InPlay from Briefing.com

Briefing.com

5:01 pm BIND Therapeutics amends credit facility to accelerate Accurin pipeline growth (BIND) : Co announced that it has entered into an amendment of its existing credit facility from Hercules Technology III, L.P., an affiliate of Hercules Technology Growth Capital (HTCG). Under the amendment, the company borrowed an additional $15 million in growth capital, less the repayment of the outstanding balance on BIND's existing term loan facility of approximately $3 million. In connection with the amendment, BIND issued Hercules warrants to purchase shares of BIND common stock totaling three percent of the additional amount raised.

  • "The capital provided by this financing strengthens our financial resources and provides the flexibility to advance clinical and preclinical programs for our Accurin technology, including BIND-014, BIND-510, and our PLK1 and KSP inhibitor programs," said Andrew Hirsch, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at BIND Therapeutics. "With this additional funding, we believe that we now have cash, cash equivalents and short term investments as well as research and development funding that will fund our operations at least through the end of 2015."

4:59 pm This week's biggest % gainers/losers (:SCANX) : The following are this week's top 20 percentage gainers and top 20 percentage losers, categorized by sectors (over $300 mln market cap and 100K average daily volume).

This week's top 20 % gainers

  • Healthcare:ARRY (7.11 +58.35%),NVRO (44.61 +20.96%),CCXI (8.49 +15.51%),MDCO (28.4 +13.24%)
  • Industrials:NSP (44.27 +22.5%),LUV (45.78 +15.96%)
  • Consumer Discretionary:NFLX (437.46 +29.68%),SWHC (12.37 +23.45%),SQBG (11.59 +16.6%),PETS (16.06 +13.34%)
  • Information Technology:INFN (16.99 +25.81%),MTSI (34.79 +20.05%),CREE (36.81 +19.13%),PAYC (27.04 +15.11%),HIMX (7.98 +14%)
  • Financials:CYN (88.99 +18.45%)
  • Energy:HK (1.48 +23.33%)
  • Telecommunication Services:OIBR (2.8 +55.56%),OIBR.C (2.93 +54.21%),PT (1.05 +32.91%)
This week's top 20 % losers
  • Healthcare:XON (27.34 -19.85%),KITE (67.37 -18.5%),JUNO (41.3 -17.63%),AAVL (39.92 -17.47%),EYES (8.62 -17.35%),BLCM (24.12 -17.2%),ARNA (4.55 -15.82%)
  • Materials:AGI (6.04 -26.16%),EGO (5.67 -23.27%),BAK (9.47 -18.57%),CLF (7.49 -15.84%)
  • Industrials:ACTG (13.61 -15.52%)
  • Consumer Discretionary:LE (38.76 -24.41%),OUTR (63.88 -17.86%),CTCM (3.94 -17.05%)
  • Information Technology:IGTE (34.65 -18.2%)
  • Financials:ASPS (21.29 -23.03%),OCN (6.35 -22.75%)
  • Energy:GTE (2.26 -37.22%),MHR (1.93 -16.81%)

4:34 pm QEP Midstream Partners increases quarterly dividend 3.3% to $0.31 from $0.30 per share (QEPM) :  

4:32 pm Remy International hires Albert VanDenBergh as Chief Financial Officer (REMY) : Co announced that Albert VanDenBergh will join Remy as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer effective February 20, 2015. Al brings over 20 years of financial and business management experience to the position, including his most recent international responsibility as Finance Director, Delphi Connection Systems with Delphi Automotive PLC.

4:18 pm American Caresource Holdings announces appointment of Anthony Levinson as Chief Financial Officer (ANCI) : Co announced the hiring of a new Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Levinson. Mr. Levinson replaces Adam S. Winger, who has served as Interim Chief Financial Officer since December 31, 2014.

4:16 pm FutureFuel announces resignation of President Lee E. Mikles (FF) : Co announced that Lee E. Mikles has submitted his resignation, effective January 31, 2015, as President of the Company. Mr. Mikles's decision to resign is solely for personal reasons and time considerations and did not involve any disagreement with the Company, the Company's management or the Board of Directors. Mr. Mikles will remain a member of the Company's board of directors, but will not be active in the Company's management.

4:10 pm Closing Market Summary: Stocks Slip, But Maintain Weekly Gains (:WRAPX) : The stock market capped a solid week with a shaky Friday session. The S&P 500 lost 0.6%, but still gained 1.6% for the week while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.2%) was able to register its fifth consecutive advance.

Equity indices began the day amid selling activity that started in the futures market after UPS (UPS 102.93, -11.32) issued disappointing guidance due to weakness in the U.S. domestic segment. The logistics company plunged below its 100-day moving average to end lower by 9.9%. The big loss weighed on the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which lost 1.8% and pressured the industrial sector (-0.8%).

The S&P 500 followed the opening slip with an eight-point rally off its morning low after European Central Bank member Benoit Coeure said the bank will need to do more if the quantitative easing program that was announced yesterday does not produce the desired outcome.

Despite the morning charge off session lows, the index never made it into the green and slid to a new low during the final hour of the trading day. The industrial sector kept the pressure on the market throughout the day while other influential groups like financials (-1.0%) and consumer staples (-1.1%) kept the S&P 500 from moving into the green.

