Hopes fade for fiscal cliff deal. Lawmakers in the U.S. see a quick-patch solution as the best hope of averting the automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to hit on January 1. Over the weekend the blame game was in full cycle while key Senators hit the talk TV circuit. The last word from President Obama is that he would immediately sign a bill into law extending tax cuts for those making $250K or less. Anxiety over the cliff looks set to put a damper on today's short trading session with S&P futures pointing down 0.4%.
Mega real estate deal in the works. China's sovereign wealth fund is a leading bidder to buy a London office campus from Blackstone Group (BX) for as much as $1.29B. Government-backed funds from South Korea and Malaysia are also in on the hunt.
Top Stock News
New sub-$100 tablet planned. Acer (OTC:ASIYF) plans to launch a $99 tablet which will undercut prices on Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's (BKS) Nook Color in global markets. Analysts note the move will help the company gain its footing in the hot Chinese market, but will also cut into Acer's margins.
Merger between Peugeot and Opel unlikely. The alliance between Peugeot (OTC:PEUGF) and General Motors' (GM) Opel division won't evolve into a merger, according to a key manager from the French automaker. Though the two companies scrapped plans for a mid-size car program last week, other projects remain on tap.
China Unicom iPhone sales soar. China Unicom (CHU) contributed the biggest share of iPhone 5 sales since the debut of the smartphone in China, according to reports. Included in the large haul were over 300K online orders and at least that many store sales. Nearly every bit of data and channel check out of China on the iPhone 5 is getting heavily scrutinized with plenty of gloomy forecasts for iPhone 5 sales in the nation still circling around.
Internet giants roll out new e-gift programs. Facebook (FB) and Amazon (AMZN) see plenty of room for innovation as they roll out new gifting innovations this month. The companies want to make sure they have a healthy piece of the social commerce pie with estimates it will grow to $30B by 2015. Of note to investors, retail experts think late season holiday splurges could benefit them both.
Yum Brands gets the nod from regulators. Yum Brands (YUM) can breathe a little easier after hearing China's government report that chicken samples from the company's KFC division complied with government standards. A regulatory agency noted 32 samples passed tests for levels of antibiotics and steriods after the issue of contamination cropped up last week. With 44% of its revenue derived from China, Yum Brands sees protecting its brand image in the nation as vital.
Roku thinks cord-cutting is the future of TV. Roku CEO Wood says the company is having its best quarter ever as it continues to dominate the stream-to-television market along with Apple (AAPL). The executive also predicts the company's transition into TVs could dramatically alter the landscape with on-demand services integrated neatly with the type of traditional programming currently offered up by providers such as Comcast (CMCSA), DirecTV (DTV), and Dish Network (DISH).
Another smashing weekend for Hobbit movie. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took home $36.7M over the weekend as it knocked out its second consecutive week at the top of the box office list. The Time Warner (TWX) movie has now brought in a total of $434M in global ticket sales.
Top Economic & Other News
Retail shipments to be threatened by dock worker strike. Dock workers at U.S. ports are set to strike this week as negotiations remain stalled over labor issues. An AFL-CIO spokeperson says there is "nothing new to report" after an offer to extend the deadline was rejected..
Japan's Abe turns up the heat. Shinzo Abe increases pressure on the central bank to adopt a 2% inflation target with a veiled threat to knock away the independence of the BOJ if his demand isn't met. Though Abe is still a few days off from becoming the prime minister, his rhetoric has already had an effect on the role of the central bank in the nation.
In Asia, Japan -1.0% to 9940. Hong Kong +0.2% to 22541. China +0.3% to 2159. India +0.1% at 19255.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.2%. Paris -0.2%. Frankfurt -0.4%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.4%. S&P -0.4%. Nasdaq -0.5%. Crude +0.1% to $88.75. Gold +0.4 to $1664.
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