Frontrunning: December 27

  • U.S. Family of Mao’s General Assimilates, Votes for Obama (Bloomberg)
  • Iron ore prices hit eight-month high (FT)... four months after plunging and crushing iron ore miners
  • Obama seeks 60 Senate votes for cliff deal (MarketWatch)
  • Need. Moar. InfinitQEeee: Japan PM adviser urges unlimited BOJ easing, higher price goal (Reuters)
  • Yen Touches 16-Month Low Versus Euro Before Japan CPI (BBG)
  • China consumers driving economic rebound (Reuters) - ot just year end window dressing to accompany the new Politburo
  • Rajaratnam agrees to pay $1.5 million disgorgement in SEC case (Reuters)
  • France should review 2013 deficit target with EU partners (Reuters)
  • Monti-led poll alliance takes shape (FT)
  • Bersani wants growth-oriented Europe (FT)
  • Europe told it risks missing shale boom (FT)
  • Philippines Joins Korea in Restraining Currency Gains (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* Toyota Motor Corp agreed to pay about $1.1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit stemming from complaints of unintended acceleration in its vehicles that soured its reputation for quality and undermined its sales globally.

* A federal jury in Pittsburgh found that chip-maker Marvell Technology Group Ltd should pay nearly $1.17 billion for infringing patents held by Carnegie Mellon University.

* Little more than a month after launching in the U.S., Nokia's critical Lumia lineup of smartphones is being sold at postholiday discounts - or even free with contracts - at some United States carriers and through Inc.

* Honda Motor Co agreed to voluntarily recall about 19,500 all-terrain vehicles in the U.S. due to a crash hazard, following a smaller recall of the ATVs in February, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

* Duke Energy Corp agreed to acquire a subsidiary of Chilean energy conglomerate CGE Group for $415 million as part of the U.S. company's efforts to tap Latin America's growth potential.

* TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, one of the biggest investors in Knight Capital Group Inc, pledged its support for the brokerage firm's acquisition by rival Getco LLC, in the latest sign that the deal is likely to win shareholder approval.

* Steinway Musical Instruments Inc has terminated a tentative agreement to sell its band-instrument division to investors led by two of its board members following a strategic review.

* The Treasury department said the government would hit its legal borrowing limit by Monday, setting in motion emergency measures to keep the government operating for several more weeks and serving as a reminder that the nation's budget wrangling could continue well into 2013.

* The IKEA Group's India plans looked brighter Wednesday, with a senior minister indicating that the government is likely to approve the Swedish retailer's application to set up wholly owned stores and might drop a condition that would have limited the company's product offerings.

* W.W. Grainger Inc agreed to pay $70 million to settle allegations that the hardware distributor submitted false claims under contracts with two United States government agencies.

* Home prices are on track to notch their first yearly gain since 2006, the strongest performance since the housing bust and a development that could accelerate the real-estate rebound even as the broader economy stutters.



* Toyota Motor Corp agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit related to issues of unintended acceleration in its vehicles.

* Carnegie Mellon University said it was awarded $1.17 billion by a federal jury in Pittsburgh in a unanimous verdict that found the Marvell Technology Group Ltd had sold billions of semiconductors using technology developed at the university without a license.

* Hedge fund, TPG-Axon Capital Management, which owns nearly 7 percent of SandRidge Energy Inc's shares, submitted so-called consent solicitation documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, offering up its own slate of directors to replace the current board.

* The Metropolitan Police Department said it had opened an investigation into whether NBC and David Gregory, the host of "Meet the Press," broke the law when Gregory displayed a high-capacity gun magazine during an interview on Sunday with the vice president of the National Rifle Association.

* Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, adding to the building tension over how to handle a year-end pileup of threatened tax increases and spending cuts, formally notified Congress that the government would hit its statutory borrowing limit on Monday, raising anew the threat of a federal default as the two parties remained in a standoff.

* China began service Wednesday morning on the world's longest high-speed rail line, covering a distance in eight hours that is about equal to that from New York to Key West, Florida, or from London across Europe to Belgrade, Serbia.

* Anyone who has seen "On the Waterfront" knows East Coast longshoremen can be a tough bunch. The dockworkers are flexing their muscles again, threatening a strike beginning Sunday that would shut seaports from Massachusetts to Texas.

