Wall Street Breakfast: European Investment, Failed Iraqi Election, Argentina On Watch

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
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Standard & Poor's has placed Argentina's CCC-/C long and short-term foreign currency ratings on watch, due to the likelihood of a default. "The CreditWatch placement reflects our view of at least a one-in-two probability that Argentina will not pay the outstanding $539M interest payment on the discount bonds within the 30-day grace period," says S&P. The agency has also maintained its negative outlook on the country's long-term local currency rating.

The Iraqi parliament failed to elect a new speaker yesterday, postponing the opportunity to form a new government. The Obama administration is still urging Iraqi leaders to overcome sectarian divides, and to quickly create a more politically inclusive regime. Escalating violence has led to an estimated 2,417 Iraqis killed in June, as ISIS insurgents continue to overrun many cities and regions within the country.

Portugal will offer a new 10-year U.S. dollar-denominated government bond, which already has a pre-sale demand above $2B. The issuance will be launched in October, and displays Portugal's new financial standing after an exit from its three-year bailout program in May. The initial price guidance for the bond is attractive to investors looking for higher yield, and will be priced 265 basis points above Treasurys, at a yield of around 5.20%.

After pleading guilty to violating U.S. sanctions yesterday, BNP Paribas (OTCQX:BNPQF) has applied for a regulatory exemption to keep its U.S. pension-plan business alive. The exemption will allow the bank to keep its status as a qualified professional asset manager. The bank currently oversees $7.9T in pensions, some of which are included in the $66B of assets managed in the U.S.

Despite weak domestic demand and competition from abroad, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) will invest $1B in its refinery in Belgium, building a new facility which will convert heavy oil into diesel and marine fuel. Most other companies have been selling or shutting down their European refineries, however, Exxon says it has some of the lowest-cost refineries in Europe and is taking a long-term view of demand.

UPS also intends to invest $1B in European operations, after CFO Kurt Kuehn announced that the company expects to grow its European operations in the next three to five years. Most of the investment will go toward the expansion of logistics centers. The new plans will also target the healthcare sector, where UPS (NYSE:UPS) has been struggling due to medicine's sensitivity to temperature.

In another move trimming its food product lines, Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY, OTCPK:NSRGF) has sold Juicy Juice to buyout firm Brynwood Partners for up to $200M. The Swiss giant has been facing heavy competition in its food products sector, and has been selling off its businesses that don't retain their market share. Annual sales of Juicy Juice have fallen to approximately $275M, from more than $500M seven years ago.

The auto issues do not stop coming, as Hyundai (OTC:HYMLF) is now recalling 58k Elantra Touring cars in North America due to a support bracket defect. The bracket can cause injuries if it is dislodged during a side air bag deployment. No injuries have yet been reported, and adhesive strips will be placed on the brackets in order to fix the issue.

American Airlines is close to completing a $2.6B engine order from CFM International (a joint venture between GE (NYSE:GE) and Safran (OTCPK:SAFRF)), Reuters reports. The 200 new engines will be placed on new Airbus A320neo jetliners that American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) has on a firm order. The purchase will mark a loss for United Technologies' (NYSE:UTX) Pratt and Whitney unit, the only other engine maker for the A320neo.

Roche has announced it will buy Seragon, a breast cancer research firm, for $725M. The company may pay up to another $1B based on future performance. Seragon was spun out from Aragon Pharmaceuticals last year, when the latter was purchased for $650M by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Seragon is the second major acquisition for Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) in the last two months. The company bought Genia Technologies for up to $350M in June.

Lenovo is still expecting to close the $2.3B deal on IBM’s (NYSE:IBM) low-end server business this year, although the acquisition is still being investigated by the U.S. for national-security risks. One of the main concerns is that IBM's servers are used in U.S. data centers that support the Pentagon's computer networks. Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGF) is also attempting to obtain regulatory approval to buy Google's (GOOG, GOOGL) Motorola Mobility, in another multi-billion-dollar acquisition valued at $2.9B.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan +0.3% to 15370. Hong Kong +1.6% to 23550. China +0.4% to 2059. India +1.3% to 25841.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris flat. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude -0.4% to $104.91. Gold +0.1% to $1327.70.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.56%

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
7:30 Challenger Job-Cut Report
8:15 ADP Jobs Report
8:30 Gallup US Payroll to Population
8:30 Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index
10:00 Factory Orders
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
11:00 Janet Yellen speech

Notable earnings before today's open: GBX, STZ

Notable earnings after today's close: SNX

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