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Frontrunning: November 20

  • Banks Had Unfair Advantage From Commodity Units (Bloomberg)
  • Report Notes Deals Between Goldman, Deutsche and Others Drove Up Aluminum Prices (WSJ)
  • Goldman, Morgan Stanley Commodity Heyday Gone as Units Faulted (BBG) - because when you can no longer manipulate, you move on...
  • Lenders Shift to Help Struggling Student Borrowers (WSJ)
  • Immigrants face major hurdles in signing up to new Obama plan (Reuters)
  • Distressed Debt in China? Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Buyers Say (BBG)
  • Banking culture breeds dishonesty, scientific study finds (Reuters)
  • Amazon Robots Get Ready for Christmas (WSJ)
  • Crimean savers ask: Where's our money? (Reuters) - What's a saver?
  • Police arrest protesters as St. Louis awaits grand jury decision (Reuters)
  • Teen Retailer Faces Challenge Filling Expansive Floor Space With Right Merchandise (WSJ)
  • Three students shot in Florida university library, gunman killed (BBG)
  • Takata, auto executives to face Senate over deadly air bag scandal (Reuters)
  • Deadly western New York snowstorm to get second wind  (Reuters)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* United States President Barack Obama will lay out sweeping changes to the immigration system in a speech, offering new protections to millions of people in the country illegally and sparking a bitter fight with Republicans. (http://on.wsj.com/1F3JGC2)

* Amazon.com Inc has outfitted several United States warehouses with squat, wheeled robots that move stocked shelves to workers and are expected to speed delivery, saving employees as much as 20 miles a day of walking. (http://on.wsj.com/1qYIYO6)

* Federal Reserve officials meeting last month said they felt the U.S. recovery was on strong enough footing to withstand gathering external threats to growth and stuck to their plan to gradually unwind nearly six years of easy-money policies. (http://on.wsj.com/1vqtGbw)

* A United States Senate report on commodity-market activities at big Wall Street banks accuses the firms of being so powerful they were able to influence prices, gain trading advantages and put the broader financial system at risk by entering volatile businesses such as uranium trading and coal production. (http://on.wsj.com/1uTMNsW)

* A look at the partnership of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc CEO Michael Pearson and activist investor William Ackman in their failed $53 billion bid to acquire Allergan Inc shows that the two men didn't always see eye to eye. (http://on.wsj.com/1uTOC99)

* Investors are shedding holdings of Korean won, Singapore dollars and other Asian currencies, in a bet the yen's fall against the dollar will reverberate through the region's foreign-exchange markets. (http://on.wsj.com/1yUYcI2)

* Forever 21 is grappling with a special problem stemming from its aggressive expansion: gigantic stores that it has had trouble filling productively, sources said. It doesn't report sales or profits, but people who have seen the figures say sales excluding newly opened or closed stores hit a negative patch within the last 18 months. (http://on.wsj.com/1Ak64aj)

* The Coca-Cola Co is increasingly pushing smaller packages as more Americans fret about calories from sugary drinks. Coca-Cola said that sales of its namesake cola's smaller, premium-priced packages, including 7.5 ounce "mini cans" and 8 ounce glass bottles, have risen 9 percent this year through October in dollar terms in the United States. (http://on.wsj.com/1qvN05O)

* Archer Daniels Midland Co sued Syngenta AG over losses the grain trader and processor said it suffered after Syngenta sold genetically engineered corn in the United States that had yet to win approval in China. (http://on.wsj.com/1F5P6MJ)

* Yahoo Inc struck a five-year deal with Mozilla Corp to become the default search engine on its Firefox browser in the United States, ending the nonprofit's long-standing relationship with Google Inc (http://on.wsj.com/11EvAsv)

* Thousands of people struggling to pay back student debt are in line to get a break as two big lenders, Wells Fargo & Co and Discover Financial Services roll out programs to ease loan terms. (http://on.wsj.com/1qXWWzL)

 

FT

The amount the National Health Services spends on each patient would fall between 98 pounds ($153.5856) and 191 pounds - a real term drop in spending of at least 5.5 billion pounds - by 2020 under funding pledges of the main political parties, according to an analysis.

