World Bank bullish about global prospects. The World Bank expects global economic growth to accelerate to 3.2% in 2014 from 2.4% in 2013, led by advanced economies that seem "to be finally turning the corner" following the financial crisis. In its Global Economic Prospects report, the bank also forecast that the U.S. will expand 2.8% this year vs 1.8% last year. The outlook, along with strong U.S. retails yesterday, have helped boost world stocks today.
China Mobile receives 1.2M iPhone pre-orders. China Mobile (CHL) received 1.2M pre-orders for iPhone devices by Monday, indicating the level of demand for the product ahead of its sales launch by the carrier on Friday. Speaking in China, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said that even without an official agreement with China Mobile, iPhone sales hit a record high in Greater China in Apple's FQ1. In FQ4, it generated revenue of $5.73B. Apple's shares were +1.3% premarket.
German real GDP slows in 2013. Germany's price-adjusted GDP growth eased to 0.4% in 2013 from 0.7% in 2012 and missed consensus of 0.5%. "The German economy suffered from the continuing recession in some European countries and from restrained growth of the global economy," the Federal Statistical Office said. "Strong domestic demand could offset those factors only to a limited extent." The trade balance hurt growth by 0.3 of a percentage point, which might assuage criticism that Germany relies too much on exports.
Top Stock News
GM to pay first dividend in almost six years. General Motors' (GM) shares rose 3% in post-market trading after the carmaker said it would distribute a quarterly dividend for the first time since June 2008. The $0.30-a-share payout equates to a 3% annualized yield based on yesterday's regular session close of $40.02. Meanwhile, GM has named North American finance chief Chuck Stevens to become the group's CFO to replace Dan Ammann, who is becoming company President.
Japan Airlines probes Boeing 787 battery after smoke seen. Japan Airlines is investigating the battery on a Boeing (BA) 787 Dreamliner after detecting smoke during pre-flight maintenance in Tokyo, the first sign of a possible failure since the units were redesigned in 2013. Boeing said that the incident "appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell," and that "the improvements made to the 787 battery system last year appear to have worked as designed."
Regulators back down over Volcker CDO provision. Federal regulators have decided to ease the Volcker Rule and will now allow smaller banks to hold certain CDOs of trust-preferred securities (TRuPS) that they might otherwise have had to sell. The move comes after the American Bankers Association threatened to sue over the provision, which the industry group said would have forced 275 small banks to take a $600M hit to capital.
Intel stalls opening of new plant. Intel (INTC) has delayed opening a new factory in Arizona amid the fall in demand for PC microprocessors, the company's biggest revenue generator. The facility was supposed to have started producing Intel's most advanced chips at the end of 2013 but will remain shut for the foreseeable future. Instead, the company will upgrade other plants at the same site.
Time Warner nears sale of Manhattan HQ for $1.3B. Time Warner (TWX) is reportedly close to selling its headquarters in Manhattan to Related Cos. for $1.3B. Much of the financing is coming from sovereign-wealth funds from Abu Dhabi and Singapore, highlighting the foreign demand for U.S. commercial real-estate, which has helped send prices to record levels. Time Warner should see a healthy profit from the deal, having spent $520M around ten years ago to construct its HQ.
Burning down the TV pilot season. Fox (FOXA) plans to launch shows throughout the year and break from the concept of a strict pilot season. Although the move runs the risk of disrupting how big budget ad buyers approach new programming, it also reflects the reality that TV viewers have given up on the idea of a "TV season," as their choices from cable networks, Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) proliferate all year long. Expect CBS (CBS), NBC (CMCSA) and ABC (DIS) to consider similar moves.
Top Economic & Other News
Chinese lending drops. Chinese aggregate financing fell to 1.23T yuan ($204B) in December from 1.63T yuan a year earlier, but came in above consensus of 1.14T yuan. Still, that and other data, such as a slowing M2 money supply, reflect the efforts by the People's Bank of China to rein in ballooning credit even at the expense of economic growth. However, the central bank has reportedly become frustrated at the lack of desire of the China Banking Regulatory Commission to strengthen the regulation of banks' relationships with shadow lenders.
Senate fails in attempt to renew aid for long-term jobless. Senate leaders have been unable to come to an agreement over extending benefits for the long-term unemployed, partly due to differences over financing the aid and how long the extension should last. Political machinations seem to have been a factor as well. The Senate is not likely to revisit the issue, which affects 1.3M people, until late this month. The old benefits expired on December 28.
Top Ideas: Movers and Great Calls
1) On December 26, REIT expert Dane Bowler said Gladstone Land (LAND) was a prime candidate for a short play, as its monthly dividend would soon be cut due to the exhaustion of accumulated earnings. Less than two weeks later, Gladstone slashed its dividend by 75%; the stock is -11.7% since Bowler's call. Read article »
2) Stephen Simpson called ingredient company Senomyx (SNMX) a solid speculative play on November 13, as pending profitability and new products would drive growth and upside. Shares are +68% to date. Read article »
Top Ideas To Watch
1) Shares of managed-care provider WellCare Health Plans (WCG) are poised to climb, as Medicaid expansion and aggressive acquisitions make the stock a bargain, writes insurance expert Ashleigh Rogers. Read article »
2) Buysider Nassarius Capital calls Sigma Designs (SIGM) an appealing turnaround play, as a valuation of just 2x cash limits downside and a restructuring and activist investor look poised to unlock value. Read article »
Top Ideas are the best long and short ideas on Seeking Alpha. SA PRO subscribers receive early access to these Top Ideas, which often move markets. For more information about SA PRO and becoming a subscriber, click here.
In Asia, Japan +2.5% to 15809. Hong Kong +0.5% to 22902. China -0.2% to 2023. India +1.2% to 21289.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris +0.5%. Frankfurt +1%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.35%. Crude +0.25% to $92.82. Gold -0.6% to $1237.50.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +1 bps to 2.88%
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