Frontrunning: December 28

  • Lawmakers, Obama in last chance talks on "fiscal cliff" (Reuters)
  • Obama Summons Congress Leaders as Budget Deadline Nears (BBG)
  • Hopes for fiscal cliff deal fade  (FT)
  • Iran starts navy drills in Strait of Hormuz (Reuters)
  • Looming Port Strike Deadline Pressures Obama to Intervene (BBG)
  • Home Depot to Lowe’s Busiest Season Threatened by Strike (BBG)
  • 'Whale' Capsized Banks' Rule Effort (WSJ)
  • China tightens Internet controls, legalizes post deletion (Reuters)
  • Goldman Sachs Buying Japan’s Exporters on Abe Policy Bets (BBG) and preparing one Goldman alumnus to take over the BOJ
  • IPOs Slump to Lowest Level Since Financial Crisis After Facebook (BBG)
  • Blackstone seen sticking with SAC despite insider trading probe (Reuters) - what a shock
  • Mistry at Tata Helm as Investors Query $500 Billion Goal (BBG)
  • High-Speed Traders Race to Fend Off Regulators (WSJ)


Overnight Media Digest


* As U.S. regulators and Chinese authorities spar over the right to oversee audits of companies in China, U.S. multinational firms like Sanmina Corp could suffer collateral damage.

* Consumer expectations about the future turned downbeat in December, suggesting concerns about the fiscal cliff. November new-home sales, meanwhile, rose to their highest level in more than two years.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc is planning to monitor subcontractors' U.S. warehouses, after protests, fines and lawsuits stemming from complaints of poor worker treatment.

* Apple Inc Chief Executive Timothy Cook, who topped the list of highest-paid CEOs last year, received significantly less for 2012, taking home just $4.2 million in total compensation.

* President Vladimir Putin said he will sign a bill banning U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children, raising tensions with Washington as the Obama Administration is trying to win Moscow's support to end the war in Syria.

* A Boston private equity firm said it is spending more than $2 billion to buy and merge two providers of fiber-optic networks in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, illustrating renewed investor interest in high-speed networking a decade after the telecommunications bubble burst.

* Former hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam has agreed to pay $1.45 million to resolve a civil Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit related to his alleged insider trading based on tips from former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director Rajat Gupta, according to court documents.

* Hewlett-Packard Co confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating its allegations that Autonomy Corp engaged in accounting improprieties before it was acquired by HP last year.

* Porsche Automobil Holding SE won a key legal victory after a New York appeals court panel dismissed a lawsuit by 26 hedge funds seeking more than $1.4 billion in damages stemming from the sports-car maker's failed attempt to take over Volkswagen AG four years ago.

* The operator of SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and other theme parks has filed initial paperwork to become publicly traded, three years after a $2.3 billion buyout by private equity group Blackstone Group.



* Consumer confidence fell sharply in the first half of December despite improvement in new home sales and a slight drop in new jobless claims.

* Developers of wind farms are running a race against the calendar. A federal subsidy for new installations will not apply to anything that goes online after Dec. 31, so the industry is rushing to complete projects now - and it expects to do little thereafter.

* Fear of has pushed a variety of stores to embrace delivery within hours as a must-have promotion, even though it's costly and logistically complicated.

* With labor costs so low, Spain is attracting car manufacturers that see a large competitive advantage in producing there rather than in other European countries.

* Apple Inc filed documents with regulators revealing that its chief executive, Timothy Cook, took what might look like a significant pay cut in 2012. But the giant stock package Cook received last year will vest over 10 years.

* President Barack Obama will meet with Congressional leaders on Friday, and House Republicans summoned lawmakers back for a Sunday session, in a last-ditch effort to avert a fiscal crisis brought on by automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to hit next week.

* Many retailers will soon be able to charge more for purchases made with credit cards, though they may not do so.

* Paul Schnell has worked on some of the biggest mergers announced this year, a period in which, he says, the business of buying and selling companies is in the doldrums.




