Wall Street Breakfast: Must-Know News

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day and delivered to over 900,000 email subscribers.

by Rachael Granby and the Market Currents team

BofA may need to sell more assets. Lagging its peers in compliance with new capital rules, BofA (NYSE:BAC) is reportedly considering additional asset sales. One analyst thinks the bank may need as much as an extra $45B in capital by 2019, but having notched $50B of asset sales since Jan. 2010, BofA may not have many big ticket items left. Premarket: BAC -0.7% (7:00 ET).

Samsung aims to boost sales. Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) aims to lift its global handset sales by 15% next year to 374M units by focusing on smartphones, according to a report in the Korea Economic Daily. The move would give Samsung a stronger footing against larger rival Nokia (NYSE:NOK), whose handset sales are projected to fall 5% next year to 399M. Separately, Samsung's board approved a plan to buy Sony's (NYSE:SNE) entire stake in their LCD joint venture for 1.08T won ($939M).

Sears to take Q4 charge. Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) has said it will close 100-120 Kmart and Sears stores, and will take Q4 charges of $1.6B-2.4B. Quarter-to-date comparable sales are off 5.2%. Given the disappointing performance and "the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model."

RIM investors pressure board. RIM (RIMM) shares hit a multi-year low this month, capping off a disastrous year which saw delays in product rollout and lost marketshare. Investors and analysts alike are pushing the board to get a grip on the company's direction, either by forcing a strategic shift, ousting co-CEOS Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, or selling the company outright.

Japan boosts ties with India, China. Japan is poised to unveil a currency-swap line with India, valued at around $10B. On Sunday, Japan and China said they will promote direct trading of yen and yuan without using dollars, and will encourage the development of a market for the exchange to cut the cost for companies. It's part of a broad and innovative package of financial agreements designed to tighten ties between the two giants.

BoJ sees heightened risks. Minutes from the recent Bank of Japan meeting show a "few" board members were concerned about the possibility "downside risks to the economy had increased somewhat since the previous meeting," mostly in light of the eurozone's debt crisis and the yen's appreciation. The report didn't specify how many members shared that view.

China sets rare earth quota. China set the first tranche of rare earth export quotas at 10,546 tons for 2012, and said overall export quotas for 2012 will be unchanged from 2011 to "guarantee" international demand and keep supplies "basically stable." The 2011 quota was 30,184 tons, but less than half of that was actually exported in the first 11 months. Stocks to watch in response: MCP, REE, SHZ, AVL, REMX.

Santa spurs shoppers. Online shopping jumped 16.4% on Christmas from the year before, according to data released by IBM. The dollar value of purchases made on mobile devices jumped 172.9%, and nearly 7% of all online purchases on Christmas Day were made using iPads. The uptick appeared poised to continue yesterday, though final data isn't yet available.

Intel case back to state court. Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) last major antitrust fight is heading back to state court, after a judge on Friday canceled a Feb. 14 federal trial. NY AG Eric Schneiderman had asked for the case to be turfed back to the state level after recent developments limited the amount of damages New York could seek in a federal case.

SEC crunches the numbers. Still stinging from its failure to detect Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the SEC is training its focus on a list of around 100 hedge funds whose performance seems too good to be true. Encouraged by initial results from its number-crunching, the SEC will also look at returns from mutual funds and P-E funds.

Brazil beats out the U.K. The U.K. has lost its spot as sixth-largest economy to Brazil, says the Center for Economics and Business Research, as the resource-rich South American economy has surged on exports to China. The latest CEBR forecasts revise global growth down to +2.5% in 2012, though the figure could fall to +1.1% should "one or more countries” leave the euro.

Cameron heads to trial. Cameron International (NYSE:CAM) has struck out in its effort to derail a February non-jury trial over which companies should be blamed for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Cameron had been angling for a trial with a jury, but the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Cameron's claims.

U.S. firms eye European assets. U.S. financial firms are taking advantage of the eurozone's debt crisis to pick up assets owned by cash-strapped regional banks. European financial institutions may shed as much as $3T in assets over the next 18 months. Deals are likely to spike ahead of the June deadline for European banks to raise more than €114B in new capital.

DoJ reverses on Web gambling. The Justice Department has reversed its long-standing opposition to many forms of online gambling, a potential boon to states that view online gambling as a good way to raise tax revenue. The DoJ brief, written in September but only made public on Friday, dealt specifically with lottery tickets, but opens the door for Internet poker and other forms of online betting that don't involve sports.

Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.5% to 8441. Hong Kong closed. China -1.1% to 2166. India -0.6% to 15874. South Korea -0.8% to 1842.
In Europe, at midday, London closed. Paris +0.5%. Frankfurt +0.4%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow +0.02%. S&P -0.02%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude +0.3% to $99.98. Gold -0.4% to $1599.10.

Tuesday's economic calendar:
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index
10:00 Consumer Confidence
10:00 Richmond Fed Mfg.
10:00 State Street Investor Confidence Index
10:30 Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook

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