The financial sector struggled despite better than expected reports from a slew of regional banks. The economically-sensitive group widened its January decline to 3.5% in response to a combination of slow global growth and sinking yields around the world.

Elsewhere, the consumer staples sector hovered near the bottom of the leaderboard after Kimberly-Clark (KMB 111.65, -7.33) reported below-consensus results and issued cautious guidance, which failed to justify the company's rich valuation.

Also of note, the energy space (-0.9%) spent the bulk of the day in-line with the market, but finished among the laggards as crude oil remained weak. The energy component showed overnight volatility after it was reported Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has died.

WTI crude was able to make an intraday appearance in the green, but ended lower by 1.8% at $45.56/bbl. Once again, dollar strength was a headwind with the Dollar Index (94.92, +0.86) spiking 0.9%.

On the upside, utilities (+0.3%) and technology (+0.2%) were the only two advancers. The utilities sector solidified its spot atop the January leaderboard (+4.2%) while technology received support from large cap names. Chipmakers were not as fortunate with the PHLX Semiconductor Index ending lower by 0.3%. The high-beta group finished ahead of the S&P 500, but behind the tech sector after KLA-Tencor (KLAC 65.42, -5.53) issued disappointing guidance that overshadowed better than expected results.

Outside of technology, the consumer discretionary sector (-0.2%) was the only other group able to finish near its flat line. Starbucks (SBUX 88.12, +5.38) soared 6.5% even though its in-line report featured below-consensus guidance for the second quarter while McDonald's (MCD 89.56, -1.33) lost 1.5% after missing estimates and priming the market for negative comparable store sales in January.

Treasuries ended near their highs with the 10-yr yield sliding six basis points to 1.80%. Meanwhile, the long bond spiked to pressure its yield to the lowest close on record (2.39%).

Participation was a bit below average with roughly 765 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data was limited to Existing Home Sales and Leading Indicators:

  • Existing home sales increased 2.4% in December to 5.04 million SAAR from a downwardly revised 4.92 million SAAR (from 4.93 million SAAR) in November while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase to 5.10 million SAAR. 
    • Improvements in the labor market, gains in stock prices, and a general decline in mortgage rates were not enough to boost housing demand in 2014. For the year, 4.93 million homes were sold, which was down 3.1% from the 5.09 million homes sold in 2013 
  • The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index increased 0.5% in December (consensus 0.5%) after increasing a downwardly revised 0.4% (from 0.6%) in November 
There is no economic data on Monday's schedule, but investors will be responding to the results of the Greek election and its implications for financial markets.
  • Nasdaq Composite +0.5% YTD 
  • S&P 500 -0.3% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -0.8% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 -1.1% YTD 
Week in Review: Action Driven By Central Banks

Bond and equity markets were closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day

The stock market kicked off the holiday-shortened week with a shaky Tuesday session. The S&P 500 settled higher by 0.2% after finding intraday support near its 100-day moving average (2007/2008). The tech-heavy Nasdaq outperformed, climbing 0.4%. Equity indices started the day with modest gains, but continued weakness in crude oil weighed on the overall risk tolerance and contributed to an early retreat. However, a handful of influential sectors were able to withstand the selling pressure, which in turn became a supportive factor during afternoon action. As for crude, the energy component retreated after The International Monetary Fund cut its 2015 global growth outlook to 3.0% from 3.5%, and continued sliding throughout the session. WTI crude ended lower by 4.1% at $46.51/bbl while the energy sector (+0.1%) settled near its flat line. Baker Hughes (BHI) beat estimates, but announced plans to reduce its workforce by 7,000 employees.

Equities enjoyed their third consecutive advance on Wednesday with the S&P 500 climbing 0.5%. The Wednesday session was filled with central bank-related storylines. The Bank of Japan got the ball rolling overnight by lowering its inflation outlook to 1.0% from 1.7%, which boosted the yen (117.80). The Bank of England was next on tap with the minutes from its latest policy meeting. The minutes were a bit surprising as Messrs. McCafferty and Weale, who previously voted in favor of rate hikes, rejoined the majority in their belief that hiking rates too early would prolong the period of low inflation. Global equities jumped off their lows in reaction to reports indicating the European Central Bank is set to propose EUR50 billion in asset purchases through 2016. The euro wobbled on the news before ending the day near 1.1590 against the dollar. In a surprising move, Germany's 10-yr note tumbled, sending the benchmark yield higher by seven basis points to 0.47%. The Bank of Canada completed the central bank bonanza with a surprise 25-basis point cut to 0.75% in response to crashing oil prices, which are expected to put downward pressure on Canadian inflation. The loonie retreated to its lowest level since early 2009, sending USDCAD to 1.2330 from 1.2070.

The major averages registered their fourth consecutive advance on Thursday with the S&P 500 (+1.5%) reclaiming its 50-day moving average (2046/2047). The benchmark index erased its January loss while the Russell 2000 (+2.0%) displayed relative strength throughout the day. This week featured action from several major central banks and that extravaganza was topped off on Thursday when the European Central Bank announced the highly-anticipated launch of a quantitative easing program in the amount of EUR60 billion per month. In short, the program is aimed at stopping deflation that is due, in part, to low oil prices. However, the thought process behind the action is a bit questionable considering QE is expected to weigh on the euro, which will boost the dollar, thus putting pressure on dollar-denominated commodities like crude oil, which is at the root of eurozone's deflationary tilt.

