Mexico unveils $316B infrastructure plan. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has announced a "transformational" plan for 4T peso ($316B) of government and private infrastructure investments from 2013 to 2018, including in roads, railways, telecom, ports and energy. The spending could add up to 5% of GDP. Companies that could benefit include cement maker Cemex (CX) and construction firm Empresas (ICA). However, Nieto didn't detail how much of the work would be financed through taxes or debt. "Aye, there's the rub."
Telecom Italia halts fixed-line spin-off. Telecom Italia's (TI) shares were -3.9% premarket in the U.S. - having hit a record low of €0.4828 in Milan earlier - following the company's decision to suspend a plan to spin off its fixed-line copper network after telecom regulator AGCOM last week proposed to lower the rates that TI's rivals pay to gain access to the network. AGCOM's move creates "uncertainties" that could affect the feasibility of the spin-off, TI said.
Inflation seen rising slightly. U.S. CPI data is due out this morning, with economists expecting that inflation rose 0.3% on month vs 0.1% in May, and 1.5% on year vs 1.4%. It all seems to be tame enough and would presumably allow the Fed to continue with its QE program if it decides to delay the tapering.
Top Stock News
Work on $8.5B Barrick mine delayed till end of 2014. The Chilean Court of Appeals has ordered Barrick Gold (ABX) to complete the water-management system at the company's Pascua-Lama mine in the Andes before construction on the $8.5B project can resume. Barrick hopes to complete the work, which was suspended in April due to environmental concerns, by the end of 2014, after which it plans to resume operations.
Baidu to buy top Chinese app store for $1.9B. Baidu (BIDU) has agreed to acquire leading Chinese mobile app distributor 91 Wireless from Hong Kong-listed NetDragon and minority shareholders for $1.9B. Baidu is paying steep multiples for rapid growth: Q1 revenues at NetDragon's mobile operations soared 219% on year to $23.6M. The deal follows Baidu's purchases of video sites PPS and iQiyi, and is another step towards building a Google (GOOG) like mobile ecosystem, and perhaps lowering the company's search dependence amidst growing competition.
Rio Tinto's iron ore output hits record in Q2. Rio Tinto's (RIO) iron ore production rose 7% on year in Q2 to reach a record 66M tons despite bad weather and technical problems, while copper output increased 10%. The company intends to push on with work in Australia to boost its annual iron-ore operating capacity by 10% to 290M tons by the end of September even though demand indicators from Chinese steel mills have been mixed. Shares were +2.6% premarket.
Yahoo still waiting for turnaround. Yahoo's (YHOO) Q2 earnings are scheduled for release after the bell, with analysts expecting that EPS rose to $0.30 from $0.27 a year ago as revenue edged up 0.1% to $1.08B. Yahoo's shares have surged over 70% since Marissa Mayer became CEO a year ago, although as the stagnant revenue shows, the impact of what she's trying to do has yet to hit the top line.
China investigating more foreign pharma companies. Chinese authorities are probing at least four multinational drugmakers, Clifford Chance anti-corruption specialist Wendy Wysong has told Bloomberg, although she declined to identify the companies concerned. In its 2012 annual report, AstraZeneca (AZN) said it is investigating possible inappropriate conduct in China and other countries, although it had no update to provide this week. Wysong's comments come as China investigates GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for alleged bribery.
Aviva's $1.55B sale of U.S. ops under threat. The New York Department of Financial Services is reportedly considering blocking Athene Holding's $1.55B purchase of the U.S. annuity business of Britain's Aviva (AV) unless Athene, which is funded by an affiliate of private-equity firm Apollo Global (APO), agrees to stricter rules. The regulator is concerned that Apollo and other investment firms would take riskier bets with policy holders' money than traditional insurers would.
U.S. shale revolution hits Australian gas sector. The surge in natural gas output in North America has reduced the appeal of projects in Australia, where major international companies such as Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Shell (RDS.A) are investing over $160B. With U.S. prices low and the country beginning to increase exports, another $100B of spending in Australia is at risk, especially as the high Aussie dollar and labor shortages have helped cause costs to balloon.
Golden arches on their way to Vietnam. Peace between the U.S. and Vietnam has been strengthened even further: McDonald's (MCD) is entering the country and has granted a development license to local businessman Henry Nguyen, with the plan being to open a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City in early 2014. Burger King (BKW) also has big plans for Vietnam.
Top Economic & Other News
European car sales continue to skid. European car sales dropped to the lowest levels since 1993 in H1, sliding 6.7% to 6.44M as the economic slump in the region continued to bite. June registrations tumbled 6.3% to 1.18M, the lowest for the month since 1996. Sales in four of Europe's biggest automotive markets contracted in June, although the U.K. grew 13%. Of the manufacturers, Ford's (F) sales rose 6.9% but GM's (GM) dropped 9.9%.
China created 7.25M jobs in H1. China reportedly added 7.25M jobs in H1 2013, slightly more than the amount created last year, while the registered urban unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%. A major concern for China's leaders is that the slowing economy doesn't cause high unemployment and social unrest.
Rupee strengthens after RBI moves to tighten liquidity. The Indian rupee (ICN) was +1.1% vs the dollar at the time of writing after the Reserve Bank of India acted to try to reverse the sharp decline the currency has experienced this year. Inter alia, the RBI limited the amount banks can borrow from its daily repo window at 750B rupees and raised two money-market rates to 10.25% from 8.25%. One economist was surprised at the RBI's move given the poor economy. Shares (INDY) were -0.75%.
Alpha-Rich Stock Movers and Great Calls
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Alpha-Rich Stocks To Watch
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In Asia, Japan +0.6% to 14599. Hong Kong flat at 21312. China +0.3% to 2066. India -0.75% to 19889.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.1%. Paris -0.4%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 6:10: Dow +0.05%. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.2% to $106.53. Gold +0.1% to $1284.60.
Today's economic calendar:
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:30 Consumer Price Index
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 Treasury International Capital
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
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