Apple sinks on reports of cut to orders for iPhone parts. Apple's (AAPL) shares were -3.4% premarket following reports that the company has reduced iPhone 5 component orders for calendar Q1 due to weaker-than-expected demand, with bookings for displays slashed by 50%, albeit from an elevated 65M units. The speculation adds to similar analyst reports, and raises the question of whether Apple needs a cheaper iPhone and/or one with a larger display to bolster its international market share.
Chinese stocks surge on hopes of increased foreign investment. China could boost quotas for foreign investment in its capital markets by 9-10 times, Guo Shuqing, the chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said. Such action would add to efforts last year to draw in more long-term foreign investors, including pension funds. Guo's remarks buoyed Chinese shares and helped the Shanghai Composite Index end +3.1% to 2,311, its highest finish since June.
EU to block UPS's €5.2B acquisition of TNT. The European Commission has told UPS (UPS) that it is working on a decision to block the U.S. company's €5.2B acquisition of Dutch rival TNT Express. If the deal is not approved, UPS will pay TNT a termination fee of €200M and withdraw the offer. The EU's likely decision is not a surprise given that Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has expressed antitrust concerns about the transaction.
Top Stock News
Japan opens probe as woes continue for 787. Japan's government has launched an inquiry into two separate valve-related fuel leaks on a Japan Airlines Boeing (BA) 787, the second of which occurred today. The probe adds to a comprehensive review of the Dreamliner by the FCC following a number of other problems last week.
DOJ seeks concessions from AB InBev over Grupo Modelo deal. The Department of Justice will reportedly ask Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) to make major concessions on its $19B bid for Grupo Modelo. With AB InBev's focus on the Mexican beer market, it may be willing to agree to a deal that sees a third party import Modelo products into the U.S. The question remains, though, whether that will be enough to appease regulators.
Detroit Auto Show on the starter grid. The Detroit Auto Show officially gets under way today, although GM (GM) has already introduced its new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray sports vehicle, which can go from 0-60 MPH in less than four seconds. With an under-body made of aluminum, and a hood and roof of carbon-fiber composite, the Stingray is an example of how car-makers are using lighter-weight materials instead of steel to improve fuel efficiency.
Ford hopes to revive Lincoln with "luxury crossover." Ford plans to unveil a concept version of the Lincoln MKC at the Detroit Auto Show today as it seeks to gain a foothold in the fast-growing "luxury crossover" market in the U.S. The MKC is also part of Ford's plan to revive the lackluster image of the Lincoln marque and reverse a 20-year decline in sales.
Icahn buys into Transocean. Transocean (RIG) could be facing a shake-up attempt after Carl Icahn acquired a 1.56% stake in the rig operator and said he is looking to receive regulatory approval to purchase stock worth over $682.1M. That would give the activist investor a holding of just above 5%. Icahn's move comes 10 days after Transocean agreed to settle U.S. charges over the Gulf oil spill, a disaster that has depressed its shares.
EU wants to create pan-European telecom market. EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes plans to formulate reforms that will encourage the creation of a pan-European telecom market and support cross-border consolidation as she looks to boost competition and investment. Measures could include those that promote the sharing of assets among operators and using the infrastructure of other utilities. Last week, leading carriers said they would look at creating a regional network.
Dimon could lose bonus due to London Whaling fiasco. JPMorgan's (JPM) board will reportedly consider on Tuesday whether to release an internal report about the bank's $6.2B London Whaling loss when it publishes its Q4 results on Wednesday. The report criticizes CEO Jamie Dimon, former CFO Doug Braunstein, ex-CIO Ina Drew and others for the fiasco, for which Dimon and fellow executives could lose their 2012 bonuses.
News Corp to become majority owner in Sky Deutschland. News Corp. (NWS) will increase its stake in German firm Sky Deutschland to 54.5% from 49.9% with a new $1B financing deal. The TV concern is expected to show its first profit in five years this year.
PC sales fall as Windows 8 fails to make impact. Global PC shipments fell 4.3% to 90.3M units in Q4, Gartner said, due to the rise and rise of tablets, although the firm's estimate is slightly less pessimistic than that of IDC. With the new Windows 8 (MSFT) failing to make an impact, Gartner reckons that consumers will increase "consumption activity" on tablets and "perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC," meaning households will buy fewer computers.
Hartford CEO to return to work following cancer op. Hartford Financial Services (HIG) CEO Liam McGee is due to return to work today after having a precancerous brain tumor removed "over the holidays." McGee will receive low-dose chemotherapy and radiation treatment even though tests indicate he is cancer free; he remained in charge of Hartford over the past few weeks and has been working from home.
Top Economic & Other News
Evans: Fed could end QE if 1M-1.5M jobs created. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans has said that the Fed could end its bond-buying if the economy creates another 1M-1.5M jobs over the next six months to a year. "That would be indicative that we could stop," said Evans. However, he forecast that unemployment won't drop to 6.5% until mid-2015, which would mean that the bank would keep interest rates close to zero for another 2.5 years as long as inflation doesn't spike.
Indian inflation slows. India's December wholesale-price index slowed to +7.18% on year, the lowest in nearly a year, from +7.24% in November and vs consensus of +7.37%. The falling inflation could give the Reserve Bank of India scope to cut interest rates when it meets in a couple of weeks, with economists expecting a 25 bps reduction to 7.75%.
In Asia, Japan closed. Hong Kong +0.6% to 23413. China +3.1% to 2312. India +1.2% to 19906.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.1%. Paris +0.4%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq -0.35%. Crude +0.6% to $94.12. Gold +0.5% to $1668.90.
Today's economic calendar:
11:55 Fed's Williams: U.S. Economic Outlook
4:30 PM Bernanke: 'The Economic Recovery and Economic Policy'
12:40 PM Fed's Lockhart: U.S. Economic Outlook
Notable earnings before today's open: PPG
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