Charter, Comcast in talks over Time Warner Cable bid - report. Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) has reportedly "reached out" to Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) about a joint bid for Time Warner Cable (TWC) following the latter's rejection of Charter's $61.3B offer. A bid could involve Charter buying Time Warner in full and then selling some subscribers to Comcast. Regulators are bound to scrutinize any major cable-asset purchases made by Comcast given its enormous size.
Microsoft paying OEMs $2.6B to make Windows Phones - report. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will reportedly make $2.6B in "support" payments to OEM partners in 2014 to persuade them to make one Windows Phone each. Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) will receive $1.2B, Sony (NYSE:SNE) $500M, Huawei $600M and other firms $300M. If the story is true, Microsoft's Windows Phone investments could more than negate the considerable Android royalties it stands to receive this year.
Foreclosure activity falls to lowest in six years. The number of foreclosure filings last year dropped to the lowest level since 2007, declining 26% to 1.36M properties, RealtyTrac says. The figure is less than half of the peak of 2.9M properties in 2010. States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2013 were Florida, Nevada, Illinois, Maryland and Ohio. The number of foreclosure processes that were started plunged 33% to 747,728, the lowest since RealtyTrac began tracking the data in 2006. Bank repossessions plummeted 31% to 462,970 properties, the least since 2007.
Top Stock News
J.C. Penney closing 33 stores, cutting 2,000 jobs. Struggling J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) plans to shut down 33 "underperforming" stores by the end of May and axe around 2,000 jobs. Penney will take $43M in pre-tax charges but hopes to save $65M a year from the action.
Intel, American Express revenues seen rising. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) are among the companies due to disclose Q4 earnings results today. Analysts estimate that Intel's EPS rose to 0.52 from 0.48 while revenue edged up 1.8% to $13.72B. American Express' EPS is seen at $1.25 vs $1.09, with revenue rising 5% to $8.55B.
Microsoft mulls Ericsson's CEO to succeed Ballmer. Microsoft (MSFT) is reportedly considering Ericsson CEO (NASDAQ:ERIC) Hans Vestberg as a replacement for the (shy and) retiring Steve Ballmer. Vestberg joins the likes of former Nokia (NYSE:NOK) boss Stephen Elop and Microsoft insider Satya Nadella on the shortlist. Given that Vestberg oversaw the exit of Ericsson from the mobile-handset market, his appointment would possibly raise questions about Microsoft's strategy vis-a-vis its acquisition of Nokia's cell-phone unit.
China group closes in on $5B+ Glencore mine - report. A Chinese consortium could reportedly be set to acquire Glencore Xstrata's (OTCPK:GLCNF, OTCPK:GLNCY) Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, setting up a $5B-plus takeover that would be one of the largest foreign acquisitions by a Chinese company. A group comprising affiliates of state-controlled China Minmetals, Citic Group and Guoxin Group is the only bidder left in an auction that Glencore had agreed to run to win China's approval for its takeover of Xstrata.
Alaska to provide $5.75B for LNG export project. Alaska plans to jump-start a $45B natural gas export project by pitching in more than 10% of the cost and joining Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), BP (NYSE:BP), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and TransCanada (NYSE:TRP) as an equity partner. Alaska would take up to a 25% stake in a proposed gas processing plant, an 800-mile pipeline from the North Slope and a liquefaction facility in the Kenai Peninsula. The state would pay as much as $5.75B for its share of the $23B liquefaction facility.
Yahoo COO makes quick exit. Yahoo (YHOO) COO/sales chief Henrique De Castro, hired away from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) by Marissa Mayer only 15 months ago, is leaving the company. No replacement or interim COO has been named. From all indications, De Castro's tenure at Yahoo was a rocky one. In September, he was reportedly feeling increased pressure to deliver better ad results, as Yahoo continued to report weak display-ad sales, and he had failed to endear himself to Madison Avenue executives.
Top Economic & Other News
House OKs $1.01T spending bill. The House has overwhelmingly passed the $1.01T spending bill that will fund the government through September 30. The 1,582-page proposal will now go to the Senate, which is due to vote on the measures by Saturday. After that, Congress will need to turn its attention to the $16.7T debt limit. The cap was suspended until February 7, although the Treasury reckons it has until late next month or early March to stave off a default.
Eurozone inflation edges down slightly. As expected, eurozone CPI increased 0.8% on year in December, slightly slower than the 0.9% increase in November. Inflation remains well below the ECB's target of just under 2% amid concerns that Europe faces the threat of deflation. It's worth noting that CPI fell in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Latvia. U.S. CPI for December is due out this morning as well, with analysts estimating that inflation rose 0.3% on month after being flat in November.
Top Ideas: Movers and Great Calls
1) On December 9, Trading the Spread called Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer (NYSE:ERJ) a contrarian play with a stock that was 30% undervalued relative to peers. The share is +13.4% since. Read article »
2) Another great call came for another large-cap foreign stock: Germany's Commerzbank (OTCPK:CRZBY). On November 1, Helix Investment Research said the bank was set to break out, as long-running concerns have finally begun to fade. Shares are +46% to date. Read article »
Top Ideas To Watch
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In Asia, Japan -0.4% to 15747.2. Hong Kong +0.4% to 22986. China flat at 2024. India -0.1% to 21265.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.1%. Paris -0.1%. Frankfurt -0.1%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.4% to $94.54. Gold -0.1% to $1236.80.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps to 2.89%.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Consumer Price Index
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
9:00 Treasury International Capital
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
10:00 Philly Fed Business Outlook
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
11:10 PM Bernanke: ‘Conversation on challenges facing central banks'
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
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