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Avon hires J&J exec as CEO. Avon Products (AVP) has named Sherilyn McCoy as its new CEO to replace Andrea Jung. The executive moves to the helm of Avon after a 30-year career at Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).

AOL and Microsoft in $1.1B patent deal. AOL (AOL) has agreed to sell over 800 of its patents to Microsoft (MSFT) as part of a $1.06B deal that will also give the latter a non-exclusive license to AOL's remaining IP of over 300 patents.

Sony to slash 10,000 jobs. Sony (SNE) is preparing to cut 10,000 jobs, or around 6% of its workforce, the Nikkei reports. The reductions look like they're part of the "painful" steps new CEO Kazuo Hirai has said he'll take to turn around the ailing consumer electronics giant, which is expecting its fourth consecutive annual loss, although one analyst reckons they're just a temporary fix.

Top Equities News
SA Interview: Marathon CEO happy not to sprint for growth. Marathon (MRO) CEO Clarence Cazalot has no aspiration for the oil producer to boost its compound average production growth to double digits, he told Seeking Alpha in an interview. Instead, Cazalot is focused on moderate but sustainable growth of 5%-7% that can be funded "using the cash we generate." SA author Michael Filloon, who took part in the interview, wrote that given that Marathon holds "some of the best liquids plays in the U.S.," including the Eagle Ford shale, and its 2% dividend, there is value in a stock that "the Street is currently undervaluing...due to a misunderstanding of total recoverable resources."

AT&T strike averted. AT&T (T) avoided a mass walkout yesterday after an early Sunday deadline was extended for negotiations between the company and the Communications Workers of America union, which represents 23,000 employees. A two-week CWA strike in August at Verizon (VZ) hasn't yet resulted in an agreement.

Unions have $369B-sized hole in pension plans - Credit Suisse. Employers are facing increasing pension contributions, as union-managed funds have a massive $369B shortfall, Credit Suisse has calculated. With plans only 52%-funded, much of the burden could fall on small and midsize companies, although seven S&P 500 companies, including Safeway (SWY) and UPS (UPS), have liabilities that represent a significant proportion of their market caps.

Outlook glum for Q1 reports. Q1 earnings season is due to kick off tomorrow when Alcoa (AA) reports its results, with analysts forecasting that average results will be flat to slightly lower, although growth is expected to pick up later this year and in 2013. Just three of the S&P's 10 major sectors - industrials, financials and technology - are expected to show expansion.

Oil giants face probes over relations with Gaddafi. Authorities in Libya are probing Eni (E) and Total (TOT) over their relations with Muammar Gaddafi's regime. The SEC is also investigating the oil producers, as well as Marathon (MRO). The inquiries could complicate the companies' plans to increase their presence in the country as it ramps up output.

Top Economic & Other News
Chinese inflation climbs faster than expected. China's March CPI rose 3.6% on year vs. expectations of 3.3% and 3.2% previously. The faster-than-expected increase could cause policy makers to be cautious in adding stimulus to boost growth.

Japan returns to current account surplus. Japan swung to a current account surplus of ¥1.18T in February ($14.5B) vs. expectations of ¥1.12T after a record deficit in January.

Money for job training dries up. In Dallas, officials have enough funds left for jobless training to support only 43 people, while 23,500 have lost their jobs in the last ten weeks alone. The same story is playing out all over the U.S. as federal funding for training dries up.

U.S., allies to push Iran to end enrichment, close plant. Talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers are set to restart in Turkey on Saturday, when the allies will push Iran to end its high-level uranium enrichment and close a facility built deep into a mountain. However, an Iranian official rejected the demands, while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued with his rhetorical brinkmanship. "The nuclear industry is like a locomotive...it is clear that we must continue on this path," Ahmadinejad declared.

Where To Go Next
Silver Linings In The Jobs Report
An Investor's Guide To Today's Troubled Market
How To Profit From Citigroup Earnings: An Options Straddle Play

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -1.5% to 9546. Hong Kong -0.9% to 20593. China -0.9% to 2286. India -1.5% to 17222.
In Europe, at midday, London, Paris, Frankfurt closed.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.9%. S&P -1.1%. Nasdaq -1.05%. Crude -1.5% to $101.79. Gold +0.6% to $1640.50.

Monday's economic calendar:
8:30 Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index
10:00 Employment Trends Index
6:00 PM Bernanke: Monetary Policy

Earnings Results:
For full real-time earnings coverage, please click here.

Companies that beat EPS expectations today include:
- Greenbrier Companies (GBX)

More:

Source: Wall Street Breakfast: Avon Hires J&J Exec As CEO