Frontrunning: July 8

  • Greece's Economic Future 'Uncertain,' Creditors Say (WSJ)
  • Secret Court's Redefinition of 'Relevant' Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering (WSJ)
  • Thomson Reuters Halts Early Peeks At Consumer Data (WSJ)
  • Larry Summers Circles as Fed Opening Looms (WSJ)
  • Crowded ETF Exit Proving Costly as Bonds Trail (BBG)
  • S&P to Argue Puffery Defense in First Courtroom Test (BBG)
  • Geithner joins top table of public speakers with lucrative appearances (FT)
  • Losing $317 Billion Makes U.S. Debt Safer for Mizuho to HSBC (BBG)
  • Pilot Error Eyed in San Francisco Plane Crash  (WSJ)
  • Investment group sues U.S. over Fannie, Freddie bailout terms (Reuters)
  • SAC’s Cohen Said to Remain Under Investigation (BBG)
  • Egypt officials 'order closure of Islamist party HQ' (AFP)
  • Heinz Kerry Transferred to Boston Hospital for Treatment (BBG) - a boating accident?


Overnight Media Digest


* In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a group of judges responsible for making decisions about government surveillance in national-security cases, accepted that the word "relevant" could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people.

* The deadly weekend explosion of a runaway crude-carrying train in Quebec threatens to ratchet up scrutiny of rising crude-by-rail shipments on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, amid a boom in North American oil production.

* The United States is launching broad trade talks with Europe this week and preparing for the next stage of negotiations with select Asia-Pacific nations, part of the Obama administration's effort to find new fuel for economic growth.

* Larry Summers, a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, is said to be more than a little interested in taking over as Fed chairman if the job opens up.

* The so-called Volcker rule is designed to place a buffer between banks and the risks they take, but one aspect has left broad confusion among banks, their employees and clients. As regulators finalize the rule, banks are reaching widely different interpretations of what that employee-participation measure means.

* In the insider trading investigation of hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen, the U.S. government playbook looks to be missing two important elements: incriminating wiretaps and well positioned cooperators.

* Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 after he was caught patronizing prostitutes, said Sunday night he is launching an 11th-hour bid for the Democratic nomination for New York City comptroller.

* Despite low interest rates, French companies and entrepreneurs are cutting back on their investments. They are delaying plans to expand existing factories, and canceling plans to build new ones.

* Douglas Dayton, who led the transformation of a family department store into retailing giant Target Corp, has died Friday, at the age of 88, after a long battle with cancer.

* Thomson Reuters Corp has decided to stop giving an elite group of investors an early peek at the results of a market moving consumer confidence survey from the University of Michigan after regulators in New York began looking into the arrangement



Finance Minister George Osborne is set to endorse sweeping cultural reforms, including criminal penalties for "reckless" bankers, proposed by a cross-party banking commission.

The leader of Britain's opposition party Ed Miliband will lay out plans to lessen trade union influence in the Labour party.

Some of the world's top bankers have warned that clearing houses on both sides of the Atlantic pose a growing treat to maintaining the stability of the world's financial system.

BP is set to tell the U.S. appeals court in New Orleans that the settlement it struck to compensate those affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster is being misinterpreted.

Former trade minister Mervyn Davies is heading up a consortium looking to buy the majority of the government's 39 percent stake in lender Lloyds Banking Group.

Carlos Slim, one of the world's richest men, has invested $40 million in music recognition smartphone app developer Shazam.



* Facebook Inc is planning to roll out its Graph Search tool to help users sift the volumes of information on the site. Developing a sophisticated search feature is vital to Facebook's long-term success, both to deepen users' engagement and to make it more appealing to advertisers.

* Gannett Co Inc and the Tribune Co have recently purchased groups of TV stations in locations where political advertising can be highly lucrative. The increasingly expensive elections that play out across the country every two years are making stations look like a smart investment.

* Yielding to pressure from New York's attorney general, Thomson Reuters Corp is expected to suspend the early release of a closely watched consumer confidence index, which it has delivered two seconds in advance to clients willing to pay extra, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

* Criminal and civil authorities continue to press a long-running investigation into hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and Steven Cohen, who runs it.

* In a plan to be announced Monday, a mostly European group of apparel brands agreed to inspect within nine months all Bangladeshi garment factories that supply the companies and take responsibility and action wherever serious safety problems are found.

* Mobileye, a provider of driver-assistance technology systems, said on Sunday that it had raised $400 million in financing, valuing the company at about $1.5 billion. The investment, the biggest yet in Mobileye's history, will help the company strengthen and expand its offerings and its global reach.




* Five people have been confirmed dead after an explosive train derailment touched off massive fires in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on Saturday. Police say that number will grow and confirm they have more than 40 others on the official missing list.

* Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has received scores of letters and e-mails for funding an organization that referred to homosexuality as a "perversion" and "sin".

* Story of the pair accused in Canada Day bomb plot, who will appear in court on Tuesday, remains a mystery. Details about John Nuttall and Amanda Korody have trickled out in media reports since the arrest, but the record has large gaps.

Reports in the business section:

* The explosion of a train in Quebec casts new doubts over a major growth strategy for North America's railways and energy producers, of shipping oil by train. Railways and energy firms will now face scrutiny about their new strategy and are likely to deal with increasing opposition to what had seemed like a less-contentious alternative to pipelines.

