Frontrunning: October 22

  • Dead Heat for Romney, Obama (WSJ)
  • The Cheerful Billionaire Who Thinks Obama's a Socialist (Businessweek)
  • "Get to work, Mr. Japanese Chairman": Japan Exports Tumble 10% as Maehara Presses BOJ to Ease (Bloomberg)
  • Chinese Investors Fear Chill in Canada (WSJ)
  • Rosneft Buys BP’s TNK-BP Stake for $26 Billion in Cash, Shares (Bloomberg)
  • Hong Kong Defends Its Currency Peg for First Time Since 2009 (Bloomberg)
  • Democrats threaten payroll tax cut consensus (FT)
  • Spain's Rajoy gets mixed message in regional votes (Reuters)
  • Merkel to warn UK on Europe budget veto (FT)
  • Netanyahu says doesn't know of any U.S.-Iran talks (Reuters)... neither does Iran, so near certainty
  • Der Kurrency Tsar: ECB’s Knot Backs Schaeuble Call for Stronger EU Budget Power (Bloomberg)
  • Fannie Mae Limiting Loans Helps JPMorgan Mortgage Profits (Bloomberg)
  • China’s top brass seek ambitious economic reform (Reuters)
  • China leftists urge parliament not to expel Bo Xilai (Reuters)
  • S. Korea Blocks Activists Sending Anti-N. Korea Leaflets (Bloomberg)

Overnight Media Digest


* Canada's rejection of Petronas's bid for a Canadian natural-gas producer has sown worry among Chinese investors that Ottawa might be rolling up the welcome mat it has long had out for Asian companies.

* Royal Bank of Scotland Group is facing pressure from the British government to sell its Citizens Financial Group, which has nearly 1,500 branches in 13 U.S. states.

* Denver's Prospect Global Resources reached a $2 billion agreement to deliver potash to Sichuan Chemical, illustrating how Chinese demand is reshaping the market for agricultural goods.

* BP plans on Monday to announce a preliminary agreement to sell its 50 percent stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft, a deal that would dramatically alter BP's presence in the world's largest energy market.'

* Patrick Fitzgerald, the former Chicago U.S. attorney who led a string of high-profile criminal prosecutions over the past decade, is joining the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

* British police officers probing allegations of sexual abuse against a deceased British Broadcasting Corp host have officially opened a criminal investigation related to the matter, escalating a scandal that has been roiling Britain's publicly funded network for weeks.




Germany is planning to warn Britain that it will seek to cancel next month's European budget s ummit i f David Cameron, the prime minister, insists that he will veto a n y deal other than a total freeze on spending.


Britain's banks will be forced to hold eight times bigger buffers than before the financial crisis to guard against new threats, an FSA executive said.


Lloyds Banking Group is examining whether to ditch the concept of annual bonuses for senior staff and extend the timeframe of longer-term incentives to up to 10 years.


BP's board has approved a deal with the Russian state oil company Rosneft to sell its stake in TNK-BP .


Insurance brokers have warned that a decision by Standard & Poor's to cut its rating for Atradius to near "junk" status threatens far-reaching consequences.


Nissan plans to offer a lower-priced version of its Leaf to help spark sales of the electric car.


The first in a series of "super-connected" digital cities under a 100 million pound ($160.23 million) government scheme has been challenged by key broadband providers.


An EU-wide plan to impose a 40 percent female quota on listed company boards looks likely to be blocked on Tuesday.


Nationwide Building Society has not ruled out making a bid for the several hundred branches of Royal Bank of Scotland.



* A radical new design of Microsoft Corp's flagship operating system is likely to cause some head-scratching when Windows 8 goes on sale this Friday.

* The Weather Channel Companies became the Weather Company, signifying a shift to media outside television.

* BP's board has approved an offer from the Russian state oil company, Rosneft, to buy most of BP's business in Russia for cash and shares in Rosneft, further consolidating Russia's control of its oil industry, an executive with knowledge of the decision said.

* Canada could still approve the $5.2 billion acquisition of Progress Energy Resources by the Malaysian state oil company Petronas, the country's finance minister said Sunday, despite blocking the deal late last week.




-- A commentary says the People's Bank of China (PBOC) has not been able to ease monetary policy further since July as data shows that total social financing jumped in the first three quarters of this year, indicating that pumping more money into the banking system will create inflationary pressures.

-- A return to purchasing foreign exchange by the PBOC and Chinese banks in September from sales in August, as shown by central bank data released on Friday, indicates more capital inflows into China after the Federal Reserve's launch of the third round of quantitative easing (QE3) in mid-September.


-- Shanxi Securities announced plans to buy Green Futures, a Chinese commodity futures trading firm, in a deal worth around 1.137 billion yuan ($182 million).


-- China's four biggest banks were estimated to have extended new yuan loans worth 80 billion yuan to 100 billion yuan in the first 19 days of October, banking sources said.


-- China will widen an experimental reform to convert corporate income tax into value-added tax so as to improve its tax system to encourage corporate expansion, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said at a meeting over the weekend.




* The lawn of the British Columbia (B.C.) legislature is expected to be filled with protesters Monday for a mass sit-in against the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline. Scorched by the growing opposition, the B.C. government has already adopted a more hostile stand toward the project.

