Eurozone heading for further contraction as schism widens. Eurozone flash manufacturing PMI slipped to 47.8 in February from 47.9 in January as the German reading hit a 12-month high of 50.1 while French factory activity continued to shrink. The data "suggests that the eurozone is on course to contract for a fourth consecutive quarter," Markit says, with the schisms in the bloc widening. "France’s downturn is likely to deepen," bringing it "more in line with the periphery than with the now solitary-looking German 'core'."
FOMC, PMIs send global markets spiraling. Global markets were lower early morning U.S. time following the increasingly hawkish FOMC minutes yesterday and the depressing eurozone PMI data today. U.S. stock futures followed Asian and European shares into the red, while oil, gold, silver and copper also fell. Opponents of the Fed's QE program have become increasingly outspoken, with "many" concerned about the costs/risks from further asset purchases.
Wal-Mart profit tops forecasts but revenues miss. Wal-Mart's (WMT) Q4 EPS of $1.67 beat expectations by $0.10, while revenues climbed 3.9% to $127.1B but missed by $1.72B. Shares were +0.95% premarket.
Top Stock News
Skepticism greets introduction of PlayStation 4. Sony (SNE) unveiled its next-generation PlayStation 4 yesterday, although the company disappointed observers by not actually showing the device. The PS4 will rely on controllers sporting touchpads and it will incorporate lots of social networking/online video integration. Fitch is among those left unimpressed, saying the device is "unlikely to be Sony's savior," due to tough competition from the Xbox and Wii, as well as from games on PCs, smartphones and tablets.
Tesla shares slide as loss widens. Tesla Motors' (TSLA) shares sank 6.1% post market after the electric-car company missed expectations with a Q4 loss per share of $0.65, although revenues jumped more than seven-fold to $306.3M and beat consensus. The company's net loss widened to $89.9M from $81.5M. Tesla now expects to turn a profit in Q1, earlier than previous guidance for late 2013. "We are not demand constrained. We are potentially production constrained," Elon Musk insisted on the earnings call.
AB InBev, DOJ in talks over Modelo acquisition. AB InBev (BUD) is holding discussions with the Department of Justice to allay the latter's competition concerns over the company's $20.1B proposal to take full control of Modelo, with the sides yesterday asking a court to delay the DOJ's antitrust suit against the deal until March 19. The request came after AB InBev offered further concessions, including selling Modelo's Piedras Negras brewery to Constellation Brands (STZ).
H-P expected to report falling earnings. H-P's (HPQ) FQ1 earnings are due out after the bell, with analysts predicting that EPS tumbled to $0.71 from $0.92 as revenue dropped 7.5% to $27.79B. ISI Group's Brian Marshall said that while H-P "is making strides in certain parts of its portfolio," such as printers and servers, "we believe it will be difficult to offset headwinds from PC market shrinkage, loss of services contracts, and server margin pressure in hyperscale environments."
Pinterest raises $200M at $2.5B valuation. Pinterest has raised $200M in financing at a valuation of $2.5B as VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer and FirstMark Capital continue to throw money at the online scrapbooking site in the hope/expectation that its nascent business model will become something a bit more substantial. It was only in May that Pinterest raised $140M at $1.5B. Still, visits surged to 48M in December from 9M a year earlier.
Citi chairman backs away from support for breakup. Once among a small group of directors urging a breakup of Citigroup (C), Chairman Michael O'Neill has reportedly changed his mind. It's a significant shift for a man who downsized Bank of Hawaii (BOH) and advocated the same for Bank of America (BAC) when he was floated to replace Ken Lewis as CEO. Look for more cost cuts and revamping of poorly performing businesses, but no major restructuring at Citi.
Major shareholders rally round Apple in dispute with Einhorn. David Einhorn might not be happy about Apple's (AAPL) proposal to give investors a say over the issuing of preferred shares, but major shareholders seem to be. Calpers has spoken to 100 of them and found that the "overwhelming majority" support "Proposal 2." Meanwhile, Einhorn has reportedly been attacked by one of his own investors, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, for his tactics.
IBM to double investment in mobile tech as it unveils "MobileFirst." IBM (IBM) has launched its "MobileFirst" strategy, whereby it's offering products for security, device management, analytics and application development. The company intends to double its spending on mobile technology in 2013, not including acquisitions, with CEO Ginni Rometty giving the strategy as high a priority as cloud and data analysis.
Top Economic & Other News
Italian bank CEO: 20% of companies set to fail. Italy's recession is going to cause a fifth of Italian companies to fail, Enrico Cucchiani, the CEO of banking company Intesa Sanpaolo (OTC:IITOF), has warned. "The bottom 20% has seen top line shrinking 35-45%, so it's clear that these companies won't make it," Cucchiani said. "It is going to fuel non-performing loans and that makes banks very reluctant to lend to this sort of company." Italian banks were sharply lower at midday in Europe, with Intesa -4%.
In Asia, Japan -1.4% to 11309. Hong Kong -1.7% to 22907. China -3% to 2326. India -1.6% to 19325.
In Europe, at midday, London -1.6%. Paris -1.7%. Frankfurt -1.8%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.2%. S&P -0.4%. Nasdaq -0.4%. Crude -1.3% to $94.02. Gold -0.3% to $1572.90.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Consumer Price Index
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
9:00 PMI Manufacturing Index Flash
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:00 Philly Fed Business Outlook
10:00 Leading Indicators
10:00 Existing Home Sales
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
11:00 EIA Petroleum Inventories
12:30 PM Fed's Bullard: Economic and Monetary Policy
1:00 PM Fed's Williams: Monetary Policy
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
Notable earnings before today's open: AYR, CHK, CMS, DAN, DDS, DNR, ESV, FAF, FNP, GTXI, HEP, HNZ, HRL, HST, IMAX, IRC, LINE, LXP, PCG, PEG, PKD, PWR, PXP, SCG, SFL, SFY, SUI, SWY, TASR, THI, TK, TNK, WMT, WPRT, ZLC
Notable earnings after today's close: ACTG, AIG, ARUN, ATLS, BMRN, BV, CENX, CLGX, COG, CUBE, CYH, DRYS, EXEL, EXR, FIRE, FLS, FTR, GDI, HPQ, INT, INTU, ITMN, JWN, MRVL, NEM, NPSP, ONXX, PSA, SBAC, SWN, TS, WBMD
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