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Frontrunning: March 4

  • RBS to cut up to 14,000 jobs in investment banking unit (FT)
  • Doctors, patients scramble ahead of high court Obamacare decision (Reuters)
  • Rajan Cuts India Rates After Modi Agrees to Inflation Target (BBG)
  • Russia’s Putin Makes First Public Comments on Killing of Boris Nemtsov (WSJ)
  • House breaks impasse, passes security funding without provisions (Reuters)
  • How a 25-Year-Old Investor Spurred Lumber Liquidators’ Plunge (BBG)
  • Jeff Immelt’s Overhaul of GE Impeded by Falling Oil Prices (WSJ)
  • Sahara India Defaults on Luxury Hotel Loans From Bank of China (BBG)
  • Denmark Can't Print Money Fast Enough (BBG)
  • Petrobras CEO Lost Job Over a $30 Billion Disagreement (BBG)
  • The Price of Oil Is About to Blow a Hole in Corporate Accounting (BBG)
  • Dozens of miners missing feared dead in rebel east Ukraine (Reuters)
  • Some Texas Republicans Are Worried They Finally Pushed Tax Cuts Too Far (BBG)
  • Some 12,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine supporting rebels: U.S. commander (Reuters)
  • Democrats split on Benjamin Netanyahu speech to US Congress (FT)

 

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz

WSJ

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a dramatic and highly public showdown with a U.S. president, told a joint session of Congress on Tuesday that an emerging diplomatic agreement with Iran would not only fail to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but virtually ensure it gets them.(http://on.wsj.com/17PsIeS)

* After more than a decade rebuilding General Electric Co to be a simpler industrial machine, Chief Executive Jeff Immelt finds his creation running rough. The oil-price drop is raising a growth impediment and new questions about his legacy.(http://on.wsj.com/17PsV1N)

* Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal is aiming to launch a comedy-focused subscription Web video service later this year, people familiar with the plans say, signaling the company's growing interest in reaching young viewers online as its traditional cable-TV business stagnates.(http://on.wsj.com/17Ptg4q)

* Citigroup Inc confirmed on Tuesday that it would sell its U.S. subprime-lending business, OneMain Financial, to Springleaf Holdings Inc. The move is emblematic of postcrisis regulations forcing banks out of their old mind-set of trying to serve as many customers as possible under one roof.(http://on.wsj.com/17PtA3f)

* Actavis PLC sold the second-biggest corporate-bond offering in history on Tuesday, with a $21 billion deal fueled by investors' desire for returns amid low interest rates.(http://on.wsj.com/17PtHvK)

* J.P. Morgan Chase & Co's treasurer, Craig Delany, is planning to leave the bank but will stay on until a successor is on board, according to a memo reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.(http://on.wsj.com/17PtRmH)

* India's central bank surprised markets with an unscheduled cut to its key lending rate for the second time since the beginning of the year, indicating that it is joining a world-wide trend of monetary easing that is driving global interest rates to multiyear lows.(http://on.wsj.com/17Pu4WU)

 

FT

Actavis PLC sold bonds worth $21 billion on Tuesday to fund its $66 billion acquisition of Botox-maker Allergan . The bond offering was the second-largest in corporate debt offering on record.

European Union member states are proposing rules that will allow Internet providers the option of providing access to Internet services under a "two-speed" plan. In contrast, the United States passed a resolution last week to prevent such practices.

Ontario-based smartphone maker Blackberry has unveiled a touchscreen phone called the 5in Blackberry Leap, to win back customers who have since moved onto Android and iOS-based devices. The 5in Blackberry Leap, which sports the popular QWERTY keypad, is the first in a series of four new launches and will go on sale beginning April for $275.

Two of Britain's largest banks are showing signs of pessimism in the investment banking space. Royal Bank of Scotland is all set to slash as many as 14,000 jobs with its investment banking operations in the U.S. and Asia, whereas Barclays' Chief Executive Antony Jenkins has said that he has little patience to wait for the recovery of Barclays' investment banking unit.

 

NYT

* Solar power generators have proliferated in Japan as part of an effort to promote green energy, but utilities say they can't cope with the expansion. (http://nyti.ms/1KgLDkz)

* Nextdoor, a San Francisco-based social networking start-up, and its investors see opportunities in the company's more than 53,000 microcommunities. Investors think Nextdoor is on to something. The company will announce on Wednesday that it has raised $110 million in venture capital from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Insight Venture Partners. (http://nyti.ms/1M5TtLj)

* Three big private equity firms - the Blackstone Group , Colony Capital and Cerberus Capital Management - are betting that so-called landlord loans to small and midsize investors will become the next big opportunity to profit from the rebound in the United States housing market. (http://nyti.ms/1DSHsoI)

* Seeking to contain the damage from the Brian Williams crisis and put an end to a series of management missteps that has left NBC News in turmoil, NBCUniversal is preparing to shake up the executive ranks of its news division. The company is in advanced discussions with its former news chief, Andrew Lack, about returning to the network. (http://nyti.ms/1Gik0Vo)

