporters the government is providing consular assistance and would work with Chinese authorities on the matter. (http://bit.ly/1oG4ZD3)
* The Conservative Party of Canada is starting from scratch in a Toronto-area riding after a bitter nomination battle led both candidates to drop out. Eve Adams, who is currently an MP in a nearby riding, and chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna have both bowed out of the race to be the Tory nominee in the newly created riding of Oakville North-Burlington. (http://bit.ly/1kKfNAR)
Reports in the business section:
* Canada's pork industry is bracing for a major blow after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country will ban the import of agricultural products from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Pork products, including frozen pork, ham, pig fat and offal, are Canada's largest agricultural export to Russia. (http://bit.ly/1u08nMs)
* Hours before assembly of first nations regional chief Jody Wilson-Raybould became a Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the 2015 federal election, Isadore Day, chief of the 1,300-member Serpent River First Nation drafted a complaint criticizing her decision to keep her job until after the election. Day accused Ms. Wilson-Raybould of "clear bias" and "conflict of interest" and demanded "close examination and if necessary, corrective measures."(http://bit.ly/1vef27f)
* Alberta Premier Dave Hancock announced on Wednesday that he will ask the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to review the Auditor General's investigative report into the alleged abuse of Alberta's fleet of planes former Premier Alison Redford resigned as MLA on Tuesday in the wake of scandals connected to her use of the taxpayer-funded aircrafts. (http:/bit.ly/1zWNrGP)
* Canada may soon be home to another smartphone maker when Moscow-based Yota Devices relocates its headquarters to Toronto or Waterloo by the end of this year. Yota Devices, whose flagship unit is an Android-based smartphone with screens on both sides, is aiming to take advantage of the talent pool in Canada left behind by BlackBerry Ltd in the wake of its restructuring, said CEO Vlad Martynov. (http://bit.ly/1kKk6fu)
* Canada reported the largest merchandise trade surplus in more than two years in June as exports reached a record on gains in crude oil and metals. (http://bit.ly/1uq4TAs)
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
- PetroChina Company Limited will accelerate reform, allowing private capital to buy surplus oil under the "first come, first serve" principle, according to an anonymous informed source.
SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS
- A total of 100 billion yuan ($16.2 billion) has flowed into China's stock markets, boosting market performance recently.
- The ongoing anti-monopoly investigations into foreign automobile companies is expected to change the structure of the automobile industry in China, the paper said.
- Antitrust probes will be a "default position" in China for foreign companies, an official from the expert advisory group of the State Council's anti-monopoly committee said on Wednesday.
- China will maintain annual growth of 7.5 percent this year, despite the likelihood that the Asia-Pacific region may experience an economic slowdown, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific said in a report released on Wednesday.
- Chinese consumers lack confidence in real estate investment, according to the China Wealth Index compiled by the Bank of Communications and Nielsen which was released on Wednesday.
BOOTS CHAIRMAN MAKES $11 BILLION FROM WALGREEN DEAL
Alliance Boot's Italian boss Stefano Pessina, who built his family's drugs wholesaling business into a European leader, is $11 billion richer today after presiding over the sale of the drug chain to America's Walgreen.
MANUFACTURING SLOWDOWN RAISES DOUBTS OVER RECOVERY
Britain's rebalancing from consumption to manufacturing may be stalling, economists have warned after official factory output numbers fell short of expectations.
HIGH COURT THROWS OUT 'INCREDIBLE' 6 MLN STG BONUS CLAIM BY EX-INVESTEC TRADERS
Two former Investec traders lost a three-year, 6 million pound ($10 million) battle over their bonuses on Wednesday in a case described by a London high court judge as fanciful and "wholly incredible".
BBC MUST INTRODUCE QUOTAS ON WEB TRAFFIC SHARING, SAYS JOHNSTON PRESS CHIEF
The BBC must scale back its regional news websites and commit to sharing traffic with commercial publishers, according to the chief executive of Johnston Press, the publisher of the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post.
THAMES WATER CHALLENGED OVER LONDON SUPERSEWER COSTS
Thames Water has only justified half of its initial spending plans for the London supersewer project, regulator Ofwat has warned, demanding the company provide more information to explain proposals for a further 331 million pound outlay.
