U.S. to Open Flat; Asia Declines Sharply

by: SA Editors

At 8:45 AM EDT:

U.S. Futures

S&P 500: +0.04%; 1298.25
NASDAQ: +0.06% ;1559.25
DOW: +0.04%; 11338

International Indexes

NIKKEI 225: -1.25% ;15,960.62 (-202.41)
HANG SENG: -1.20%; 16,883.04 (-205.35)
S&P/ASX 200: -1.86%; 4,987.80 (-94.50)
BSE SENSEX 30: +1.10%; 11,531.95 (+125.30)

FTSE 100: +0.32%; 5,896.00 (+21.00)
CAC 40: +0.65%; 5,115.86 (+33.13)
XETRA-DAX: +0.99%; 5,832.49 (+56.95)

Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)

Oil: -0.08%; $71.700 (-0.06)
Gold: -0.03%; $632.7 (-$0.2)
Natural Gas: +3.56%; $7.120 (+0.245)
Silver: +0.01%; $12.510 (+$0.001)

Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Hutchison First-Half Profit Doubles; Shares Decline on Cell-Phone Losses Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (OTCPK:HUWHY), Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's biggest company, said first-half profit doubled on the sale of a port unit stake. The stock fell after Li pushed back a target for ending European cell-phone losses.

China Construction Bank to Acquire Bank of America Asia for $1.24 Billion China Construction Bank Corp. agreed to buy Bank of America Corp.'s (NYSE:BAC) Hong Kong and Macau unit for HK$9.7 billion ($1.24 billion), the largest acquisition by a Chinese lender outside the mainland.

Asian Stocks Slide on U.S. Home Sales Report; Sony, Samsung Lead Declines Asian stocks fell the most in almost three weeks, led by Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) and Samsung Electronics Co., after a drop in U.S. home sales heightened concern growth will slow in the world's largest economy.

China Unicom Second-Quarter Profit Gains 10.2 Percent on Cuts in Subsidies China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE:CHU), the nation's second-biggest mobile-phone operator, had a 10.2 percent gain in profit in the past quarter after cutting handset subsidies and boosting sales of services such as video and music downloads.

Creative Shares Rise the Most in Six Years on Apple's $100 Million Payment Shares of Creative Technology Ltd. (OTCPK:CREAF), whose music players are outsold 10 to one by the iPod in the U.S., gained the most in six years after Apple Computer Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it will pay $100 million to the company to end patent disputes.

European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Banca Intesa May Buy Sanpaolo to Create Italy's Largest Bank by Branches Banca Intesa SpA may buy smaller Italian rival Sanpaolo IMI SpA (NASDAQ:IMI) to create the country's largest bank by branches.

German Business Confidence Falls as Tax, Interest-Rate Rises Cool Economy German business confidence fell for a second month in August, a sign that higher taxes and interest rates will cool the fastest economic expansion in five years.

Euro Advances After German Business Confidence Declines Less Than Forecast The euro rose against the dollar after a survey of German business confidence beat forecasts, bolstering the case for the European Central Bank to raise interest rates twice more this year.

European Stocks Rise on German Confidence; Deutsche Bank, Intesa Advance European stocks rebounded after business confidence in Germany, the region's biggest economy, declined less than economists expected. Banca Intesa SpA and Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) paced gains.

Rentokil Says Washroom-Division Profit Will Miss Forecasts; Shares Decline Rentokil Initial Plc (OTCPK:RTOKY), the world's largest pest-control company, said first-half profit slid 7 percent and that full-year earnings at its biggest unit will miss targets. The stock was the second-worst performer on the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index of Europe's leading companies.

U.S. Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

July Durables Orders Tumble 2.4 Percent, Ex-Transport Increase 0.5 Percent Declining demand for aircraft and motor vehicles pushed down U.S. durable goods orders last month, according to a government report that also showed resilient spending on business equipment such as computers.

Initial Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Fell 1,000 to 313,000 in Latest Week The number of U.S. workers filing first-time applications for state jobless benefits fell for a second week, suggesting companies haven't yet picked up the pace of firings.

Rite Aid to Buy Jean Coutu's Eckerd, Brooks U.S. Chains for $2.55 Billion Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE:RAD), the third-largest U.S. drugstore chain, agreed to buy Jean Coutu Group Inc.'s Brooks and Eckerd pharmacy chains in the U.S. for $2.55 billion in cash and stock.

Google Seeks Exemption From Mutual Fund Rules to Boost Investment Returns Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), owner of the most widely used Internet search engine, is facing a hurdle other companies would love to confront: how to get better returns from investing its cash hoard without being regulated as a mutual fund.

U.S. Stock-Index Futures Are Little Changed; Motorola Advances in Europe U.S. stock-index futures were little changed before reports on new home sales and durable-goods orders that will show how much interest-rate increases are affecting economic growth.

Williams-Sonoma Cuts Annual Profit Forecast as Sales Slow at Pottery Barn Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE:WSM), a U.S. home- furnishings retailer, said second-quarter profit rose 15 percent, helped by unredeemed gift cards and a gain from a legal settlement.

Duke, Dominion, Utility Yields Rise to Three-Year Highs as Bond Sales Loom Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK), Dominion Resources Inc. (NYSE:D), American Electric Power Co. (NYSE:AEP) and at least 15 other U.S. utilities need to sell debt just as their borrowing costs reach the highest in almost three years.

Iran's Reply to Nuclear Incentives Falls Short of Terms, U.S., France Say The U.S. and France today said Iran's response to the United Nations offer of economic benefits in exchange for curtailing its nuclear program falls short of the requirement of a uranium-enrichment halt.

U.S. Pre-Market Movers (via Briefing.com)

Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS) -17.03%; 19.98 (-4.10) -- Chico's reported Q2 (Jul) earnings of $0.30 per share, in line with the Reuters Estimates consensus of $0.30. Revenues rose 18.0% year/year to $404.7 mln vs. the $414.4 mln consensus. Co issued downside guidance for Q3, sees EPS of $0.26-0.28 (consensus $0.32). For Q4 (Jan), co sees EPS of $0.25-0.27 (consensus $0.30) and for FY07, co sees EPS of $1.10-1.14 (consensus $1.21).

Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ:CWTR) +14.13%; 28.68 (+3.55) -- Co reported Q2 (Jul) earnings of $0.13 per share, $0.03 better than the Reuters Estimates consensus of $0.10. Revenues rose 41.2% year/year to $216.4 mln vs. the $195.7 mln consensus. "The combined strength of our triple-channel business strategy resulted in net income growth of nearly 94 percent, as well as higher net sales and a solid, double-digit increase in same-store sales for the second quarter," CEO comments.

Nordson (NASDAQ:NDSN) -5.42%; 41.00 (-2.35) -- Co reported Q3 EPS of $0.72 vs. $0.60 Reuters consensus. Revenues increased 12.1% to $225.97 mln vs. $220.48 mln consensus. "Nordson had another strong quarter, with 12 percent growth in sales volume coming from solid growth across all of our segments and geographies," said Edward P. Campbell, chairman and chief executive officer.