Frontrunning: December 24

  • Global Currency Tensions Rise (WSJ) - in other words, when everyone eases "to infinity", nobody eases
  • EU to give Spain, France more time to cut deficit (Reuters) - But not because their economies are not "recovering" fast enough, oh no.
  • As we expected, Grupo Bimbo considering a bid for Hostess' snack cakes and bread brands (NY Post)
  • Time for bus-control: Eleven children killed in latest Chinese bus crash (Reuters)
  • Greece Should Write Off Billions of Overdue Taxes, Report Says (BBG) - not all taxes in perpetuity?
  • India clamps down on gang-rape protests, PM appeals for calm (Reuters)
  • But Meredith Whitney said... Push for Cheaper Credit Hits Wall (WSJ)
  • For Greece, last major austerity package, says eurozone official (Kathimerini)...  "unless there is another one"
  • Americans Miss $200 Billion Abandoning Stocks (BBG) ... and two flash crashes... and $15 trillion in artificial central bank props
  • Goldman Sachs Takes Long View Over Payouts (FT)
  • Cliff Would Strike Low Incomes Hard (WSJ)
  • Afghan policewoman kills US police adviser (AP)
  • Navy SEAL commander dead in Afghanistan in suspected suicide (Reuters)
  • For Sale in Japan: Electronics Assets (WSJ)


Overnight Media Digest


* A federal judge in New Orleans approved a $7.8 billion settlement between BP Plc and Gulf Coast businesses and residents over damages related to the 2010 offshore oil spill.

* Engineers at Motorola Mobility are hard at work on a sophisticated handset - known internally as the "X phone" - but the Google Inc unit is running into some obstacles in its effort to provide more potent competition for Apple Inc , said people familiar with the matter.

* Shanghai regulators gave Yum Brands Inc some shelter from criticism by China's state-run media of its food-safety practices, saying chicken sampled from the U.S. restaurant company's KFC arm complied with government limits on antibiotics.

* News Corp said the publishing company it plans to spin off incurred losses last fiscal year and in the most recent quarter.

* The court-appointed authorities liquidating various parts of MF Global Holdings Ltd agreed to settle long-running legal disputes, a three-way truce expected to help customers of the failed brokerage firm get their money back more quickly.

* Federal agencies are examining allegations that Regions Financial Corp improperly classified loans that went bad during the financial crisis, according to depositions filed as part of a civil lawsuit against the large southeastern U.S. bank.

* After spending the past two years increasing investments in Europe's high-end real-estate market, Norway's $682 billion oil fund is poised to hit the U.S. property market with deep pockets and an appetite for big-ticket deals.

* Congressional battle lines hardened Sunday over firearms restrictions, laying the foundation for what will likely be a fight over any proposed new gun laws




Britons are far more reluctant to give up their time to help deliver public services than their European and U.S. counterparts according to an FT/Harris poll, dealing a blow to David Cameron's "Big Society."


Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) has stepped up its pursuit of Riversdale Mining RIV.AX with a new A$3.9 billion bid that would entail at least an extra $1 billion in group capital expenditure.


Goldman Sachs (GS.N) has adopted a new long-term bonus plan that lets the board award top officers based on their ability to meet long-term goals without encouraging risk-taking.


General Electric (GE.N) will set aside $500 million to pay for the cleanup of toxic chemicals from the bottom of the Hudson River.


The majority of lenders to Crest Nicholson [CRTNC.UL] have voiced support for a proposal by U.S. fund Varde which would see the company push through its second debt-for-equity swap in three years.




* Police officers across Canada continue to grapple with Twitter users revealing the location of impaired driving checkstops, which ramp up during the holiday season.

* Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau told an Islamic conference Saturday that groups who attacked his decision to attend the gathering only work to divide Canadians.

Reports in the business section:

* The Canadian Federation of Independent Business wants both lower taxes and deficit reduction this holiday season. During a recent round of pre-budget consultations, the powerful business lobby urged Ottawa to stick to its current target of wiping out the deficit by 2016.


* A Gangnam Style parody video set in Sunnybrook Hospital's maternity ward, featuring a series of jocular delivery room scenes, was pulled from the organization's official YouTube channel after being met with criticism from a women's rights group, which has since demanded a public apology from the hospital.


* SNC Lavalin Group Inc is demanding that all independent consultants it does business with complete an "ethics exam" by the end of the year or risk losing their contracts with the company.

