Frontrunning: June 4

  • U.S. sets new import duties on Chinese solar products (Reuters)
  • U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up (WSJ)
  • China Mulls Offshore Yuan Gold Trade in Free Trade Zone (BBG)
  • Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
  • KCG Holdings Suspects Its Trading Code Was Stolen (WSJ)
  • ‘Period. Full Stop’ Is the New ‘At the End of the Day’ (BBG)
  • Draghi not so goof for bonds: Investors Flag Risk of ECB Disappointing After Europe Bond Rally (BBG)
  • But great for stocks: Equity Traders See Draghi Turning Throttle Up on Rally (BBG)
  • ISS, Other Proxy Advisers Pressed to Disclose Conflicts (WSJ)
  • State Colleges Revolt as Years of Cuts Divide U.S. Campuses (BBG)
  • Singapore Joins China With Dangerous Debt Level, GMT Says (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is readying new guidelines for firms that advise shareholders on corporate ballots, amid complaints by corporations that such advisers have too much influence. The SEC guidance is expected to press proxy advisers to better disclose potential conflicts of interest and may also seek to reduce investor reliance on their advice when voting in company elections. (

* European regulators, anxious about potentially massive U.S. penalties against BNP Paribas SA and other continental banks, are scrambling to determine whether they could pose a threat to the financial health of major lenders, according to regulatory and industry officials. (

* The Manhattan district attorney's office is investigating whether a former technology executive stole computer code from a high-profile trading firm and used it to benefit a rival, according to people briefed on the probe. Code-theft cases have proliferated as global banks and sophisticated trading firms seek to protect the technology that drives their operations. (

* Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co said on Wednesday it will acquire Alabama-based Protective Life Corp for $70 per share in cash, valuing the company at about $5.7 billion. The deal is the largest purchase of a foreign company by a Japanese life insurer. (

* The European Central Bank is ready to act against very low inflation after months of delay, amid mounting evidence that weak prices are undermining the euro zone's recovery from its debt crisis. Tuesday's report showing inflation in the 18-country region softened to 0.5 percent last month - a four-year low - underscored the challenge facing the ECB as it prepares for a policy-setting meeting Thursday. (

* Chinese search company Baidu Inc is selling a benchmark-sized U.S. dollar-denominated bond, according to a term sheet seen by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Baidu could raise about $1 billion with the bond sale, according to a person familiar with the matter, but the exact size will depend on market demand. (

* Moody's lowered its baseline credit and local currency ratings for Citigroup Inc's Mexican banking unit Banamex on Tuesday. The ratings agency also warned that Banamex's stand-alone bank financial-strength rating could be next as the institution slogs through investigations into bad loans it extended to Mexican oil-services provider Oceanografia. (

* Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lost a bid to combine more than a dozen state lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with a U.S. federal judge ruling that the cases be dealt with separately in the state courts. (

* A federal insider-trading investigation could complicate a potentially large deal being negotiated by activist investor Carl Icahn, according to a person familiar with the matter. It is unclear which company is involved in the negotiations or whether the veteran financier would be forced to jettison the deal. (



France's socialist government warned on Tuesday of potential consequences for transatlantic trade talks if the U.S. pushed ahead with $10 billion-plus sanctions for BNP Paribas, France's biggest bank.

Billionaire Carl Icahn bought about $50 million of common stock in mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the same day in March that Senators Tim Johnson and Mike Crapo announced reforms to replace the companies with a new model of government support for the U.S. housing market.

Mexican national oil company Pemex has sold most of its holding in Spain's Repsol. The sale of shares for about 2.2 billion euros ($3 billion) was revealed in a regulatory filing by Repsol.

State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland became the second British lender to cap large mortgage loans, echoing Lloyds Banking Group's move last month amid rising concerns that the London property market is overheating.

Canaccord Genuity Group, the Canadian investment bank, quadrupled its profits to $25.9 million in the three months to March 31, driven by a rise in advisory and equity capital markets business in the UK and United States.



