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Frontrunning: March 5

  • China Lowers Growth Target to About 7% (WSJ)
  • Obesity Is Hurting the U.S. Economy in Surprising Ways (BBG)
  • Embattled Hillary Clinton urges State Department to release emails (Reuters)
  • Washington Strips New York Fed’s Power (WSJ)
  • U.S. Supreme Court split over Obamacare challenge (Reuters)
  • Citigroup Loses $800 Million as It Exits Turkey’s Akbank (BBG)
  • Justice Who Once Tried to Kill Obamacare Now Potential Savior (BBG)
  • Buyers of Espírito Santo Debt Face Financial Uncertainty (WSJ)
  • Shadow Banks Could Take $11 Billion Annual Profit, Goldman Says (BBG)
  • Like Israel, U.S. Arab Allies Fear Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal (WSJ)
  • Apple to Delay Production of Larger iPads (BBG)
  • AbbVie boosts cancer drug pipeline with $21 billion Pharmacyclics deal (Reuters)
  • Knife-wielding attacker slashes face of U.S. ambassador in South Korea (Reuters)
  • Snowden says U.S. not offering fair trial if he returns (Reuters)
  • As heroin trade grows, a sting in Kenya (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


* China lowered its economic growth forecast to about 7 percent for 2015 at the opening of the country's biggest political event of the year, ushering in what leaders have dubbed a "new normal" of slower growth in the world's second largest economy.(

* AbbVie Inc said late Wednesday it will buy cancer biotech Pharmacyclics Inc in a $21 billion deal that returns the North Chicago drug company to deal-making after backing away from a big tax-lowering takeover last year.(

* Investors snapped up a half-billion euros of French utility bonds that will pay them no interest, a groundbreaking deal that shows how corporations are rushing to take advantage of Europe's efforts to keep interest rates low to try to revive the continent's economy.(

* Simon Property Group Inc has made takeover approaches to Macerich Co, seeking to combine two of the largest shopping-mall owners in the U.S.(

* Etsy Inc unveiled plans to further test investors' appetite for e-commerce companies, filing for an initial public offering a decade after it was founded in a Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment as a way to sell handmade goods online.(

* McDonald's Corp plans to curtail antibiotics use in its U.S. chicken, a move that could help kick-start a broader food-industry response to growing public-health alarm around drug-resistant bacteria.(



U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson is nearing a deal to buy it smaller rival and maker of cancer drugs Pharmacyclics . Sources close to the deal say that J&J may value the company at par or at a premium of the $17.5 bln market capitalisation that Pharmacyclics commands.

The chief executive of Exxon Mobil has said that low oil prices are here to stay and that the world should "settle in" for a period where oil prices remain weak.

Online craft goods store Etsy has filed to get listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ETSY, to raise at least $100 million. The IPO, which could give Etsy a valuation of $2 billion, would be the biggest for a New York-based tech company in several years.

Photos-based social network Instagram has unveiled a new advertising format where advertisements will carry links to marketers' product and websites. The Facebook -owned app has termed the new advertising format as "carousel adverts".



* The public's wait for virtual reality is nearing an end. In recent days, several of the most prominent companies making headsets offered rough timetables for consumer versions of their products, ending the guessing game about when virtual reality would get its first real test. (

* Transcripts the Federal Reserve released on Wednesday of its 2009 policy meetings show that Ben Bernanke and his colleagues had a relatively clear understanding of the depth of the nation's economic problems. But they were hobbled by doubts about the Fed's ability to do more and by concerns about the potential political and economic consequences. (

* McDonald's Corp said on Wednesday that it would begin using chickens that are not raised with antibiotics used to treat humans, a move likely to put pressure on competitors of the fast-food chain, which now sells more chicken than beef.(

* Etsy, a company founded in Brooklyn a decade ago, may begin trading on the Nasdaq stock market within two months.(

* AbbVie Inc announced late Wednesday that it has agreed to buy Pharmacyclics Inc, a maker of a cancer drug that some analysts predict will eventually become one of the best-selling treatments for that disease, for about $21 billion. (

* When the news came that the state of New Jersey had reached a deal with Exxon Mobil Corp to settle its $8.9 billion claim for about $250 million, the driving force behind the settlement was not the attorney general's office - it was Governor Chris Christie's chief counsel, Christopher Porrino, two people familiar with the negotiations said. (

* The producer behind "Blurred Lines," Pharrell Williams, acknowledged a similarity between the song and Gaye's 1977 song "Got to Give It Up" but denied that there had been any intention to copy it. (

