Seeking Alpha passes 1M members. We are excited to announce that Seeking Alpha has passed 1M registered users, a doubling of size in less than two years. And as we're adding over 2,000 members per market day, we expect to double it again in even less time. Congratulations to founder and CEO David Jackson, the team at Seeking Alpha, and, most importantly, to our fantastic contributors and users. To honor the occasion, we've published a list of SA authors' favorite articles (here) and a letter from David Jackson (here), with more celebratory surprises on the site to follow...
Obamacare goes to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is due to today begin hearings on the constitutionality of President Obama's healthcare overhaul in a case that could have implications for dozens of companies in the sector, and could define the limits of Congress' power. A ruling is expected in June.
Merkel's steely resolve set to crack - again. Angela Merkel appears poised to bow to intense international pressure and allow the eurozone's "firewall" to temporarily increase to €940B ($1.25T) in order to calm markets. The firewall would combine the €440B in the EFSF rescue fund with the €500B in the permanent ESM, and would fall back to €500B once the EFSF expires in 2013.
Email could back Corzine's claims about cash transfer. An email obtained by The New York Times could support Jon Corzine's denial that he ordered MF Global's (MFGLQ.PK) customer funds to be moved to JPMorgan to cover an overdraft. The email indicates that a transfer of $175M was a "House Wire," meaning that it came from the firm’s own money. What the email doesn't show is that MF employees had first transferred $200M from a customer account to the firm’s house account, nor whether Corzine was told verbally about the origins of the money.
MetLive, Prudential eye ING's $6B-$7B Asian ops. MetLife (MET) and Prudential (PRU) are among the insurers considering bids for ING's (ING) Asian life insurance arm, The Wall Street Journal reports. The interest sets up the prospects of a bidding war that could bring in up to $6B for the unit, although Bloomberg reckons that ING is seeking at least $7B.
"Hunger Games" storms the box office. Lions Gate (LGF) has generated its first blockbuster franchise with action film "The Hunger Games," which earned $155M at U.S. and Canadian cinemas at the weekend, the largest "domestic" opening for a movie that isn't a sequel. The film earned another $59.3M from 67 international markets, bringing the global total to $214.3M. Lions Gate's shares were +7.2% premarket.
NBNK to make increased £1.5B bid for Lloyds branches. New U.K. banking firm NBNK is set to make a sweetened £1.5B bid for 632 branches being sold by Lloyds (LYG), The Daily Telegraph reports. The new offer will come amid worries that the proposed £1.4B sale of the outlets to Co-op has hit regulatory problems. NBNK's investors include BlackRock (BLK), Invesco (IVZ) and Aviva (AV).
Detroit races to solve financial woes. A team appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has until today to make recommendations for solving Detroit's dire financial problems. If Detroit and the team can agree on proposals, Snyder has 10 days to act, but if no deal is reached, the state could cut off revenue-sharing funds or hire an external emergency manager to run the city.
Sanctions stop Shell paying $1B bill to Iran. EU and U.S. sanctions are making it almost impossible for Shell (RDS.A) to pay off nearly $1B that it owes Iran for crude oil, Reuters reports. While Shell wants to abide by the sanctions, it also wants to stay on good terms with Iran. "The U.S. pressure is really working," a source says. "It's now nearly impossible to use the banking system."
Glitches, shareholders killed BATS debut. The Friday fiasco that prompted BATS (BATS) to first halt and then cancel its IPO wasn't simply because of "technical issues," as the company explained on Friday. Sources say the company aborted the listing to head off possible litigation, minimize damage to the computerized stock exchange's credibility, and because of intense pressure from would-be shareholders.
Roche perseveres in Illumina bid. Roche (RHHBY.PK) has once again extended its $5.7B offer for Illumina (ILMN), this time to April 20, but has kept the price unchanged at $44.50 despite the latter continuing to view the offer as "grossly inadequate."
Yahoo's board overhaul continues. Yahoo (YHOO) has appointed three new independent directors to join its board next month. The overhaul will leave the board with 10 members who joined since 2010, and none of the directors who rejected Microsoft's $45B buyout offer for Yahoo in 2008.
Banks poised to slash balance sheets by another $1T - report. While investment banks have significantly cut their balance sheets over the past year or so, increased costs and regulatory requirements to boost capital could force them to make another $1T in reductions within the next two years, a joint report from Morgan Stanley and consultants Oliver Wyman forecasts.
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In Asia, Japan +0.1% to 10018. Hong Kong flat at 20669. China +0.1% to 2351. India -1.8% to 17053.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.5%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.4%. Crude -0.3% to $106.58. Gold -0.1% to $1661.10.
Monday's economic calendar:
7:30 Fed's Plosser: Monetary Policy
8:00 Bernanke: NABE Economic Policy Conference
8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index
10:00 Pending Home Sales
10:00 Quarterly Retail Trade Report
10:30 Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook
Notable earnings after Monday's close: APOL