Frontrunning: August 28

  • Clearly it's time to bomb Assad (on Qatar instructions): Islamic State executes dozens of Syrian army soldiers (Reuters)
  • Ukraine Declares Russian Invasion as Sanctions Threat Raised (BBG)
  • Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front (NYT)
  • German Unemployment Rises as Risks to Economy Build (BBG)
  • Ebola spreads to Nigeria oil hub Port Harcourt (BBC)
  • FBI Probes Possible Hacking Incident at J.P. Morgan (WSJ)
  • FBI, Secret Service investigate reports of cyber attacks on U.S. banks (Reuters)
  • If you like your Venezuela, you can stay in Venezuela: Airlines Abandon Fliers Amid Currency Dispute (WSJ)
  • Boomer Wealth Dented by Mortgages Poses U.S. Risk (BBG)
  • People Aren't Buying Guns (BusinessWeek)
  • Icelandic Bardarbunga Volcano Update: Fractures, Sinkholes Spotted During Research Flight (Weather Channel)
  • Silva Shakes Up Brazilian Election (FT)
  • Samsung unveils smartwatch that can make calls (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


* The Islamic State runs a self-sustaining economy across territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, pirating oil while exacting tribute from a population of at least eight million, Arab and Western officials said, making it one of the world's richest terror groups and an unprecedented threat. (

* The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing a computer-hacking attack on J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and as many as four other banks, in what people familiar with the probe described as a significant breach of corporate computer security. (

* Argentina's international reserves are starting to dwindle in the wake of the country's second sovereign-debt default in almost 13 years, putting added stress on the peso and an economy believed to be in recession. (

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <IPO-BABA.N> reported big growth in revenue from mobile devices, which may bolster its case next month when the Chinese e-commerce giant begins to pitch investors on its long-awaited initial public offering. (

* A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request from Apple Inc to bar Samsung Electronics Co from selling smartphones and tablets in the United States that infringe on Apple patents. Apple had sought a permanent injunction against certain Samsung products after a judge and jury found in May that the Korean firm had infringed on three of its patents in a high-profile intellectual property dispute. (

* With Venezuela holding back on releasing $3.8 billion in airline-ticket revenue because of strict currency controls, Delta Air Lines Inc, American Airlines Group Inc and other airlines have slashed service to Venezuela by half since January. (



The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, is facing a formal investigation by a French court for alleged negligence in a political fraud affair dating from 2008 when she was finance minister.

The European Central Bank has hired BlackRock Solutions to provide consultancy services in its preparations for a programme to buy asset-backed securities.

Sales at Tesco slipped 4 percent on a quarterly basis according to industry data, highlighting the wounds inflicted by the supermarket price war on Britain's No.1 grocer.

The battle for Brazil's telecoms market is hotting up after one of the country's largest phone companies, Grupo Oi SA , unveiled plans to take over Telecom Italia's local mobile business.

Europe's largest budget carrier Ryanair is set to offer "business class" service on all of its flights as it tries to gain a bigger share of the European corporate travel market.

Fashion chain Zara, owned by Spain's Inditex, pulled from sale on Wednesday a striped children's top decorated with a large six-pointed star following public outcry that it resembled clothing worn by inmates in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.



* A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co and at least four others, were struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people briefed on a continuing investigation into the crimes. (

* Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation, in an escalation of a long-running inquiry into a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy. (

* With less than a month before its initial public offering, the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <IPO-BABA.N> is intent on showing just how profitable - and focused on mobile - it truly is. The Chinese e-commerce behemoth disclosed on Wednesday that its profit nearly tripled in the quarter that ended June 30, to $2 billion. Its sales climbed 46 percent, to $2.5 billion. (

* A British regulator fined Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC 14.5 million pounds, or about $24 million, on Wednesday for failing to offer proper advice to mortgage customers, and criticized the bank for its delays in responding to the initial complaints. (

* Tyson Foods Inc has reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department to sell its hog-purchasing business as part of its planned $7.7 billion acquisition of Hillshire Brands Co . The Justice Department said Wednesday that it would require Tyson to sell its Heinold Hog Markets unit to win antitrust approval for the merger. (

* Lawmakers and governor Jerry Brown of California on Wednesday said they had reached an agreement to expand the California film incentive program, capping a drive by entertainment industry unions, filmmakers and executives to bolster sagging movie and television production in the state. (

* The Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously approved rules on Wednesday that would require issuers of asset-backed securities - complex investments based on mortgages, auto loans or other types of debt - to disclose more information about the underlying loans. (

* Chiquita Brands International and Fyffes PLC tried to reassure investors about their planned merger, saying on Wednesday that they now expected the combined company to achieve an additional $20 million in annual cost savings by 2016. (

* The federal government is expected to finish its fiscal year with a relatively modest budget deficit as the gap between revenue and spending continues a sharp decline, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. (




- Yu Shengfa, vice president of e-commerce giant Alibaba's <IPO-BABA.N> future financial company, said the company has submitted applications to related regulators to set up "Ali Bank" which could be approved in September.


