Nike upbeat after profit tops forecasts. Nike (NKE) provided a positive outlook for the coming months as it looks to cash in on the Olympics and soccer's European Championships after beating profit expectations in FQ3. EPS rose 11% to $1.20 and revenues climbed 15% to $5.8B, while futures orders for products to be delivered between March and July also increased 15%.
BT to inject £2B in pensions fund this year. BT Group (BT) has announced a new pension funding plan in which it will pay £2B this year and then £325M annually for the next nine years. That compares with the existing 17-year program whereby annual payments started at £525M and would then rise. Shares were +5.4% premarket, as investors believe the revised scheme will be less of a drag on dividends.
Creditors positive on possible US Airways bid for AMR. US Airways (LCC), which is mulling a bid for AMR (AAMRQ.PK), has received positive feedback from the latter's creditors committee, Bloomberg reports. The committee includes unions, which are yet to reach a new labor deal with AMR, and the carrier plans to next week seek approval to void existing contracts and impose new terms if talks fail.
BofA starts scheme to avoid eviction of distressed homeowners. Bank of America (BAC) is launching a small pilot program that will let homeowners at risk of foreclosure hand over the deeds to their houses and then sign leases for BofA to rent the homes back to them at market rates. It's a shift in strategy for BofA and could be less costly to the bank than a regular eviction-and-foreclosure process while doing less damage to the borrowers' credit scores.
BATS caught in HFT probe as it prepares to debut. The SEC is investigating whether high-frequency trading firms and exchanges collude to limit competition or manipulate markets, The Wall Street Journal reports. The probe includes the BATS (BATS) exchange, which is due to start trading today after selling 6.3M shares at $16 each in an IPO, although it's not known if the NYSE or Nasdaq are involved.
Brazil regulator gives Chevron some slack. Chevron (CVX) wasn't negligent in the drilling of a well that caused an offshore oil spill in November, Brazil's oil regulator said yesterday. That finding may help Chevron fight an $11B lawsuit and criminal charges, although regulators did say Chevron and Transocean (RIG) committed operational and safety violations, and improperly designed the well.
Credit Suisse CEO pays price for falling profits. Credit Suisse (CS) has cut CEO Brady Dougan's total compensation package by 55% for 2011 after profits fell an even-bigger 62%. Dougan's pay of 5.82M Swiss francs ($6.4M) includes 3M francs of share awards.
IEA confident that Saudis can make up for Iran. IEA chief Maria van der Hoeven has backed Saudi Arabia to fill the gap in oil supplies caused by international sanctions on Iran, saying that "there is no fear of disruption." The Saudis said on Tuesday that they're ready to increase output by 2.5M bpd to 12.5M bpd, but some analysts are skeptical about the country's ability to do so.
Obamacare remains a tough sell. Two years to the day after President Obama signed the Healthcare law - and ahead of a Supreme Court case next week about its constitutionality - Americans are still almost evenly split about it, with just 50.5% in favor. Democrats hoped some of its early benefits would boost support for the bill, but results have been mixed. Around 2.5M more young adults have gained coverage, but a plan to help the sick and uninsured has flopped.
AIG makes last AIA payment. AIG (AIG) has made a final $1.5B payment to the Treasury to retire the government's interest in AIA Aurora, a special purpose vehicle created to hold the ordinary shares of of American International Assurance. The payment was made one year ahead of schedule and reduces the government's total outstanding exposure by more than 75%.
U.S. likely to keep World Bank grip - if it nominates a candidate. Emerging nations are poised to mount another challenge to the U.S.-EU hegemony over the World Bank and IMF by nominating candidates from Nigeria and possibly Colombia for the head of the bank. The U.S. has yet to declare its choice to replace Robert Zoellick despite nominations being due today, but is likely to win out.
Central bankers get together to talk loose money. The Fed will today host a shindig of the world's leading central bankers to discuss the impact of the money printing some of them have been doing. Those joining Ben Bernanke include the BOE's Mervyn King, the BOJ's Masaaki Shirakawa and former ECB Chief Jean-Claude Trichet.
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In Asia, Japan -1.1% to 10011. Hong Kong -1.1% to 20669. China -1.1% to 2350. India +1.0% to 17362.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.1%. Paris -0.5%. Frankfurt -0.1%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude +0.5% to $105.86. Gold +0.5% to $1650.50.
Friday's economic calendar:
10:00 New Home Sales
10:00 Mass Layoffs
1:45 PM Fed conference on the financial crisis
2:30 PM Fed's Lockhart: Monetary Policy
Earnings Results: Companies that beat EPS expectations last night and today include Accenture (ACN), Nike (NKE).
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