* The annual shareholders' meeting of BlackBerry is likely to be dominated by questions about the company's disappointing fiscal first-quarter results.

* The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which speaks for 200,000 businesses across the country, is joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to push for new data standards in future free trade deals, starting with the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership.


* One of the prime minister's staffers accused of being in the loop about Nigel Wright's plan to personally pay Senator Mike Duffy C$90,000 ($85,000) has said he wasn't aware of Wright's cheque to Duffy until after media reports about it, according to Stephen Harper's office




- The new round of U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, DC will focus on the implementation of agreements reached during the June visit to the United States by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said on Sunday.


- China's gross domestic product growth is expected to slow down further to 7.5 percent in the second quarter from 7.7 percent in the first, economists have forecast. The country will publish second-quarter GDP data in mid-July.

- Major Chinese listed property companies, including China Vanke and Poly Real Estate, reported strong sales for June, a sign that the property market remains robust despite official efforts to cool the red-hot sector.


- The China Financial Futures Exchange has readied itself to curb possible risks ahead of the relaunch of trading in government bond futures, 18 years after a suspension in 1995 due to a major trading scandal.

- The Shanghai Commodity Futures Exchange launched a night session for gold and silver trading on Friday. Trading volume was heavy and the move aims to allow prices of China's precious metals to keep pace with international markets.

- Xinhuatong, a mobile commerce platform developed by new media units of Xinhua News Agency, was unveiled on Sunday, as the state media giant seeks to enter the fast-growing mobile payment market.


- The capital of Hebei province will follow the example of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Guiyang to restrict sales of vehicles to improve air quality. Starting on June 18, residents of Shijiazhuang will not be able to buy more than two cars per family. The move aims to keep the car count in the city below 2.1 million by 2015.


- Hundreds of big factories flanking Hangzhou Bay have constructed hidden underground pipes that pollute surrounding waters, decimating fish and livelihood of fishermen, according to a report by China Central Television. This follows the findings of China's Environmental Protection Bureau 2012 report that over 90 percent of bay water is at the nation's worst quality level.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



AGCO (AGCO) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Cytec Industries (CYT) upgraded to Buy from Sell at Goldman
Fiserv (FISV) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Heartland Payment (HPY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
LINN Energy (LINE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
LinnCo (LNCO) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Progenics (PGNX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Capital
Quality Distribution (QLTY) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
TD Ameritrade (AMTD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Vantiv (VNTV) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman (PCLN) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley


BP (BP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at ISI Group
Bemis (BMS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at KeyBanc
Benchmark Electronics (BHE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
Boston Scientific (BSX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Cognizant (CTSH) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Colfax (CFX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Dana Holding (DAN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Deere (DE) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
FMC Corporation (FMC) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Flextronics (FLEX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
Intel (INTC) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Evercore
Lender Processing (LPS) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
ON Semiconductor (ONNN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore
PBF Energy (PBF) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Plexus (PLXS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
Total System (TSS) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
VeriFone (PAY) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
Webster Financial (WBS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Zep Inc. (ZEP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T


FIS (FIS) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
General Moly (GMO) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
MEDNAX (MD) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Mallinckrodt (MNK) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Olympic Steel (ZEUS) coverage assumed with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Reliance Steel (RS) coverage assumed with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Royal Gold (RGLD) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Sandstorm Gold (SAND) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Santarus (SNTS) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities


ISS backs Michael Dell, Silver Lake buyout of Dell (DELL), Bloomberg reports
ING Group (ING) sold 50% stake in Chinese insurance joint venture to BNP Paribas (BNPQY) insurance unit
Avnet (AVT) announced intent to acquire MSC Investoren GmbH
Meade Instruments (MEAD) board recommended holders reject $3.65/share offer
Vivendi (VIVHY) looks to extract cash from Activision Blizzard (ATVI) subsidiary, FT reports


  • The U.S. office market continued its slow-but-steady recovery in Q2, as employers took on additional space at a modestly improved pace compared with recent anemic levels, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Canada's two largest pension funds, CPP Investment Board and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, are each sounding out big investment firms to join them for potential bids to acquire the Canadian iron-ore assets of Rio Tinto (RIO), sources say. Rio’s 59% stake in Iron Ore Co. of Canada has been estimated to be worth about $4B, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • The dollar climbed to a three-year high today and gold was near a three-year low, as last week's strong U.S. jobs data continued to feed expectations of a stimulus cut by the country's central bank, Reuters reports
  • A group of investors led by hedge fund Perry Capital LLC sued the U.S. Treasury in federal court yesterday to challenge the 2012 changes of the bailout terms set for government-owned mortgage firms Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), Reuters reports
  • Former Standard Chartered Plc Chairman Mervyn Davies is working to assemble an investor group to bid for part of the U.K. government’s stake in Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), sources say, Bloomberg reports
  • Standard & Poor’s (MHFI), getting its first shot in open court at Justice Department claims it should pay as much as $5B in civil penalties, will defend itself by arguing reasonable investors wouldn’t have relied on its “puffery” about credit ratings, Bloomberg reports


Dell (DELL) could reach $15 or more from Icahn bid
UnitedHealth (UNH) could jump 40% over two years
VMware (VMW), SDN threatens networking hardware makers (CSCO, JNPR, FFIV, ALU)


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