4:07 pm Sanchez Energy commences exchange offer for senior notes due 2023 (SN) : Co announced that it has commenced an exchange offer of up to $1,150,000,000 million aggregate principal amount of its 6.125% Senior Notes due 2023 that have been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, for an equal amount of its outstanding 6.125% Senior Notes due 2023 that have not been registered under the Act.

4:05 pm Woodward announces its Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $0.10 per share, an increase of 25% from $0.08 per share (WWD) :  

3:43 pm Dominion Midstream declared a fourth-quarter 2014 cash distribution of $0.1389 per unit (DM) : This is the co's first declared distribution -- prorated for the partial quarter following the closing of the partnership's initial public offering on Oct. 20, 2014. It corresponds to the minimum quarterly distribution of $0.175 per unit, or $0.70 per unit annually.

3:40 pm Gap to close smallest brand, Piperlime (GPS) : Co announced the decision to close its Piperlime brand, including the online platform and single store in New York, by the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. While Gap Inc. does not break out Piperlime's sales independently, the brand is by far the smallest of the company's portfolio with yearly revenue below $100 million, representing less than 1 percent of Gap Inc.'s total revenue base of over $16 billion. The wind-down costs associated with the decision are not material to the company's financials.

3:32 pm Earnings Preview for the week of January 26 - 30 (:SUMRX) : Of the companies reporting earnings for the week of January 26 - 30 some of the bigger names include:

  • Monday:
    • Pre Market - STX, NSC, GWW, DHI, NVR, CFG, ROP, OSIS
    • After Hours - MSFT, TXN, SANM, PKG, ASH, CR, ZION, PCL, BRO, GGG, PLT, JJSF, RMBS
  • Tuesday:
    • Pre Market - ERIC, PG, UTX, NVS, CAT, PFE, LMT, AAL, DD, MM, PHG, DHR, NUE, FCX, NEE, BMY, ITW, PH, GLW, DOV, AKS, BTU, OSK, PII, COH, LXK, AMG, AOS, TDG, WAT, PLD, AVX, CIT, ABMD
    • After Hours - AAPL, T, AMGN, X, WDC, ACE, CNI, SYK, VMW, EA, YHOO, FSL, JNPR, DOX, POL, TSS, BXP, ILMN, CYT, OTEX
  • Wednesday:. 
    • Pre Market - ABC, FCAU, BA, SPIL, ANTM, GD, EMC, IP, AEP, PGR, TXT, TEL, PX, GIB, BIIB, HES, STM, ROK, STJ, MWV, BAH, MKC, ENR, AME, TROW, MTOR, ADT, EAT, TUP, RES, AHGP, ARLP, CRS
    • After Hours - QCOM, FLEX, FB, LVS, JEC, AMP, STLD, RKT, TSCO, ATK, LRCX, MUR, SWFT, TGI, CBT, CACI, MEOH, VAR, WSTC, GGP, HOLX, ALB, KEX, IEX, PRXL, IGT, TTEK, AVB
  • Thursday:
    • Pre Market - RDS.A, PSX, F, VLO, CAH, DOW, EPD, COP, RTN, NOC, TWC, ABT, BABA, TMO, OXY, BAX, CL, NOK, VIAB, RCI, LLL, SWK, XEL, CAM, APD, SHW, ALV, CELG, HSY, WCC, BX, RCL, DGX, PHM, POT, CMS, HAR, KELYA, JBLU, IVZ, ZMH, ALLY, MJN, BEAV, HOG, BMS, HP, BC, HUB.B, LSTR, RYL, TKR, MTH, KMT, AIT, HGG, MD
    • After Hours - AMZN, GOOG, V, CB, PFG, EMN, BRCM, HBI, RHI, WYNN, MTW, UIS, LEG, BCR, DECK, SCSC, SFG, PCCC, PKI, NFG, HA, NEU, WERN, N, 
  • Friday:
    • Pre Market - HMC, CVX, NVO, TSN, ABBV, LLY, MAN, XRX, MO, LEA, IR, TYC, MA, MAT, BEN, WY, AVY, NWL, INGR, SPG, BERY, CNX, NS, LM, MOG.A, IDXX
    • After Hours - TLMR

3:01 pm Dow -94 slides under morning low -- S&P -7.8, Nasdaq Comp +6 (:TECHX) : The weakest Dow components have been led by: XOM, VZ, PG, DD, UNH, JNJ, CVX, MCD, T, CSCO, TRV, CAT.

