Narendra Modi's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party looks to have won India's biggest election victory in thirty years. At the time of writing, counting showed that the BJP and its allies were ahead in 336 out of 542 seats in the lower house of parliament, well above the 272 needed for a majority. India's Sensex stock index was +0.9% - although down sharply from earlier highs - on the prospect of a stable government that's perceived as business friendly and committed to economic reform.
The White House is reportedly considering forcing power plants to cut carbon emissions by 25% over a 15-year period. The problem is that owners can only lower so much of a facility's emissions by increasing efficiency, so a lot of the reduction could have to come with external measures such as by deepening the use of renewable energy. That could cause the government legal problems over what it's allowed to compel operators to do.
Portugal is set to exit its international bailout program tomorrow three years after it requested a €78B ($107B) rescue. The development means that Portugal won't have to answer to the Troika, although Prime Minister Passos Coelho has pledged to continue with the fiscal responsibility so that the government can "maintain financial stability." He also wants to "boost the reform momentum."
J.C. Penney's shares skied 17% premarket after the retailer's Q1 earnings beat expectations as revenue climbed 6.1% to $2.8B and same-store sales rose 6.2%. However, J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) was running up against a soft comparison and it made a loss per share of $1.16, while total losses increased to $352M from $348M a year earlier. J.C. Penney also has a new "fully committed and underwritten" $2.35B secured ABL credit facility, which buys it some more breathing room.
Alcoa has reached a tentative five-year labor agreement with the United Steelworkers (USW) union, which represents 6,100 workers across the U.S. The sides forged the deal just before the previous four-year contract expired at 12:59 a.m. ET. The details of the new agreement haven't yet been provided. It covers 10 Alcoa (NYSE:AA) metal plants in the U.S.
Credit Suisse is reportedly prepared to plead guilty and pay over $2.5B to settle charges that it helped Americans evade U.S. taxes. However, Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) is worried that if the fines go much higher, it could undermine its credit rating. A guilty plea would be a rare result for a financial institution accused of misconduct.
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway established an 11M-share stake in Verizon (NYSE:VZ) in Q1, while Dan Loeb's Third Point took a 3.5M-share position and John Paulson bought around 8.75M shares. The votes of confidence come amid worries about the impact of intensifying U.S. mobile price competition. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) has also cut its GM (NYSE:GM) stake by 10M shares to 30M.
In other moves by the investment titans, Dan Loeb's Third Point exited Yahoo (YHOO), BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) in Q1 and bought into Avago (NASDAQ:AVGO) and Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS). David Einhorn exited GM (GM) and purchased Nokia (NYSE:NOK) shares, while John Paulson held steady in gold and added a big stake in CBS (NYSE:CBS). Carl Icahn lowered his Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) holding to 3.7%.
Cemex has opted for continuity and named CFO Fernando Gonzalez as CEO to replace the legendary Lorenzo Zambrano, who died on Monday at the age of 70. The Mexican cement giant has also appointed Zambrano's cousin, Rogelio Zambrano, as Chairman. "Cemex (NYSE:CX) has a management team with sufficient talent to give continuity to the company's operations," brokerage house Actinver said in a note this week.
Rackspace Hosting has reportedly hired Morgan Stanley to evaluate "inbound strategic proposals" and other options, sending shares in the cloud-computing company 6.6% higher premarket after they jumped 7.1% in regular trading yesterday. The news comes after Rackspace (NYSE:RAX) said earlier this week that Q1 earnings beat expectations and it gave solid guidance.
More startup valuations are hitting the stratosphere as Pinterest raises $200M from existing investors at a price tag of $5B even though the online scrapbooking site has only recently started selling ads and generates little revenue. Meanwhile, mobile taxi app Uber Technologies is reportedly looking to raise hundreds of millions of dollars at a valuation of $10B.
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In Asia, Japan -1.4% to 14097. Hong Kong -0.1% to 22713. China +0.1% to 2026.5. India +0.9% to 24122.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris -1.7%. Frankfurt -0.5%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.15%. Crude +0.1% to $101.59. Gold +0.1% to $1294.50.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 2.51%.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Housing Starts
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
11:50 Fed's Bullard: U.S. Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy
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