* Barack Obama's ambitious trade agenda - once seen as the best chance for bipartisan accomplishment in an otherwise rived Congress - appears to rest on the narrow, somewhat wobbly shoulders of Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a position acknowledged by both parties and the White House with some trepidation. (

* Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in his annual speech to the nation, warned Thursday that China would have to overcome economic inefficiencies, excess capacity and impediments to private enterprise if it were to maintain healthy rates of growth. (




** Toronto's housing market broke through an important financial threshold in February as the average price of detached homes topped C$1 million ($805,607) for the first time. (

** A majority of Canadians says Canada's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases have been dismal and they want the federal government to take the lead in creating tax policies for curbing emissions, a new poll suggests. (

** The University of British Columbia is defending two of its researchers who have published vaccine-related studies discredited by the World Health Organization and described by several medical experts as weak and misleading. (


** Toronto buyers are turning to sub-prime lenders to reach the 20 percent downpayment needed for a bank loan, facing interest rates of close to 13 percent. (

** Almost five years after a derelict cargo ship with 492 Sri Lankan migrants arrived off the British Columbia coast, prompting a change in Canada's immigration laws, the government has failed to find a buyer for the vessel. (

** Veterans with case managers, the 4,000 or so most badly injured ex-soldiers, will have their forms filled in for them when it's time to renew access to benefits like the Veterans Independence Program, which provides home cleaning, grass-cutting and other services. (




- Wang Xian, vice director of the Market Supervision Department of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said occupational pensions should be allowed to invest in mutual funds in a proposal submitted during the annual full session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

- Hou Wailin, head of the CSRC's Guangdong branch said restrictions on brokerage firms issuing short-term bonds should be loosened in a proposal submitted during the annual full session of the NPC.

- Whether China will cut its interest rates or the reserve requiremet ratio (RRR) depends on the country's economic situation, said Yi Gang, a vice governor of China's central bank on Wednesday.


- Perpetrators of fatal domestic violence should be charged with murder, while those who kill their violent long term abusers should be dealt with leniently, according to guidelines released on Wednesday by China's leading judicial authorities.


The Times


Senior Labour figures fear George Osborne is preparing a raid on pension savings to fund a pre-election tax cut for workers. (


The Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation into the Bank of England over the potential rigging of money market auctions. (

The Guardian


A poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft indicates the SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, could win 56 of Scotland's 59 parliamentary seats, according to the veteran polling analyst Mike Smithson. (


The Bank of England's top regulator has told MPs that bosses at HSBC should take personal responsibility for the scandal at its Swiss private bank, saying he had made it clear to the bank for years that it was too unwieldy to manage. (

The Telegraph


David Cameron has issued an ultimatum to the broadcasters over TV debates, saying he will only take part in one such debate featuring at least seven party leaders more than a month before the election. (


Energy network companies face investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority after British Gas complained that the prices they charge are too high. (

Sky News


Heathrow Airport has become embroiled in a commercial row over the withdrawal of one of the UK's biggest providers of foreign exchange services. (


ScottishPower has received a 12-day sales ban for failing to meet targets on handling customer complaints. (

The Independent


The government has struck a deal to sell its Eurostar stake to a consortium of investors, including the stewards of Canadian pension savings. The Treasury said the sale of its 40 percent stake in the Channel Tunnel train operator will generate 585.1 million stg in revenues. (



Fly On The Wall Pre-market Buzz


Major domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Jobless claims for week of February 28 at 8:30--consensus 295K
Q4 unit labor costs at 8:30--consensus up 3.1%
Q4 nonfarm productivity at 8:30--consensus down 2.3%
Factory orders for January at 10:00--consensus up 0.2%
EIA natural gas storage change for week of Feb. 27 at 10:30



American Eagle (AEO) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley
Exelon (EXC) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Green Dot (GDOT) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Installed Building Products (IBP) upgraded to Outperform at RBC Capital
Methanex (MEOH) upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James
National Grid (NGG) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
Northstar Realty (NRF) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Plantronics (PLT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Sturm, Ruger (RGR) upgraded to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital


Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
Century Aluminum (CENX) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Exxon Mobil (XOM) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Evercore ISI
Flowserve (FLS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
Hologic (HOLX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham
InterXion (INXN) downgraded downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
McDonald's (MCD) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Melco Crown (MPEL) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC
Restaurant Brands (QSR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
STMicroelectronics (STM) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at HSBC
Scorpio Bulkers (SALT) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Tenet (THC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital


