- Goldman will agree to pay $27M fine to the U.K. Goldman Sachs (GS) is reportedly settling an investigation by Britain’s Financial Services Authority by agreeing to pay a fine of nearly $27M. The British regulatory authority accused the bank of fraud in April, after the SEC filed civil fraud charges for allegedly misleading buyers of complex mortgage-related investments in 2007. Goldman settled the charges in mid-July by agreeing to pay $550M, the largest penalty against a Wall Street firm in the SEC's history. According to reports, Goldman will concede that it made a mistake in regulatory disclosures about trader Fabrice Tourre.
- 7-Eleven makes bid for convenience store chain Casey’s. According to reports, 7-Eleven is behind a $40 per-share bid for convenience store operator Casey’s General Stores (CASY), which would value the company at $2B. Casey’s, which operates stores in the Midwest, rejected several lower offers from Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard [ANCUF.PK]. It also said the 7-Eleven bid was too low, but said it was willing to engage in talks for a potential deal.
- BP looks to share blame for the Gulf oil spill. In its highly anticipated report of the Gulf spill, BP (BP) spread the blame around, saying a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and the oil spill. Investors bought into the deflection onto rig owner Transocean (RIG) and contractor Halliburton (HAL), moving shares up 3.2%, since it boosts the likelihood that BP will wind up sharing the cost of liabilities. Meanwhile, Fitch upgraded its rating on the firm three notches to A, with a Stable outlook, reflecting "an end to the threat of further leaks from the Macondo well" and BP's progress in building liquidity to address potential lawsuits.
- Aussie regulators block NAB’s bid for AXA. Australian competition regulators ruled against National Australia Bank’s (OTCPK:NABZY) $12B bid for AXA Asia Pacific [AXAPF.PK] for a second time, likely scuttling the bid which would have been the second largest financial deal ever in Australia. The decision clears the way for Australia’s second biggest fund manager, AMP, to launch a new bid for AXA. After the decision was announced, shares of AXA slid 10%.
- Barry Callebaut inks sweet deal with Kraft. Swiss chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut (OTC:BYCBF) signed a deal with Kraft Foods (KFT) to become its key global cocoa and industrial supplier. The agreement is expected to more than double Barry Callebaut's existing business with Kraft Foods, which owns the Cadbury brand. News of the deal sent Barry shares up 8% in trading in Europe.
- U.S. slips in competitiveness ranking. The U.S. slipped two places to fourth in an annual ranking of business competitiveness by Geneva-based World Economic Forum. The U.S. fell behind Sweden and Singapore due to huge deficits and pessimism about government, the global economic group said in its report. Switzerland kept the top spot for a second year in a row. The rankings are based on economic data and a survey of more than 13,500 business executives.
- Google launches tool to speed up web searches. Google (GOOG) unveiled an accelerated search tool yesterday called Google Instant, which displays results as soon as users begin typing their search request. The shift means Google users will begin to see an ever-evolving set of search results appearing on their computer screens, potentially changing with each additional character typed. The change might affect the many businesses that have been built around placing search ads on Google and helping Web sites figure out how to climb higher in search results to increase revenue.
- SEC stands behind proposed Citigroup settlement. The SEC defended its proposed $75M settlement with Citigroup (C) over the bank’s alleged misconduct as “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” Citigroup had agreed to the payment to settle charges that it failed to disclose subprime exposure to investors in 2007, but a federal judge decline to approve the settlement and asked the SEC for more information. In a court filing, the SEC said the settlement was “in the public interest and should be approved.”
- Sony Pictures to produce animated series based on Marvel characters. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SNE) is partnering with Disney’s (DIS) Marvel Entertainment to produce a series of animated works based on such characters as Iron Man, X-Men, and Blade and will distribute them worldwide. The characters will be animated by Japanese animation studio Madhouse and broadcast by cartoon channel Animax Broadcast Japan, a Sony Pictures unit. The partnership hopes to create new fans and generate programming and DVD sales worldwide.
Earnings: Wednesday After Close
- Shanda Games Ltd. (GAME): Q2 EPS of $0.16 in-line. Revenue of $163.9M (-3.7%) vs. $165.9M. Shares -2.1% AH. (PR)
- In Asia, Japan +0.82% to 9098.4. Hong Kong +0.37% to 21167. China -1.44% to 2656. India +0.71% to 18799.66.
- In Europe, at midday, London +0.81. Paris +0.60%. Frankfurt +0.47%.
- Futures: Dow +0.33%. S&P +0.34%. Nasdaq +0.39%. Crude +0.54% to $75.07. Gold -0.16% to $1255.50.
Thursday's Economic Calendar
- 8:30 Trade Balance
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
11:00 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $13B, 30-Bond Auction
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
- Notable earnings after Thursday's close: NSM
Seeking Alpha's Market Currents team contributed to this post.
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