2:49 pm New afternoon lows for Dow -81 and S&P -6.4 -- Nasdaq Comp +8.8 (:TECHX) :  

2:44 pm Energy price action; oil closed near LoD, natural gas closes near HoD (:COMDX) :

  • Mar crude oil fell $0.82/barrel to $45.56/barrel
  • Feb Natural gas rose $0.14 cents (or +5%) to $2.98/MMBtu
  • RBOB Gasoline closed $0.04 cents higher to $1.37/gallon
  • Heating oil $0.02 higher at $1.62/gallon

2:43 pm Norfolk Southern raises its quarterly dividend 4% to $0.59, up from $0.57 (NSC) :  

2:42 pm Agricultural price action; sugar falls 5% in today's session (:COMDX) :

  • Mar corn closed $0.03 higher at $3.87/bushel
  • Mar wheat closed $0.05 lower at $5.29/bushel
  • Feb soybeans ended $0.05 lower at $9.73/bushel
  • Ethanol closed $0.04 higher at $1.43/gallon
  • Sugar #11 fell 0.74 cents (or -5%) to 15.17 cents/gallon

2:21 pm Dollar Fights for 95.00: 10Y: +14/32..1.820%..USD/JPY: 117.80..EUR/USD: 1.1233 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index flirts with its first close above 95.00 since September 2003. Click here to see a daily Dollar Index chart.
  • EURUSD is -145 pips @ 1.1220 as sellers remain in control following yesterday's announcement quantitative easing will begin in Europe. The single currency pressed to an 11-year low off 1.1115 early in U.S. trade before paring its losses. Greece's parliamentary elections are set for Sunday, providing some headline risk into the weekend as the anti-euro Syriza party is expected to mage large gains. Data scheduled for Monday is limited to German Ifo Business Climate. 
  • GBPUSD is flat @ 1.5010 as action contends with its lowest close since July 2013. Sterling pressed below the psychologically important 1.5000 level despite the strong retail sales data, but has managed to reclaim the mark as selling exhausted. Britain's BBA Mortgage Approvals will be released on Monday. 
  • USDCHF is +75 pips @ .8780 as trade fights for its best close since the Swiss National Bank surprise removal of its EURCHF1.20 floor. The past week has seen action bookended by .8400/.8800. 
  • USDJPY is -75 pips @ 117.75 as trade holds near its worst levels of the day. The pair has tested resistance helped by the 50 dma (118.75) in each of the past four sessions, but remains unable to breakout. The 117.00 area is being watched closely as a break puts key support at 116.00 in focus. The trade balance and latest Bank of Japan minutes are set for release Sunday evening.
  • AUDUSD is -105 pips @ .7920 as trade flushes to its worst level in five and a half years. The hard currency has come under pressure in recent days as fears have begun to surface the Reserve Bank of Australia will follow the Bank of Canada in cutting rates. Australian banks are closed Monday in observance of Australia Day
  • USDCAD is +45 pips @ 1.2425, and at a six-year high. Today's bid comes as Canada's core retail sales (+0.7% MoM actual v. +0.5% MoM expected) outpaced estimates and Core CPI (-0.3% MoM) was in-line. The 1.3000 area is setting up as a key level.

1:57 pm Metals price action; copper falls 3.1% (:COMDX) :

  • Feb gold ended today's session $9.10 lower at $1292.40/oz
  • Mar silver ended $0.06 lower at $18.30/oz
  • Mar copper closed $0.08 lower to $2.50/lb

1:41 pm Valero Energy increases quarterly dividend 45 percent; to $0.40 from $0.275 per share (VLO) :  

1:17 pm Platform Specialty Products announces pricing of its Senior Notes offering (PAH) : Co entered into an agreement to sell $1 bln aggregate principal amount of 6.5% senior notes due 2022 and 350 mln aggregate principal amount of 6% senior notes due 2023 in connection with their previously announced private offering. Platform intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to finance a portion of the acquisition consideration and related fees and expenses of its Arysta Acquisition.

1:13 pm Mobile TeleSystems announced that its majority-owned subsidiary, Moscow City Telephone Network divested its 49.95% stake in Intellect Telecom OJSC to Sistema for a price of RUB344 mln (MBT) : MGTS also acquired from Sistema a 89.53% stake in NIS PJSC, the leading systems integrator for GLONASS satellite projects, for a price of RUB44 mln.

  • The co notes the acquisition of NIS allows MTS Group to further develop its proprietary technological platform for machine-to-machine solutions and strengthen its leadership in the quickly emerging Russian M2M market. MTS will leverage the expertise and capabilities of NIS to enhance its presence in the areas of telematics solutions for transport, insurance and security systems.

12:56 pm Midday Market Summary: Mixed at Midday (:WRAPX) : The major averages are mixed at midday with the Nasdaq (+0.3%) and Russell 2000 (+0.1%) defending slim gains while the Dow (-0.2%) and S&P 500 (-0.1%) have spent the first half of the day in negative territory.

After climbing in each of the past four sessions, equity indices started the Friday affair under modest pressure. The market dropped to a fresh low 90 minutes into the trading day, but charged off that level after European Central Bank member Benoit Coeure said the central bank will need to do more if the quantitative easing program that was announced yesterday does not produce the desired outcome. This served as yet another reminder that central banks remain in position to influence the direction of the market.

The S&P 500 spiked about eight points off its low immediately after Mr. Coeure's remarks, but the benchmark index remains in negative territory with influential sectors like financials (-0.4%), industrials (-0.2%), and consumer staples (-0.7%) exerting pressure on the market.

The financial sector has widened its January loss to 3.2%, which puts the growth-sensitive group well behind its peers. The second weakest performer-energy-trades higher by 0.2% today, but is down 2.1% for the month. Meanwhile, crude oil gyrated overnight after it was reported Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has died. Currently, the energy component is lower by 1.1% at $45.79/bbl.

