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BofA ups estimate of possible legal liabilities to $6.1B. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) has added $1B to its estimate of its potential litigation liabilities, bringing the total to $6.1B vs a year-ago calculation of $3.1B. BofA also said that the U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating the bank's compliance with the Federal Housing Administration's direct endorsement program. Meanwhile, authorities in North America, Europe and Asia are probing BofA's conduct and practices in forex markets.

GE to pay $1.7B to Japan's Shinsei bank to end refund liability. GE (NYSE:GE) has agreed to pay $1.7B to Japan's Shinsei Bank (OTC:SKLKF) to end the conglomerate's exposure to compensation for interest refund claims. The deal will hit GE's Q4 and 2013 earnings by $1B, and net EPS by $0.09. GE's liability goes back to a loss-sharing agreement from 2008, when GE Capital sold its Japanese consumer operations to Shinsei for $5.4B.

AB InBev earnings top forecasts as core profit rises 13%. Anheuser-Busch InBev's (NYSE:BUD) Q4 like-for-like EBITDA climbed 13% to $5.2B and topped estimates, as did revenue, which increased to $11.71B from $10.29B. The brewing giant's earnings benefited from price hikes and a shift to premium lagers, as well as from a strong performance in Brazil and cost cutting in Mexico following the company's acquisition of Grupo Modelo. However, total beverage volumes fell 2%. Shares were +1.3% premarket.

Top Stock News
Credit Suisse distances top management from tax-dodging claims. Credit Suisse's (NYSE:CS) most senior executives weren't aware that its staff was helping American citizens dodge U.S. taxes, the bank said today. CEO Brady Dougan will tell a Senate hearing later that the "employee misconduct violated our policies," adding that the bank takes full responsibility for its workers' actions. A Senate report yesterday accused Credit Suisse of helping American clients hide up to $10B in assets.

Panasonic mulls investment in Tesla battery factory - reports. Panasonic (OTCPK:PCRFY) is reportedly considering investing in a lithium-ion battery factory that Tesla is planning to build as part of its strategy of making more affordable electric vehicles. The "giga" factory would need almost ¥100B ($979M) to construct. Panasonic is already Tesla's main supplier of batteries. The latter's shares were +3.5% premarket after surging 13.9% yesterday.

Morgan Stanley, SEC in proposed $275M settlement of MBS probe. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) has reached a preliminary agreement to pay $275M to settle an SEC investigation into subprime mortgage bond-trades from 2007. The deal would resolve allegations that the bank misled investors in debt that collapsed during the financial crisis. Last year, Morgan Stanley's litigation expenses totaled $1.95B overall.

Mall giant Westfield mulls listing in U.S. or U.K. Westfield Group (OTCPK:WEFIF), one of the largest managers of shopping centers in the world, could list in New York, London or Australia should shareholders approve a break-up plan. Westfield is looking to sell its Australian and New Zealand operations and keep its international business, which runs 39 malls in the U.S. and five in the U.K. and Europe valued at $18B.

Top Economic & Other News
GOP's Camp sets out to revamp "appalling tax code." David Camp, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means, intends to introduce proposals today to overhaul and simplify the "appalling tax code." Camp wants to reduce the seven individual tax brackets to two - 10% and 25% - and cut the top corporate income rate to 25% from 35%. The largest banks and insurers would reportedly pay a quarterly 3.5 basis-point tax on assets of over $500B. However, the chances of Camp's measures becoming law are apparently as slim as the tax code is fat.

Study highlights corporate tax avoiders. While David Camp looks to revamp the tax code and a Senate panel investigates tax dodging in Switzerland, a report from the left-leaning activist group Citizens for Tax Justice has named 26 out of 288 profitable Fortune 500 companies that paid no federal income tax between 2008 and 2012. The firms include Boeing (NYSE:BA), GE (GE), and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), although they dispute the findings. "For each year cited by Citizens for Tax Justice, GE paid income taxes in the U.S., as well as billions in other state, local and federal taxes in the U.S.," GE said.

Housing recovery to be uneven - study. The housing market will probably rebound over a five-year period, a new study predicts, but the recovery will be uneven. The report, which was compiled by the Demand Institute think-tank, projected that in 50 large metropolitan areas, prices will rise in the top five regions by an average of 32% from 2012-2018 but only by 11% in the bottom five.


Top Ideas: Movers and Great Calls
1) On January 8, Shaun Currie, CFA, said Monster Worldwide (NYSE:MWW) had multiple ways to provide strong returns to its shareholders. Shares are +15.2% since. Read article »
2) In September, Mike Arnold called Chinese media company Bona Film Group (NASDAQ:BONA) a cheap growth stock whose vertically integrated model was creating an ever-widening moat. After a recent breakout, the stock is +53.9% to date. Read article »

Top Ideas To Watch
1) Financial expert Ashleigh Rogers writes that investors are overvaluing investment bank Greenhill & Co. (NYSE:GHL) and assuming a return to past glory that may never come. Read article »
2) Compound-semiconductor maker EMCORE (NASDAQ:EMKR) is undervalued on a sum-of-the-parts basis, while activist investors could be a catalyst for upside going forward, writes Nassarius Capital. 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.


Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.5% to 14971. Hong Kong +0.5% to 22437. China +0.35% to 2041. India +0.65% to 20987.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris -0.4%. Frankfurt -0.2%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.15%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude +0.3% to $102.18. Gold -0.2% to $1340.40.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +1 bps at 2.72%

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
10:00 New Home Sales
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $35B, 5-Year Note Auction

Notable earnings before today's open: AEGR, AES, AG, ANF, ARCC, AVA, BCRX, BKS, BUD, CHK, CLH, CNP, CRI, CVC, DGI, DIN, DLTR, JAKK, LITB, LOW, MDXG, NXST, PKD, RY, SNH,SODA, STWD, SUSP, SUSS, TASR, TDS, TGT, TJX, USM

Notable earnings after today's close: ADSK, AGO, ANIK, ANW, ARI, AWK, AWR, BALT, BEAT, BIDU, BIOS, BLOX, BWC, CLR, CWT, DAR, DK, DPM, FARO, GEF, GMED, GPOR, GXP, HK, JCP, KW, MDAS, MITT, MWE, NDLS, NKTR, NOAH, NTRI, PLKI, QUAD, RIG, RNDY, SB, STAA, SZYM, TCAP, TEG, TIVO, UNXL, VNR, WDAY, WLL, WPRT, WR

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News