After 18 months of courtship and court cases, two massive deals that would have reshaped the U.S. health insurance industry have both been declared dead. Anthem's (NYSE:ANTM) $48B deal to buy Cigna (NYSE:CI) was blocked by a federal judge late Wednesday, weeks after another judge halted Aetna's (NYSE:AET) bid for Humana (NYSE:HUM). Reasons given: The mergers would have lead to less competition and higher prices for Americans. CI -1% premarket.
Breaking the ice? President Trump has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying he looks forward to working with him to build a "constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China." Since his inauguration, Trump has yet to speak directly with Xi, but the two countries' foreign ministries have been "in close touch," according to Beijing.
The Senate has confirmed Jeff Sessions as attorney general largely along party lines. The 52-47 vote capped weeks of divisive battles over Sessions, an early supporter of President Trump and one of the Senate's most conservative lawmakers. Next up is Representative Tom Price, Trump's pick for health secretary and a staunch advocate of repealing Obamacare. A vote come could come later tonight.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Canadian counterpart for the first time on Wednesday for talks that touched on NAFTA, the trade agreement President Trump has pledged to renegotiate. The top U.S. diplomat also met with Mexico's foreign minister to discuss collaboration on law enforcement, migration and security, and agreed to visit the country in the coming weeks.
The formerly "solved" Greek debt crisis is raising its ugly head again. The past week has seen the IMF suggest that a looming debt Armageddon could potentially pose a risk to the broader eurozone, while German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble declared the country would have to leave the bloc in order to win a debt haircut. Greece's real problem "isn't debt, but rather competitiveness," he said.
Britain's House of Commons has given final approval to a bill authorizing the government to start exit talks with the EU, without attaching extra conditions, such as protecting EU citizens in the U.K. The bill now goes to the House of Lords, which has the power to delay - but not derail - the legislation, and will also debate several amendments; it should become law within weeks.
A Dallas federal judge has upheld the Labor Department's fiduciary rule, dealing a setback to the financial industry's attempts to kill the measure. But the legal move may not mean much for the regulation's fate. Last Friday, President Trump issued a memorandum to study the rule's impact and rescind or revise it if it isn't consistent with his administration's regulatory principles. A status report will be published on March 10. Related tickers: JPM, C, BAC, WFC, GS, MS, USB, BK, STT, PNC, COF, KRE, KBE, RF, KEY, IVZ, TROW, LM, AB, FII, WDR, LPLA
Wells Fargo is likely to eliminate 2016 bonuses for the bank's top executives, sources told WSJ, after a fake-accounts scandal rocked the lender during the second half of last year. The WFC board met in late January to discuss withholding bonuses for senior executives, including CEO Timothy Sloan and CFO John Shrewsberry, and is expected to finalize its decision in the coming weeks.
There has been market chatter relating to some big banks moving employees from London to other European cities, but Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) is closing its London hedge fund and moving the staff to the U.S. The fund was launched in 2007 with $7B in assets and currently manages about $3.5B. A Goldman spokesman confirmed the move, but added that the reasons for the staff shift were not related to Brexit
China's bitcoin exchanges risk being shut down in the virtual currency's largest market if found to be skirting rules on "money laundering, foreign exchange management, payment and settlement and other financial laws." The People's Bank of China said it held a meeting with nine bitcoin trading platforms yesterday to remind them about potential legal, policy and other risks. Related tickers: OTCQX:GBTC, OTCQB:BTCS, COIN
Giving hope to the more than 370,000 customers who put deposits down for the Model 3, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) will begin test-building the vehicle on Feb. 20, Reuters reports. The automaker also plans to shut down production at its California assembly plant for a week this month, as it targets Model 3 production for July. According to Tesla, the "brief, planned" pause is not expected to have any material impact.
A South Korean court has ruled against Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) in an emissions case, siding with the government in its accusations the automaker used a so-called defeat device in its Qashqai SUV. The environment ministry last year fined Nissan for diesel emissions cheating, halted local sales of the model and ordered a recall of Qashqai vehicles.
