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  • Fingers crossed as well kill commences. BP (BP) will start pumping cement into its crippled well today after successfully reducing pressure by injecting mud from the top, a procedure known as a static kill. Yesterday, the cost of insuring BP debt dropped below five-year premiums for the first time in two months on speculation the new attempt will succeed. Separately, Transocean (RIG), which owns the exploded drilling rig, said BP may seek to avoid its full contractual responsibility for the disaster. BP +3.5% premarket.
  • SEC looks to break open proxy process. Under a rule being considered by the SEC, shareholders of large firms would be able to directly nominate directors on corporate ballots, a change that could dramatically affect the board-selection process at many companies. Currently, if shareholders want to propose directors, they need to pay out of their own pockets to engage in a proxy fight. Under the new rule allowing them to put their own nominees next to the company's, the company would foot the cost.
  • House clears path for $26B emergency aid package. In a highly unusual move, House lawmakers agreed to break from their summer recess and return to Capitol Hill to vote on a $26B emergency aid package for state and local governments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted the news yesterday, and later issued a statement. The legislation would provide $16B to help state governments pay for rising Medicaid costs, and would transfer $10B to local school boards to help them avert layoffs.
  • Motorola jumps after Icahn boosts stake. Shares of Motorola (MOT) rose 6% Wednesday after billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed an increased stake in MOT - to 9.9% from 8.75%. The news coincided with an NPD report that Android-based phones - led by Motorola - took the lead in the U.S. mobile market in Q2. Icahn's increased stake is seen as a sign of confidence in Motorola's plan to split the company in two in early 2011.
  • FTC slaps Intel's wrist. Intel (INTC) resolved charges it engaged in a decade-long campaign to stifle competition and create a monopoly in the U.S. computer chip market. Its settlement with the FTC bans Intel from using threats, bundled prices, and discounts to deter PC makers from buying chips from its competitors. It also prohibits Intel from manipulating benchmark tests in ways that hurt the performance of competing products, or from deceiving PC makers about the performance of non-Intel products. Industry insiders said the settlement doesn't seem to restrict Intel's actions significantly.
  • Senators want action on China currency manipulation. In a letter to Obama yesterday, a group of 11 senators raised concerns about China's currency practices, urging the government to take stronger measures to combat "unfair" trade practices. "There is no doubt that the Chinese government is manipulating its currency to keep its value lower than it otherwise would be, which gives its exports a significant price advantage over U.S. manufactured goods," the group wrote. "During this economic recovery, it is critical the administration use all trade enforcement tools available to ensure U.S. industries the opportunity to compete fairly." Earlier Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Geithner said the U.S. will be watching how fast and how much China lets its yuan currency appreciate following Beijing's recent commitments to forex flexibility.
  • Taiwan on verge of groundbreaking deal. In what could be a watershed moment for Taiwan (ETF: EWT), it said today it is exploring a trade agreement with Singapore (EWS). If not blocked by Beijing, which considers Taiwan its own, other countries will likely seek similar pacts with export-hungry Taiwan. Next up? Former colonial ruler Japan, Malaysia (EWM) or the Philippines. Taiwan has not signed free-trade agreements with major trading partners due to opposition from Beijing, but China is expected to back off following its own economic cooperation framework agreement with Taiwan signed in June.
  • IRS move signals crackdown on multinationals. The IRS said Wednesday it will overhaul its large business and international division, a shift that underscores its growing focus on international tax evasion. The move will give examiners the authority to decide whether to pursue or settle contentious tax cases involving multinational corporations. Studies show large corporations are increasingly using gray areas of the tax code to minimize or illegally evade billions of dollars in taxes every year through complex international structures.
  • Goldman, Morgan Stanley near deals to offload trading desks. Sources say Goldman Sachs (GS) plans to spin off its proprietary trading business as early as this month to comply with the so-called Volcker rule, while Morgan Stanley (MS) is nearing a deal to cede control of its in-house hedge fund firm FrontPoint Partners. The desks manage about $7B and $9B respectively. The moves are the beginnings of what promises to be a major Wall Street shakeup as I-banks offload some of their proprietary trading businesses out of concern employees will bolt for firms unaffected by the new legislation.
  • HSBC subject of money laundering probe. HSBC (HBC) said U.S. authorities are investigating its U.S. global banking unit over its compliance with anti-money laundering laws. In an SEC filing, HSBC USA said it has received subpoenas and other requests for information from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Chicago Fed, the U.S. AG and the DOJ.

Earnings: Thur. Before Open

  • CIGNA (CI): Q2 EPS of $1.38 beats by $0.37. Revenue of $5.35B (+19.3%) vs. $5.26B. (PR)
  • Canadian Natural Resource (CNQ): Q2 EPS of $0.63 beats by $0.06. Revenue of $3.61B (+31.4%) vs. $3.10B. (PR)
  • FTI Consulting (FCN): Q2 EPS of $0.52 in-line. Revenue of $349M (-3.2%) vs. $348M. (PR)
  • Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG): Q2 EPS of -$0.57 may not be comparable to the consensus of $0.08. Revenue of $191.33M (+37.6%) vs. $134.56M. Shares (PR)
  • Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI): Q2 EPS of $0.37 beats by $0.03. Revenue of $58.8M (+19.6%) vs. $55.6M. (PR)
  • MetroPCS Communications (PCS): Q2 EPS of $0.22 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $1.01B (+17.8%) vs. $0.99B. (PR)
  • Time Warner Cable (TWC): Q2 EPS of $0.97 beats by $0.04. Revenue of $4.73B (+5.8%) vs. $4.68B. (PR)

Earnings: Wed. After Close

  • Allstate (ALL): Q2 EPS of $0.81 beats by $0.12. Revenue of $7.7B (-9.8%) vs. $6.6B. Shares +1.5% AH. (PR)
  • Amkor Technology (AMKR): Q2 EPS of $0.23 may not be comparable to consensus of $0.25. Revenue of $749M (+47%) vs. $720M. Shares +6.5% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
  • Atmel (ATML): Q2 EPS of $0.11 beats by $0.05. Revenue of $393M (+38%) vs. $374M. Shares +8.5% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
  • Avis Budget Group (CAR): Q2 EPS of $0.25 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $1.3B (-1.4%) in-line. (PR)
  • Career Education (CECO): Q2 EPS of $0.81 beats by $0.19. Revenue of $528M (+20.6%) vs. $531M. Shares -1% AH. (PR)
  • Clearwire (CLWR): Q2 EPS of $0.61 may not be comparable to consensus of $0.52. Revenue of $122M (+92%) vs. $132M. Shares -0.7% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
  • Concho Resources Inc (CXO): Q2 EPS of $0.63 beats by $0.09. Revenue of $215M (+69%) vs. $206M. (PR)
  • Hartford Financial (HIG): Q2 EPS of $0.92 beats by $0.21. Shares -3.4% AH. (PR)
  • Health Care REIT (HCN): Q2 EPS of $0.8 beats by $0.01. (PR)
  • Kinross Gold (KGC): Q2 EPS of $0.16 in-line. Revenue of $697M (+16.5%) vs. $677M. Shares +0.3% AH. (PR)
  • MercadoLibre, Inc (MELI): Q2 EPS of $0.41 beats by $0.10. Revenue of $999M (+7.8%) in-line. Shares -3.5% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
  • Murphy Oil (MUR): Q2 EPS of $1.41 beats by $0.20. Revenue of $5.6B (+22.7%) vs. $6.4B. Shares -0.5% AH. (PR)
  • News Corporation (NWSA): FQ4 EPS of $0.33 may not be comparable to consensus of $. Revenue of $8.1B (+5.7%) in-line. Shares +4.2% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
  • ON Semiconductor (ONNN): Q2 EPS of $0.24 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $583M (+38.9%) vs. $574M. Shares -1.3% AH. (PR, earnings call transcript)
  • ONYX Pharmaceuticals (ONXX): Q2 EPS of $0.05 beats by $0.02. Revenue of $68.8M (+14.3%) vs. $67.7M. Shares +0.9% AH. (PR)
  • Prudential Financial (PRU): Q2 EPS of $1.51 beats by $0.19. Revenue of $8.7B (+38%) vs. $7.3B. Shares +1.4% AH. (PR)
  • Regency Centers (REG): Q2 EPS of $0.59 beats by $0.03. (PR)
  • Sandridge Energy Inc (SD): Q2 EPS of $0.23 beats by $0.11. Shares -0.2% AH. (PR)
  • Tenaris (TS): Q2 EPS of $0.48 beats by $0.07. Revenue of $2B (-5.4%) vs. $1.8B. Shares -0.1% AH. (PR)
  • Transocean (RIG): Q2 EPS of $2.22 may not be comparable to consensus of $1.68. Revenue of $2.5B (-13%) in-line. Shares -1.3% AH. (PR)
  • Yamana Gold (AUY): Q2 EPS of $0.12 misses by $0.03. Revenue of $351M (+1.5%) vs. $406M. Shares -1.8% AH. (PR)

Today's Markets

  • Asia: Japan +1.7%. Hong Kong flat. China -0.7%. India -0.2%.
  • Europe at midday: London +0.3%. Paris +0.8%. Frankfurt +0.3%.
  • Futures at 7:00: S&P +0.24%. 10-yr -0.04%. Euro +0.41% vs. dollar. Crude -0.45% to $82.10. Gold +0.21% to $1198.40.

Thursday's Economic Calendar

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