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Frontrunning: October 3

  • How you know it is all a lie: Pelosi Presses Obama to Talk Up Stronger U.S. Economy (BBG)
  • Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes Put Pressure on New York Fed (NYT), Uh, no they don't
  • Clashes Break Out at Hong Kong Protest Site (WSJ)
  • N.Y. Fed Lawyer Says AIG Got Billions Without Paperwork (BBG)
  • Ebola’s Disease Detectives Race to Track Others Exposed (BBG)
  • UPS, FedEx Want Retailers to Get Real on Holiday Shipping (WSJ)
  • No more mailman at the door under U.S. Postal Service plan (Reuters)
  • UBS faces fine of up to $6.3 billion in French tax probe (Reuters)
  • Albert Edwards Says Watch Japanese Yen and Be Very Afraid (BBG)
  • Google to launch own mobile chat app: Economic Times (Reuters)
  • Hong Kong Stocks Climb Most in Two Weeks on Developers (BBG)
  • Khodorkovsky Sees 1917-Like Crisis Nearing Under Putin (BBG)
  • Yen’s Steepest Decline in 20 Months Spreads Unease in Japan (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* Student protesters in Hong Kong agreed to hold talks with the city's No. 2 government official, averting a potentially violent confrontation overnight as demonstrators surrounded the office of Hong Kong's embattled chief executive. (http://on.wsj.com/1uibazO)

* The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded on Thursday to roughly 100, as health officials cast a wide net to try to prevent the one confirmed case of the disease from sparking an outbreak. (http://on.wsj.com/1CI2PYO)

* President Barack Obama on Thursday told Hispanic lawmakers and community leaders he shares their frustration on stalled plans to reform the U.S. immigration policy, and promised to take steps to on his own to fix a "broken" system before the end of the year. (http://on.wsj.com/1x5io9U)

* Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley pushed back Thursday against allegations his institution has been a weak and deferential regulator of big financial firms. (http://on.wsj.com/1r60wpZ)

* Billionaire investor Warren Buffet on Thursday agreed to buy America's fifth-largest auto retailer and use it to launch a consolidation of the highly fragmented business. His Berkshire Hathaway Inc would acquire an about $8 billion retail business with operations from Florida to California, and use it to snap up family-owned dealerships elsewhere. (http://on.wsj.com/1rCBncB)

* The head of Pratt & Whitney's commercial aircraft engine business is leaving the company, at a time when the United Technologies Corp unit is ramping up production of its newest engine model in an escalating competition with rival General Electric Co. David Brantner is joining GKN Aerospace, according to a person familiar with the matter. (http://on.wsj.com/1rPMKwF)

 

FT

* Mike Ashley's Sports Direct said it acquired a further 4.6 percent stake in Debenhams for 33 million pounds ($53.29 million). This takes the company's stake in Debenhams to 11.22 percent.

* Warren Buffett has admitted that his holding in Tesco Plc was a "huge mistake". Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway is Tesco's fourth-largest investor.

* Wonga is writing off the debt of 330,000 customers worth 220 million pounds after agreeing with UK's Financial Conduct Authority. The decision prompted a response from politicians who said the bank would be called to appear before the Treasury Select Committee to explain its business practices.

* Turkish conglomerate Anadolu Group has offered to buy a 40.25 percent stake in supermarket chain Migros from BC Partners, according to a notification on the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange.

* Royal Bank of Scotland has hired Goldman Sachs to find buyers for Coutts International and is expected to tell potential bidders that they will not be allowed to use the Coutts brand.

 

NYT

* The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan plan to increase efforts to stimulate their economies. Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, said that it would begin a new round of bond purchases. (http://nyti.ms/1vCVQxf)

* A cyberattack this summer on JPMorgan Chase compromised the accounts of 76 million households and seven million small businesses, a tally that dwarfs previous estimates by the bank and puts the intrusion among the largest ever. (http://nyti.ms/1yBwVyH)

* Lawmakers are scrutinizing allegations that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York went easy on one of the most prominent banks under its watch, Goldman Sachs, despite concerns voiced by those inside the Fed that a deal Goldman was pursuing was "legal, but shady." (http://nyti.ms/10nLWF0)

* Facebook said on Thursday that future research on its 1.3 billion users would be subjected to greater internal scrutiny from top managers, particularly if it focused on "deeply personal topics" or specific groups of people. (http://nyti.ms/1rCE5yV)