In a deal that could be described as if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em, Zipcar parent Avis Budget (NASDAQ:CAR) will supply UBER drivers with the opportunity to ferry passengers around in Zipcar-branded sedans. Although the deal is limited to 20 sedans in Boston for now, it opens the door for similar collaboration in other cities. It could still be tricky for Uber drivers, however, to bring in much of a profit even with the special rental rates.
Boeing is the front-runner for a major Singapore Airlines (OTCPK:SINGY) wide-body aircraft order that could be valued at around $13.8B at list prices, Bloomberg reports. The deal, which could be unveiled this week, would include 20 of Boeing's (NYSE:BA) long-range 777-9 jets and at least 19 787-10s, the longest Dreamliner model.
Winter weather across the U.S. has grounded and delayed thousands of flights, while blizzard-like conditions are expected in New York, Boston and Washington D.C. Just hours after record-challenging warmth, temperatures will plunge around 15 to 30 degrees in many areas for the U.S. Northeast, but conditions are expected to improve for the weekend. Related tickers: AAL, DAL, JBLU, LUV, SAVE, UAL
The latest sign of a changing media landscape? CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) is considering a streaming video service such as AT&T's (NYSE:T) DirecTV Now in addition to its in-house TV service. "Content costs have really gone out of sight in recent years," CEO Glen Post said on a call with analysts. "We are looking at every option. If we can get a better deal.. we will certainly take a look at that."
Whether it's Trump's American manufacturing drive or the company was going to do it any way, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich has promised $7B to resume construction of a chip factory near Phoenix that could one day employ 3,000 people. The announcement was made in the Oval Office. Some chips that will be made there will be used in emerging technologies that Intel is seeking to grow, like 5G networks and drones.
Abandoning its goal to open 1,200-plus stores, Whole Foods (WFM) said it will close nine outlets in the second quarter. "We're going to continue to grow, but I think we're going to be a more disciplined growth company than we have been in the past," CEO John Mackey declared on an earnings call. Whole Foods also cut its profit forecast for 2017 and outlined a $30M charge for Q2 related to the store closings.
High spirits? The initial public offering for Jose Cuervo has priced at the top of the expected range at 34 pesos per share, marking the first Mexican IPO since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency. The pricing of the 476.6M share offer means the tequila maker raised at least 16.B pesos ($791M), excluding the overallotment option. According to sources, it was more than eight times oversubscribed.
Kellogg will stop distributing its U.S. snacks business' products directly to stores and switch to its more widely used warehouse model to cut costs and adapt to a shifting retail landscape. The change, which will include distribution center closures and layoffs, is part of an expanded "Project K" program, which Kellogg (NYSE:K) launched three years ago to save up to $475M annually by 2018.
The White House has defended President Trump's criticism of Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), saying the firm's decision to drop his daughter Ivanka's clothing line for the coming season was a politically motivated attack. "I think this was less about his family's business than an attack on his daughter," spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing. Nordstrom said its decision was based on performance.
"We're running out of options, but that doesn't mean that it's over," said David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, regarding its battle against the $3.8B Dakota Access Pipeline. "We're still going to continue to look at all legal options available to us." The 1,170-mile line will move crude from the shale oilfields of North Dakota to Illinois en route to the Gulf of Mexico, where many U.S. refineries are located. Related tickers: ETP, ETE, SXL, PSX, MPC, ENB, EEP
Allergan (NYSE:AGN) +3.7% after topping expectations.
Centurylink (CTL) -1.4% AH light guidance, Q4 miss.
Exelon (NYSE:EXC) -2.1% amid lower capacity, energy prices.
Humana (HUM) +2.3% beating earnings estimates.
Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) +0.4% boosted by Fantastic Beasts.
Whole Foods (WFM) -1.5% AH on falling comparable sales.
In Asia, Japan -0.5%. Hong Kong +0.2%. China +0.5%. India +0.1%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.2%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +0.7%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +1% to $52.85. Gold +0.1% to $1240.30.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 2.36%
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
9:10 Fed's Bullard: U.S. Monetary and Economic Policy
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:00 Wholesale Trade
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
1:00 PM Results of $15B, 30-Year Note Auction
1:10 PM Fed's Evans speech
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet