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Economy
President Obama has announced new targeted sanctions against Russia that will hit more individuals and companies after the G7 concluded that the country hasn't met its pledge to "de-escalate" the conflict with Ukraine. However, any moves won't target broad sections of Russia's economy. While the U.S. and EU have made noises about wider-ranging action, individual EU countries fear the consequences for their economies.

Japanese retail sales jumped at the fastest level in 17 years in March, climbing an expected 11% on year after growing 3.6% in February. The reason for the large gain is that consumers rushed to purchase goods before a rise in sales tax to 8% from 5% went into effect on April 1. The upshot is that sales are expected to fall this month but then recover in May.

Stocks
Pfizer offered to purchase AstraZeneca in January for £46.61 ($76.62) a share in cash and stock, with the proposal representing a 30% premium on AstraZeneca's (NYSE:AZN) shares at the time. The U.K. company turned the offer down, explaining that it "significantly undervalued AstraZeneca and its prospects." Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) again approached AstraZeneca on Saturday and was rebuffed a second time, and is now "considering its options." AstraZeneca's shares were +15% premarket at $78.54.

Comcast has reached a deal with Charter that involves Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) divesting 3.9M video customers if it buys Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC). Charter will acquire 1.4M existing TWC customers, giving it 5.7M in total and making it the second-largest cable operator in the U.S. Charter and Comcast will also each transfer approximately 1.6M subs respectively, and Charter will acquire 33% in a new publicly traded cable provider to be spun-off by Comcast serving 2.5M customers.

Siemens has reportedly offered to swap its train business with Alstom's (OTCPK:ALSMY) energy operations and make an additional cash payment. Backed by the French government, Siemens is also willing to meet or even top an offer from GE (NYSE:GE) for Alstom's energy assets that values the French group at $13B, and the German conglomerate has made guarantees about jobs, management positions and locations.

Apple is making preparations to raise $17B in international and domestic bonds in order to help finance its stock-repurchase program, which the company has increased to $90B from $60B. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has a cash pile of $150B, but $130B is held overseas, and repatriating it would incur a tax rate of 35%. A debt sale would add to the $17B that Apple raised a year ago, when demand topped $50B.

Sanofi's vaccine for Dengue fever met the primary goal of a Phase III study by reducing incidence of the illness by 56% in a trial involving over 10,000 children in Southeast Asia. Dengue affects up to 100M people a year, mainly in tropical areas, and is caused by a virus that is carried by mosquitoes. Symptoms include severe fever and intense joint and muscle pain, and it can be fatal. Sanofi's (NYSE:SNY) shares were +1.9% premarket.

Sweden's Meda has rejected Mylan's increased bid of 145 kroner ($22.01) per share, which values the Swedish pharmaceuticals company at $6.7B. Meda (OTC:MDABF) explained that Mylan's (NASDAQ:MYL) offer "lacks sufficient support" from its largest shareholder, while its board also has a "strong belief in the continued potential of Meda as a stand-alone company."

Merck could reach a deal to sell its consumer healthcare operations this week for almost $14B, Reuters reports, with Germany's Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY) and U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser (OTCPK:RBGLY) the frontrunners to buy the unit. Other healthcare consumer giants have also shown interest in the business, including Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Novartis (NYSE:NVS) and Sanofi (SNY). Merck (NYSE:MRK) is looking to sell the operations as it only holds around 1% of the market.

Former Xstrata boss Mick Davis, who has set up a new venture called X2, is believed to have made an offer to acquire BHP Billiton's (NYSE:BHP) thermal coal division. X2 has raised $3.7B (£2.2B) from investors and is understood to have appointed JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) to provide as much as $8B in debt. Earnings at BHP's thermal-coal operations have plummeted by two-thirds in the past three years.

Bayer is considering selling its plastics business Bayer Material Science in order to focus on its health operations, Bloomberg reports, adding that a deal could bring in over €7.8B ($10.8B), including net debt. Meanwhile, Bayer's (OTCPK:BAYZF) Q1 net profit climbed 23% to €1.42B ($1.96B) as sales rose 2.8% to €10.56B. Healthcare revenue grew 2.9% and CropScience 4.9%.


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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -1% to 14288. Hong Kong -0.4% to 22133. China -1.6% to 2003. India -0.25% to 22632.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris +0.4%. Frankfurt +0.9%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.4%. S&P +0.3%. Nasdaq +0.35%. Crude +0.65% to $101.25. Gold +0.1% to $1301.90.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 2.68%.

Today's economic calendar:
10:00 Pending Home Sales
10:30 Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook

Notable earnings before today's open: ACW, AHGP, ARLP, AVX, AWI, BEN, BWP, CHH, CHTR, CNA, CRI, CYOU, ECL, EDR, EDU, GLW, HAE, L, LH, LIN, MCGC, MCY, NOV, PDS, ROP, SOHU, STNG, TECH, TEN, UNS

Notable earnings after today's close: ADVS, AGNC, AMKR, AMP, BLDP, BWLD, CBL, CLGX, CMP, CR, DCO, DENN, EXR, FTK, GGP, HELE, HIG, HLF, HLS, JEC, KAMN, LMNX, MERU, N, NCLH, OMI, PCL, PRE, QCOR, RKT, RRC, RTEC, RUTH, SIMO, SSW, STAA, STM, SU, TCS, UCTT, VLRS, WNC

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News