Energy and mining companies are failing to consider the "existential threat" from climate change and must change the way they operate, former BP PLC head Lord Browne warned.

Pub companies face a decline in investor confidence and months of uncertainty after a decision by MPs to unwind the centuries-old beer tie system hammered on their share prices.

Vodafone Group PLC may be forced to bid for TV rights to keep up with its competitors as they move to offer bundled television and broadband services, putting pressure on the telecoms company to buy exclusive content, Chief Executive Vittorio Colao warned.

NYT

* A two-year Senate-led investigation is throwing back the curtain on the outsize and sometimes hidden sway that Wall Street banks have gained over the markets for essential commodities like oil, aluminum and coal. A Senate subcommittee found that Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase assumed a role of such significance in the commodities markets that it became possible for the banks to influence the prices that consumers pay while also securing inside information about the markets that could be used by their own traders.. (http://nyti.ms/1BOTLo3)

* During the financial crisis in 2008, the government made a supremely generous move that most likely saved Goldman Sachs from collapse. Six years later, Goldman is still reaping benefits from the special provisions that came with that act of mercy, according to the findings of a Senate report that was released on Wednesday. (http://nyti.ms/1uzPTAV)

* The new airbag propellant was supposed to be the next big thing for Takata in 1998. An engineer for the company, Paresh Khandhadia, declared it "the new technological edge" in an interview with a trade magazine then. Based on a compound called tetrazole, it was seen as a reliable and effective compound for inflating airbags. Yet despite the fanfare, by 2001 Takata had switched to an alternative formula, ammonium nitrate, and started sending the airbags to automakers, including Honda. That compound, according to experts, is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture, and it breaks down over time. And when it breaks down, it can combust violently, experts say. (http://nyti.ms/1xR1DAt)

* A group of community bankers raised many of the same concerns as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin about the naming of Antonio Weiss to a top Treasury job. One being Weiss's work on Burger King's acquisition of the Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons Inc. (http://nyti.ms/1vrqV9R)

* After Netflix Inc delayed a stand-up special, NBC announced it was dropping plans to develop a new sitcom starring comedian Bill Cosby, the latest fallout from rape accusations. (http://nyti.ms/1uLPT2n)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Calgary-based pipeline and power giant TransCanada Corp said on Wednesday that it would spend as much as $46 billion through to 2020 to connect surging supplies of shale gas and oil sands crude in Western Canada to growth markets. (http://bit.ly/1ysGiN9)

** Australia's free trade deal with China may not be good news for Canada as its companies struggle to find a foothold in the world's second largest economy. The Australian deal is now prompting calls in Canada for the Stephen Harper government to kick-start its own free trade talks with China, which stands to find cheaper alternatives to its south than from across the Pacific once the agreement is finalized. (http://bit.ly/1ysH50s)

** Bell Media Inc has cut 80 full-time positions in its latest round of layoffs, citing an "industry-wide challenging advertising market." (http://bit.ly/1vsav14)

NATIONAL POST

** Premier Kathleen Wynne's decision to reopen contracts for public school teachers last year cost Ontario taxpayers $468 million, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported on Wednesday. (http://bit.ly/1xEdaW4)

** Former Conservative party campaign worker Michael Sona has been sentenced to nine months for his role in a scheme to misdirect voters to the wrong polling location in Guelph in the 2011 federal election. Judge Gary Hearn also imposed an additional 12 months of probation on Sona after his jail term is served. (http://bit.ly/1zFR2Zo)

** Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management is abandoning its plan to buy the former Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, dealing another blow to a city reeling from a string of casino closures and the disappearance of thousands of jobs. (http://bit.ly/1xRDhGz)

 

China

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

- Companies that have listed on the over-the-counter (OTC) exchange and have met compliance requirements can be transferred to China's Nasdaq-style board known as ChiNext, said Liu Jianjun, deputy director at the supervision department of private equity in China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

- Zhuang Xinyi, vice chairman of CSRC, said at a forum meeting on Wednesday that the commission was pushing forward with reforms on the initial public offering (IPO) process which is currently based on an approval-based registration system.