* Martin Rennie's scowl soon turned into a smile Sunday night. The Vancouver Whitecaps coach was thrilled as his team became the first Canadian franchise to qualify for the Major League Soccer playoffs.

Report in the business section:

* Ottawa's decision to spike the takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp promises to ripple through stock markets Monday, hitting not only the natural gas company in question, but possibly others that investors believed could at some point yield fat takeover premiums.


* Canada's parliamentary budget officer says he'll file court action this week over the refusal of some federal departments to hand over details of billions of dollars in planned cuts by the Harper government.

* Prime Minister Stephen Harper called three federal byelections Sunday, a move Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair says is an important warmup for the clash of visions he expects in the next general election.


* The foreign financial backer for new wireless provider Wind Mobile moved Sunday to take control of the startup carrier.

Orascom Telecom Holdings SAE, an Egypt-based international wireless operator, said it plans to exercise its option to convert a 65 percent economic interest in Wind into voting equity, a move that would transfer control from Toronto-based Globalive Communications.


Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



BB&T (BBT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Beam Inc. (BEAM) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Cablevision (CVC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
Meritor (MTOR) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
SPS Commerce (SPSC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
Wright Express (WXS) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan


Air Products (APD) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
BB&T (BBT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
BancorpSouth (BXS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
DDR Corp. (DDR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Dentsply (XRAY) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBS
Edwards Lifesciences (EW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
El Paso Pipeline (EPB) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Equity Residential (EQR) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Kansas City Southern (KSU) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
Manitowoc (MTW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
PSEG (PEG) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
SL Green Realty (SLG) downgraded to Hold from Buy at ISI Group
SanDisk (SNDK) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Talisman Energy (TLM) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord


Extra Space Storage (EXR) initiated with a Conviction Buy at Goldman
Matson (MATX) initiated with a Hold at BB&T
Public Storage (PSA) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Ryland Group (RYL) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
United Natural Foods (UNFI) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman


Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) signed class action settlement involving interchange fees
Merchants seek preliminary approval of $7.25B settlement
Cablevision (CVC), AMC Networks (AMCX) settled VOOM HD litigation with DISH (DISH)
DISH Network (DISH) resumed broadcast of the AMC (AMCX) channel
LDK Solar (LDK) signed a share purchase agreement with Heng Rui Xin Energy
BP (BP): 90 day period set out in TNK-BP shareholder agreement has concluded
American Greetings (AM) formed committee to review offer for outstanding shares
Volcano (VOLC) reported favorable ruling in St. Jude Medical (STJ) patent lawsuit
Avnet (AVT) to acquire BrightStar Partners and BSP Software
Macerich (MAC) announced plans to acquire Kings Plaza and Green Acres Mall
GrainCorp said "not yet formed a view" on ADM (ADM) proposal (ACOM) confirmed it will be acquired by Permira for $1.6B
Societe Generale (SCGLY) announced sale of Geniki Bank to Piraeus Bank


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
SunTrust (STI), Hasbro (HAS), MetroCorp (MCBI), Edwards Lifesciences (EW)


Canada's rejection of Petroliam Nasional's bid of about $5.21B for a natural-gas producer worries major Chinese investors about Ottawa, and raised uncertainty over the pending deal of $15.1B by Cnooc (CEO) for Nexen (NXY), the Canadian independent energy producer, the Wall Street Journal reports
Microsoft (MSFT) testing new tactics to refashion its software for the mobile-device era, and the reactions have ranged from excitement to consternation from the computer makers and others it relies on as partners, the Wall Street Journal reports
Woodside Petroleum (WOPEY) submitted a bid to buy a share of Leviathan, a major natural gas find off Israel's Mediterranean coast. The partners in Leviathan said the bid was part of a strategic process to find an international partner for up to 30% of the rights, Reuters reports
Siemens (SI) will sell its solar energy business as part of its cost-saving program, and is already holding talks with potential buyers, Reuters reports
The world’s biggest bond traders said the Fed will decide before the end of the year to buy Treasuries in addition to purchasing $40B of mortgage bonds a month as gains in U.S. employment and consumer confidence prove unsustainable. All 21 primary dealers that trade with the central bank expect its latest quantitative-easing measures to be expanded to include government securities, according to a survey by Bloomberg News
General Motors (GM) is making progress on implementing its alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUGY), said CEO Dan Akerson, Bloomberg reports


Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) investors should resist bottom-fishing
Annie's (BNNY) stock could fall 30%-plus if earnings growth falters
BB&T's (BBT) drop represents a good entry point for long-term
Monster Beverage's (MNST) shares are down, but not broken
Texas Industries (TXI) should benefit from revival in housing
National Oilwell Varco (NOV) is poised to grow rapidly over the next few years
As the PC era wanes, smartphones and tablets will dominate
Microsoft (MSFT) and its PC brethren to face more challenges
It may be time to buy Google (GOOG) shares
AMD (AMD) is feeling tremendous pressure from post-PC transformation


Wisdom Tree (WETF) files to sell 29.87M shares of common stock for holders


Praesidium raises stake in JDA Software (JDAS) to 8.9% from 7.8%
Stilwell Value reports 9.2% stake in Hamilton Bancorp (HABK), hopes to work with management