Frontrunning: April 8

  • Finally the MSM catches up to reality: Workers Stuck in Disability Stunt Economic Recovery (WSJ)
  • China opens Aussie dollar direct trading (FT)
  • National Bank and Eurobank Fall as Merger Halted (BBG)
  • Why Making Europe German Won’t Fix the Crisis - The Bulgarian case study (BBG)
  • Nikkei hits new highs as yen slides (FT)
  • Housing Prices Are on a Tear, Thanks to the Fed (WSJ)
  • Why is Moody's exempt from justice, or the "Big Question in U.S. vs. S&P" (WSJ)
  • Central banks move into riskier assets (FT)
  • N. Korea May Conduct Joint Missile-Nuclear Tests, South Says (BBG)
  • North Korea Pulls Workers From Factories It Runs With South (NYT)
  • Illinois pension fix faces political, legal hurdles (Reuters)
  • IPO Bankers Become Frogs in Hot Water Amid China Market Halt (BBG)
  • Portugal Seeks New Cuts to Stay on Course (WSJ)
  • Where Bank Regulators Go to Get Rich (BBG)
  • Caterpillar Seen Trailing Macy’s as Europe Saps Earnings (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Coelho said he would look for fresh spending cuts to keep the country's 78-billion-euro ($101.57 billion) international bailout program on track following a Constitutional Court decision that threw his government into crisis by striking down some of its planned austerity measures.

* Greece's two largest lenders - National Bank of Greece SA and Eurobank Ergasias SA - are heading for state control after their merger was halted by the government over the weekend.

* Investors have asked to pull around $1.5 billion from veteran stock-picker Jeffrey Vinik's hedge-fund firm after a period of poor performance, according to people briefed on the matter. The withdrawal requests amount to around 18 percent of the roughly $8 billion that was run by Vinik Asset Management.

* Advertisers and broadcasters in the Middle East are joining together to try to crack open the regional television advertising market by changing how ad rates are calculated, a move that could spur a sharp increase in spending by global firms such as General Motors Co, Unilever Plc and Ford Motor Co.

* San Francisco startup Unified Patents Inc plans to recruit companies for a collective effort to deter patent lawsuits or legal threats against technology companies. The first to join Unified are Internet giant Google Inc and NetApp Inc , which makes data-storage hardware.

* Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose to its highest level since August 2008 in early trading as the yen continued to weaken against the U.S. dollar in the wake of stronger-than-expected monetary easing measures announced by the Bank of Japan last week.

* Just months after grabbing a chunk of the U.S. movie-theater market, China's Dalian Wanda Group Corp is moving toward becoming a global power in film exhibition, holding talks to purchase a European chain.

* The U.S. housing market has broken out of a deep slump, and prices are shooting up faster than anyone thought possible a year ago. But the speed at which prices are rising is prompting murmurs of concern that the U.S. Federal Reserve's campaign to reduce interest rates could be giving the housing market a sugar high.

* The unexpectedly large number of U.S. workers who piled into the Social Security Administration's disability program during the recession and its aftermath threatens to cost the country's economy tens of billions a year in lost wages and diminished tax revenues.



Portugal's prime minister said on Sunday the government would have to make spending cuts in health, education and social security to keep the country's 78 billion euro bailout programme on track after the constitutional court rejected austerity measures considered necessary to meet mandatory deficit targets.
Officials in Washington and Seoul warned that North Korea could act on its threats to launch a missile this week, ahead of the anniversary of founding president Kim Il-Sung's birthday on April 15.
Business Secretary Vince Cable is pushing for a ban on three former executives of HBOS to be banned from serving as company directors in industry, as he looks to exact punishment on the collapsed bank's management team.
Tele2 will look to make more acquisitions in Europe's telecoms market after completing the sale of its Russian business to state-controlled bank VTB.
Qatar plans to offer shares in a new $12 billion investment vehicle in May, in one of the largest initial public offerings in the Middle East.
FTSE 100 companies are cutting back on bonuses and pay rises for chief executives amid a mood of restraint ahead of shareholder votes this spring.
Voracious demand for foreign-made baby milk from mainland Chinese buyers has forced supermarkets as far afield as the UK and Australia to ration infant formula.



* Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Coelho warned that his government would be forced to cut spending more and that lives "will become more difficult" after a court on Friday struck down some of the austerity measures put in place after a bailout package two years ago.

* In his first trip to Europe as U.S. Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew will try to persuade finance ministers of other nations to pursue more growth and less austerity.

* Tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water leaked from a large underground storage pool at Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc's crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and thousands more gallons could seep out before the faulty pool can be emptied.

* Notorious for flubbing solid acquisitions, Yahoo Inc has bought six small companies under Chief Executive Marissa Mayer in an attempt to cultivate not only innovative technologies, but the engineers who run them.

* Daybees, a new website that bills itself as "the world's largest events search engine", aims to carve out a niche for itself in the lucrative online search business, an area dominated by Google Inc and coveted by other internet giants like Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc.




* British Columbia Premier Christy Clark will launch her Liberal Party's election platform next Sunday with a half-hour television show featuring her, and some "everyday British Columbians." It is timed to set the stage for the campaign that officially begins on April 16, when the 39th B.C. Parliament is dissolved.

* Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has circulated an "open letter" to media outlets throughout the city, highlighting the many ways a downtown casino would benefit Toronto. It cites figures on job creation, revenue and tourism, all of which are drawn from a highly anticipated staff report, according to the mayor's press secretary.

Reports in the business section:

* Ottawa is examining whether Royal Bank of Canada broke the rules by subcontracting work to an offshoring firm using foreign workers to replace some of the bank's Canadian staff.

* Richard Baker, Hudson's Bay Co chief executive, is spearheading a raft of initiatives to shore up the retailer's position as the country's top seller of women's shoes while introducing five more British-based cheap-chic Topshop store-within-stores and, by next year, New York-based Kleinfeld Bridal salon at the company's downtown Toronto flagship store.


* A man who took hostages at a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign office in 2007 escaped from a minimum-security correctional facility on Sunday, authorities said.

Leeland Eisenberg was discovered missing during an afternoon head count at the Calumet Transitional Housing Unit in Manchester, state Department of Corrections spokesman Jeff Lyons said.




-- President Xi Jinping's keynote speech at the forum in Boao on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan on Sunday indicates that China holds the view that peace and development are still mainstream in Asia, experts say.


-- China is working on a programme for the next round of urbanisation that will ensure plenty of investment opportunities in the coming years, Zhang Xiaoqiang, a senior official at the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, told the Boao forum on Sunday.

-- The sudden bird flu outbreak in China last week has become a "black swan event" that may further depress the country's already weak stock market by hitting share prices in industries such as airlines.


-- A sharp depreciation of the Japanese yen, propelled by another round of aggressive quantitative easing by the Japanese central bank last week, is a move that will hurt other nations while making little gain for Japan itself, an analysis says.

-- China Investment Corp, the country's sovereign wealth fund, has stopped buying European government debt, the fund's vice chairman Gao Xiqing told the Boao forum on Sunday.


-- China's fast-growing e-commerce market could help unleash private consumption and drive the next stage of economic development, experts say.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



First Niagara (FNFG) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Evercore
First Niagara (FNFG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Flextronics (FLEX) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Northrop Grumman (NOC) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan
Southern Copper (SCCO) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
WESCO (WCC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
Whiting Petroleum (WLL) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan


CA Technologies (CA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
L-3 Communications (LLL) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Magnum Hunter (MHR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Penn Virginia (PVA) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Vail Resorts (MTN) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse


AcelRx (ACRX) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI) coverage resumed with a Buy at Goldman
Fluor (FLR) coverage resumed with a Neutral at Goldman
Foster Wheeler (FWLT) coverage resumed with a Neutral at Goldman
G-III Apparel (GIII) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Granite Construction (GVA) coverage resumed with a Sell at Goldman
Jacobs Engineering (JEC) coverage resumed with a Neutral at Goldman
KBR (KBR) coverage resumed with a Buy at Goldman
Silver Spring Network (SSNI) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Silver Spring Network (SSNI) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Silver Spring Network (SSNI) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Silver Spring Network (SSNI) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Tile Shop (TTS) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Vertex (VRTX) initiated with a Hold at Canaccord


General Electric (GE) to acquire Lufkin (LUFK) for approximately $3.3B
Union Bank (MTU) acquired $3.7B commercial real estate portfolio from PB Capital (DB)
GM's (GM) Holden unit to restructure South Australian manufacturing operations
CWA ratified four-year contract with AT&T Mobility (T)
Manchester United (MANU), Aon (AON) announced new business partnership through 2021
Pharmacyclics (PCYC, JNJ) said FDA grants Breakthrough Therapy Designation for ibrutinib


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
AZZ Inc. (AZZ)


  • With U.S. companies set to begin reporting Q1 today, big investors are shaking off lukewarm profit forecasts and gloomy economic data and betting that central-bank action will help keep stocks rolling, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Why is the U.S. government trying to obtain billions of dollars in damages from S&P's Ratings Services (MHP) for allegedly slipshod work on mortgage-linked securities, but nothing from rival Moody's Investors Service (MCO)? The Justice Department won't say, but that is one of the biggest questions swirling around the two-month-old lawsuit, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Two fledgling technologies, from Aereo and Dish’s (DISH) Hopper, could dramatically reshape the $60B-a-year TV broadcast industry as they challenge the business model that has helped keep broadcasters on the lucrative end of the media spectrum, Reuters reports
  • A potential $7B order from British Airways (BAIRY) for Airbus (EADSY) A350 jets is set to hand Boeing (BA) its next major challenge as it nears the end of a three-month crisis over the grounding of the 787 Dreamliner, analysts said, Reuters reports
  • Alcoa (AA), the first Dow Jones Industrial Average member to report results each quarter, is losing its accuracy as a bellwether for the U.S. stock market, Bloomberg reports
  • Distrust of the Fed and concern that U.S. dollars may become worthless are fueling a push in more than a dozen states to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender, Bloomberg reports


Google's (GOOG) momentum caused in part by Facebook (FB)
SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) puts could be the way to play gold's volatility
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) is undervalued at $81.85 per share
United Technologies (UTX) could climb 18% to $110 “in the next year”
Vodafone (VOD) stock could jump 20% if it sells stake in Verizon (VZ)


Atossa Genetics (ATOS) files to sell 2.83M shares of common stock for holders
Chuy's (CHUY) files to sell 3M shares for selling stockholders