Elsewhere, the industrial sector has faced notable weakness among transport stocks. The Dow Jones Transportation Average is lower by 1.4% after UPS (UPS 103.60, -10.65) issued disappointing guidance due to weakness in the U.S. domestic segment. The stock has surrendered 9.4% and currently trades between its 100- and 200-day moving averages while peer FedEx (FDX 177.64, -3.76) is lower by 2.1%.

Over on the countercyclical side, the consumer staples sector (-0.6%) has suffered after Kimberly-Clark (KMB 111.94, -7.04) reported below-consensus results and issued cautious guidance. Shares of KMB have tumbled 5.9%.

Treasuries hold solid gains with the 10-yr yield down five basis points at 1.82%--essentially unchanged for the week.

Economic data was limited to Existing Home Sales and Leading Indicators:

  • Existing home sales increased 2.4% in December to 5.04 million SAAR from a downwardly revised 4.92 million SAAR (from 4.93 million SAAR) in November while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase to 5.10 million SAAR. 
    • Improvements in the labor market, gains in stock prices, and a general decline in mortgage rates were not enough to boost housing demand in 2014. For the year, 4.93 million homes were sold, which was down 3.1% from the 5.09 million homes sold in 2013 
  • The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index increased 0.5% in December (consensus 0.5%) after increasing a downwardly revised 0.4% (from 0.6%) in November

12:42 pm Notable movers of interest (:SCANX) : The following are some of today's most notable movers of interest, categorized by market capitalization (large cap over $10 billion and mid cap between $2-10 billion) and ranked by % change (all stocks over 100K average daily volume). 

Large Cap Gainers

  • SBUX (88.3 +6.72%): Reported EPS in-line, revs in-line; guided Q2 EPS below consensus; guided FY15 EPS in-line, revs reaffirms; Price target raised at Oppenheimer, RBC Capital, Telsey Advisory, others.
  • HON (103.18 +3.81%): Beat Q4 consensus estimates by $0.01, reported revs in-line with lowered expectations; reaffirmed FY15 guidance.
  • SYF (30.35 +4.48%): Reported Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.64 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.60; Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements rose 4.3% year/year to $2.28 bln vs the $2.34 bln consensus.
Large Cap Losers
  • UPS (103.82 -9.13%): Guided Q4 EPS below consensus on higher peak volume expenses, guided FY15 EPS below consensus; Price target lowered at Cowen.
  • KLAC (66.1 -6.84%): Beat Q2 consensus estimate by $0.16, beat on revs; guided for 3Q15 revenue of $685-762 mln vs. $790.97 mln CapIQ Consensus, EPS of $0.63-$0.87 vs. $0.97 CapIQ Consensus ; Price target lowered at RBC Capital, Cowen, others.
  • KMB (111.9 -5.95%): Missed Q4 consensus estimates by $0.02, missed on revs; guided FY15 below consensus.
Mid Cap Gainers
  • Z (109.92 +12.29%): Jumping on rumors the merger with Trulia (TRLA) will complete in the first half of 2015 despite previous delays.
  • PBYI (212.51 +9.25%): Initiated with a Outperform at RBC Capital Mkts; tgt $282.
  • ETFC (24.71 +9.09%): Beat Q4 consensus estimates by $0.01, beat on revs; received regulatory approvals to operate E*TRADE Bank at 9.0% Tier 1 leverage ratio and move broker-dealers out from under E*TRADE Bank; Upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.
Mid Cap Losers
  • AVP (7.68 -11.32%): Downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo.
  • X (21.07 -7.22%): Downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman.
  • CE (54.51 -6.77%): Beat Q4 consensus estimates by $0.09, missed on revs; guided FY15 EPS below consensus.

12:14 pm New session high Nasdaq Comp +15, Dow -31 and S&P -1.9 area hovering near their morning bounce highs (:TECHX) :  

11:52 am European Markets Closing Prices (:SUMRX) : European markets are now closed; stock markets across Europe performed as follows:

  • UK's FTSE:+0.5%
  • Germany's DAX:+2.1%
  • France's CAC:+1.9%
  • Spain's IBEX:+0.7%
  • Portugal's PSI:+0.5%
  • Italy's MIB Index:+0.2%
  • Irish Ovrl Index:+1.9%
  • Greece ASE General Index: +6.1%

11:33 am Small-cap Russell 2000 and Nasdaq Comp +11.4 set minor new session highs, Dow -46 and S&P -3.7 remain in the red (:TECHX) :  

