- Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
- Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
- Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
- Because we don’t already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
- Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
- Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
- Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
- U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)
- Sotheby’s Pink Diamond Buyer Defaulted on Record Purchase (BBG)
- Winter Storm Threatens New Yorkers on First Commute in March (BBG)
- New York Plaza Owner Arrested Amid $3.9 Billion Refund Probe (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said bad weather might explain the patch of soft economic data making headlines during the past few weeks, but she isn’t quite sure.
* Insurers are rushing to gather health information from the new customers they won on public marketplaces in a high-stakes outreach effort crucial to their hopes of profiting from the health-care law.
* Sandwich chain Quiznos is preparing to file for bankruptcy-court protection within weeks as it contends with unhappy franchisees and a $570 million debt load, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
* Wells Fargo said it is cutting another 700 mortgage jobs, as the U.S. home refinancing market continues to cool.
* Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc rejected Men’s Wearhouse Inc’s $1.8 billion takeover as “inadequate,” but in doing so left open the possibility of ultimately agreeing to a tie-up with its rival.
* Freddie Mac reported a record annual profit of $48.7 billion for 2013 on Thursday, powered by a strong rebound in U.S. home prices and a series of legal and accounting benefits that reversed earlier losses.
* SunTrust Banks Inc is the subject of an investigation into whether its actions may have resulted in unspecified losses to Fannie Mae the government-controlled mortgage-finance company, according to federal filings and people familiar with the matter.
* Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen defended the corporate-governance practices of the technology industry and said he recuses himself from boardroom discussions that could involve companies his firm is backing.
* Federal regulators plan to file a legal action against a unit of mortgage-servicing firm Walter Investment Management over alleged violations of consumer financial laws, the company said in a regulatory filing Thursday.
* Teens as young as 13 are sometimes shown Facebook ads inappropriate to their age, underscoring Facebook’s challenge in policing a social network with more than a billion users and a million advertisers.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced an independent inquiry into letters of immunity sent to IRA suspects after an angry response to the freeing of an Irishman accused of 1982 bombing that killed four soldiers in London.
Spain’s government has started to sell some of its shares in nationalised lender Bankia with an initial offer to investors of a 7.5 percent stake in an attempt towards reprivatisation.
Europe’s largest insurer Allianz’s Chief Executive warned of interference in the operating decisions of Pimco amid pressure from investors to protect the bond fund manager brand.
Insurance and pensions heavyweight Standard Life became the first major company to warn it could move partly out of Scotland if Scots split from the United Kingdom, fuelling a political row over the financial impact of independence.
Italian fashion house Versace is selling a 20 percent stake to U.S. private equity firm Blackstone through the injection of 150 million euros of fresh capital and the purchase of 60 million euros worth of shares from the Versace family.
* Accounts based on documents supplied by Edward Snowden say images – many sexually explicit – were collected from Yahoo users, even those not suspected of illegal activity.
* The instant growth in the oil-by-rail business is increasing the oil supply, but also raising alarms.
* State and federal regulators are worried that Ocwen Financial Corp is mishandling some of the mortgages it services, citing examples of shoddy paperwork and faulty technology.
* SeaWorld Entertainment Inc has come under fire after a documentary criticized its practice of holding whales in captivity. Now, the company is firing back.
* Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, said on Thursday that the Fed was looking closely at a recent run of disappointing economic data as it considers how quickly to retreat from its economic stimulus campaign.
* Scrambling to contain the expanding fallout from the recall of about 1.4 million small cars because of a faulty ignition switch, General Motors Co again apologized on Thursday and said that it hoped to start repairing the cars in early April.
* A British man has been charged with hacking into computer servers belonging to the United States Federal Reserve, and then widely disclosing personal information of people who use them.
* Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc said on Thursday that its board had rejected Men’s Wearhouse Inc’s latest takeover bid, worth nearly $1.8 billion, but said that it was willing to meet to try and agree on a higher price.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Long-simmering tension between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the city’s police chief reached a new level of animosity with the mayor daring Chief Bill Blair on Thursday to “arrest me.”
* With its flagship project rejected once more, Taseko Mines Ltd is refusing to throw in the towel, saying it will not give up its bid for a federal judicial review of what the company calls a flawed environmental report.
Reports in the business section:
* Bruce Power is working to secure the commitment from its two leading shareholders – TransCanada Corp and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System – for a 15-year, C$15 billion ($13.5 billion) project to refurbish six Candu reactors at its Lake Huron site.
* Amid signs of a cooling Canadian economy and slower personal borrowing, the country’s largest lenders are reporting stellar results, reviving memories of a recent earnings season when four of the Big Six banks reported record profits.
* At the just-concluded Liberal national policy convention, a motion called for Australian-style gun control in Canada. This would see a huge number of guns seized from their owners in exchange for monetary compensation, and then destroyed. The motion was defeated, but that didn’t stop some Tory members of parliament from warning lawful gun owners that the Liberals are out to get them.
* Quebec’s Premier Pauline Marois says she doesn’t believe Quebec’s anglophone and allophone communities are living in a climate of insecurity despite a recent poll suggesting the contrary. The EKOS poll, conducted for CBC-Radio-Canada, suggested that 51 percent of anglophones surveyed had considered leaving Quebec in the past year.
* WestJet Airlines Ltd could bring in wide-body aircraft for in-house flying as soon as next year, the company disclosed to its pilots in a private presentation on Thursday.
* British Columbia’s finance minister says the government is taking West Coast liquefied natural gas investment “very seriously,” even as companies such as Royal Dutch Shell push back on the province’s 7 percent additional income tax on proposed LNG projects on the West Coast.
SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS
– Ownership reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong is expected to attract more than 100 billion yuan ($16.32 billion) of private capital, the region’s vice governor Xu Shaohua said. The reform should be completed by 2015, he added.
– China will adopt five key measures to deal with worsening air pollution problems, including promoting natural gas supply, building new electric transmission networks and developing new energy technology, the country’s energy authorities said.
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
– Asset-backed securitization is estimated to hit 200 billion yuan ($32.63 billion) this year, industry experts told the official paper.
– A police official in the southwestern province of Sichuan has been arrested for taking 31 million yuan ($5.06 million) in bribes. Authorities raided his home and office, finding close to $2 million in cash alone.
– Shenzhen’s Qianhai free trade zone (FTZ), a testing ground for many policies to attract overseas investments, will help promote trade liberalization in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong, the Qianhai authority said in a document.
– Chinese contractors earned $137 billion in revenues from operations abroad in 2013, according to the China International Contractors Association. This was up 17.6 percent from a year earlier, driven by growing demand in Europe and Latin America.
– China needs to remember its history in order to create a bright future, the paper which acts as a Party mouthpiece said in an editorial. This comes in the wake of the country setting two new national memorial days to mark its victory in the Sino-Japanese war and the massacre of its civilians in Nanjing.
GLAXO BONUSES HURT BY CHINA SCANDAL
Bonuses for GlaxoSmithKline’s top executives were “lower than they otherwise might have been” last year due to a major bribery scandal in China that has dogged the company since June, the company said in its annual report.
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO THREATENS LEGAL CHALLENGE TO PLAIN PACKAGING PROPOSALS
British American Tobacco has threatened to take the UK government to court over proposals to enforce plain packaging on cigarette packages.
STANDARD LIFE WARNS IT MAY QUIT AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND
Standard Life, the Edinburgh-based financial services group, became the largest and most influential Scottish firm yet to warn about the possible impact of independence and said it was setting up English subsidiary companies in case it decided to relocate.
BANK OF ENGLAND IDENTIFIES NEED TO SHELTER HOMEOWNERS FROM INTEREST SPIKE
The Bank of England’s base rate would peak close to 3 percent to protect mortgage payers from a big increase in monthly interest payments, a senior Bank of England official said .
RBS TO SLIM DOWN AS LOSSES HIT 8.2 BILLION POUNDS
Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland slid more than 9 per cent today after the bank revealed a “sobering” £8.24 billion loss and its chief executive revealed a radical restructuring plan.
O2 BEATS VODAFONE TO 1 MILLION 4G CUSTOMERS
The Spanish-owned network maintained its position as Britain’s second-largest mobile operator after adding 222,000 customers in the fourth quarter, bringing its total customer base to 23.9 million.
OFGEM DEMANDS BIG SIX RETURN CUSTOMER CASH
Ofgem will on Friday intensify the pressure on the big six energy companies by demanding that they hand back hundreds of millions of pounds in surplus customer funds.