* Canada has increased by C$50 billion ($50.27 billion) the amount of residential mortgages that it is willing to guarantee.

But this time the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp , the biggest provider of mortgage default insurance, is not getting any. Instead, the additional backing is going only to private-sector players such as Genworth Canada, who will see their maximum raised to $300 billion from $250 billion




--Charoen Pokphand Group said the funds used to purchase a stake in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co Of China Ltd are legitimate. Domestic media has reported that a part of the funds were borrowed from local commercial banks.

--Shanxi, a province of North China, started the country's first coking coal spot trading platform.


--Investment in the domestic sea water desalination industry could hit 20 billion yuan ($3.21 billion) during the 12th five-year plan period, with a capacity of 2.2 cubic metres of sea water a day.


--Deep processing in the agriculture sector is becoming a hot spot for investment, as venture capital and private equity companies seek new outlets in the gloomy economy. During the last three quarters of this year, $214 million flowed into the agriculture sector from 37 venture capitalist and private equity funds, according to a report by ChinaVenture Group.

--A cold front has descended on many provincials capitals, with temperatures in some hitting well below -20 degrees Celsius. Parts of central and eastern areas are predicted to hit record lows, the National Meteorological Center said.


--Chicken from Shandong Liuhe Group, supplier to Yum Brands Inc's fast-food chain KFC, is still being sold in some supermarkets in Shanghai. The city's food and drug authorities said there had been no order so far to pull it from the shelves.


--China should expand domestic demand, strengthen the change in the economic structure and take more steps in innovation to achieve healthy economic development and social harmony and stability, the paper said in a commentary.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 am Market Snapshot


CorEnergy (CORR) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Fly Leasing (FLY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK) downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna
General Motors (GM) reinstated with a Buy at Goldman
Yahoo! (YHOO) price target raised to $26 from $19 at Needham
News Corp. (NWSA) price target raised to $29 from $26 at Deutsche Bank
Validus (VR) hurricane losses well above expectations, says Deutsche Bank
Greenbrier (GBX) board right in rejecting Icahn's offer, says Jefferies


GM (GM), Punch Metals, ZF reached agreement on Strasbourg operations
AT&T (T) reached tentative agreement with Communications Workers of America
United Technologies (UTX) to divest UTC Power unit
Zynga (ZNGA) indicated U.K. online gambling initiative may come in early 2013


Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Robbins & Myers (RBN)


Japan's struggling consumer-electronics companies (PC, SNE, SHCAY) are putting aside years of resistance to get serious about shedding nonessential assets and streamlining their  operations. But this may be hindered by what they are willing to sell and what potential buyers want, the Wall Street Journal reports
Now that Facebook (FB), Zynga (ZNGA) and Groupon (GRPN) have fizzled in their first year on the stock market, the hype over social, local and mobile  has subsided. For many of the still-private Web start-ups that rode the wave up, that now means grappling with the downside of the cycle, the Wall Street Journal reports
PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUGY) has ruled out a merger with General Motors' (GM) Opel division as part of their alliance, Autogazette reported, citing a Peugeot manager, Reuters reports
The rivalry between (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) will escalate in 2013 as their areas of rivalry grow, from online advertising and retail to mobile gadgets and cloud computing, Reuters reports
Americans investors have missed out on nearly $200B of stock gains as they drained money from the market in the past four years, a result of the financial crisis, Bloomberg reports
Investors reduced bullish commodity bets to the lowest in almost six months as U.S. budget talks stalled, increasing concern that lawmakers’ failure to reach an agreement with push the U.S. economy back into a recession, Bloomberg reports


Central Garden & Pet (CENT, CENTA) could be a play for patient investors
PNC Financial (PNC) undervalued, could increase 20% if p/e multiple rises
Capital One (COF) 360 to launch in February, will link to ShareBuilder
Expedia (EXPE), Microsoft (MSFT), EMC (EMC) and Terex (TEX) have profit momentum and present a good opportunity for investors to find growth in earnings


ACADIA (ACAD) files to sell 19.5M shares of common stock for holders
Gas Natural (EGAS) files to sell $50M of common stock
Sagent Pharmaceuticals (SGNT) files to sell up to 24.05M shares for holders


Carl Icahn lowers stake in Greenbrier (GBX) to 3.41% from 9.99%
Visium reports 6.2% passive stake in ACADIA (ACAD)


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