* In many ways, Lloyd Blankfein and Stephen Schwarzman are similar. Both are senior statesmen of Wall Street, both at the helms of powerful financial firms. But there is at least one big difference, as recent pay disclosures have made clear. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs Inc, earned roughly $30 million in 2014, including his salary, bonus and dividends. (http://nyti.ms/1BFRbPP)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce changes on Wednesday to Canada's life penalty for convicted killers that would make life truly mean life behind bars or as close as possible to pass constitutional muster. (http://bit.ly/18NQkBL)

** Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec is buying the British government's stake in high-speed train service Eurostar International Ltd as part of a push to accelerate its infrastructure investments around the world. (http://bit.ly/1DTuuXF)

** Target Canada is now owed C$1.9 billion ($1.52 billion) by a property company it created, making the insolvent chain its own biggest creditor and threatening to significantly dilute the recovery of others. (http://bit.ly/1BGD0dk)

NATIONAL POST

** Canadian investment banks are getting nervous as they are struggling to find buyers for Silver Wheaton Corp's massive $800 million bought deal offering. (http://bit.ly/18NPbtZ)

** The budget is still weeks away, but public-sector workers are already contemplating wildcat strikes as Alberta Premier Jim Prentice begins to seed the ground for spending cuts. (http://bit.ly/1AHh4cM)

** Ontario's top court has quashed a second, $2-million lawsuit filed by the family of a brain-damaged Toronto man, accusing doctors of intimidation, threats and assault as the two sides fought over whether to remove Hassan Rasouli from life support. The first case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 that the hospital must get the family's consent before ending life-sustaining treatment. (http://bit.ly/1F8H314)

 

China

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- Shanghai's gold exchange will increase its range of products this year and launch more yuan-denominated gold trading products, the exchange's director, general Xu Luode, told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.

- Hong Kong chief executive C.Y. Leung told reporters on Tuesday that preparatory work for a Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock connect was going "smoothly" and he hoped the scheme would be launched soon.

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

- China will take a more tolerant stance on agriculture-related firms that have bad loans, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a recent statement.

SHANGHAI DAILY

- Shanghai will start testing a system next month which will use people's mobilephones to track movements of large crowds. China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom and China Telecom will work with a fourth unnamed firm to develop the system, a senior city official said on Tuesday.

CHINA BUSINESS NEWS

- Profits in China's banking industry could decline 3 to 5 percent this year after the People's Bank of China cut reverse requirement ratios twice and interest rate once since the second half of last year, industry insiders said.

CHINA DAILY

- China will step up activities in the Antarctic, especially in fishing crustacean krill, China National Agricultural Development Group chairman Liu Shenli told reporters on Tuesday. The krill would be used as a source of protein.

 

Britain

The Times

'LETHAL MIX' OF NHS DENIAL AND FAILURE SAW 11 BABIES DIE NEEDLESSLY

A "lethal mix" of denial and failure at almost every level of the NHS led to the needless deaths of 11 babies and one mother at a dysfunctional hospital, a "damning" review has found. (http://thetim.es/1F6N66h)

CARNEY REVEALS WHY BANK OF ENGLAND FOREX CHIEF WAS SACKED

The Bank of England missed as many as 50 instances of suspected market abuse that have since been handed over to financial regulators, its governor has admitted. (http://thetim.es/1BEUas2)

The Guardian

UK SHOULD BEGIN DECRIMINALISING DRUGS, SAY RICHARD BRANSON AND NICK CLEGG

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg are urging the UK to begin decriminalising the use and possession of almost all drugs, following the example of Portugal. (http://bit.ly/1aKv8gD)

HSBC FILES: MPS CALL IN TOP EXECUTIVES OVER SWISS REVELATIONS

Two senior HSBC executives and non-executive Rona Fairhead, the BBC Trust chair, have been ordered to appear before MPs for a fresh hearing on the bank's Swiss operation. (http://bit.ly/18iTBIc)

The Telegraph

UKIP WILL NOT SET 'ARBITRARY' IMMIGRATION TARGETS, SAYS NIGEL FARAGE

The UK Independence Party would not set an "arbitrary immigration target" if it helps form the next Government, Nigel Farage has said in an article for The Telegraph. (http://bit.ly/1EeuLXP)

BARCLAYS BOSS SAYS HE WILL NOT BE 'PATIENT' WITH POOR RETURNS AS IT SETS ASIDE £750M FOR FX FINES

The chief executive of Barclays has said he will not be "patient" with underperforming parts of the company, potentially raising the prospect of further cuts at its struggling investment bank. (http://bit.ly/17NfAa6)

Sky News

ANGLO-CANADIAN DUO SWOOPS FOR EUROSTAR STAKE

Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec (CDPQ) and an infrastructure arm of Hermes, a major UK institutional investor, are close to a deal to buy the government's 40 percent shareholding. (http://bit.ly/1BEXEuC)

TAXPAYERS TO MEET 30 MLN STG BILL FOR UK COAL STAFF

Taxpayers are poised to fund a multimillion pound bill to help workers at two of the UK's remaining deep coal mines as part of preparations for their closure, ministers are expected to disclose this week. (http://bit.ly/1wHoPo4)