DEBT MANAGEMENT FIRMS ARE ‘FAILING PUBLIC’
Indebted people who try to get out of financial trouble by using the services of consolidation firms are seeing up to four fifths of the money they pay going on fees and charges rather than their debts, a Sky News investigation has found.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Q4 GDP, second read, at 8:30–consensus 2.5%
Chicago PMI for February at 9:45–consensus 56.4
U. of Michigan consumer confidence at 9:55–consensus 81.5
Pending home sales for January at 10:00–consensus up 2.3% for the month
American States Water (AWR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Capital
Crane (CR) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Credit Suisse (CS) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Eaton Vance (EV) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee
Gap (GPS) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at Atlantic Equities
Principal Financial (PFG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
RadiSys (RSYS) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Needham
Taseko Mines (TGB) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
TripAdvisor (TRIP) upgraded to Neutral from Negative at Susquehanna
WesBanco (WSBC) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Westlake Chemical (WLK) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Abaxis (ABAX) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
American Assets (AAT) downgraded to Market Perform at JMP Securities
American Public (APEI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
American States Water (AWR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Catamaran (CTRX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at ISI Group
Deckers Outdoor (DECK) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Eagle Rock Energy (EROC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Endologix (ELGX) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Equity One (EQY) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Hanesbrands (HBI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
InterMune (ITMN) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Isle of Capri (ISLE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
James Hardie NV (JHX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
KBR (KBR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T
MarkWest Energy (MWE) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
MarkWest Energy (MWE) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Medivation (MDVN) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Medivation (MDVN) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
Pan American Silver (PAAS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Performant Financial (PFMT) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
ResMed (RMD) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Silver Standard (SSRI) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Solar Senior (SUNS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
The Fresh Market (TFM) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James
Vanguard Natural (VNR) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Vantiv (VNTV) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Westar Energy (WR) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
YuMe (YUME) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Zale (ZLC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Magellan Health (MGLN) initiated with a Market Perform at Leerink
Virtus Investment Partners (VRTS) initiated with a Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Jos. A. Bank (JOSB) rejected $63.50 tender offer, agreed to meet with Men’s Wearhouse (MW)
Pepsi (PEP) sent letter to Peltz, rejected proposal
Mattel (MAT) acquired MEGA Brands in transaction valued at about $460M
ParkerVision (PRKR) gained after Qualcomm (QCOM) dismissed counterclaims against the company in their patent infringement suit
Decker’s Outdoors (DECK) fell 14% after the UGG manufacturer reported Q4 earnings and sales that beat estimates, but forecast a Q1 loss of 16c against analysts’ expectations for a 10c profit
Nippon TV acquired Hulu service (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) in Japan
Juniper (JNPR) entered $1.2B accelerated share repurchase agreements
Ashford Hospitality (AHT) to spin off asset management business
Aqua America (WTR) prepared to invest in strategic ventures
United Continental (UAL) forecast Q1 PRASM down 0.5%-2.5%
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Buenaventura (BVN), Aqua America (WTR), New Gold (NGD), Howard Hughes (HHC), Universal Health (UHS), OmniVision (OVTI), Mentor Graphics (MENT), Esterline (ESL), Hyperion Therapeutics (HPTX), Deckers Outdoor (DECK), SandRidge Energy (SD), Air Lease (AL), ACADIA (ACAD), Tumi (TUMI), Salesforce.com (CRM), Gap (GPS)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Tesco (TESO), Orient-Express (OEH), Atlas Resource Partners (ARP), Comfort Systems USA (FIX), Willbros Group (WG), Bio-Rad (BIO), Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), Clovis (CLVS), Merrimack (MACK), Einstein Noah (BAGL), Monster Beverage (MNST), Sotheby’s (BID)
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Pactera (PACT), Sequenom (SQNM), Spectranetics (SPNC), Ross Stores (ROST)
Amazon (AMZN) negotiating Prime streaming music service, Re/code reports
U.S. judge: Gmail suit against Google (GOOG) faces significant hurdle, Reuters reports
IBM (IBM),in restructuring move, begins cutting U.S. jobs, Bloomberg reports
3M (MMM) working with Goldman (GS) to sell some electronics units, Bloomberg reports
Warner Bros. (TWX) planning Minecraft movie, CNET reports
German court dismisses patent suit against Apple (AAPL), Bloomberg reports
UBS (UBS) to trade Chinese stock futures, Bloomberg reports
GM (GM) looking to start repairing ignition switches in April, NY Times reports
Musk (TSLA) says battery swapping should be available in few months, Bloomberg reports
Nissan (NSANY) aims to rev up production in U.S., Detroit News reports
Ampio (AMPE) 8.5M share Secondary priced at $7.00
Bankrate (RATE) files to sell 14M shares of common stock for holders
Colony Financial (CLNY) files to sell 12M shares of common stock
Compugen (CGEN) files automatic ordinary share shelf
DCP Midstream (DPM) 12.5M share Secondary priced at $48.90
Enzymotec (ENZY) 4.8M share Secondary priced at $28.00
Neptune Technologies (NEPT) files to sell common stock
Prospect Global Resources (PGRX) files to sell 17M shares of common stock
Sunoco Logistics (SXL) files to sell $250M in common units
United Insurance (UIHC) 4M share Secondary priced at $12.50
Varonis (VRNS) 4.8M share IPO priced at $22.00