Frontrunning: March 6

  • Kuroda to Hit ‘Wall of Reality’ at BOJ, Ex-Board Member Says (BBG)
  • Venezuelans mourn Chavez as focus turns to election (Reuters)
  • China's yuan hits headwinds in bid to be global  (Reuters)
  • South Korea says to strike back at North if attacked (Reuters)
  • Milk Powder Surges Most in 2 1/2 Years on New Zealand Drought (BBG)
  • As Confetti Settles, Strategists Wonder: Will Dow's Rally Last?  (WSJ)
  • Pollution, Risk Are Downside of China's 'Blind Expansion' (BBG)
  • Obama Calls Republicans in Latest Round of Spending Talks (BBG)
  • Ryan Budget Plan Draws GOP Flak (WSJ)
  • Samsung buys stake in Apple-supplier Sharp (FT)
  • China Joining U.S. Shale Renaissance With $40 Billion (BBG)
  • Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule  (WSJ)
  • Traders Flee Asia Hedge Funds as Job Haven Turns Dead End (BBG)
  • Power rustlers turn the screw in Bulgaria, EU's poorest country (Reuters)
  • Fed Holds Ground on 'Stress Test' Releases (WSJ)


Overnight Media Digest


* The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped to a record Tuesday when it finished at 14253.77, topping the previous record set in October 2007. This marked a key milestone in the long slog to recovery from the financial crisis.

* Lawyers for some of the world's biggest banks, including Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and UBS AG, made their latest bid Tuesday to persuade a judge to toss out a collection of lawsuits accusing them of manipulating a key interest rate and cheating investors out of billions of dollars.

* The Obama administration has asked U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler to serve a second term. Gensler, who heard from the White House in January, has not made a decision as yet and is interested in taking on a role as a senior economic official elsewhere in the administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

* Members of J.C. Penney Co Inc's board will consider selling the company or replacing Chief Executive Ron Johnson if a deep drop in sales can't be reversed this year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

* Homemaking maven Martha Stewart took a star turn on the witness stand Tuesday in a contract-dispute showdown over her ability to sell housewares at both Macy's Inc and J.C. Penney Co Inc.

* Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Sharp Corp are in talks for the South Korean technology giant to invest about 10 billion yen ($107.12 million) in the embattled Japanese company, people familiar with the matter said.

* Berkshire Hathaway Inc subsidiary BNSF Railway Co , one of the biggest U.S. consumers of diesel fuel, plans this year to test using natural gas to power its locomotives instead. If successful, the experiment could weaken oil's dominance as a transportation fuel and provide a new outlet for the glut of cheap natural gas in North America.

* Microsoft Corp has recently been offering price breaks on its Windows 8 and Office software to help spur the development of small, touch-enabled laptop computers, people familiar with the situation said.

* Honeywell International Inc Chief Executive David Cote says job growth won't improve much until U.S. economic growth tops 3 percent. The company, which has only been hiring two to three employees for every four or five who leave, plans to slow hiring further amid persistent uncertainty over the U.S. economy.



Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has died following complications from cancer surgery.

The FBI has teamed up with securities regulators to tackle the threat of market manipulation as a result of the use of sophisticated computer trading strategies.

Britain has failed to stop strict EU curbs on banker bonuses after a last minute fightback only managed to secure minor potential tweaks to the new rule.

Britain's Financial Services Authority has said it was slow to react when the first indications that banks were manipulating Libor rates emerged six years ago.

China is investigating the impact the Glencore-Xstrata merger could have on the copper market.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office has rebuffed claims that it abused its powers and acted "recklessly" while investigating property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz.

Microsoft is set to be fined hundreds of millions of dollars by the EU on Wednesday over its failure to honour a competition agreement with regulators.



* The Dow Jones industrial average, the oldest and most popular gauge of the stock market, on Tuesday surged past the nominal high it last reached more than five years ago, before the financial crisis hit with full force.

* The British government stood isolated on an important European Union issue Tuesday after finance ministers from elsewhere in the bloc rejected its effort to water down proposed limits on bankers' bonuses.

