Chinese Finance Minister forecasts 7% growth. China's government has continued to dial down expectations for the country's economy, with Finance Minister Lou Jiwei forecasting that GDP will rise 7% this year, below official targets of 7.5% and the 7.7% achieved in 2012. Lou even said that growth of 6.5% wouldn't be a problem and that he doesn't expect the economy to suffer a hard landing. "Despite the slowdown...the structural reform is paying off," he said.
Icahn promises higher Dell bid. Carl Icahn has pledged to sweeten his tender offer for 1.1B Dell (DELL) shares from the $14 each he has already proposed by adding warrants that will allow investors to acquire more stock should the company's shares climb to "around $20." Dell investor Highfields reportedly intends to join fellow stockholders Pzena and Yacktman and vote against Michael Dell's $24.4B bid. Together, the shareholders own almost 3% of the company.
Top Stock News
Bank Q2 earnings due to get underway. Bank of America (BAC) is best-positioned to take advantage of wider net interest spreads and expense cuts, says Morgan Stanley's Betsy Graseck in a preview of Q2 bank earnings, which are due to kick off this morning with JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Next on the list of those expected to beat estimates are Capital One (COF), PNC Financial (PNC) and JPMorgan. Three names set to disappoint are Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS) and BNY Mellon (BK).
Schneider Electric bids £3.3B for Invensys. France's Schneider Electric (OTC:SBGSF) has offered to acquire Britain's Invensys (OTC:IVNSF) for £3.3B in cash and stock. Invensys, which makes industrial software and control systems, is likely to recommend the bid. The firm has been a target since the collapse of a deal with Emerson Electric (EMR) in 2012, and could catch the attention of the likes of GE (GE) or ABB (ABB) now a new bid has been made.
RadioShack bounces back AH after big drop. RadioShack (RSH) shares climbed 1.5% in post-market trading yesterday after the company said it has a strong balance sheet, with total liquidity of $820M at the end of Q1. The stock had slumped 7.1% in regular trading following a report that the company is looking to hire bankers to help find a way to shore up its finances, with more than a few retail watchers believing that a bankruptcy plan would be suggested.
Senators propose new Glass-Steagall Act. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, Republican counterpart John McCain and two others have introduced the "21st Century Glass-Steagall Act," a reprise of the 1930s law that was repealed in 1999 and that separated traditional banking such as home loans and checking accounts from riskier pursuits like investment banking and trading derivatives. Slogans such as "keep the gamblers out of our banks" have a populist ring, but the legislation will face many hurdles.
Infosys surges following earnings. Infosys' (INFY) FQ1 earnings topped expectations as net profit rose 3.7% to 23.74B rupees ($397M) and sales climbed 17.2% to 112.7B rupees. The Indian IT outsourcer maintained its forecast for 6-10% revenue growth in FY 2014 despite analyst concerns that it would cut its guidance. Shares jumped 10.9% in Mumbai.
Top Economic & Other News
Fed mulls lowering unemployment threshold for rate hike. With bond yields rising, Fed policy makers are considering reducing the 6.5% unemployment threshold for increasing the bank's key interest rate from rock-bottom levels. Market movements suggest that investors believe rates will increase just months after the end of the Fed's QE program, which could come in mid-2014. Ben Bernanke and co. have been trying to convince otherwise, but not totally successfully. Lowering the unemployment threshold, so the theory goes, could be more persuasive.
House cuts food stamps from farm bill. The House yesterday approved a farm bill that leaves out the food-stamps program, which cost $74B last year and which Republicans said they would deal with later. The legislation is very different from a Senate-approved plan that includes food stamps, while the White House has already threatened to veto the House package. The latter also includes expanding taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance and ending direct payments to farmers.
Range of market-moving studies available for a cost. It's not just early access to the Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer-sentiment survey that has been available for a costly fee, it's possible to buy exclusive access to a swathe of market-moving reports. These include Informa Economics' $30,000-70,000 a year crop surveys, the $1,500 Bedding Barometer on mattress sales, and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers' monthly shipment figures, available for $600.
Alpha-Rich Stock Movers and Great Calls
1) BPZ Resources (BPZ) soared 13.8% yesterday after Caiman Valores said its discount to net asset value offered investors 100% upside. Read article »
2) T-Mobile (TMUS) is +54% since it closed its merger with Metro PCS. This came after hedge fund manager Chris Demuth Jr. successfully called for a higher bid price for PCS and then advised investors to hold on to the new company. Read article »
Alpha-Rich Stocks To Watch
1) PLX Technology (PLXT). An improving product mix and recent divestitures have PLXT in position to grow well. The tech company has 60% upside as it continues to gain share in the "PCIe" space. Read Article »
2) ING US (VOYA). ING's recent spin-off had a bumpy first quarter, giving investors a chance to get in cheap. A 40% discount to book and overall growth could lead to solid returns. Read article »
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In Asia, Japan +0.2% to 14506. Hong Kong -0.8% to 21277. China -1.6% to 2039. India +1.4% to 19,958.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.5%. Paris +0.4%. Frankfurt +0.9%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.05%. Crude -0.15% to $104.75. Gold -0.3% to $1276.30.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Producer Price Index
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
2:45 PM Fed's Bullard and Plosser: U.S. Economic and Monetary Policy
5:15 PM Fed's Williams: 'A Defense of Moderation in Monetary Policy'
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