11:23 am Currency Commentary: DXY Rips to 11-year Highs (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index has hit its best level in 11 years on the heels of the ECB QE announcement. The dollar rallied to 95.60 in early trade marking an incredible 16% rally since the Summer of 2014. The DXY has pulled back to the 94.70 area on what is likely some profit taking following the massive rally. Economic data was generally in line with expectations with a slight miss in Existing Home Sales and inline Leading Indicator expectations. The FOMC is set to meet next Wednesday but it is expected to be a relative non-event. 
  • The euro tumbled to an 11-year low, hitting 1.1114 before finally seeing some support. The market is debating the ECB announcement but the scope and scale of the plan has impressed on paper. Adding to that were comments earlier from ECB board member Benoit Coeure that suggested the bank was prepared to expand on its massive program if necessary. Now the implementation of the plan will be closely monitored. Focus will now turn to the Greek elections on Sunday with the Syriza party expected to win the largest portion of the Greek Parliament. It will then need to find partners to form a ruling coalition party. The fear is that, if Syriza wins, that the party will lead the country to a potential default on current borrowing programs. 
  • The pound fell below the 1.50 support level in early trade, hitting an 18-month low (1.4953). Cable has bounced back above the 1.50 level on the heels of better than expected retail sales numbers. 
  • The yen fell to 118.81 in overnight trade but has recovered most of its losses as it moves back into the 117 area. The strength in the yen is interesting as risk assets are being bid for the most part. A preliminary look at the country's Manufacturing PMI number came in slightly better than the December figure (BONDX, FOREX).

10:55 am S&P -5 and Nasdaq Comp +1 probe first level supports and stabilize (:TECHX) : Noted support at 2053/2051 S&P (session low 2052) and 4738/4730 Nasdaq Comp (session low 4737) in The Technical Take with these levels probed this morning. Some recovery has developed in recent action

10:54 am KAR Auction Services appoints CEO Jim Hallett as Chairman of the Board (KAR) :  

10:53 am iStar Financial receives favorable judgement in court case against Lennar (LEN) (STAR) : The litigation involved a dispute over the purchase and sale of approximately 1,250 acres of land in Maryland. The Court found that iStar was entitled to specific performance and awarded damages from Lennar (LEN) in the aggregate amount of:

  • The remaining purchase price to be paid by Lennar of $114.0 million; plus interest on the unpaid amount at a rate of 12% per annum, from May 27, 2008, until Lennar proceeds to settlement on the land; 
  • And real estate taxes paid by iStar in the amount of approximately $1.6 million; plus actual and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred by iStar in connection with the litigation. 
  • The Court ordered Lennar to proceed to settlement on the land and to pay the total amounts awarded to iStar within 30 days of the judgment. 

10:45 am New session lows for Dow -75 and S&P -8.7 -- Nasdaq Comp -9.5 is nearing its low (:TECHX) :  

10:24 am FedEx follow-up: Co reaffirms FY15 EPS of $8.50-9.00 vs $8.98 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; stock is halted (FDX) : FDX traded lower this morning following downside guidance from peer UPS.

10:17 am Home Loan Servicing follow-up: HLSS is now -16% following BlueMountain notice to OCN (-9%) and HLSS (-16%) (HLSS) :

  • As mentioned at 9:52, BlueMountain Capital Management, which is short OCN & HLSS, delivered notice of default on certain notes to trustee of the HLSS servicer advance receivables trust. 
  • BueMountain disclosed that it holds a short position in, and put options with respect to, the common stock of Ocwen Financial Corporation (OCN) and holds a short position in, and put options with respect to, the common stock of Home Loan Servicing Solutions (HLSS).

10:07 am Mar crude oil futures climbing higher, just moved into positive territory; Mar crude is now +0.1% at $46.37/barrel (:COMDX) :  

10:04 am GoPro announces a North American partnership with the NHL and NHLPA; agreement is GoPro's first with a major professional sports league (GPRO) : The co notes HD video content captured with GoPro cameras will be used in NHL game broadcasts and on NHLPA, NHL and GoPro online channels. 

10:02 am Dow -36 and S&P -3.7 edge mildly off lows, outperforming Nasdaq Comp +11 sets new session high (:TECHX) :  

10:01 am iHeartMedia announces that it has surpassed 60 mln registered users and also reached nearly 90 mln unique visitors across its iHeartRadio Network (IHRT) :  

9:50 am Nasdaq Comp +1 notches minor new session high but stalls -- Dow -57, S&P -6 (:TECHX) : Relative sector strength this morning has been noted in: Networking IGN (BBRY, JDSU, BRCD, MSI, HRS), Internet FDN, Restaurant, Social Media SOCL, Utility XLU, Software IGV (INTU, SYMC, CA, CTXS, ORCL).

9:47 am Mid-Con Energy Partners reduces quarterly distribution to $0.125 from $0.515, announces 2015 guidance and capital budget (MCEP) : "Due to a significant decline in the crude oil market, the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to reduce the distribution."

  • The Partnership has secured ~74% of its 2015 forecasted oil production at an average price of $76 per barrel, with coverage extending to the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • Based on internal reserve analysis, as well as informal discussions with participants of the Partnership's reserve based lending facility, the updated hedge portfolio provides greater security for Mid-Con Energy's $250 million revolving credit facility and increased visibility on compliance with the Partnership's credit facility covenants.
  • Due to lower expected oil prices and higher capital costs in 2015, the Partnership has limited capital spending to include only the most attractive development projects within the portfolio and at levels approximating the surplus from operating cash flow. 
  • The co company guides for estimated 2015 CapEx of $13 mln, down 57% y/y from $30 mln in 2014
  • Expects 2015 net production of 3,950-4,350 boe/d
  • As of December 31, 2014, the Partnership's total liquidity of $38.2 million included $3.2 million in cash and cash equivalents and $35.0 million of available borrowings under the revolving credit facility, which has a borrowing base of $240.0 million.

