U.S. Braces for Mixed Open

by: SA Editors

At 8:50 AM EDT:

U.S. Futures

S&P 500: +0.90; 1,427.50
NASDAQ 100: +5.00; 1,812.00
Dow: -6.00; 12,417.00

International Indexes

NIKKEI 225: +0.82%; 16,829.20 (+136.27)
HANG SENG: +1.07%; 18,919.40 (+201.21)
S&P/ASX 200: +1.55%; 5,573.10 (+84.90)
BSE SENSEX 30: +2.32%; 13,487.16 (+305.82)

FTSE 100: +0.21%; 6,205.30 (+12.80)
CAC 40: +0.48%; 5,502.21 (+26.36)
XETRA-DAX: +0.21%; 6,534.64 (+13.87)

Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)

Oil: +1.32%; $62.18 (+$0.81)
Gold: %; $631.80 (-$0.60)
Natural Gas: +0.94%; $7.74 (+$0.07)
Silver: +0.72%; $14.015 (+$0.10)

Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Paulson Urges China to Permit Currency Flexibility as Beijing Talks Start U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, facing pressure from Congress for trade sanctions against China, urged the nation to relax currency controls and clamp down on software piracy to help close a record trade gap.

Asian Stocks Climb, Led by Sony, on U.S. Retail Sales; Qantas Advances Asian stocks gained for a third day, led by Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) and Samsung Electronics Co., after retail sales rose in the U.S, the region's biggest export market.

Qantas Airways Agrees to Macquarie Bank's Sweetened $8.7 Billion Buyout Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia's largest airline, accepted a sweetened A$11.1 billion ($8.7 billion) buyout led by Macquarie Bank Ltd. and Texas Pacific Group, in the world's biggest aviation takeover.

Sony Will Meet Target of Shipping 2 Million PlayStation 3s, Chubachi Says Sony Corp. (SNE), the world's biggest maker of video-game machines, said it expects to meet PlayStation 3 shipment targets this year, two weeks after production delays prompted the replacement of the console's creator.

China Money Supply Growth Slows to 16.8 Percent on Government Credit Curbs China's money supply grew at a slower pace in November after the central bank stepped up efforts to remove funds from the financial system.

European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

EMI Ends Takeover Talks With Permira; Shares Fall Most in Almost Two Years EMI Group Plc (OTC:EMIPY), the world's third- largest music company, ended talks to be acquired by Permira Advisers LLP after failing to agree on a price, the second time this year that takeover plans collapsed.

Nestle Agrees to Buy Medical Nutrition Unit From Novartis for $2.5 Billion Nestle SA (SNRGY.PK) agreed to buy a unit of Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) for $2.5 billion to become the second-biggest maker of nutritional supplements for hospitals.

Kohlberg Kravis, Permira Are Close to Acquisition of ProSieben, People Say Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Permira Advisers LLP are close to winning the auction for ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, Germany's biggest broadcaster, three people with knowledge of the talks said.

European Stocks Rise to Six-Year High; HBOS, Rio Tinto and Xstrata Advance European stocks rose to the highest in six years, led by HBOS Plc and Nestle SA (SNRGY.PK), as earnings improved and takeovers increased.

HBOS Annual Profit Will Rise More Than 11 Percent on Mortgage-Loan Gains HBOS Plc, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, said 2006 profit probably rose more than 11 percent, and greater efficiency may fuel faster asset growth in 2007.

U.S. Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Lehman Earnings Increase 22 Percent on Revenue From Stock and Bond Trading Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH), led by its forte in bond trading, reported a 22 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit and ended the year with a record $4 billion in earnings.

Bear Stearns Net Rises, Topping Estimates, on Trading, Investment Banking Bear Stearns Cos. (NYSE:BSC), bolstered by higher trading and investment-banking revenue, said profit rose a better-than-expected 38 percent to a record in the fourth quarter.

Costco Profit Climbs 10 Percent, Helped by Sales of Fresh Food, Computers Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), the largest U.S. warehouse club, said first-quarter profit rose 10 percent, helped by sales of fresh food and computers.

U.S. November Import Prices Rise 0.2 Percent, Up 0.7 Percent Excluding Oil Prices of goods imported into the U.S. rose more than expected in November with the biggest jump in natural gas prices in two years.

Initial Unemployment Claims in U.S. Decline More Than Estimated to 304,000 Fewer U.S. workers filed first-time applications for state unemployment benefits for a second consecutive week, a sign that demand for labor is holding up.