* Allergan Inc's attempt to acquire Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc in an all-cash deal has stalled, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Allergan, the maker of Botox, wanted a deal for Salix for more than $10 billion without using stock, a move that would not have required shareholder approval. (http://nyti.ms/1rHKh6b)

* It is not all bad news at Pimco. The firm, which manages $2 trillion in assets, said on Thursday that its Pimco Enhanced Short Maturity exchange-traded fund had taken in $71 million in new investor money since the firm's co-founder, Bill Gross, resigned abruptly last week. (http://nyti.ms/1tm5oZG)

* General Motors is recalling almost 118,000 of its 2013-14 model vehicles because they may stall or fail to start, the company said on Thursday. The action includes almost 98,000 vehicles in the United States, Alan Adler, a GM spokesman, wrote in an email. (http://nyti.ms/1yBxrN0)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will outline in Parliament on Friday the military contribution Canada is prepared to make to the fight against Islamic State militants, setting the state for a vote on this combat deployment Monday. The Prime Minister's Office made the announcement on Thursday evening. Canada has been asked by the United States to provide fighters and other aircraft to join air strikes against jihadist forces that have wreaked havoc in Iraq. (http://bit.ly/1pvHz0n)

** The Conservative government will post a dramatically smaller deficit for the most recent fiscal year, a $5.2 billion shortfall that represents an $11 billion improvement over the latest budget estimate. (http://bit.ly/1x5Kcer)

** After failing to find a buyer for Sears Canada Inc , its U.S. parent now is trying to shed most of its stake in a $380 million rights offering, raising questions about the fate of the struggling Canadian retail operation. (http://bit.ly/1nT4EPI)

NATIONAL POST

** Canada could soon be sending its military into a combat mission in Iraq over the objections of both opposition parties, as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau issued broad hints on Thursday that his party, like the New Democratic Party, wouldn't be on-side with the government. (http://bit.ly/1pKZXlb)

** The sale of TransCanada Corp's remaining 30 percent interest in Bison Pipeline LLC to its master limited partnership, TC PipeLines LP, for $215 million on Wednesday is the first step in delivering long-term value to core shareholders, says RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Kwan. (http://bit.ly/1rQmZwf)

 

Britain

The Times

David Cameron's multibillion-pound tax cuts for Britain have propelled the Conservative party back into its first opinion poll lead for almost three years. In a dramatic vindication of the prime minister's 7 billion pound ($11.30 billion) pledge to families at the end of the Tory conference on Wednesday, a YouGov poll last night showed that he had knocked Labour off the top spot. (http://thetim.es/1BCzHQk)

Managing director of John Lewis, Andy Street has described France as "sclerotic, hopeless and downbeat" and advised British entrepreneurs with investments in the country to "get them out quickly". "I have never been to a country more ill at ease . . . nothing works and worse, nobody cares about it." Street said, who was in Paris this week to receive a retail award on behalf of the department store chain. (http://thetim.es/10n3W2f)

The Guardian

Rulings by the European court of human rights (ECHR) would no longer be enforceable in the UK under radical plans by the Conservatives. Under proposals to be included in the party's general election manifesto, the Tories would reverse more than half a century's tradition of human rights authority residing in Europe by giving parliament the right to veto judgments. (http://bit.ly/1sPTGMA)

David Cameron has flown to the RAF base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, from which British pilots are launching air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, announcing that he was to send a further two Tornado GR4 planes to supplement the six currently operating. (http://bit.ly/10n7zFF)

The Telegraph

There is a 'nightmare' chance that the Ebola virus could become airborne if the epidemic is not brought under control fast enough, the chief of the UN's Ebola mission has warned. (http://bit.ly/1pt7zt8)

Warren Buffett, the veteran U.S. investor, has admitted that buying shares in Tesco was a "huge mistake." Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway started buying shares in Tesco in 2006 and built a 5 pct stake, making it his biggest investment outside of the US. (http://bit.ly/1uEfQl0)

Sky News

Hong Kong's Chief Executive CY Leung has said his top official will meet protest leaders in a last-minute olive branch to avoid protesters taking over government offices. Leung told the media he would not be quitting and warned of serious repercussions if protesters followed through with their threat. (http://bit.ly/1rQUPl2)

Morrisons has announced a new price match system, which is set to exacerbate Britain's brutal supermarket war. The fourth-biggest grocery chain said that in addition to price matching Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's, it would now do the same with discounters Aldi and Lidl . (http://bit.ly/1vd7oWx)

