Canceled House vote roils markets. A decision by House Republicans to cancel a vote on their "Plan B" tax proposal has sent a chill into global markets. Asian stock markets ended their session firmly lower, while European stocks show similar nervousness over the fiscal cliff drama. The House will recess until after Christmas with Speaker John Boehner saying it's now up to the president to work with Senator Reid to create legislation to help the U.S. avert the cliff. S&P 500 stock index futures -1.4%.
Fresh stimulus for Japan. Japan's economy remains fragile enough to warrant the round of monetary and fiscal stimulus planned by Shinzo Abe's administration, according to the current government. A stinging drop in exports continues to weigh on production and business sentiment, notes a Cabinet Office official. Abe's cabinet is expected to submit a budget with up to ¥10T in new spending when he takes the helm in January.
Top Stock News
Nokia and Research In Motion work out a deal. Nokia (NOK) and Research In Motion (RIMM) have settled a dispute over patent licenses to end their legal wrangling. Though specific terms of the agreement weren't disclosed, Research In Motion will make a one-time payment to Nokia as well as licensing payments in the future.
GE lands European aviation asset. General Electric (GE) will pay $4.3B to purchase the aviation unit of Avio from P-E firm Cinven. The purchase price for the business represents a multiple of close to 8.5X the firm's 2012 estimated earnings. The deal will end a year of speculation over the fate of Avio. Shares of GE are off 1.1% premarket.
Acquisitions to stay in ConAgra's playbook. ConAgra (CAG) says it will look for more companies to acquire as part of its private label business strategy. Though CEO Gary Rodkin notes the pending $5B merger with Ralcorp will keep the company on the sidelines for a while as it delevers, growth by acquisition will be a focus in the future. Shares of ConAgra touched a thirteen-year high yesterday after the company beat earnings estimates and raised its full-year outlook.
The SEC catches an earful. A federal judge blasted the SEC and IBM (IBM) over their $10M settlement covering anti-bribery allegations brought up last year. A rather hot U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said he won't "rubber stamp" the deal unless the parties agree to additional FCPA reporting terms imposed by the court or produce a mountain of evidence on why such terms would be too burdensome. During the hearing, Leon promised not to roll over like the SEC has in the case.
One step closer for AMR and US Airways merger. AMR Corp.'s (AAMRQ.PK) American Airlines and US Airways (LCC) are near a tentative deal on how their pilots would be handled in a potential merger. The talks, which include airline executives, representatives of AMR's creditors committee and both airlines' pilots unions, are a crucial step toward determining whether the two airlines will combine when AMR emerges from bankruptcy proceedings next year.
Opel to sell assets back to parent. General Motors (GM) plans to have Opel sell six European facilities back to it in order for the GM division to earn funding that will last through the end of 2016. Assets in Hungary, Italy, and Poland will be included in the deal.
Adobe buys Behance. Adobe (ADBE) is acquiring Behance, owner of a popular site for discovering and sharing digital artwork. Behance has over 1M members (many of them doubtlessly Adobe buyers), and complements Adobe's fast-growing Creative Cloud, which just received a big update. Like Autodesk, Adobe is trying to make social networking features a big part of its cloud migration efforts
Top Economic & Other News
U.K. GDP estimate lowered. The Office of National Statistics lowered its reading on economic growth in the U.K. for Q3 to 0.9%, down from the previous estimate of 1.0% for the period. Output of the production industries and manufacturing output were both estimated to be 0.7%.
The Federal Reserve keeps buying. The Federal Reserve's balance sheet expanded over the last week to $2.922T with an increase in mortgage-backed securities holdings offsetting a slight decline in U.S. Treasury holdings. Borrowing at the discount lending window was $864M, up $37M from the previous week.
Progress made in trade talks between China and the U.S. China and the U.S. made some progress on key issues such as export controls and foreign investment during trade talks this week, according to officials. As part of the wrapup, both sides say the economies of the two superpowers are "interdependent and inseparable," making it even more crucial that thorny issues get worked out. Beyond the rhetoric, China vowed to tighten protection of intellectual property rights while the U.S. pledged to treat Chinese companies fairly with their investments.
In Asia, Japan -1.0% to 9940. Hong Kong -0.7% to 22506. China -0.7% to 2153. India -1.1% at 19242.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.7%. Paris -0.5%. Frankfurt -0.6%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -1.3%. S&P -1.5%. Nasdaq -1.1%. Crude -1.2% to $89.06. Gold -0.2 to $1645.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Durable Goods
8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index
8:30 Personal Income and Outlays
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
11:00 Kansas City Fed Mfg Survey
Notable earnings before today's open: WAG
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