A massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake has struck off the northwest coast of Chile, causing a 2 meter high tsunami and killing at least five people. While the quake has wrought much damage, mining operations in the region appear to be relatively unaffected. Companies with interests in the area include Anglo American (OTCPK:AAUKF) and Glencore Xstrata (OTCPK:GLNCY), which operate the huge Collahuasi copper mine. Copper futures were +0.7% at $3.056 a pound at the time of writing.
The government has met its goal for signing up 7M people for Obamacare by the end of March, with at least 7.1M enrolling despite the technical chaos that has hit the healthcare online exchanges. However, insurers fear that they will have to sharply raise premiums for 2015 and beyond, as they haven't signed up enough young and healthy people who are less likely to need care.
The House has passed a bill authorizing fairly limited sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in corruption and violence, extending $1B in loan guarantees to Ukraine, and providing $150M in direct assistance to the country. With the Senate having approved similar legislation last week, the measure is due to go to President Obama for his signature.
Shares in MannKind more than doubled premarket after an FDA advisory panel recommended the approval of the company's Afrezza inhalable insulin for treating Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The results are a bit of a surprise, as the FDA's own staff had said that Afrezza was only marginally effective and possibly risky. MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD) has said that if approved, the treatment would be "the first ultra rapid-acting mealtime insulin therapy available in the United States."
PG&E has been hit with criminal charges over the 2010 natural-gas explosion in San Bruno in California that killed eight people and destroyed over 100 homes. PG&E (NYSE:PCG) has been accused of knowingly and willfully violating the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act and faces 12 separate charges, including failing to test unstable pipelines, and keeping inadequate records about the one that blew up.
Virtu Financial has reportedly delayed marketing its IPO until at least April 20 amid increasing controversy over high-frequency trading (HFT). Virtu's (Pending:VIRT) postponement comes after Michael Lewis accused HFT firms of rigging the market in a new book called "Flash Boys," while the FBI has disclosed that it's investigating the sector, as is the SEC. The latter still needs to approve Virtu's IPO filing.
Apple is reportedly in talks with Renesas (OTCPK:RNECF) to buy the latter's 55% stake in Renesas SP Drivers, a supplier of iPhone LCD drivers, with the U.S. company looking to pay ¥50B ($479M). Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which already develops its own app processors and fingerprint sensors, "wants to meld the design of core display components into overall product development."
Blackstone is reportedly in discussions to sell six office properties in the Boston area for $2.5B, with potential buyers including MetLife (NYSE:MET). Separately, Blackstone (NYSE:BX) has agreed to acquire a 49% holding in an office property in San Francisco called One Market Plaza in a deal that values the two-tower complex at just over $1.2B. The purchase is Blackstone's second in what it considers core and core-plus real estate.
The EU has fined Goldman Sachs, leading cablemaker Prysmian (OTC:PRYMF), Nexans (OTC:NEXNY) and eight cable firms a combined €302M ($416M) for operating a cartel. Prysmian was hit with the largest penalty, €104.6M, which includes a joint €37.3M fine with Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).
Google's services account for 18% of time spent by U.S. consumers on iOS/Android devices and those of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) 17%, analytics firm Flurry estimates. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) figure includes a 4% share for YouTube, although Facebook's doesn't yet account for WhatsApp. Pressuring Google's usage share is Web browsing activity, which makes up only 14% of all time spent, down from 20% a year earlier.
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In Asia, Japan +1% to 14946. Hong Kong +0.3% to 22524. China +0.4% to 2056. India +0.3% to 2253.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.3%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.15%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude -0.1% to $99.68. Gold +0.3% to $1284.10.
Ten-year Treasury Yield + 2 bps to 2.77%.
Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:15 ADP Jobs Report
8:30 Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index
10:00 Factory Orders
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
12:30 PM Fed's Lockhart: U.S. Economic Outlook
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