Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: Rachael Granby
Rachael Granby
Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day and delivered to over 900,000 email subscribers.

  • BP sells $7B Pan American stake. BP (NYSE:BP) agreed to sell its 60% stake in Argentina-based oil and gas company Pan American Energy to Bridas Corp. for $7.06B in cash. Bridas, which is half-owned by CNOOC (NYSE:CEO), already owns the other 40% of Pan American. BP said the sale is part of its plan to divest up to $30B of assets by the end of 2011 to help cover costs related to the Gulf of Mexico spill; this sale brings BP's divestitures to $21B. Premarket: BP -1% (7:00 ET).
  • Ireland details aid package. Ireland's aid package came in at €85B ($114B), as expected, with €67.5B coming from the EU and IMF and carrying an average interest rate of 5.8% with an average duration of 7.5 years. Subordinated bank bondholders may have to take 'big haircuts,' said Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, adding "I don't believe there were any other real options. We are not an irresponsible country" and leaving the euro or defaulting on bank bonds was unrealistic. Irish banks will get as much as €35B of the aid funds, and Ireland will provide €17.5B from its own reserves. Premarket: AIB +12%, IRE +20.8% (7:00 ET).
  • France, Germany defend euro. French government spokesman Francois Baroin was steadfast in his defense of the euro this morning: The Irish bailout is "a measure which is not simply a single shot taken in response to an important crisis, it forms part of the absolute determination of Europe — of France and Germany – to save the eurozone. [The euro] is an instrument which will not be taken hostage." Eurozone ministers also backed a long-term mechanism intended to prevent the debt crisis from tearing the zone apart; the new European Stability Mechanism outlined yesterday would make private investors accept losses in the case of a debt default or restructuring, but it would apply only to debt issued after 2013. Investors remain unsettled. Euro -0.8% vs. the dollar (7:00 ET).
  • Wal-Mart confirms Massmart move. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) confirmed it made a formal $2.3B offer for a 51% stake in Massmart (OTCPK:MMRTY), a discount retailer in South Africa. Massmart's board recommended shareholders accept the deal, which will help Massmart speed up its sub-Saharan Africa expansion and give Wal-Mart a head start in the region over European rivals Carrefour (CRERY.PK) and Tesco (OTCPK:TSCDY).
  • Black Friday, Cyber Monday in spotlight. Shoppers hit the stores in droves on Black Friday, and around 212M shoppers visited a store or retail website over the weekend, an 8.7% increase from last year. However, Black Friday retail spending rose only 0.3% from the previous year, to $10.69B from $10.66B, as a more discriminating public shopped more carefully for discounts and bought more goods online. E-commerce sales rose 28% from the previous year, with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) posting a Black Friday sales jump of 82.3%, and e-retailers may continue to see gains during today's 'Cyber Monday' sales. Stocks to keep an eye on today: AMZN (+0.7% premarket), EBAY, TGT, SPLS, M, JCP, KSS, TJX, BBY and the like...
  • Shell looks to sell Texas gas fields. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) has reportedly put its South Texas gas fields up for sale in an auction that could bring the company around $1B. An energy-focused private-equity firm or master limited partnership are seen as the most likely buyers. The sale of Shell's 400 South Texas wells are part of a portfolio-restructuring effort which includes the divestiture of $7B-8B of assets through 2011. Premarket: RDS.A -1.1% (7:00 ET).
  • Greenergy angles for Total's U.K. gas stations. Greenergy has reportedly launched a £1B-plus ($1.6B) bid to buy Total SA's (NYSE:TOT) 780 gas stations in the U.K. Greenergy CEO Paul Lester said he has held preliminary discussions on the issue, and the company is also interested in buying 460 stations from U.S. oil firm Murco. Tesco (OTCPK:TSCDY) holds a 35.6% stake in Greenergy.
  • Philips CFO resigns. Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG) said CFO Pierre-Jean Sivignon is leaving the company March 31 for 'personal reasons' and will be replaced by Ron Wirahadiraksa, who is currently the top financial executive at the company's healthcare arm. The timing is significant, since CEO Gerard Kleisterlee had already announced his plans to retire on April 1; the company will have to simultaneously handle the transition of both the CEO and CFO positions. Premarket: PHG +0.6% (7:00 ET).

Today's Markets

  • In Asia, Japan +0.9% to 10126. Hong Kong +1.3% to 23166. China -0.2% to 2866. India +1.4% to 19405.
  • In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris -0.6%. Frankfurt -0.6%.
  • Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.25%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.6% to $84.27. Gold -0.2% to $1359.80.

Monday's Economic Calendar

Seeking Alpha's Market Currents team contributed to this post.

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