* Hawaii's Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, a rising political star here who is unknown on the national scene, will become the state's next United States senator, filling a leadership vacuum in Honolulu and in Washington after the death of Senator Daniel Inouye last week.




* U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his Hawaiian vacation and flew back to Washington to help break the congressional stalemate in "fiscal cliff" talks, as anxiety mounts over the looming combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that threaten to push the U.S. back into recession.

* An Ontario board that oversees mentally ill offenders has criticized Toronto's Center for Addiction and Mental Health for not providing notification that it had isolated a troublesome patient in a seclusion cell for two months.


* The Iranian government has fired back at Canada for removing an exiled Iranian opposition group from its terrorist blacklist while simultaneously affixing terrorist status to a branch of the Iranian military, a move the Central Asian regime said was "a dangerous move that can weaken international peace and security."

* Toronto and much of southern and eastern Ontario braced Wednesday for a dangerous winter storm that left six people dead and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights across the United States.


* Boxing Day retail sales across Canada did not appear to lose steam this year despite a dramatic rise in the number of retailers that adopted the earlier U.S. shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday




-- China's National Development and Reform Commission said in a report that the amount of domestic railway investment could hit 1.8 trillion yuan ($289 billion) during 2013 to 2015. The amount for next year could be between 600 billion yuan and 650 billion yuan.

-- China smartphone shipments would reach 300 million in 2013, up 44 percent from 2012, and it would make up 78 percent of the overall mobile phone market, research firm IDC said. IDC said smartphones that cost under 700 yuan would be popular next year.


-- Sales in China's online business-to-customer retail sector could hit 785 billion yuan in 2013, nearly double this year's amount, researchers estimated on Wednesday.


-- The Shanghai Futures Exchange aims to transform itself into a corporate entity from a member-owned bourse over the next five years to improve supervision of the bourse and service standards, the exchange's Chairman Yang Maijun said.


-- China's central government set the target of fiscal deficit for 2013 at 1.2 trillion yuan, 50 percent up from 2012, sources told the newspaper.


-- China has to raise the awareness and increase investments into pre-school education to avoid the fatal school bus accidents from happening. A seven-seat van carrying 15 children drove into a pond in China's eastern Jiangxi Province on Monday, killing at least 11.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Chemtura  (CHMT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
KAR Auction (KAR) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Stephens


Marvell (MRVL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities


Connecticut Water Service (CTWS) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Covanta (CVA) initiated with a Buy at Capstone


Treasury Secretary Geithner said U.S. will reach statutory debt limit on December 31
Toyota (TM) announced litigation settlement, to take $1.1B pre-tax charge
Ford (F) to invest over $733M across southeast Michigan manufacturing facilities
Moody's said Expedia's (EXPE) planned $632M acquisition of European hotel search company trivago won’t affect its Ba1 rating
Google (GOOG) to continue free calling within U.S and Canada through 2013
LDK Solar (LDK) ordered to pay RMB294M in damages, RMB3.4M in court fees to JYT Corp.


Home prices are on track to record their first yearly gain since 2006, the strongest performance since the housing bust and a development that could accelerate the real-estate rebound, the Wall Street Journal reports
While 2013 will be a tough year for retailers because of the weak economic recovery, a few in particular face a critical 12 months: Best Buy (BBY), RadioShack (RSH), Sears Holdings (SHLD) and J.C. Penny (JCP), the Wall Street Journal reports
This holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory. Shares of retailers declined yesterday, helping to pull down the broader indexes, as investors realized they were likely to be disappointed when companies start to report results, Reuters reports
Toshiba Corp. (TOSBF) is in talks with three parties, including Chicago Bridge and Iron Company (CBI), to sell a portion of its stake in its nuclear power unit Westinghouse,
Reuters reports
Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ), WellPoint (WLP) and France Telecom (FTE) are among 21 large companies facing potential goodwill write downs for under performing acquisitions, Bloomberg reports
Global mergers and acquisitions jumped to the highest level in four years this quarter, as a surge in U.S. deals provided ground for optimism in what has been the worst year for takeovers since the financial crisis, Bloomberg reports


Blackstone (BX) unit SeaWorld (SEAS) files for $100M IPO


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