By Yigal Grayeff and the Market Currents team
Bristol-Myers to buy Inhibitex for $2.5B. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) has agreed to buy Inhibitex (INHX) for $2.5B as it looks to boost its pipeline ahead of the loss of patent protection for its blood thinner Plavix. The offer of $26 a share is more than double Inhibitex's closing price of $9.87 on Friday despite the firm's main drug, a hepatitis C treatment, only being in mid-stage trials. Inhibitex's shares were unsurprisingly +154% premarket.
Iran starts enriching uranium at key site. Despite tightening international sanctions, Iran has reportedly started to enrich uranium at its underground Fordo facility, and will have an official opening of the site soon. Meanwhile, a pipeline that would allow UAE crude oil to bypass the Strait of Hormuz has been delayed further because of construction difficulties and won't be ready until April, Bloomberg reports.
GM, Ford roar to record sales in China. General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) knocked out record auto sales in the fast-growing market of China in 2011 after Japanese rivals were crimped by production issues tied to the flooding in Thailand and the earthquake in March in Japan. GM reported that it sold 2.55M vehicles in China (up an annual 8.3%), while Ford said it registered vehicle sales of 519,000 (+7%).
UniCredit's €7.5B capital raising in trouble... Trading in the rights to buy into UniCredit's (OTC:UNCFF) €7.5B ($9.5B) capital raising, which began today, have been suspended and indicated -37.5%. The developments don't bode well for other lenders that need to raise cash. UniCredit was -11.4% in Milan.
...but Santander on track. In contrast to UniCredit's problems, Banco Santander (STD) has raised the necessary €15.3B to meet the 9% core capital requirement set out by the EBA. The lender sold stakes in South American lenders and issued new stock to meet the standard, and remains committed to bringing its ratio to 10% by June while still maintaining its dividend. Shares +2.3% premarket.
IMF pessimistic over Greece. The IMF is losing confidence that Greece's bailout can succeed, reports Der Spiegel, citing an internal agency memo that concludes the country needs either speedier fiscal reform, a bigger haircut on its debt, or another bailout. One key date: March 20, when the country needs to pay off €14.5B in maturing bonds.
German exports rebound. The German economy continues to send mixed signals, with exports rising a monthly 2.5% in November after dropping 2.9% in October. Economists had forecast +0.5%. Imports declined 0.4% in November, while the trade surplus widened sharply to €16.2B ($20.6B) from €11.5B in October. The increase in exports contrasts with a contraction in manufacturing last month and a 4.8% slump in factory orders in November.
Alcoa profit set to tumble. Alcoa (AA), which announced major restructuring charges last week, is due to get earnings season underway today, with analysts expecting that Q4 EPS tumbled to $0.01 from $0.24 last year despite an increase in revenue to $5.78B from $5.65B. The EPS forecast is well below a prediction of $0.28 in September, due to the weakening global economy leading to falling demand for aluminum, increasing energy costs and lower prices.
Vodafone looks to grow in Asia and South America. Vodafone (VOD) has outlined plans to expand into Asia and South America via new partnerships. The company wants to tap the fast-growing markets by securing agreements with local operators rather than embarking on expensive direct investments. Analysts called it a "sensible" expansion strategy.
Regulators to give banks latitude during crises. Banks will be permitted to go below minimum liquidity levels during financial crises to avoid cash-flow difficulties, although they'll have to hold emergency stocks of easy-to-sell assets, the Basel Committee said today. The panel rejected industry lobbying for a delay from the 2015 start date or major changes to the "liquidity coverage ratio," which will require banks to hold buffers against a 30-day market crisis.
AstraZeneca profit to be at lower end of range. AstraZeneca (AZN) today said its full-year core EPS will be in the lower half of its range of $7.20-7.40 after two disappointing drug studies led to a Q4 pretax charge of $381.5M. Shares -0.6% premarket.
Manufacturers paid to include Google TV. It looks as if Google (GOOG) is desperate to make its TV software a success: Neowin reports the search giant is actually paying manufacturers to offer sets featuring Google TV. A number of TV makers plan to unveil Google TV-enabled sets at the CES show, which starts tomorrow.
Merkozy meet again. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are getting together for yet another meeting today to discuss ways to boost growth in eurozone nations struggling with sovereign debt problems and rising unemployment. They may also discuss the financial transaction tax France is pushing despite U.K. resistance.
In Asia, Japan -1.2% to 8390. Hong Kong +1.5% to 18866. China +2.9% to 2226. India -0.2% to 15815.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.3%. Paris flat. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.1%. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude -0.3% to $101.23. Gold +0.2% to $1620.70.
Monday's economic calendar:
10:00 Employment Trends Index
12:40 PM Fed's Lockhart: Economic Outlook
3:00 PM Consumer Credit
Notable earnings after Monday's close: AA
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