9:46 am ZTE confirms Dusseldorf Court rejects Vringo's (VRNG) patent claims against ZTE (ZTCOF) : The Dusseldorf District Court rejected Vringo's claims on infringement over two patents, that allegedly related to hotspot functionality in mobile devices and the use of Google Maps respectively.

  • Vringo Germany has the right to appeal the decisions of the District Court of Dusseldorf. Parallel cases at the German Federal Patent Court on the validity of Patents 'EP 136' and 'EP 941' are still pending.

9:42 am Relative sector weakness (:TECHX) : Sectors display early relative weakness include: Mining XME, Copper JJC, Steel SLX, Crude Oil USO, Gold Miners GDX, Transports IYT, Coal KOL, Rail, Casino, Oil Service OIH, Materials XLB.

9:40 am Opening Market Summary: Stocks Slip Out of the Gate (:WRAPX) : The major averages have begun the Friday session in the red with the S&P 500 lower by 0.2%. Seven of ten sectors are among the early decliners while consumer discretionary (+0.1%), financials (+0.1%), and utilities (+0.5%) outperform.

On the downside, consumer staples (-0.7%) and materials (-0.7%) occupy the bottom of the leaderboard while the industrial sector (-0.5%) trades just ahead of the two amid weakness in the Dow Jones Transportation Average. The bellwether complex is lower by 1.1% after UPS (UPS 104.22, -10.03) issued cautious guidance.

Elsewhere, Treasuries continue holding gains with the 10-yr yield down four basis points at 1.83%.

9:40 am Minor early weakness with Nasdaq Comp -1 outperforming -- Dow -38, S&P -6 (:TECHX) :  

9:39 am Linear Tech hovering near its session high of 46.99 with its Jan and Dec/six month highs modestly above at 47.10/47.13 (LLTC) :  

9:38 am Blackstone: Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe IV announces the acquisition of three assets in Germany for its European logistics company, Logicor; terms not disclosed (BX) : This transaction is the fifth portfolio acquired in Germany over the past year and increases Logicor's overall Germany portfolio by more than 40%, taking it to 550,000 square metres.

9:27 am Virgin America guides Q4 metrics, Q1/FY15 capacity (VA) : Co sees Q4 PRASM +0.5-1%; RASM +2.5-3%; CAS +1-1.5% (+3-3.5% ex-fuel and profit sharing).

  • The Company currently expects its capacity, as measured by available seat miles, to increase by 3.0% to 4.0% for the first quarter 2015, and ~2.0% - 3.0% for the year ending December 31, 2015. 
  • The Co will introduce compensation increases in April 2015 averaging 15% for its pilots and 5% for most other work groups1.

9:15 am S&P futures vs fair value: -5.30. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -4.50. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a lower open following a recent retreat in the futures market.

Index futures spent the night in a steady climb while markets overseas charged higher following yesterday's QE announcement from the European Central Bank. The overnight advance has extended into the European session with markets in France (+1.6%) and Germany (+1.7%) building on yesterday's gains.

However, U.S. futures have retreated from their highs after UPS (UPS 104.00, -10.25) issued cautious guidance, blaming an underperforming U.S. domestic segment. The stock is on track to open lower by 9.0% while peer FedEx (FDX 177.60, -3.80) trades lower by 2.1% in pre-market.

Meanwhile on the foreign exchange front, the euro has given up more ground and currently trades near 1.1230 against the dollar (-130 pips). In turn, this has boosted the Dollar Index (94.83, +0.76). Also of note, demand for sovereign debt has pressured Germany's 10-yr yield lower by seven basis points to 0.33%. Similarly, U.S. Treasuries are in demand with the benchmark yield down four basis points at 1.83%.

Existing Home Sales for December (Briefing.com consensus 5.10 million) and December Leading Indicators (consensus 0.5%) will be released at 10:00 ET.

9:11 am Star Bulk Carriers has entered into a binding agreement to sell for demolition the M/V Star Julia to an unaffiliated third party at a profit over net book value; terms not disclosed (SBLK) : The Company expects to deliver the Vessel to the Buyers by early February 2015.

9:10 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Sprint (S) announced it will guarantee all T-Mobile (TMUS) customers a minimum of $200 instant trade-in value when they take their wireless number to a participating Sprint store and trade in their current working T-Mobile smartphone.
  • A10 Networks (ATEN) announced the integration of its Thunder Application Delivery Controllers with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure fabric.
  • Macy's (M) announced it plans to relocate its West Sacramento, CA, direct-to-consumer fulfillment center to a larger facility in a nearby location in Sacramento County to support continued sales growth driven by Macy's omnichannel strategy. Contingent on approvals by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, Macy's will begin operations in summer 2015 at a 385,000-square-foot facility, creating approximately 100 new jobs. 
  • TE Connectivity (TEL) announced that its FlexWave Prism and FlexWave Spectrum distributed antenna systems have been deployed in preparation for the 49th NFL championship game on February 1 in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals (KYTH) announced the Dermatology and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA is scheduled to review KYTHERA's New Drug Application for ATX-101 for improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe submental fullness in a half-day meeting on the morning of March 9, 2015. KYTHERA submitted the ATX-101 NDA to the FDA on May 12, 2014. The NDA will be subject to a standard review and has a Prescription Drug User Fee Act action date of May 13, 2015.
  • athenahealth (ATHN) and Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute announced that FCS has selected athenaCollector revenue cycle and practice management services as part of a pilot program which will be implemented in phases to support its team of 300 health care providers.