21st Century Fox (FOXA) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Celladon (CLDN) initiated with a Buy at Roth Capital
Disney (DIS) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Dominion Midstream (DM) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
Exterran (EXH) initiated with a Buy at BTIG
KAR Auction (KAR) initiated with a Buy at SunTrust
Liberty Media (LMCA) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Sirius XM (SIRI) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Time Warner (TWX) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Viacom (VIAB) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank


AbbVie (ABBV) to acquire Pharmacyclics (PCYC) for $261.25 per share, or $21B
Costco (COST) reported February SSS up 1%
CBS News, a division of CBS (CBS), released details and documents of the test results relating to the 60 Minutes investigation on Lumber Liquidators (LL) on its website
Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) announced results of the Phase II proof of concept clinical study investigating the safety and efficacy of tradipitant as a monotherapy in the treatment of chronic pruritus in patients with atopic dermatitis. Despite a highly significant and clinically meaningful improvement from baseline by tradipitant as measured on a 100mm unit Visual Analog Scale for itch, a very high placebo effect on the change from baseline led to no statistical difference from placebo
FCC recommended against NeuStar (NSR) for phone contract


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:

Ares Commercial (ACRE), Dynavax (DVAX), Amerseco (AMRC), Costco (COST), PetroQuest (PQ), China Biologic (CBPO), Garrison Capital (GARS), SP Plus Corp. (SP), Darling (DAR), Abraxas Petroleum (AXAS), Semtech (SMTC), Heritage Insurance (HRTG), Alon USA Partners (ALDW), Jones Energy (JONE), GSI Group (GSIG), Vivint Solar (VSLR), Jones Energy (JONE), Sequenom (SQNM), Pacific Ethanol (PEIX), Culp (CFI), Corcept Therapeutics (CORT), H&R Block (HRB), Box Ships (TEU), PowerSecure (POWR), Roundy's (RNDY)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Canadian Solar (CSIQ), Gray Television (GTN), Achillion (ACHN), City Office REIT (CIO), City Office REIT (CIO), Joy Global (JOY), Canadian Natural (CNQ), Embraer (ERJ), Triumph Bancorp (TBK), W&T Offshore (WTI), Lumos Networks (LMOS), Alimera Sciences (ALIM), Callon Petroleum (CPE), Cross Country Healthcare (CCRN), Points International (PCOM), Trinseo (TSE), BIOLASE (BIOL), Alder Biopharmaceuticals (ALDR), Craft Brew (BREW)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Descartes Systems (DSGX), Polypore (PPO), Hudson Technologies (HDSN), CPI Aerostructures (CVU)


Apple (AAPL) delays larger iPad on panel challenges, Bloomberg reports
HBO (TWX) in talks to have Apple TV (AAPL) on board for HBO Now launch, IBT reports
Apple (AAPL) to use Oxide display for 12.9-inch iPad, DigiTimes reports
J&J (JNJ) says 'looking forward' to continuing collaboration with AbbVie (ABBV), Reuters reports (PCYC)
Shareholder suit against Intercept (ICPT) allowed to proceed, Reuters reports
Simon Property (SPG) may look to acquire peer Macerich (MAC), WSJ reports
Pentagon delays bomber contract until summer, WSJ reports (NOC, BA, LMT)


Alliant Energy (LNT) announces $150M 'at-the-market' equity offering
Apollo Commercial (ARI) files to sell 10M shares of common stock
Callidus Software (CALD) 4.6M share Secondary priced at $13.00
CommScope (COMM) files to sell common stock for holders, no amount given
Consolidated Tomoka (CTO) files to sell $75M of convertible notes due 2020
Eagle Bancorp (EGBN) 2.449M share Secondary priced at $35.50
Encana (ECA) announces C$1.25B bought deal offering
Etsy (ETSY) files for IPO, seeks to be listed on Nasdaq
Harley-Davidson (HOG) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Horizon Pharma (HZNP) files to sell $300M in exchangeable senior notes
IBERIABANK (IBKC) files automatic mixed securities shelf
InterDigital (IDCC) files to sell $275M in senior convertible notes
Newcastle Investment (NCT) files automatic mixed securities shelf
Revance (RVNC) files $300M mixed securities shelf
Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM) files to sell 15.85M shares for holders
Summit Therapeutics (smmt) 3.45M share IPO priced at $9.90