Nasdaq mulls breakup or merger with LSE amid CEO succession planning. With Nasdaq's (NDAQ) stock price cheap compared with its peers and amid sector consolidation, the bourse operator is reportedly considering splitting itself up or merging with the London Stock Exchange (OTC:LDNXF) or the Singapore Exchange (OTC:SPXCF). The company has also begun planning for the succession of CEO Robert Greifeld, although he has no intention of leaving at the moment. The top candidates include LSE chief Xavier Rolet, who would become the head of any combined company.
Lufthansa orders $19B worth of planes from Boeing, Airbus. Boeing (BA) has received an $11B booking for 34 of its upgraded 777-9X aircraft from Deutsche Lufthansa (OTC:DLAKF) despite the U.S. company's board not having even approved the jet yet. The German carrier has also ordered 25 Airbus A350-900s (OTC:EADSF), taking its total purchases to $19B at list prices. Lufthansa has options for an additional 30 units of each plane as well. GE (GE) should benefit, as it is poised to provide the engines for the 777-9X.
iPhones 5S and 5C go on sale. Apple (AAPL) fans have been queuing in their hundreds around the world as the iPhones 5S and 5C go on sale in 10 countries, including Australia, Japan, the U.K., the U.S. and China, which for the first time doesn't have to wait three months to receive the devices. The launch comes amid reports that pre-orders for the 5C have been rather underwhelming in the U.S. and U.K., and speculation that 5S supplies will be limited in America.
Top Stock News
Equities little changed heading into weekend, German elections eyed. Global stocks were mainly flat at the time of writing as the excitement of the Fed's lack of tapering wore off and investors looked ahead to Germany's election on Sunday, when Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to win a third term. The rise of the euro-skeptic Alternative for Germany party, though, could cause a bit of market nervousness if it makes significant headway.
Prudential designated as systemically important. Prudential Financial (PRU) has joined other non-banks AIG (AIG) and GE Capital (GE) in being designated as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI). Prudential has 30 days to respond to the decision and is "reviewing the rationale for the determination and our options." Unlike the others, the insurer has contested its possible SIFI status and the tougher regulations that would come with it.
Twitter likely to raise $1B+, go public before Thanksgiving. Twitter's IPO is expected to raise over $1B and take place before Thanksgiving, Reuters reports. That would translate to a sale of over 6% of the company should Twitter obtain a valuation similar to the $15B it's apparently getting on private markets.
SEC continues probe into JPMorgan's London Whale trades. Even though JPMorgan (JPM) has agreed to pay various regulators, including the SEC, more than $920M to settle charges over its London Whale trading blunder, the agency is still reportedly carrying out a civil investigation of bank staff who are connected to the fiasco. While CEO Jamie Dimon isn't expected to be probed, the SEC is looking at employees who may have been responsible for alleged problems with internal controls and corporate governance.
Empire State Building REIT could raise $1.07B in IPO. Empire State Realty Trust, which includes the Empire State Building as its centerpiece property, has set an IPO range of $13-15. With Empire State planning to sell at least 71.5M shares on the NYSE, it could raise up to $1.07B, putting it in the top three for REIT debuts. There is also a greenshoe option for 10.725M shares. Empire State Realty Trust plans to set the final price on October 1.
Vornado selling Penney stake via Citi. Less than a week after Vornado (VNO) CEO Steven Roth resigned from J.C. Penney's (JCP) board and reiterated his firm's intention to unload its remaining 6.1% stake in the hard-luck retailer, the WSJ reports that Citi is offering the holding to investors for $13.05-13.10 a share. J.C. Penney closed at 13.14 yesterday.
Rocket Fuel set to debut after pricing IPO. Rocket Fuel (FUEL) has priced a 4M-share IPO at $29 and is set to begin trading today. The price represents the high end of an increased range of $27-$29 and is good for a $942M market cap. The company's rapid growth and ad analytics tech seems to be yielding strong investor interest.
Top Economic & Other News
EPA to set carbon limits on power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to today unveil restrictions on carbon emissions for new power plants, a key part of President Obama's policy to fight what many see as global warming. To meet the expected limits, coal plants would have to capture and store 20-40% of their CO2 emissions. The industry argues that the work would be so expensive that it would preclude the building of new facilities.
Indian central bank shocks with rate rise. In its first decision under new governor Raghuram Rajan, the Reserve Bank of India has surprisingly increased its benchmark lending rate to 7.5% from 7.25%, saying that "bringing down inflation to more tolerable levels" warranted raising the LAF repo rate. The central bank also started to reverse recent measures it took to calm volatility in the forex market. The RBI's actions sent Indian stocks tumbling, although the USD-INR was flat at 62.196 rupees at the time of writing.
GOP, Democrats as divided as ever over funding bills. The Republican-led House has passed a bill that would slash spending on food stamps by $40B over 10 years, well above the $4B that Democrats are prepared to support. The House is also set to vote on legislation today that would fund the government until December 15 while cutting financing for Obamacare. It's another set of measures that Democrats will have no truck with. And then there's the debt ceiling...
Alpha-Rich Stock Movers and Great Calls
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Japan -0.2% to 14742. Hong Kong, China closed. India -1.85% at 20,264.
In Europe, at midday, London flat. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.1%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude -0.3% to $106.11. Gold -0.9% to $1356.50.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -2 bps at 2.74%.
Today's economic calendar:
12:30 PM Fed's George: "The Federal Reserve and the Economy"
12:55 PM Fed's Bullard: U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy
Notable earnings before today's open: DRI
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