Frontrunning: August 20

  • Ferguson at Turning Point After Night of Relative Calm (BBG)
  • Gaza war rages on, Hamas says Israel tried to kill its military chief (Reuters)
  • Surge in Putin Patriotism Masks Pain of Sanctions (BBG)
  • Bank of England splits over rate hike for first time in 3 years (Reuters)
  • Putin Meeting Leaves Kiev With Tough Choices (WSJ)
  • European Gas Reverses Biggest Drop Since 2009 on Ukraine (BBG)
  • "Isolation"  Mongolia Seeks Economic Lifeline With Pivot to China, Russia (BBG)
  • Uber Picks David Plouffe to Wage Regulatory Fight (NYT)
  • China Levies Record Antitrust Fine on Japanese Firms (BBG)
  • Jackson Hole Rally at Risk as Investors Preempt Yellen (BBG)
  • Standard Chartered to pay $300 million for oversight shortfalls (Reuters)
  • HeidelbergCement Says House Boom Fails to Cure UK Market (BBG)
  • Sprouts Fights Whole Foods Putting Organic Kale on Sale (BBG)
  • Australia Review Chills $20 Billion Clean-Energy Industry (BBG)
  • Walgreen Shakeup Followed Bad Projection (CFO)
  • Rating agencies under fire for 'unjustified' Greek downgrades (Kathimerini)... except for the whole "default" thing of course
  • Secretive Army of Hamas Emerges From Shadows in Gaza (WSJ)


Overnight Media Digest


* U.S. retailer Walgreen Co pressured its Chief Financial Officer Wade Miquelon and pharmacy chief Kermit Crawford to leave after a bungled forecast of pharmacy profits related to its Medicare prescription-drug business. (

* Schools in Ferguson, Missouri, have canceled classes, business owners face broken windows and falling revenue, and police forces are strained after more than a weak of violent protests. (

* The U.S. military's recent success in weakening Islamic State extremists and pushing them away from a key dam in Iraq is creating momentum for a broader campaign that could take American air power to the militant group's heartland northwest of Baghdad. (

* The conflict in the Gaza Strip has brought the secretive guerrilla army of Hamas out of the shadows and into battle against Israel's military for only the second time. When the brigade's fighters are killed, Hamas street organizers eulogize them as heroes, posting images of them in fatigues and toting rockets. And families in the Gaza Strip are coming to terms with never-before-discussed identities of sons and neighbors. (

* Argentine President Cristina Kirchner said on Tuesday night that her administration will seek congressional approval to make payments on its international bonds in Argentina after a creditor dispute in U.S. courts led the country to default on some of its debt last month. The Kirchner administration will deposit payments on restructured bonds in an account at the central bank, Kirchner said on national television. (

* AT&T Inc is bringing its ultrafast Internet service to Apple Inc's hometown and a few miles from Google Inc's doorstep. The carrier plans to make Cupertino the first city in California to receive its up to one gigabit service U-verse fiber optic broadband service. Service in Cupertino would begin in coming months, AT&T said. (

* Former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer quit his post as a company director after 14 years, giving CEO Satya Nadella an even freer hand to reshape the company. Ballmer, fresh off his $2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise, indicated that his duties as team owner, among other interests, wouldn't leave enough time to stay on Microsoft's board. (

* Standard Chartered Plc will pay a $300 million penalty to New York's financial regulator and impose measures to correct lapses in its anti-money-laundering procedures, the New York State Department of Financial Services said on Tuesday, as part of a settlement with the British lender. (

* BHP Billiton Plc said it would spin off nickel, aluminum and other properties into a new company that could be valued at up to $12 billion, in what would be one of the biggest asset sales in mining history. (

* South Korea's LG Chem Ltd has secured a deal to supply electric vehicle batteries to Audi AG, a unit of German auto maker Volkswagen AG. LG Chem didn't disclose details of the deal, but said the contract would help Volkswagen's efforts to revive the sluggish growth of emission-free vehicles globally. (

* Lear Corp is nearing a deal to acquire Eagle Ottawa LLC, the world's largest supplier of premium automotive leather, for more than $800 million, according to people familiar with the matter. (

* Penske Media Corp, the owner of Hollywood trade publications Variety and Deadline, will acquire Women's Wear Daily and other fashion-industry publications from Conde Nast, the companies said Tuesday. The sale price is close to $100 million, said a person with knowledge of the deal. (

* Wells Fargo aims to double the size of its asset-management unit to $1 trillion over the next decade through acquisitions and more aggressive sales to big investors, according to executives carrying out the plan. (

* Citigroup Inc is considering the sale of its retail-banking business in Japan, where the U.S. financial giant has had a presence for decades as a leading Western bank, people familiar with the matter said. (

* Allergan Inc approached Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd and at least one other company about a potential acquisition, as the Botox maker seeks to fend off a $53 billion hostile takeover from Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. (

* Rockwell Collins Inc and other cockpit-equipment makers are developing technologies to combat a major source of frustration for airline passengers: flights that are canceled or diverted due to poor visibility at their scheduled destinations. Using computer-generated color images, and sometimes infrared-enhanced views of runways and their surroundings, Rockwell, Honeywell International Inc and other suppliers are seeking to reduce such schedule disruptions and lost revenue for carriers. (

* Canada's transportation safety agency said on Tuesday that inadequate Canadian government oversight and a railway company's "weak safety culture" were among a host of factors that led to last year's devastating oil-train derailment in Quebec. It also recommended even more measures to strengthen safety in a North American rail network dealing with a surge in the transportation of crude by rail. (



As part of its $300 million settlement with U.S. authorities Standard Chartered Plc will be barred from processing transactions for some high risk clients.