SECURITIES TIMES

- Hong Kong residents' demand for offshore renminbi, also known as yuan, has risen to a two-week high due to the launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock connect scheme. The rise in demand has also boosted the exchange rate for offshore yuan, the paper said.

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- The government will push ahead with financial reforms even as the economy faces growing pressure, according to officials from the National Development and Reform Commission.

SHANGHAI DAILY

- The water in half of China's top 10 river systems is polluted and about 60 percent of the nation's underground water is of poor quality, according to China's Environmental Situation Report. About 9 percent of the water in these river systems was rated as class V, indicating severe pollution.

CHINA DAILY

- China is ready to work with other countries to deepen international cooperation, respect sovereignty on the internet and uphold cyber security, President Xi Jinping said in a congratulatory message to the first World Internet Conference.

 

Britain

The Times

Wait times are halved for latest NHS drugs Waiting times for cutting-edge drugs will be cut in half under government plans to rip up a "broken" system that has denied many NHS patients life-extending treatments. (thetim.es/1vqUjh1) Bankers fail scientists' honesty test Rogue traders, the Libor scandal and astronomical bonuses for the chiefs of failing banks have all hinted that banking's moral compass had gone awry. Now scientists say they have confirmed what many suspected - the industry really is more dishonest than most. (thetim.es/1Akm1gE)

The Guardian

Royal Mail says Amazon delivery service will hit its UK parcels business

Royal Mail Plc has warned that growing competition from Amazon.com Inc will hurt its UK parcels business, as it reported a 21 percent decline in first-half profits. (bit.ly/11BxKsT)

Jail the best deterrent for rogue traders, BoE deputy governor says

Nemat Shafik, one of the Bank of England's deputy governors, said the best deterrent to rogue traders in financial markets is the threat of jail. (bit.ly/11vsfLt)

The Telegraph

11 bln stg energy smart meter roll-out suffers further delay

The government's 11-billion-pound ($17-billion) plan to install "smart" energy meters in every home is being delayed by up to a year, after the company in charge of the communications system for the devices warned it would not be ready in time. (bit.ly/1thnyLS)

Thousands join Lloyds investor lawsuit over HBOS takeover

About 8,000 investors have put their name to a lawsuit claiming Lloyds Banking Group Plc misled shareholders ahead of the bank's acquisition of HBOS Plc six years ago. (bit.ly/11DLx2l)

Sky News

UK company planning to land probe on moon

British company Lunar Missions Ltd is planning to send a probe to the moon and bury a time capsule of memory discs under the surface. (bit.ly/1p1Cm5H)

Bank watchdog hands out fine to RBS The regulatory arm of the Bank of England will hand out its first fine on Thursday when it censures Royal Bank of Scotland for an IT meltdown in 2012. (bit.ly/11ukjdt)

The Independent

Londoners set to spend £1bn in run-up to Christmas

Christmas spending in London's West End is expected to break through the 1 billion pound barrier for the first time this year as confidence in the recovery gathers momentum. (ind.pn/1zEgJJG) M&S to scale back 'duplicated and overcrowded' clothing lines

Marks and Spencer Group Plc has said there will be 20 percent fewer lines than two years ago in a sign the company is beginning to regain confidence in its abilities. (ind.pn/1vqSLmx)

Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Consumer Price Index for October at 8:30--consensus down 0.1%
Jobless claims for week of November 15 at 8:30--consensus 284K
Markit manufacturing PMI for November at 9:45--consensus 56.3
Leading indicators for October at 10:00--consensus up 0.5%
Existing home sales for October at 10:00--consensus down 0.4% to 5.15M rate

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Columbia Banking (COLB) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee
EOG Resources (EOG) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Atlantic Equities
Franklin Street (FSP) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
JetBlue (JBLU) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Primerica (PRI) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
Stage Stores (SSI) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Telsey Advisory
Statoil (STO) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
The Medicines Co. (MDCO) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
TrueCar (TRUE) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Yum! Brands (YUM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital

Downgrades

Alexandria Real Estate (ARE) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Allscripts (MDRX) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
athenahealth (ATHN) downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Boston Properties (BXP) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Computer Programs (CPSI) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Constellium (CSTM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Cubist (CBST) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Denbury Resources (DNR) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
E-House (EJ) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
First Interstate (FIBK) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Macerich (MAC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Oplink Communications (OPLK) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley
Owens-Illinois (OI) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Quality Systems (QSII) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Santander Consumer (SC) downgraded to Underweight at Morgan Stanley
Sapient (SAPE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Zoetis (ZTS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair

Initiations

American Express (AXP) initiated with a Market Perform at Bernstein
Apache (APA) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
BBCN Bancorp (BBCN) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
BCE (BCE) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Capital One (COF) initiated with an Outperform at Bernstein
Discover (DFS) initiated with a Market Perform at Bernstein
First Republic Bank (FRC) initiated with an Underperform at Sterne Agee
Hanmi Financial (HAFC) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
International Paper (IP) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
MeadWestvaco (MWV) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo
NAPCO Security (NSSC) initiated with a Neutral at B. Riley
Opus Bank (OPB) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Rogers Communications (RCI) initiated with a Neutral at Citigroup
Strategic Hotels (BEE) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
Synchrony Financial (SYF) initiated with an Outperform at Bernstein
TELUS (TU) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup

COMPANY NEWS

Yahoo (YHOO) and Mozilla announced a strategic five-year partnership that makes Yahoo the default search experience for Firefox in the United States on mobile and desktop (GOOG)
Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) said CFO Frances G. Rathke to leave in FY15
JANA Partners said it is continuing discussions with Hertz (HTZ) for board, management changes
Billboard 200 chart to include on-demand streaming in rankings (NLSN, MSFT, GOOG, AAPL, P)
RBS (RBS), NatWest, Ulster Bank fined GBP42M by FCA
CGG SA (CGG) confirmed offer from Technip (TKPPY), considered that conditions to pursue not met
Amazon.com (AMZN) to start Black Friday deals on Friday, Nov. 21
KLA-Tencor (KLAC) declared special dividend of $16.50 per share

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Kirkland's (KIRK), JinkoSolar (JKS), GasLog (GLOG), Copa Holdings (CPA), America's Car-Mart (CRMT), L Brands (LB), Fidelity & Guaranty Life (FGL), Datawatch (DWCH), Williams-Sonoma (WSM), Salesforce.com (CRM), Real Goods Solar (RGSE), Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Donaldson (DCI), Atento  (ATTO)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Jumei (JMEI)

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

Caesar's (CZR) to turn operating unit into REIT, Bloomberg reports
AB InBev (BUD) cutting jobs, consolidating sales division in U.S., WSJ reports
Senate panel says banks could influence commodity prices, NY Times says (GS, JPM)
Citigroup (C) risk executive Miller found dead in New York, Bloomberg reports
Goldman (GS) terminates two employees for sharing confidential information, WSJ reports
Target (TGT) looks 'poised for more gains,’ Barron's says

SYNDICATE

Autohome (ATHM) 8.5M share Secondary priced at $42.50
Continental Building (CBPX) 7M share Secondary priced at $14.75
Covenant Transportation (CVTI) 2.64M share Secondary priced at $22.00
Essent Group (ESNT) 12M share Secondary priced at $22.25
GoPro (GPRO) 10.36M share Secondary priced at $75.00
Habit Restaurants (HABT) 5M share IPO priced at $18.00
Immune Pharmaceuticals (IMNP) files automatic common stock, warrants shelf
Independence Realty Trust (IRT) files to sell 6M shares of common stock
Kindred Healthcare (KND) 5M share Secondary priced at $19.75
La Quinta (LQ) 20M share Secondary priced at $20.00
Lexicon (LXRX) files to sell $50M of common stock
Neothetics (NEOT) 4.65M share IPO priced at $14.00
ONEOK Partners (OKS) enters $650M equity distribution agreement
Walker & Dunlop (WD) files to sell 2M shares of common stock for holders