- Shanghai's municipal government has published a document outlining its strategies to develop the city into a global trading centre, including plans to build international trading platforms for commodities such as natural gas and iron ore in its free-trade zone.


- China could implement real estate registration system in 2017, said Leng Hongzhi, an official at the Ministry of Land and Resources.


- Lenovo Group Ltd will soon settle a year-old class action lawsuit over laptop malfunctions in the United States for approximately $70 million.


The Times


Inequality and poverty could "survive until doomsday" if Alex Salmond wins Scotland's independence referendum, according to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Sales at Britain's largest supermarket group have plunged and its market share has slipped again, highlighting the challenge facing Dave Lewis, Tesco's incoming chief executive.

The Guardian


David Cameron is planning to indicate to U.S. President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders at a summit in Wales next week that Britain is keeping open the option of joining the United States in launching air strikes against forces of the Islamic State in Iraq.


The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has been charged with "simple negligence" over her handling of a controversial 400 million euro payout to French business tycoon Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister.

The Telegraph

DECLARE THE SOCIAL MIX OF YOUR STAFF, BRITISH COMPANIES TOLD Alan Milburn, head of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, condemns the scale of "elitism" at the top of British public life as he calls for companies to engineer a more socially balanced workforce.

Sky News

RYANAIR LAUNCHES 'BUSINESS CLASS' BENEFITS The no-frills carrier sees advantages of offering the business traveller a more flexible experience as part of its new approach.


Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz


Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Second estimate of Q2 GDP at 8:30--consensus up 4.0%
Jobless claims for week of August 23 at 8:30--consensus 300K
Pending home sales index for July at 10:00--consensus up 0.5% for the month



Cott Corp. (COT) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel
First Horizon (FHN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
National Bank of Canada (NTIOF) upgraded to Perform from Underperform at Oppenheimer
Randgold Resources (GOLD) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC


Brown Forman downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
GT Advanced (GTAT) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Genuine Parts (GPC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
InterMune (ITMN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Sungy Mobile (GOMO) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Visa (V) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Williams-Sonoma (WSM) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley


Advance Auto Parts (AAP) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Allstate (ALL) initiated with a Neutral at Compass Point
AutoZone (AZO) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust
Cooper Tire (CTB) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust
Farmland Partners (FPI) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
FireEye (FEYE) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
GasLog Partners (GLOP) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Goodyear Tire (GT) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
ITC Holdings (ITC) coverage resumed with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Mercury General (MCY) initiated with a Neutral at Compass Point
Monro Muffler (MNRO) initiated with a Reduce at SunTrust
Monro Muffler (MNRO) initiated with a Reduce at SunTrust
O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
PGT, Inc. (PGTI) initiated with a Neutral at SunTrust
Safety Insurance (SAFT) initiated with a Buy at Compass Point
WEX Inc. (WEX) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Whole Foods (WFM) initiated with a Neutral at Wedbush

DuPont (DD) to pay $1.28 to resolve toxic gas leak allegations with DOJ, EPA
Deutsche Bank (DB) fined GBP4.7M by FCA for failing to properly report transactions
CME Group (CME) promoted John Pietrowicz to CFO
China Recycling Energy (CREG) chairman said its chairman made additional $18.9M investment in the company
Lear (LEA) signed a definitive agreement to acquire Eagle Ottawa for $850M
Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) announced the appointment of José Octavio Reyes Lagunes, the retired vice chairman of The Coca-Cola Export Corporation (KO), to its board effective August 25


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Violin Memory (VMEM), Workday (WDAY)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Coty (COTY), Greif (GEF), Exa Corp. (EXA), Sungy Mobile (GOMO), Guess (GES), Bally Technologies (BYI), Gordmans Stores (GMAN)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Williams-Sonoma (WSM), (DATE), DHT Holdings (DHT), Casella Waste (CWST), Tilly's (TLYS)


Hackers targeted JPMorgan Chase (JPM), 'at least' four other banks, NY Times reports
FBI investigating whether Russia involved with JPMorgan (JPM) hacking, Bloomberg says
GSK (GSK), Shire (SHPG) rumored to be interested in Tekmira (TKMR), Daily Mail says
Samsung (SSNLF) hit by new allegations of child labor in China, FT reports
Samsung (SSNLF), Lenovo (LNVGY) China supplier rejects child labor claims, Reuters says
Judge denies Apple (AAPL) request to block sale of Samsung (SSNLF) devices, AP says
Tiffany (TIF) stock should continue higher, Barron's says


Castle Brands (ROX) files $30M mixed securities shelf
Gramercy Property Trust (GPT) files to sell 22.24M shares of common stock
Nordstrom (JWN) files to sell common stock, no amount given
Orient Paper (ONP) raises $2.5M in a registered direct offering
Tiffany (TIF) files automatic mixed securities shelf


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