The Independent

FORMER UK MARINE BECOMES FIRST BRITON TO BE 'KILLED FIGHTING ISIS IN SYRIA'

A former British soldier is thought to have become the first UK national to be killed fighting against Isis in Syria. (http://ind.pn/1wHoUZ1)

Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Major domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
ADP employment change report for February at 8:15--consensus 220K
Markit services PMI for February at 9:45--consensus 57.0
ISM non-manufacturing composite for February at 10:00--consensus 56.5
DOE petroleum inventory reports for week of Feb. 27 at 10:30
Beige Book to be released at 14:00

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

AutoZone (AZO) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Sterne Agee
CVR Refining (CVRR) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Essent Group (ESNT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
McDonald's (MCD) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital

Downgrades

Alcoa (AA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Aruba Networks (ARUN) downgraded to In-Line from Outperform at Imperial Capital
Bob Evans (BOBE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Miller Tabak
Bob Evans (BOBE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Century Aluminum (CENX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Dick's Sporting (DKS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
L.B. Foster (FSTR) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Mavenir Systems (MVNR) downgraded to In-Line from Outperform at Imperial Capital
Polypore (PPO) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
Springleaf (LEAF) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette

Initiations

Achillion (ACHN) initiated with an Underweight at Barclays
Allegion (ALLE) initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
Alnylam (ALNY) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
American Realty (ARCP) coverage resumed with a Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Chimerix (CMRX) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Churchill Downs (CHDN) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
Easterly Government Properties (DEA) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Education Realty (EDR) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
Enanta (ENTA) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Essent Group (ESNT) initiated with a Neutral at MKM Partners
F5 Networks (FFIV) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Flotek (FTK) initiated with an Underperform at Oppenheimer
Hain Celestial (HAIN) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush
Ironwood (IRWD) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
MGIC Investment (MTG) initiated with a Buy at MKM Partners
Neurocrine (NBIX) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
PTC Therapeutics (PTCT) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Phillips 66 Partners (PSXP) initiated with a Buy at Evercore ISI
RPC, Inc. (RES) initiated with a Perform at Oppenheimer
Radian Group (RDN) initiated with a Buy at MKM Partners
Superior Energy (SPN) initiated with a Perform at Oppenheimer
WhiteWave Foods (WWAV) initiated with an Outperform at Wedbush

COMPANY NEWS

Target (TGT) to cut several thousand jobs as part of $2B cost saving plan. The company sees 10% annual EPS growth for 2016 and beyond
Gartner: Apple (AAPL) sold more smartphones than Samsung (SSNLF) in Q4
Sony (SNE) said PS4 sales surpassed 20.2M units worldwide
Bob Evans (BOBE) said it will not pursue a sale of spin-off of BFF Foods, said evaluating strategic alternatives for real estate
TiVo (TIVO) said total subscriptions were up 30% in Q4 y/y

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Sucampo (SCMP), Hydrogenics (HYGS), VWR (VWR), Xerium Technologies (XRM), SQM (SQM), LRR Energy (LRE), ABM Industries (ABM), Hannon Armstrong (HASI), SpartanNash (SPTN), AeroVironment (AVAV), Codexis (CDXS), Bazaarvoice (BV), Ambarella (AMBA), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), Renewable Energy (REGI), ZELTIQ (ZLTQ), NeoPhotonics (NPTN), Amarin (AMRN), TiVo (TIVO)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Materialise (MTLS), Tuniu (TOUR), Middleby (MIDD), Engility Holdings (EGL), MacroGenics (MGNX), Career Education (CECO), Ascena Retail (ASNA), Bob Evans (BOBE), TriVascular (TRIV), Receptos (RCPT)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Trina Solar  (TSL), Bona Film (BONA), PDI, Inc. (PDII), Veeva (VEEV)

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

Apple Pay (AAPL) seeing high fraud rates, WSJ reports
NBCU (CMCSA) plans to launch internet TV subcription service this year, WSJ reports
Deutsche Bank (DB) reviews stake in Hua Xia, Financial Times reports
Sony (SNE) expected to launch PS4 virtual reality headset in 1H16, Engadget reports
HP (HPQ), IBM (IBM), others could be interested in Novetta, Reuters reports (RTN, GD, LMT)

SYNDICATE

Amicus (FOLD) files to sell 1M shares of common stock for holders
Artisan Partners (APAM) offers 3.83M shares of common stock
BioCryst (BCRX) files $150M mixed securities shelf
Catalent (CTLT) 23.7M share Secondary priced at $29.50
Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals (CYCC) 10M share Secondary priced at $1.00
InspireMD (NSPR) files to sell common stock and warrants, no amount given
Meritage Homes (MTH) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Oasis Petroleum (OAS) files to sell 25M shares of common stock
Prudential (PRU) files automatic mixed securities shelf
SBA Communications (SBAC) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Voya Financial (VOYA) files to sell 45.6M shares of common stock for holders
Xplore Technologies (XPLR) files to sell common stock, no amount given