* As Montreal's all-time record for snowfall, set in 1971, was broken on Thursday with at least 45 centimeters on the ground by evening, Quebeckers seemed to take the storm in stride, with no deaths reported and a few minor injuries, mainly in car accidents.

* Politicians in Washington appear increasingly resigned to letting the country slide off the "fiscal cliff" next week, leaving it to a new Congress to pick up the pieces later in January.

Reports in the business section:

* Oil and gas services company Poseidon Concepts Corp , a Bay Street favorite only a month ago, is leaking value at a rapid pace as it grapples with accounts receivable questions and the threat of an industry slowdown.


* A new poll suggests Canadians' desire to sever formal ties to the throne is waning, with the royal pregnancy getting the credit -- even as those who consider it an "outmoded relic" hold steady.

* Russia warned Thursday Syria would descend into "bloody chaos" if a proposal from Lakhdar Brahimi, the international peace envoy, to set up a transitional government fails.


* Chevron Corp's entry into Canada's liquefied natural gas space could be the boost the sector needs to kick it into serious competition with Australia, the dominant supplier of chilled natural gas to Asian markets.

* The stunning meltdown of Poseidon Concepts Corp continued on Thursday after the company warned it could take "significant" writedowns as it struggles to collect payments from customers.




-- Total assets in China's banking financial institutions hit 127.1 trillion yuan by the end of November, up 17.7 percent from the previous month.

-- China's State Administration of Taxation set its target for 2013 revenue growth at 8 percent.

-- China's government will promote consumption of energy-saving products by granting 13 percent subsidies for purchases of environmentally friendly products.


-- China's home-grown Beidou satellite navigation system, designed to compete with the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), began providing services to civilians in the Asia-Pacific region on Thursday.


-- Zhang Yunfeng, general manager of Shanghai Equity Exchange, said the exchange plans to issue private placement bonds next year.


-- China's ocean watchdog said it would allocate 30 million yuan ($4.81 million) in 2013 to enhance cooperation with developing economies in the South China Sea.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 am Market Snapshot


LSI Corp. (LSI) initiated with a Buy at Wunderlich
Marvell (MRVL) initiated with a Hold at Wunderlich
Newfield (NFX) 2013 volume outlook 'final shoe to drop,' says FBR Capital
Omeros (OMER) drug OMS103HP remains viable candidate, says Deutsche Bank


Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) said DoJ opened investigation relating to Autonomy
Burger King Worldwide (BKW) entered into a multi-country, Master Franchise Joint Venture Agreement with BEBOCA LTD in Central America
Amgen (AMGN) received court approval for previously announced $762M settlement with FDA


American consumers are worrying more about the economic outlook, according to a report by The Conference Board suggesting they have begun focusing on possible tax increases and government spending cuts next year. Their consumer confidence index fell six percentage points in December from a month earlier to 65.1, its lowest level since August, the Wall Street Journal reports
High-frequency trading firms are fighting to fend off regulation as scrutiny of their practice of unleashing blizzards of orders coincides with repeated technical glitches in the markets, the Wall Street Journal reports
China announced tighter Internet controls, legalizing the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain "illegal" information and requiring service providers to turn over that information to the authorities, Reuters reports
Smart investors can get things wrong in the fast-evolving technology sector, where once hot global names like Research in Motion (RIMM) and Yahoo (YHOO) can quickly become yesterday's news. One warning sign: When tech firms make acquisitions outside of its main area of expertise to move into new product lines, Reuters reports
Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s Cos. (LOW) have the most at stake among retailers facing a dockworkers’ strike, with possible port closings cutting off shipments coming just before the lucrative gardening season, Bloomberg reports
IPOs this year fell to the lowest level since the financial crisis as signs of an economic slowdown and Facebook’s (FB) disappointing debut slowed demand and prompted companies to push back sales. IPOs raised $112B worldwide this year, the least since 2008, according to Bloomberg data. U.S. offerings raised $41B, little changed from last year, Bloomberg reports