The Independent

Troubled payday lender Wonga has been forced to write off an estimated 220 million pound ($355.23 million)-worth of debt after the Financial Conduct Authority accused it of irresponsible lending. (http://ind.pn/1rQVYZR)

The demand for Emirates flights from Asia to Africa has fallen due to fears over the Ebola virus, the airline's President Tim Clark said on Thursday. (http://ind.pn/1ufXRzW)

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Nonfarm payrolls for September at 8:30--consensus up 215K
Unemployment rate for September at 8:30--consensus 6.1%
International trade balance for August at 8:30--consensus deficit $40.6B
Markit services PMI for September at 9:45--consensus 58.5
ISM non-manufacturing composite for September at 10:00--consensus 58.5

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
Allegion (ALLE) upgraded to Outperform from In-Line at Imperial Capital
Atlas Financial (AFH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
CDW Corporation (CDW) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Coca-Cola Femsa (KOF) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Cullen/Frost (CFR) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
Halliburton (HAL) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley
Halliburton (HAL) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley
IHS Inc. (IHS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
Insight Enterprises (NSIT) upgraded to Market Perform at Raymond James
JD Wetherspoon (jdwpy) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC
Lear (LEA) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Proto Labs (PRLB) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord
Salix (SLXP) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Solera (SLH) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
SunPower (SPWR) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Violin Memory (VMEM) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
Yadkin Financial (YDKN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee

Downgrades

Apple (AAPL) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Reduce from Buy at Nomura
Cree (CREE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
EverBank (EVER) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays
People's United (PBCT) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Quanex (NX) downgraded to In-Line from Outperform at Imperial Capital
Teekay LNG (TGP) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Ternium (TX) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Vale (VALE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord

Initiations

Affymetrix (AFFX) initiated with a Neutral at BTIG
Agilent (A) initiated with a Neutral at BTIG
Alere (ALR) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
Ann Inc. (ANN) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Applied Genetic (AGTC) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Arlington Asset Investment (AI) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Avigilon (AIOCF) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
Booz Allen (BAH) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital
Callaway Golf (ELY) initiated with an In-Line at Imperial Capital
Danaher (DHR) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
Flowserve (FLS) initiated with a Buy at DA Davidson
Illumina (ILMN) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
New York Mortgage (NYMT) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) initiated with a Neutral at Goldman
Salesforce.com (CRM) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Silver Spring Network (SSNI) initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James
Stage Stores (SSI) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
Thermo Fisher (TMO) initiated with a Neutral at BTIG
Warren Resources (WRES) initiated with an In-Line at Imperial Capital
WhiteWave Foods (WWAV) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital

COMPANY NEWS

JPMorgan (JPM) confirmed data breach affected 76M households, 7M small businesses
EU approved Facebook's (FB) acquisition of WhatsApp
Salix (SLXP), Cosmo Technologies announced termination of merger agreement
Constellium (CSTM) to acquire Wise Metals for $1.4B 
Halozyme's (HALO) PEGylated recombinant human hyaluronidase PH20 was granted orphan designation by FDA
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) board approved spin-off of California Resources and increased share repurchase authorization by 60M shares

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Resources Connection (RECN)

ADTRAN (ADTN) revises Q3 estimates, sees Q3 adjusted EPS 23c-24c, consensus 27c
CatchMark Timber (CTT) raises FY14 EBITDA view to $22M-$23M

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

Salix (SLXP) in talks to sell to Actavis (ACT) as Allergan (AGN) deal stalls, Bloomberg reports
Facebook (FB) devising plans to enter into healthcare industry, Reuters reports
iPhone 6 Plus (AAPL) may account for 60% of iPhone 6 shipments, DigiTimes says
Retrophin (RTRX) ex-CEO fired over stock irregularities, Bloomberg reports
Apple (AAPL) asks music labels for streaming subscription price cut, Re/code says
GoPro (GPRO) CEO's foundation does not intend to sell shares, WSJ reports
JPMorgan (JPM) found more evidence of hacking, not second breach, NYT corrected

SYNDICATE

Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLA) 6.2M share Secondary priced at $26.00
Vital Therapies (VTL) 2M share Secondary priced at $17.50
Yodlee (YDLE) 6.25M share IPO priced at $12.00