British construction company Carillion raised its offer for Balfour Beatty Plc for the third time, ramping up pressure on its larger UK construction rival to reopen merger talks.

Miner BHP Billiton , will spin off businesses worth an estimated $16 billion, signalling an end to years of deals and expansion fuelled by the commodities boom.

The world's largest fixed income manager, Pimco, made a clutch of new hires for its equity business as it tries to ease the pressure on its troubled bond operations.

Taxi-hailing app creator Uber has hired David Plouffe, U.S. President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign advisor, to devise and run its global political and branding strategy.



* Uber, a fast-growing start-up that promotes private car sharing, announced on Tuesday that it had hired the political strategist David Plouffe to be its senior vice president of policy and strategy. (

* Radio Shack's ubiquitous stores flourished when consumers fixed their own gadgets. Now, the chain is trying out brighter, more inviting stores to lure shoppers. (

* Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp's former chief executive, resigned on Tuesday as a member of Microsoft's board, his primary remaining affiliation with the company after leaving the top job in February. (

* In a settlement announced on Tuesday by New York State's financial regulator, Standard Chartered Plc will pay a $300 million fine and suspend an important business activity because of its failure to weed out transactions prone to money-laundering, a punishing reminder of settlements in 2012. (

* Condé Nast announced on Tuesday the sale of Fairchild Fashion Media, a group of trade publications including Women's Wear Daily and Footwear News, to Penske Media. The sale price was about $100 million, according to a person briefed on the deal. (

* After an 18-month investigation, Macy's Inc has agreed to pay a $650,000 fine and hire an independent monitor to address complaints that minority shoppers faced heightened surveillance and, in some cases, wrongful detention at its flagship store in Midtown Manhattan. (

* Square, the e-commerce start-up, announced on Tuesday that it would broaden the scope of its cash advance program through a multimillion-dollar deal with Victory Park Capital, a Chicago-based firm known for backing small-business financing ventures. (

* After more than a month of pressure from the activist investor Jana Partners, PetSmart Inc has publicly acknowledged that it is up for sale. (

* The owner of the Winn-Dixie and Bi-Lo supermarket chains disclosed on Tuesday that it had canceled its forthcoming initial public offering, nearly a year after the company first registered for a stock sale. (

* The impending shutdown of Atlantic City's newest casino, after little more than two years in business, will be another blow to what used to be the unchallenged gaming Mecca of the East Coast. (

* Elizabeth Arden Inc, the beauty company, blamed its celebrity fragrance lines featuring Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, among others, for a steep drop in sales in the fiscal fourth quarter. (

* Ocwen Financial Corp, a mortgage servicing firm that promised to improve on the loan-modification process for struggling homeowners, faces new regulatory scrutiny. (




* The fallout from the Mount Polley spill has reached other mines in British Columbia. The province has suspended the environmental assessment of the proposed Morrison copper and gold mine, pending the final report into Mount Polley. A review is also under way at the Red Chris mine, owned by Imperial Metals Corporation - which also owns the Mount Polley mine. (

* Winnipeg's Red River has become ground zero in the ongoing fight for a national inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women, its muddy waters the site of a grim discovery by police divers who were actually looking for another person's body when they happened upon the remains of Tina Fontaine. (

Reports in the business section:

* Industry Canada said it will hold a consultation on the future of a band of airwaves used for rural Internet access and reiterated a commitment it made last year to force telecommunications providers to "use it or lose it" when it comes to spectrum licenses. The department added that it hopes to re-purpose some of that band of spectrum for cellular use in urban areas. That has left New Brunswick-based Xplornet Communications Inc, one major provider of rural Internet services, worried about the impact on its customers. (


* The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is investigating two more men with suspected ties to Calgary who allegedly left Canada to participate in the Syrian civil war, according to community members. Both men are from Windsor, Ontario, but are believed to have spent time in Calgary, where counter-terrorism investigators have been asking questions about at least ten jihadist recruits. (

* Mayor Rob Ford says if re-elected, he will move to reduce crowding on buses and streetcars and establish new express bus routes without adding to the ranks of the Toronto Transit Commision. (


* Hedge funds, mostly American, seem to have their fingerprints all over the Canadian oil patch these days. Orange Capital LLC emerged on Tuesday as the latest to take a position in a Canadian oil and gas company. The New York-based fund has built a 5.3 percent stake in Calgary-based Bellatrix Exploration Ltd since July 2, according to regulatory filings.(

* Toronto startup Vantage Analytics has raised C$1.1 million in its first round of funding from Real Ventures and a number of angels with e-commerce and retail expertise. (




- The Shenzhen stock exchange and Shenzhen Securities Communication Co Ltd jointly said they would lower various service fees to improve the trading environment of the Shenzhen bourse.


- Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group signed a cooperation agreement with car dealer China Grand Auto on Tuesday to establish an online second-hand car trading platform, the official paper said.

- China Railway Corp, the country's railway operator, said on Tuesday it would auction a total of 17 billion yuan ($2.77 billion) of seven-year railway construction bonds on Aug. 20.


- The average monthly salary for university graduates in China is around 2,443 yuan ($398), according to a survey by Peking University of 350,000 graduates across the country. A third of graduates have to rely on their parents.


- China has detained three people in Shanghai for forging and selling fake press cards, police in the city's Hongkou district said on Tuesday.


- China should increase restrictions on drug use, the newspaper which acts as a mouthpiece for the ruling Communist Party said. A number of high-profile celebrities have been caught in a recent crackdown on drug use in China.


The Times


Standard Chartered has been banned from opening new U.S. dollar bank accounts without the explicit permission of American regulators, amid a series of extraordinary restrictions, after officials warned the lender that it could be used as a conduit for illegal transactions.


Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is expected to be questioned by MPs next month over his political neutrality in the wake of accusations that he has a secret pact with the chancellor to keep interest rates on hold until after the general election.

The Guardian


Some of Britain's leading hospitals stand accused of exploiting the coalition's controversial lifting of the cap on the number of private patients they can treat to increase their income as part of a "creeping privatisation" of the National Health Service.


Rail fares will rise by an average of 3.5 percent in January, with some increasing by up to 5.5 percent, adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of commuters' season tickets.

The Telegraph


Harris + Hoole, the coffee shop chain backed by Tesco , is to close six stores, raising questions about its performance.

Sky News


Ministers considered selling the government's entire stake in Royal Mail when the shares were trading close to their post-privatisation peak earlier this year - but decided against doing so because it risked antagonising investors.


Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz


Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
MBA purchase applications at 7am
EIA Petroleum status report at 10:30am
FOMC minutes at 2pm



Delek Logistics (DKL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
F5 Networks (FFIV) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at ISI Group
JetBlue (JBLU) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen
Panera Bread (PNRA) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Siemens (SIEGY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Tsakos Energy (TNP) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
United Community Banks (UCBI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust


BHP Billiton (BHP) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Hertz (HTZ) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Hertz (HTZ) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Real Goods Solar (RGSE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital


Microsoft's (MSFT) former CEO Steve Ballmer announced his intention to step down immediately from the company's board
Hertz (HTZ) withdrew FY14 financial guidance and said it expects to be "well below" the low end of FY14. The company cited operational challenges in the rental car and equipment segments as well as the associated costs related to the accounting review previously disclosed
PetSmart (PETM) said it will explore strategic alternatives, including potential sale
PETA said it acquired more SeaWorld (SEAS) shares to be able to ask questions
Standard Chartered (SCBFF) to pay $300M penalty to settle allegations with New York DFS
Real Goods Solar (RGSE) promoted Dennis Lacey to CEO
Lowe's CEO said home improvement spending 'will continue to progress'


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Lowe's (LOW), Staples (SPLS), PetSmart (PETM), Tarena (TEDU), Phototronics (PLAB)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
RGS Energy reports Q2 EPS (46c), La-Z-Boy (LZB)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
E-House (EJ), LightInTheBox (LITB)

Lowe's (LOW) sees FY14 EPS approximately $2.63, consensus $2.61
Staples (SPLS) sees Q3 non-GAAP EPS 34c-39c, consensus 37c
PetSmart (PETM) backs FY14 EPS $4.29-$4.39, consensus $4.32
PetSmart (PETM) sees Q3 EPS 93c-97c, consensus 94c


Apple (AAPL) could delay iWatch until 2015, FT Alphaville reports
Citigroup (C) has approached Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU), Mizuho Financial Group (MFG) Sumitomo Mitsui (SMFG) as well as regional banks regarding a sale of its Japanese retail banking unit, Reuters reports
Cisco (CSCO) COO says annual layoffs 'wrong way to do it,' Business Insider reports
Walgreen (WAG) CFO, pharmacy chief may have bee pressured to leave, WSJ reports
Netflix (NFLX) signs paid peering deal with Time Warner Cable (TWC), GigaOM reports
GE (GE) plans to invest $3.5B in aircraft engine unit, Nikkei says
Home Depot (HD) still looks undervalued, Barron's says


Cosi (COSI) says Janus to buy 3.89M shares at $1.15 per share
Real Goods Solar (RGSE) files to sell 5.02M shares of Class A common stock
Wheeler REIT (WHLR) files to sell 120K units


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