* Gary Gensler, head of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is assuring officials that he plans to remain in the Obama administration through at least December even as he weighs other options, according to people briefed on the matter.

* California state officials estimate $9 billion of cuts in U.S. federal aid and are trying to anticipate where those cuts will hit hardest as they wait for details from Washington.

* Europe's antitrust regulators are preparing to deliver a fine to Microsoft Corp for failing to give users of its Windows software the choice of competing Internet browsers. It would be the first time that European regulators had punished a company for neglecting to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement

* Chief Executive Joel Klein of Amplify, News Corp's fledgling education division, will announce on Wednesday that Amplify will not just sell its public school curriculum on existing tablets, but will also offer the Amplify Tablet, its own 10-inch Android tablet for K-12 schoolchildren.

* A U.S. federal judge has granted a former employee of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors additional time to review the government's evidence in an insider trading case brought against him.

* Martha Stewart took the stand on Tuesday in a New York State Supreme Court trial to testify in a lawsuit by Macy's Inc concerning which retailers have the right to sell her sheets, towels and other branded home goods.




* The future of a socialist revolution in the heart of Latin America hangs in the balance now that Venezuela is grieving the loss of its polarizing dictator, Hugo Chavez, whose 14-year rule divided the nation and was a thorn in the side of the United States right up until his death on Tuesday.

* Montreal police donned riot gear and moved in to make multiple arrests after an initially peaceful demonstration by Quebec students protesting tuition fee hikes took a destructive turn on Tuesday night.

* Relying on Canadian crude imports is the best choice for the United States - not just because it is reliable and secure but because of Canada's unmatched environmental record, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday.

Reports in the business section:

* A cadre of Canadian industry executives descended on America's oil capital on Tuesday to deliver a unified message in defence of the politically charged Keystone XL pipeline.

Faced with fierce opposition from environmentalists targeting the project, top officials from the largest oil sands producers took the stage at a high-profile conference to deliver a litany of counter-arguments, while stressing the United States will continue to be reliant on imports of Canadian heavy crude.

* Cameco Corp is just months away from opening its Cigar Lake uranium project, the world's second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, more than thirty years after it was discovered and just as global prices for the nuclear fuel show promise of a rebound.

* Toronto dentist Peter Sbaraglia has apologized for participating in a Ponzi fraud scheme that raised more than C$40 million ($38.91 million) from investors, including many of his friends and family members.


* The prospect of Ottawa clawing back C$2.5 billion in training transfers it gives to provincial governments has provoked fear and loathing in provincial capitals across the country.

* Canadian businesses are upset over a little known 13-year-old policy that allows border guards to "waive through" travelers without charging them duty, particularly at peak cross-border shopping periods like the Black Friday long weekend.


* Canada's big five banks are riding high after another blow-out quarter driven by Canadian consumers' seemingly unstoppable appetite for debt, especially mortgages. The country's dominant lenders brought in a collective record profit of C$7.33 billion, up more than 11 percent.

* The Canadian launch of discount retailer Target attracted a mix of bargain hunters, curious shoppers and even a few pranksters on Tuesday as the company opened three locations in southwestern Ontario.

* Corus Entertainment Inc is poised to spend almost C$500 million in a series of deals that will significantly expand its footprint in the French-language television market as part of the spillover of BCE Inc's effort to clear the regulatory path for its acquisition of Astral Media Inc.




-- Shang Fulin, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said the banking regulator will roll out some new measures to curb property lending. He did not give details.

-- China may issue the fourth generation mobile communication (4G) license this year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

-- China will unveil new policies to support the country's struggling shipping industry, China's transportation minister said.


-- Glencore International Plc, which is waiting for Chinese approval for its $33 billion takeover of Xstrata Plc, said the country's regulator is assessing the influence the combined group will have in the copper market.

-- Orders at East China Fair, the country's biggest regional trade fair that ended on Tuesday, fell 9.87 percent annually to 2.81 billion, boding ill for this year's trade.


