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Economy
U.S. regulators are expected to approve new rules that force prime money funds held by asset managers to float their share price (instead of the stable $1 per share NAV) and limit access or impose fees on investors if they redeem shares in times of market tumult. The new rules are aimed at avoiding a repeat of the investor stampede out of the $2.6T industry, which endangered corporate lending during the financial crisis.

Stocks
Sony has announced that it will invest ¥35B ($345M) to boost production of image sensors for smartphones and tablets as the demand for "selfies" and video calls increases. As the leading market supplier of image sensors, Sony (NYSE:SNE) currently supplies Apple's iPhone with sensors for its main camera. Of the total investment, ¥9B will be spent this year on the new production, while the other ¥65B will be invested in the next fiscal year.

PayPal has signed up tens of thousands of Nigerian customers after opening its online platform in the country last week. In a market often plagued by financial fraud, PayPal (NASDAQ:EBAY) is offering online payment alternatives to Nigeria - Africa's largest economy. The company announced last month that in intends to enter ten new nations, bringing the total number of countries serviced to 203.

Apple reported a FQ3 gross margin of 39.4%, +250 bps Y/Y (above guidance of 37%-38%), driving the $1.28 EPS to beat estimates by $0.05. iPhone revenue grew by 9% Y/Y to $19.8B, after growing 17% last quarter. iPad revenue was down -8% to $5.9B hurt by channel inventory cuts and demand. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is counting on its IBM partnership to boost iPad sales after a reported decrease in U.S. demand for the tablets.

Microsoft's commercial revenue picked up during FQ4 - rising 11% Y/Y to $13.48B, an improvement from FQ3's 7% growth. The company beat revenue by $270M, but felt pressure on EPS from its Nokia phone unit which is about to see massive job cuts. FQ4 EPS missed by $0.06. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is expecting to see Nokia FQ1 revenue of $1.9B-$2.3B; down from a year-ago level of $3.9B.

After beating both EPS and revenue, VMware (NYSE:VMW) narrowed its full-year revenue guidance to $5.96B-$6.08B from a prior $5.94B-$6.1B; consensus is at $6.02B. License revenue rose 16% Y/Y in Q2, up from Q1's 15% and near the high end of guidance of $605M-$615M. VMware expects Q3 license revenue of $630M-$645M (up 12%-14%), and full-year license revenue of $2.56B-$2.62B (up 13%-15%). The company also says its much-hyped NSX networking virtualization/SDN platform is now on a $100M+/year run rate, and that its VSAN storage virtualization platform beat internal targets.

LinkedIn is acquiring Bizo, a provider of display/social ad services for marketers looking to target businesses. 10% of the $175M purchase price will be paid for in stock, and the rest in cash. LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) praises Bizo's data management and targeting tech for enabling "precise and measurable multi-channel marketing programs" aimed at business prospects. Bizo's ad platform will be integrated with LinkedIn's content marketing tools.

Deutsche Bank is in the spotlight after an examination by the New York Fed found the bank's U.S. operations suffer from several serious problems, including shoddy financial reporting, inadequate auditing and oversight and weak technology systems. The same examination found that Deutsche Bank's (NYSE:DB) "entire U.S. regulatory reporting structure requires wide-ranging remedial action." The bank is the latest to be hit by U.S. investigations.

The Royal Bank of Scotland is looking to retreat from Ireland as it considers selling Ulster Bank to a private equity firm, Reuters reports quoting the Irish Examiner. The newspaper mentions that private equity firms KKR (NYSE:KKR) or Apollo (NYSE:APO) would be the most likely candidates to buy the bank. The sale is dependent on the stipulations involving Ulster's distressed assets, but RBS (NYSE:RBS) is expected to price the bank at $673M-$3.4B.

In a move which would end Gazprom's monopoly of pipeline gas exports, Vladimir Putin has suggested the Russian government allow other companies to export Siberian gas to the Far East. The new stance marks a potential victory for Rosneft (OTC:RNFTF), Surgutneftegaz (OTCPK:SGTPY) and others, which have lobbied hard to gain a larger piece of the Russian gas sector. The decision will highly impact Gazprom's (OTCPK:OGZPY) recent $400B gas deal with China.

American Apparel will decide the fate of fired CEO Dov Charney by the middle of August, Reuters reports. The retailer is planning to announce its new board of directors this week, after efforts made by Standard General helped navigate the company through its crisis. Whatever the fate of Charney may be, American Apparel (NYSEMKT:APP) still faces debt of more than $250M, which is greater than its market capitalization of about $200M.


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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.1% to 15329. Hong Kong +0.8% to 23972. China +0.1% to 2078. India +0.5% to 26147.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.4%. Paris +0.6%. Frankfurt +0.7%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude -0.7% to $103.89. Gold +0.1% to $1309.80.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.47%

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories

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Source: Wall Street Breakfast: SEC Reforms, Tech Earnings, PayPal Expansion