KELLOGG CRUNCHES NUMBERS ON 2 BLN STG PENGUIN DEAL
American food giant Kellogg is examining a 2 billion pound offer for United Biscuits (UB), the owner of McVitie's, Penguin and other famous British biscuit brands.
Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz
Significant domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Jobless claims for week of August 2 at 8:30--consensus 305K
Consumer credit for June at 15:00--consensus $18.3B
21st Century Fox (FOXA) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Cowen
AOL (AOL) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Cantor
Alpha Natural (ANR) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS
Carnival (CCL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Chesapeake (CHK) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
Esterline (ESL) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
inContact (SAAS) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Independent Bank (INDB) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim
Ralph Lauren (RL) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Sportsman's Warehouse (SPWH) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Tallgrass Energy (TEP) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Team Health (TMH) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Aetna (AET) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Copa Holdings (CPA) downgraded to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Evercore
Copa Holdings (CPA) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Ixia (XXIA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Nu Skin (NUS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
ReachLocal (RLOC) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Thoratec (THOR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Thoratec (THOR) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
UnitedHealth (UNH) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Vodafone (VOD) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Audience (ADNC) resumed with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
Cherry Hill Mortgage (CHMI) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities
Michaels Stores (MIK) initiated with a Neutral at Macquarie
Peregrine (PSMI) resumed with a Sector Perform at Pacific Crest
RF Micro Devices (RFMD) resumed with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
Skyworks (SWKS) resumed with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
TreeHouse Foods (THS) resumed with a Neutral at JPMorgan
21st Century Fox (FOXA) said it will not pursue any other content company and that "we are done" as far as Time Warner (TWX) pursuit
Time Warner (TWX) said in a filing that it will undertake restructuring activities to streamline operations
Hasbro (HAS) CEO announced prostate cancer diagnosis, says he will "continue to enthusiastically fulfill all my responsibilities as Hasbro's President and CEO on a full-time basis with no interruption in my tenure"
GM (GM) issued recall for certain model year SAABs, Trailblazer EXTs, others; Toyota (TM) recalled 2014 Siennas due to defected transmission shift control cable
Costco (COST) reported July SSS up 5%
CST Brands (CST) will acquire the general partner of Lehigh Gas (LGP) for $85M in cash and stock and announced a $200M share repurchase program
VMware (VMW) announced a $1B share repurchase program
Babcock & Wilcox (BWC) announced that it will scale back its Grid business
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
21st Century Fox (FOXA), Symantec (SYMC), Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR), Horizon Pharma (HZNP), Oncolytics Biotech (ONCY), Maximus (MMS), Rand Logistics (RLOG), Teekay (TK), W&T Offshore (WTI), Republic Airways (RJET), Agrium (AGU), Kindred Healthcare (KND), Kronos Worldwide (KRO), Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), Sun Life Financial (SLF), Hill International (HIL), Tronox (TROX), Hillenbrand (HI), Kennedy Wilson (KW), Ares Commercial (ACRE), Sapient (SAPE), Dun & Bradstreet (DNB), ReachLocal (RLOC), InnerWorkings (INWK), Primerica (PRI), Procera Networks (PKT), Providence Service (PRSC), Depomed (DEPO), Concho Resources (CXO), Fleetmatics (FLTX), Sunoco Logistics (SXL), Charles River Labs (CRL), Echelon (ELON), MBIA (MBI), TherapeuticsMD (TXMD), Marin Software (MRIN), NPS Pharmaceuticals (NPSP), XenoPort (XNPT), SandRidge Energy (SD), Transocean (RIG), Pericom (PSEM), Tallgrass Energy (TEP), Triangle Capital (TCAP), PAREXEL (PRXL), Envision Healthcare (EVHC), Intralinks (IL), CenturyLink (CTL), EVERTEC (EVTC), zulily (ZU), 2U (TWOU), inContact (SAAS), Annaly Capital (NLY), Craft Brew (BREW), DexCom (DXCM), Silver Bay Realty (SBY), Tremor Video (TRMR), Jack in the Box (JACK), Bruker (BRKR), Gaiam (GAIA), Andersons (ANDE), Textura (TXTR), Franco-Nevada (FNV), Envestnet (ENV), Prudential (PRU), OraSure (OSUR), Metabolix (MBLX), Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA), Silicon Graphics (SGI)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Mylan (MYL), Olympic Steel (ZEUS), Montage Technology (MONT), EMC Insurance (EMCI), Gray Television (GTN), Natural Gas Services (NGS), Lamar Advertising (LAMR), Taminco (TAM), Manulife Financial (MFC), BCE (BCE), Auxilium (AUXL), Dynavax (DVAX), Goodrich Petroleum (GDP), Higher One (ONE), MiX Telematics (MIXT), Teekay Tankers (TNK), Gran Tierra (GTE), Royal Gold (RGLD), Cross Country Healthcare (CCRN), Key Energy (KEG), Xenith Bankshares (XBKS), Alliant Energy (LNT), Coupons.com (COUP), CombiMatrix (CBMX), ION Geophysical (IO), Golden Minerals (AUMN), Essex Rental (ESSX), Westar Energy (WR), Geospace (GEOS), Energy Recovery (ERII), Alamo Group (ALG), US Ecology (ECOL), Energy Transfer Equity (ETE), Vital Therapies (VTL), Coeur Mining (CDE), BioScrip (BIOS), Dynegy (DYN), Global Brass & Copper (BRSS), Trinseo S.A. (TSE), INTL FCStone (INTL), Novavax (NVAX), MYR Group (MYRG), Flotek (FTK), Lehigh Gas (LGP), Novatel Wireless (NVTL), Cenveo (CVO), Babcock & Wilcox (BWC), Compass Diversified (CODI), Entravision (EVC), Actuate (BIRT), ICF International (ICFI), Aerohive Networks (HIVE), Sanchez Energy (SN), Regulus Therapeutics (RGLS), Delta Apparel (DLA), QEP Midstream Partners (QEPM), Molycorp (MCP), Aerie Pharmaceuticals (AERI), TransEnterix (TRXC), UIL Holdings (UIL), CF Industries (CF), Antero Resources (AR), Gulfport Energy (GPOR), Theravance (THRX), Polypore (PPO), Numerex (NMRX), MarkWest Energy (MWE), Nanosphere (NSPH), Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD), American Water (AWK), Matador (MTDR), Manitex (MNTX), InterMune (ITMN), Cardiovascular Systems (CSII), Roundy's (RNDY)
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Mitel (MITL), AES Corp. (AES), Hill-Rom (HRC), Amerco (UHAL), National American University (NAUH), Lumos Networks (LMOS), Atmos Energy (ATO), Maiden Holdings (MHLD), Plains All American (PAA), Exar (EXAR), Tangoe (TNGO), Callon Petroleum (CPE), Neurocrine (NBIX), PennantPark Floating Rate (PFLT), Thoratec (THOR), Celldex (CLDX), Atmel (ATML), Masonite (DOOR), Conversant (CNVR), Measurement Specialties (MEAS), Natures Sunshine Products (NATR), ANADIGICS (ANAD)
Bank of America (BAC) near $16B-$17B settlement with DoJ over mortgages, WSJ reports
TIBCO (TIBX) makes informal approach to potential suitors, WSJ reports
Microsoft (MSFT) in talks to open Fifth Avenue store, Daily News reports
Newmont (NEM) CEO says open to merger talks with Barrick Gold (ABX), Reuters reports
Softbank (SFTBF) shifting focus to Sprint (S) turnaround, WSJ reports
Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) CEO asks for regulators help in spectrum auction, Reuters says
Walgreen (WAG) looks good for long-term investors, Barron's says
Aastrom (ASTM) files to sell $20M of common stock
Bonanza Creek (BCEI) files to sell 853,492 shares for holders
Celladon (CLDN) files to sell 4M shares of common stock
Extended Stay America (STAY) 21M share Secondary priced at $21.75
GTx (GTXI) files to sell 22.16M shares for holders
Healthcare Services (HCSG) files to sell 1.01M shares for holders
iDreamSky (DSKY) 7.7M share IPO priced at $15.00
T2 Biosystems (TTOO) 5.2M share IPO priced at $11.00
U.S. Auto Parts (PRTS) files to sell $100M of common stock
UCP, Inc. (UCP) files to sell 10.6M shares for holders
Umpqua Holdings (UMPQ) announces 15M share secondary by selling stockholders
WPX Energy (WPX) files to sell 481,157 shares for holders