Chinese economy re-accelerates. China's GDP rose 7.9% on year in Q4, slightly beating forecasts and topping Q3 growth of 7.4%. The re-acceleration confirms that the government's stimulus policies and a boost in trade have started to pull the economy out of its slowdown, although the full-year growth of 7.8% was the lowest since 1999. Still, stronger-than-expected industrial production and retail sales in December suggest that the economy is decently positioned for 2013.
Intel falls on light guidance, capex worries. Intel (INTC) shares dropped 4.8% premarket after the chip manufacturer projected a third consecutive quarter of falling sales in Q1 as it struggles to offset falling demand for its PC chips and benefit from the boom in mobile devices. Also concerning investors is Intel's plan to spend a greater-than-expected $13B on capex in 2013. In Q4, net profit slumped 27% to $2.5B as EPS of $0.48 beat consensus, while revenue slipped 3% to $13.48B and missed forecasts.
AT&T to record $10B pension charge for Q4. AT&T (T) expects to record a $10B non-cash charge for Q4 related to losses to its pension/benefit plan, with a $12B actuarial loss produced by a lower assumed discount rate wiping out much of a $1.9B asset gain. In October, the telecom operator asked the Department of Labor to let it use $9.5B in preferred equity interest to help cover a pension shortfall that had reached $10.2B at the end of 2011. Shares were -1.3% premarket.
Top Stock News
Chinese GDP fails to excite U.S. stock futures. U.S. stock futures were flat-to-lower premarket and apparently not overly excited by Chinese Q4 GDP beating expectations, while parts of Europe have turned red after being higher earlier. The Chinese data "has the potential to keep the general sentiment upbeat, although the threat of overzealous policy tightening remains a risk," says market strategist Fawad Razaqzada.
Pfizer animal-health unit plans to raise up to $2.15B in IPO. Zoetis (ZTS), Pfizer's animal-health business, intends to raise as much as $2.15B by selling 86.1M shares at $22-25 each in an IPO on the NYSE. At the mid-point of the range, Zoetis would be worth $11.8B, or 26 times earnings in the year to September 30. Pricing is scheduled for January 31.
Silver Lake tries to entice the Canadians over Dell. The latest speculation on the potential Dell (DELL) buyout is that Silver Lake Partners is in discussions with the $170B Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and its Limited Partners about joining the private-equity firm in the deal. However, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings is not interested. Meanwhile, Dell has formed a special committee to examine any offer.
Boeing faces strike threat. As if Boeing (BA) doesn't have enough to deal with, the Speea union, which represents 23,000 engineers and technical workers at the plane-maker, intends to recommend that its members reject the company's "best-and-final" four-year contract offer in an upcoming vote. Speea is also likely to seek authorization for a strike; the union believes that Boeing's offer puts staff retirement benefits at risk.
Sony to sell its U.S. HQ in Manhattan for $1.1B. Sony (SNE) shares jumped 6.2% premarket after the company agreed to sell its 37-story U.S. HQ in New York City for $1.1B to a consortium led by real-estate developer The Chetrit Group. Sony will receive net proceeds of $770M after repaying debt and other costs. The sale comes as the electronics giant looks to recover from a record loss last year; it also reportedly wants to sell a $1.1B building in central Tokyo.
Sirius loses its freedom as Liberty takes control. The inevitable has finally happened and Liberty Media (LMCAD) has taken majority control of Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) by increasing its stake to 50.7% after acquiring 50M shares at $3.15 each. Liberty has said in the past that Sirius should improve its technology and expand internationally.
Top Economic & Other News
BOJ to mull QE∝. The Bank of Japan will reportedly consider making a Fed-like open-ended pledge to purchase assets until it reaches a new inflation target of 2%. At a policy meeting next week, the BOJ is also expected to increase its asset-buying by ¥10T ($112B), and it might discuss other measures. The intensifying speculation about further easing from the BOJ helped weaken the yen earlier and send Tokyo shares sharply higher.
IEA: Oil market "crouching tiger, hidden dragon." Describing the oil market as a "crouching tiger, hidden dragon," the International Energy Agency has increased its 2013 consumption outlook by 240,000 bpd to 90.8M bpd. The IEA cited an expected rise in demand from a recovering Chinese economy as a main reason for the new forecast, which comes as OPEC, and Saudi Arabia in particular, cuts production. However, the agency is not worried about the kingdom's reduction in output.
Geithner blames greed not fraud for crisis. Outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has explained in a leaving interview with the WSJ why he's uncomfortable with accusations that bankers haven't been punished enough for the financial crisis. "A huge part of what happened across the system was just a mixture of ignorance and greed, or hope over experience, and not illegal. Most financial crises are not caused by fraud or abuse."
In Asia, Japan +2.9% to 10913.3. Hong Kong +1.1% to 23602. China +1.4% to 2317. India +0.4% to 20039.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.5%. Paris flat. Frankfurt flat.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude -0.2% to $95.34. Gold -0.1% to $1689.70.
Today's economic calendar:
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
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