-- China's outbound direct investment is expected to increase by 15 percent this year to $88.7 billion, as Beijing adopts a more proactive opening-up policy, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top planning agency.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Best Buy (BBY) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Gerdau SA (GGB) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
M/I Homes (MHO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities
Pembina Pipeline (PBA) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital


Grupo Televisa (TV) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Harris (HRS) downgraded to Underperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
J.C. Penney (JCP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
J.C. Penney (JCP) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Mindray Medical (MR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Philippine Long Distance (PHI) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
Qualcomm (QCOM) downgraded to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman


Agilent (A) initiated with an Outperform at Leerink
Bright Horizons (BFAM) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Bright Horizons (BFAM) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Bright Horizons (BFAM) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Bright Horizons (BFAM) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Celldex (CLDX) initiated with an Outperform at Leerink
Clovis Oncology (CLVS) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX) initiated with a Buy at Roth Capital
FedEx (FDX) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
Global Sources (GSOL) re-initiated with a Buy at Roth Capital
Navidea (NAVB) initiated with an Underweight at Piper Jaffray
Peregrine (PPHM) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
UPS (UPS) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
VIVUS (VVUS) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Walter Energy (WLT) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital


EU fined Microsoft (MSFT) EUR 561M for violating settlement terms
Exxon Mobil (XOM) expects petrochemical production, exports to expand
JPMorgan (JPM) and Creditor Co-Proponents agreed on plan to liquidate MF Global
Jamba (JMBA) entered master franchise development agreement for Mexico
HealthSouth (HLS) received document subpoenas from Dept. of Health and Human Services


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Big Lots (BIG), Staples (SPLS), VimpelCom (VIP), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), Jamba (JMBA), VeriFone (PAY)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
QR Energy (QRE), Walker & Dunlop (WD), Endeavour (END), Sociedad Quimica (SQM), Systemax (SYX), Infinity Pharmaceuticals (INFI)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Gentherm (THRM), MELA Sciences (MELA)


  • Five blue-chip stocks have accounted for about a third of the rally in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since the financial crisis: IBM (IBM), Caterpillar (CAT), 3M (MMM), Chevron (CVX) and United Technologies (UTX) were the biggest drivers among the average's 30 components, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Boeing’s (BA) 787 Dreamliners have been grounded for two months, but its stock market investors? They’ve pushed its share price to a one-year high. For Boeing that’s more notable for showing that investors are have little long-term concerns about the Dreamliner crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Apple (AAPL) has held talks with Beats Electronics LLC, the audio technology firm co-founded by influential hip-hop producer Dr Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine, on a potential partnership involving Beats' planned music-streaming service, sources say, Reuters reports
  • China will move forward with reforms to allow more flexibility in the yuan's exchange rate and the remaining barriers to creating a cross-border currency trading zone could be cleared in the first half of 2013, senior officials said, Reuters reports
  • The six largest U.S. banks, including Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC), may return nearly $41B to investors in the next 12 months, the most since 2007, as regulators conclude firms have amassed enough capital to withstand another economic shock, Bloomberg reports
  • Treasuries are down this year while high-yield bonds and stocks set records, reflecting demand for riskier assets as the Fed promises to stay with its program of quantitative easing to spur growth, Bloomberg reports


Apollo Commercial (ARI) commences offering of 8M shares of common stock
M/I Homes (MHO) 2.14M share Secondary priced at $23.50
MGIC Investment (MTG) commences offering of 135M shares of common stock and offers $350M of convertible senior notes due 2020
Memorial Production (MEMP) files $750M mixed securities shelf
Pacific Mercantile Bancorp (PMBC) to sell $14.8M of common shares to Carpenter Funds
Realty Income (O) 15M share Spot Secondary priced at $45.90 and files to sell 10M shares of common stock


Catalina reports 5.6% stake in American Safety Insurance (ASI), expects to engage in discussions with management
Gabelli reports 28.93% stake in Fisher Communications (FSCI), will nominate Morris, Lee to board
TPG-Axon raises stake in SandRidge Energy (SD) to 7.3% from 6.7%, will nominate directors
Osmium Partners report 5.0% passive stake in Rosetta Stone (RST)
Vornado (VNO) lowers stake in J.C. Penney (JCP) to 6.1% from 10.7%
Craig R. Johnson reports 5.2% stake in JMP Group (JMP)


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