By Yigal Grayeff and the Market Currents team
Greek endgame may be in sight. Matters look like they could be soon coming to a head over Greece as European finance ministers hold back on the country's €130B rescue package, putting the nation under pressure to offer further cuts or exit the euro. But with the economy in its fifth year of recession and possibly even in a "death spiral," and Greek workers striking today over austerity, how much more can the country take?
P&G looks to end Pringles sale. Procter & Gamble (PG) plans to try to terminate the sale of its Pringles business to scandal-plagued Diamond Foods (DMND), Bloomberg reports, but must determine how best to exit the deal and whether to expect pushback from Diamond. If the sale goes forward, P&G shareholders will end up owning a majority of Diamond's stock, which fell 37% yesterday.
Alcatel-Lucent soars following return to profit. Shares of Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) were +16% premarket after the company reported FY11 profit of €1.1B compared with a €334M loss in 2010, and Q4 EPS that beat consensus even though revenue fell 12.5% to €4.25B and missed expectations. The firm also said it's targeting an additional €500M of cost savings in the coming year and an increase in adjusted operating profit as a percentage of sales from the 2011 level of around 3.9%.
LinkedIn impresses the Street as revenues soar. Shares in LinkedIn (LNKD) rose 8.85% in post-market trading after the company's Q4 earnings and its guidance topped expectations, with adjusted Q4 EPS coming in at $0.12 and revenues more than doubling to $167.7M. Registered users rose past 150M while income from job postings surged 136%, indicating that LinkedIn is playing an increasing role in the employment market.
Barclays profit tumbles to £3B. Barclays' (BCS) FY11 net attributable profit fell to £3B from £3.56B in 2010, due to "challenging" market conditions, while net interest income dropped to £12.2B from £12.52B. The company is raising its cost-reduction target to £2B and cutting its bonus pool by 26%. Shares were +3.6% premarket.
NRC OKs first nuclear power plants since 1978. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Southern Co.'s (SO) request to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle site in Georgia. The vote clears the way for officials to issue an operating license for the reactors, which could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017. The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island.
MF Global criminal probe in a rut. More than three months after MF Global's (MFGLQ.PK) implosion, sources say the criminal probe appears to be going cold, with investigators finding plenty of "chaos" but "no evidence of fraud," and no internal leads as not a single employee has come forward to cut a deal with the government.
Congressman probed for insider trading. Republican Representative Spencer Bachus is reportedly under investigation for violating insider trading laws in a first-of-its-kind case involving a member of Congress. Bachus is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Trade deficit seen growing. Trade figures for December are due out this morning, with economists estimating that the deficit widened to a six-month high of $48.5B from $47.8B in November due to U.S. demand strengthening while the global economy softens.
Chinese imports plummet. China's imports fell 15.3% in January, much more than the 3.6% drop economists had expected, while exports decreased 0.5%, widening the trade surplus to a six-month high of $27.3B. It's unclear whether this is an indication of a slowdown in demand, as a week-long holiday disrupted trade and may have distorted the data.
GM to get ok for $1.1B plant in China. GM (GM) is poised to receive approval to build a $1.1B factory in China with an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles. If GM moves forward with the plan, it will boost the company's passenger-vehicle capacity by around 15% in the country and ease strain on existing plants.
Page taking a leaf out the Jobs copybook. Google (GOOG) is reportedly working on a home entertainment system that wirelessly streams music, and which would be the first consumer device marketed under the Google brand. The report comes a week after an FCC application for a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled device triggered a flurry of speculation, and could be further evidence that Larry Page is intent on following in Steve Jobs' footsteps.
In Asia, Japan -0.6% to 8947. Hong Kong -1.1% to 20784. China +0.1% to 2352. India -0.5% to 17749.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.5%. Paris -1.3%. Frankfurt -1.2%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.5%. S&P -0.7%. Nasdaq -0.6%. Crude -1.25% to $98.59. Gold -1% to $1723.70.
Friday's economic calendar:
8:30 Trade Balance
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
12:30 PM Bernanke: 'Housing Markets in Transition'
12:50 PM Pianalto: 'Creating Value in Distressed Neighborhoods'
2:00 PM Treasury Budget
Earnings Results: Companies that beat EPS expectations last night and today include Activision (ATVI), Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Exide Technologies (XIDE), Expedia (EXPE), LinkedIn (LNKD), NYSE Euronext (NYX), Pitney Bowes (PBI), Republic Services (RSG), PPL Corp. (PPL).
Those in line include NXP Semiconductors (NXPI).
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