* As the financial sanctions that the United States imposes on foreign governments have become vastly more sophisticated, the Obama administration has deployed them more and more often. (

* Officials at General Motors said an internal report on faulty ignition switches tied to 13 deaths would exonerate the company's chief executive. (

* Economists fear that an outbreak of ultralow inflation across the 18-nation euro zone is doing more harm than good to the bloc's economic recovery. (

* BNP Paribas SA, under investigation for doing business with Sudan and other countries that the United States has blacklisted, is hashing out the final details of a criminal guilty plea for its parent company. BNP showed prosecutors a memo, drafted around 2004 by an outside law firm, that essentially authorized the bank to process certain transactions for Sudan, as long as BNP's employees in New York were not involved in the arrangement. (

* The Commerce Department on Tuesday imposed steep duties on importers of Chinese solar panels made from certain components, asserting that the manufacturers had benefited from unfair subsidies. The duties will range from 18.56 to 35.21 percent, the department said. (

* Automakers announced robust sales in the United States in May as several reported double-digit growth over last year - including General Motors, which continued to post strong results despite a widening recall crisis. (

* As more middle-class Indians are able to afford costlier products, they drive the demand for organic, fair-trade and artisanal items. (




* Prime Minister Stephen Harper has chosen Clément Gascon, a widely respected, conservative-minded judge from the Quebec Court of Appeal, for a seat on the Supreme Court of Canada. The Prime Minister's Office said it had promised to fill the position as quickly as possible and did not want to delay it. The appointment is effective next Monday. The job has been vacant since Morris Fish of Quebec retired at the end of August. (

* Pipeline company Plains Midstream Canada has been fined $1.3 million after pleading guilty to two spills that sent a total of nearly five million litres of oil into Alberta rivers and wetlands. (

Reports in the business section:

* A massive catch of lobster in parts of Nova Scotia has stuffed the holding tanks of dealers, causing them to halt purchases and idle the fishermen who are worried about plunging prices for Canada's most valuable seafood export. (


* Ahmed Sayed Abassi, a former Quebec graduate who was arrested in New York last year following an investigation into an alleged Al-Qaeda plot to derail a Toronto-bound passenger train, pleaded guilty to two counts of immigration fraud on Tuesday. (

* Bruce Montague, a northwestern Ontario gunsmith who protested against Canada's firearms licensing regime by letting his own permit slip, has lost his challenge of Canada's criminal forfeiture laws. The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled against Montague's challenge of the Criminal Code's automatic forfeiture provisions, under which a judge had ordered most of his "arsenal" - 200 items including dynamite, submachine guns, sawn off shotguns etc - should become the property of Ontario. (


* A majority of British Columbians want Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject or delay Enbridge Inc's Northern Gateway pipeline amid concern the project could lead to oil spills, a Bloomberg-Nanos poll shows. (

* The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said there were 3,286 sales last month in Greater Vancouver across the Multiple Listing Service, up from 2,882 sales recorded in May 2013. Sales jumped 7.7 percent from 3,050 in April, 2014. (




- Land sales revenue for May in 10 major Chinese cities totalled 57.8 billion yuan ($9.24 billion), down 24.6 percent from a year earlier, the first decline in 20 months, according to a report by E-house China R&D Institute.

- Chen Geng, the president of Guotai Junan Securities Co Ltd, has resigned, insiders said on Tuesday. Chen Geng, who has held the position for 10 years, is leaving as the company prepares for an initial public offering.


- The state-run newspaper said in an editorial that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for a larger role by Japan in regional security is against the nature of the Self-Defense Forces as defined by the country's constitution.

Abe is not only trying to violate the pacifist constitution of Japan, he is also attempting to expand his unconstitutional moves to the Asia-Pacific, the editorial added.


- Chinese President Xi Jinping told a conference on Tuesday that engineering and technology are strategic options by the human race to cope with global challenges and China should also rely on innovation to drive growth.


