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Boeing Dreamliner hit by third glitch this week. An already bad week has deteriorated for Boeing (BA) over its 787 jet after brake problems forced All Nippon Airways to cancel an internal Dreamliner flight in Japan. Boeing's shares have sunk a combined 4.6% this week following a fire in Boston and a fuel leak in the same city, hitting its market cap by $2.6B. Every time a 787 has a glitch now, the "confidence clock" is reset, says Jim Jelter on MarketWatch. Shares were -0.3% premarket.

Alcoa gets earnings season off to positive start. Alcoa (AA) swung to a Q4 net profit of $242M from a loss of $191M a year earlier, while EPS of $0.06 was in line with forecasts. Revenue slipped 1.7% to $5.9B but beat consensus. Alcoa ended 2012 with strong liquidity, with record results midstream and downstream. The company also forecast that global aluminum demand will grow 7% in 2013, up from 6% in 2012. Alcoa's positive results helped send its shares 1.9% higher premarket and boost sentiment in Asia and Europe.

EU telecom operators mull creating EU network. Leading EU telecom operators, including Deutsche Telekom (OTCPK:DTEGF), France Telecom (FTE), Telecom Italia (TI) and Telefonica (TEF), have reportedly been discussing pooling their infrastructure to create a regional network as they look to better compete amidst the bloc's economic worries. The talks come at the prompting of EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

Top Stock News
Dish outbids Sprint with offer for Clearwire. Clearwire (CLWR) was +8.9% premarket after Dish Network (DISH) yesterday made an unsolicited $3.30-a-share buyout offer that easily topped Sprint's (S) $2.97 bid for the roughly 50% it doesn't own. Dish's proposal requires that Clearwire sell Dish 24% of its spectrum for $2.2B and use the proceeds to pay down debt, as well as build a 4G network for Dish. Sprint said the proposal is "not viable;" Clearwire said it will "engage with Dish."

Apple developing cheaper iPhone. Apple (AAPL) is reportedly working on a cheaper iPhone that could launch later this year. The device could resemble the regular product but "with a different, less-expensive body." The cheapest iPhone at the moment, the 8GB iPhone 4, sells for $450 unlocked, putting it out of the reach of many emerging markets buyers and some prepaid consumers in developed markets.

China to block HSBC's sale of 15.7% stake in Ping An. Chinese regulators are reportedly set to reject HSBC's (HBC) deal to sell a 15.7% stake in Ping An Insurance for $9.39B because the funding for the sale isn't yet in place. The deal would have allowed HSBC to book a massive gain on the insurer ahead of tougher capital rules.

Four more banks to agree to foreclosures deal. Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), HSBC (HBC) and Ally Financial could reportedly reach a $1.5B deal with regulators this week to settle allegations of foreclosure abuse, and end a costly and ineffective review of individual repossessions. The agreement would be similar to the $8.5B+ deal that ten other banks reached earlier this week.

GM's Akerson: "We aren't great yet, but we are on a path." Dan Akerson would prefer that somebody within GM (GM) follows him as CEO, he told the WSJ, although he declined to discuss the timing of his departure. Akerson feels the carmaker has made much progress over the past 2-3 years but has more to do. "We aren't great yet, but we are on a path," he said. Akerson's also cautiously optimistic that Opel will break even by mid-decade.

Apollo eyes Hostess' snack foods. Apollo Global Management (APO) has reportedly joined up with veteran food executive Dean Metropoulos to potentially bid for Hostess Brands' snacks business. While Apollo has no food interests, Metropoulos has a record of making money for investors after taking on struggling food brands. A possible rival for the snacks ops is Mexico's Grupo Bimbo (OTCPK:GRBMF), which is also interested in Hostess' bread brands.

Volcano sees explosion of growth in stent-test market. Volcano (VOLC) CEO Scott Huennekens has predicted that the market for a test that shows whether patients need heart stents could increase ten-fold to $2B within a decade. That would be a boon not only to Volcano, which sells the tests and could become a takeover target, but also to St. Jude Medical (STJ), which is the only other company in the game. Doctors are enthusiastic as data indicates they've been over-stenting.

Top Economic & Other News
U.S. could save $500B on healthcare in 10 years - UnitedHealth. Here's research that should be music to Washingtonian ears: the government could save over $500B in Medicare and Medicaid costs in the next ten years by better coordinating medical care, UnitedHealth Group (UNH) estimates. For example, $150B could come from integrating treatments between the 9M seniors and disabled who are enrolled in both programs, up from an expected 2M this year.

German industrial production improves. German industrial production rose 0.2% on month in November vs -2% in October but the growth was below consensus of +1%. The German Economy Minister said Q4 will probably come in lower than Q3, although bookings and improved sentiment should bring a more upbeat outlook for output this year.

BOJ mulls further easing as it looks to preserve independence. The Bank of Japan will reportedly consider adding to its ¥101T ($1.2T) asset-buying and lending program, and doubling its inflation target to 2%, when its policy committee meets in a couple of weeks. While the 2% goal is expected, thoughts of further easing this month are a surprise. But the BOJ, which is under severe political pressure, hopes to forestall threats to its independence.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan +0.7% to 10579. Hong Kong +0.5% to 23218. China flat at 2275. India -0.4% to 19667.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.4%. Paris flat. Frankfurt flat.
Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.1%. S&P flat. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude -0.15% to $93.01. Gold -0.1% to $1660.70.

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $21B, 10-Year Note Auction

Notable earnings after today's close: PSMT

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News