Draghi sets stage for aggressive ECB policy. Fulfilling the ECB's mandate of ensuring price stability and a single monetary policy "sometimes requires us to go beyond standard monetary policy tools" and "may at times require exceptional measures," ECB Chief Mario Draghi has written in an article in Germany's Die Ziet. While you'd expect the comments to send speculation about ECB bond-buying to fever pitch, EU shares shrugged and stayed lower midday in Europe.
WellPoint CEO buckles to pressure and quits. WellPoint (NYSE:WLP) Chairperson and CEO Angela Braly has stepped down, yielding to shareholder pressure following the health insurer's poor performance of late. EVP John Cannon will take over as interim CEO while WellPoint looks for a replacement, although he doesn't want the job permanently. Lead director Jackie Ward was named non-executive chair. WellPoint shares rose 3.3% in after-hours trading.
Top Stock News
Daikin to buy Goodman Global for $3.8B. Daikin Industries (OTCPK:DKILY), one of the world's largest producers of air-conditioners, has confirmed reports that it will buy U.S. rival Goodman Global from P-E firm Hellman & Friedman, with the Japanese company agreeing to pay ¥296B ($3.77B). Daikin expects to complete the acquisition in Q4 and that the transaction will generate synergies of ¥24B in three years.
KKR in talks to invest $1.3B in Japan's Renesas. KKR (NYSE:KKR) is reportedly in negotiations to invest about ¥100B ($1.3B) in Renesas (OTCPK:RNECY) in a deal that would give the U.S. P-E firm a controlling stake in the unprofitable Japanese chipmaker, which is owned by NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric (OTC:MIELF). The speculation sent Renesas' shares surging 35% in Tokyo.
Taiwan Semiconductor spurns Apple, Qualcomm over supply deals. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) offered Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE:TSM) over $1B apiece to secure chip production capacity, only to have TSMC reject them in the name of maintaining flexibility, Bloomberg reports. Qualcomm has begun eying alternate sources, while Apple had been reportedly planning to shift production of its app processors from Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) to TSMC.
GM to invest $1B in Russia. GM (NYSE:GM) may be struggling in Europe, but it intends to invest $1B over the next five years in Russia, one of the world's fastest-growing markets. GM executive Tim Lee said that the company, which manufactures vehicles at three sites in the country, will use part of the cash to increase capacity.
ING mulls selling HK insurance ops in separate deal. ING (NYSE:ING) may sell its $1B Hong Kong insurance unit separately from its other Asian operations, Reuters reports. Such a move could expedite the process and extract better value from a buyer that's concentrated just on Hong Kong. It could also enable the Dutch bank to accept lower bids for its South Korean and Japanese businesses, whose auctions haven't set the juices flowing.
Top Economic & Other News
Isaac hits New Orleans. Hurricane Isaac has arrived in New Orleans seven years to the day that Katrina struck, although Isaac is less powerful. Still, hundreds of thousands have been left without power, while nearly all oil output and two-thirds of gas production in the Gulf of Mexico have been shut down. Isaac represents the first major test of the $15B of flood defenses that have been built for New Orleans since Katrina.
Monti aims for German soft spot over bond buying. It appears that Italians are attempting a one-two on Germany over ECB bond buying. In addition to Mario Draghi's comments, PM Mario Monti seems to have aimed for a Teutonic soft spot with comments that the high spread between Italian and German bond yields could lead to a "potential rise in inflation for Germany." Monti made the comments in an interview with Il Sole 24 Ore ahead of a meeting with Angela Merkel today.
Farm incomes poised to hit record. Despite the drought, the net income of U.S. farmers is set to hit a record $122.2B, the USDA has forecast. Farmers inside the "drought belt" are filing insurance claims to offset the damage to their corn and soybean crops, while those outside in the northern plains could earn 39% more due to record prices. Equipment makers such as Deere (NYSE:DE) and Kubota (KUB) could also benefit.
Government aims to double fuel efficiency. The Obama administration has released its final fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, requiring each automaker's fleet to reach an average 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025, nearly double current levels. To meet the standard, automakers will need to introduce new technologies and sell more alternative fuel vehicles. Critics say the rules will add thousands of dollars to new car prices.
Supply-demand mismatch increases jobless rates. The gap in supply and demand for educated workers increases unemployment in some cities by two percentage points, a study from the Brookings Institution shows, with jobs in the 100 biggest metropolitan regions requiring more qualifications than the labor market can supply. Still, opportunities for the least educated are often found in the areas with the most education.
In Asia, Japan +0.4%. Hong Kong -0.1%. China -1%. India -0.8%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.5%. Paris -0.6%. Frankfurt -0.5%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq flat. Crude -0.7% to $95.63. Gold -0.1% to $1667.40.
Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 GDP Q2
8:30 Corporate Profits
10:00 Pending Home Sales
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $35B, 5-Year Note Auction
2:00 PM Fed's Beige Book
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