The Telegraph


Royal Bank of Scotland has become the second bank in the space of two weeks to limit risky mortgage lending amid fears of unsustainable house price inflation. (


Takeover activity between British companies fell to its lowest level on record during the first quarter of the year, according to official figures. (


UK house prices have jumped over the past year to a record high of 186,512 pounds ($312,200), rising above its pre-financial crisis peak, Nationwide figures show. (

The Guardian


Tesco appears to have lost more than 1 million customer visits a week, worth 25 million pounds in sales, with its market share showing the biggest decline for at least 20 years. In the 12 weeks to 25 May, Tesco's sales fell 3.1 percent from a year earlier and Morrisons' sales dipped 3.9 percent, according to figures compiled by Kantar Worldpanel. (


Vodafone is to close its research facility in Silicon Valley and expand its London team as the telecommunications company seeks to tap into UK engineering skills. (

The Times


The fall-out from the rising tension between the west and Russia over its actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine struck at the heart of the City last night after Lloyds Banking Group withdrew from a trade finance deal with Rosneft worth up to $2 billion. (


The chief executive of Foxtons has stepped down unexpectedly less than nine months after bringing the estate agent to the stock market. Michael Brown is to leave Foxtons for personal reasons after 12 years, the company said yesterday. He had taken compassionate leave in April. (

The Independent


London-based trading data company Markit, which competes with Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, said late on Tuesday it expects its Nasdaq initial public offering to price between $23 and $25 a share, raising up to $1.1 billion and valuing the whole of the company at up to $4.4 billion. (


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot


Domestic economic reports scheduled today include:
ADP employment change report for May at 8:15--consensus 210K
Nonfarm productivity for Q1 at 8:30--consensus (3.0%)
U.S. trade deficit for April at 8:30--consensus ($40.8B)
Markit services PMI for May at 9:45--consensus 58.2
ISM non-manufacturing PMI at 10:00--consensus 55.5



Canadian Pacific (CP) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Credit Suisse (CS) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Deutsche Bank (DB) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Rexnord (RXN) upgraded to Overweight from Equalweight at Barclays
Under Armour (UA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
XL Group (XL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley


Barclays (BCS) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC
Coach (COH) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Garrison Capital (GARS) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Monroe Capital (MRCC) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Sasol (SSL) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
Stellus Capital (SCM) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
TIBCO (TIBX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
TIBCO (TIBX) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
TIBCO (TIBX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho


AVG Technologies (AVG) initiated with an In-Line at Imperial Capital
Air Methods (AIRM) initiated with a Buy at KeyBanc
Exact Sciences (EXAS) initiated with a Buy at Goldman
GTT Communications (GTT) initiated with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
NOW Inc. (DNOW) initiated with a Positive at Susquehanna
PBF Logistics (PBFX) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo


Protective Life (PL) said it will be acquired by Dai-ichi Life for $70.00 per share in cash, or a total transaction value of approximately $5.7B
AT&T (T) said it is confident that regulators will approve DirecTV (DTV) deal. The company sees over $1.6B in cost synergies from the DirecTV deal
Northrop Grumman (NOC) was awarded $9.9B government contract for B-2 modernization and sustainment
Ascena Retail (ASNA) reported Q3 earnings that beat estimates and backed its FY14 EPS view
Ambarella (AMBA) reported Q1 results above analyst estimates
Tibco Software (TIBX) reported weaker than expected Q2 guidance


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include: (DATE), Mitcham Industries (MIND), Ambarella (AMBA), Ascena Retail (ASNA)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
FuelCell (FCEL), ABM Industries (ABM), ePlus (PLUS), Mattress Firm (MFRM)


General Motors (GM) CEO expected to be cleared of wrongdoing, NY Times says
Lenovo (LNVGY) to complete IBM (IBM) server business acquisition by November, DigiTimes reports
Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO says 'can never imagine leaving' position, NY Post reports
Merck (MRK), Sanofi (SNY), GSK (GSK) look to unload older drugs, WSJ says
Amazon (AMZN) delays launch of Cloud Player, FreeTime for Fire TV, GigaOM reports
Samsung (SSNLF) says Tizen TV coming "soon," WSJ reports
Official says Hollande told Obama BNP (BNPQY) fine “disproportionate,” Reuters reports


Allison Transmission (ALSN) files to sell 35M shares for holders
Boston Properties (BXP) establishes $600M 'at the market' stock offering program
Laclede (LG) files to sell 9M shares of common stock, $125M in equity units
Palo Alto (PANW) files to sell 1.56M shares for holders


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