By Yigal Grayeff and the Market Currents team
RIM's joint CEOs quit. RIM (RIMM) shares were +4.1% premarket after its joint CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, stepped down and were replaced by COO Thorsten Heins. Lazaridis and Balsillie had been the target of much criticism as RIM's smartphone market share crashed, leading its stock price to fall to multi-year lows. RIM also said that, as rumored, director Barbara Stymiest is taking over as Chairperson.
EU agrees Iran sanctions. EU governments today agreed to an immediate ban on all new Iranian oil imports and transportation contracts, and sanctions against the country's central bank, as the bloc looks to up the ante against Iran's nuclear program. Meanwhile, the U.S., U.K. and France sent six warships through the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened with closure in response to the increased international measures.
Eurozone fin mins meet as creditors make final offer. Greece's private creditors have made their "maximum offer" on losses they're willing to tolerate, Charles Dallara of the IIF banking organization said yesterday. Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels today, when they will discuss the Greek deal, as well as the details of the "fiscal compact."
France, Germany want to ease bank rules. France and Germany will reportedly call today for a relaxation of global bank capital rules to ensure lending isn't choked off, including a three-year delay to the mandatory deadline to disclose leverage ratios. European banks surged in morning trading on the speculation, although EU financial Commissioner Michel Barnier said he would keep to the timetable already agreed for implementing the stricter Basel III bank capital requirements.
Halliburton Q4 tops forecasts. Halliburton (HAL) beat expectations as Q4 EPS rose to $1.00 from $0.94 in Q3 and revenue jumped 37% year-on-year to $7.06B. CEO David Lesar said the company enjoyed record sales for the full year. Shares were +1.7% premarket.
How the Gingrich stole South Carolina. Newt Gingrich caused a surprise and scrambled the GOP primaries by comfortably beating Mitt Romney in South Carolina at the weekend, with exit polls showing that the economy was an important factor in people's votes. Those who "disparage" economic success "are not going to be fit to be our nominee," Romney said in response to his defeat.
Apache to buy Cordillera for $2.85B. Apache (APA) has agreed to acquire privately-held oil and gas company Cordillera Energy Partners III in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $2.85B. Apache said the purchase will more than double its acreage in the energy-rich Anadarko Basin in the U.S.
Stanford $7B fraud trial set to start. Allen Stanford is due in a Houston court today for the start of his trial for allegedly operating a $7B Ponzi scheme. The government said it was the second-largest such scheme in U.S. history, topped only by Bernard Madoff's. The prosecution and defense have been hampered by Stanford claiming amnesia following a prison beating in 2009.
Croatia votes to join EU. Despite the basket case of debt that is the EU, Croatia has voted to become the 28th member of the bloc with a two-thirds majority. If nothing else, it shows that large EU subsidies, such as those enjoyed by French farmers and the Irish, still retain a strong attraction. EU members must ratify the move.
Sinopec ups stake in Australia project in $1.1B deal. Sinopec (SNP) will pay $1.1B to take an additional 10% stake in the Australia Pacific LNG project, bringing its total equity in the $20B scheme to 25%. The deal reduces the equity share of ConocoPhillips (COP) and Origin Energy (OGFGF.PK) to 37.5%.
Three banks closed. Regulators closed small banks in Georgia, Florida and Maryland on Friday, the first failures of 2012. The cost to the FDIC's insurance fund is estimated at $243.8M.
In Asia, Japan flat at 8765.9. Hong Kong and China closed. India flat at 16752.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.8%. Paris +0.6%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.8% to $99.11. Gold +0.7% to $1675.70.
Monday's economic calendar:
No events scheduled.
Earnings Results: Companies that beat EPS expectations today include Halliburton (HAL).
For full real-time earnings coverage, please click here.
Notable earnings before Monday's open: HAL