9:04 am Synchrony Financial beats by $0.04 (SYF) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.64 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.60; Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements rose 4.3% year/year to $2.28 bln vs the $2.34 bln consensus. 

  • Total platform revenue increased 9% from the fourth quarter of 2013 to $2.7 billion 
  • Net interest income increased $129 million, or 5%, to $3.0 billion, driven by strong loan receivables growth, partially offset by higher interest expense from funding completed to increase liquidity in 2014. 
  • Loan receivables grew $4 billion, or 7%, from the fourth quarter of 2013 to $61 billion 
  • Purchase volume increased 11% from the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Net interest margin declined 370 basis points to 15.60% primarily due to the impact from the significant increase in liquidity versus the prior year.

9:01 am Expedia announces it has acquired Travelocity from Sabre Corporation (SABR) for $280 mln in cash (EXPE) : The acquisition follows the 2013 strategic marketing agreement between Expediaand Travelocity under which Expedia has powered the technology platforms for Travelocity's US and Canadian websites, along with providing Travelocity access to Expedia's supply and customer service program.

9:01 am Investors Real Estate Trust explores a CY 2015 disposition of its commercial office and retail properties; directing new investments primarily toward multifamily residential and healthcare properties (IRET) : The disposition of the co's office and retail portfolios would streamline the co's business model and allow the co to direct the expected sale proceeds to further grow the co's multifamily and healthcare segments.

  • The co currently expects sale packages for these two portfolios to be available mid-to end-February 2015. 
  • The co currently expects that a significant portion of the potential proceeds from the sale of its office and retail portfolios would be utilized to reduce leverage and provide capital to fund further acquisitions and developments.

9:01 am Legacy Reserves approved a 2015 capital budget of $30 mln as compared to ~$130 mln in 2014 (LGCY) : Co announces the BoD of its general partner has approved a cash distribution attributable to 4Q14 of $0.61 per unit. The Board also approved a 2015 capital budget of $30 mln as compared to ~$130 million in 2014. 

  •  "The dramatic drop in oil and gas prices has directly impacted our asset-level project returns. While we have commodity hedges in place to insulate our near-term cash flow at the partnership level, it simply does not make economic sense to pursue new drilling projects in this market environment as they do not generate a sufficient return for the company. We are encouraged that our third-party service providers have already begun to reduce prices, but we will need to see further reductions prior to reinstating our prior capital spending levels."

9:00 am Frank's International announces that Gary Luquette has been appointed President and CEO, succeeding D. Keith Mosing (FI) : Mr. Luquette will continue to serve on the Company's Board of Supervisory Directors. D. Keith Mosing will remain actively involved in the strategic direction of the Company and will serve as Executive Chairman.

8:53 am Centrus Energy announces that UT-Battelle has exercised its option to extend the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations Agreement by six months from March 31 to September 30, 2015 (LEU) : The ACTDO Agreement is a firm fixed-price contract. The agreement provided two options to extend the contract for six months, each at a price of $41.7 million for each option period. The total price of the contract including options is approximately $117 million.

  • Pursuant to the FY2015 omnibus appropriations bill, DOE is currently examining long-range options for meeting the government's need for enriched uranium to support national security. DOE is expected to report its findings to Congress later this year. Centrus remains committed to working closely with DOE and Congress to maintain and deploy this technology to serve national security and energy security needs.

8:53 am S&P futures vs fair value: -2.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +0.20. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade two points below fair value.

Markets rallied across Asia after the European Central Bank became the latest central bank to join the QE party.

  • In economic data: 
    • Japan's Manufacturing PMI ticked up to 52.1 from 52.0 
    • China's HSBC Manufacturing PMI rose to 49.8 from 49.6 (expected 49.6) 
    • South Korea's GDP rose 0.4% quarter-over-quarter, as expected, while the year-over-year reading increased 2.7% (consensus 2.8%; prior 3.2%) 
    • Singapore's CPI slipped 0.2% year-over-year (expected -0.1%; prior -0.3%) 
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  • Japan's Nikkei climbed 1.1% to a three-week high and reclaimed the 50-day average. Heavyweight Softbank continued to gain, tacking on 4.2%. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.3%, hitting a four and half-month high. Real estate developers were out in front as Sino Land and Cheung Kong rallied 3.7% and 3.0%, respectively. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite added 0.3% to recoup virtually all of last Friday's losses. Financials saw solid gains with ICBC adding 2.1%. 
  • India's Sensex rose 0.9% to register its fourth consecutive record close. Blue chips paced the advance as Tata Motors gained 3.8% and Bharti Airtel climbed 3.7%. 
Major European indices trade higher across the board with France's CAC (+1.9%) and Germany's DAX (+1.9%) battling for the lead. The ECB Survey of Professional Forecasters cut its 2015 harmonized inflation forecast to 0.3% from 1.0% and lowered its outlook for 2016 to 1.1% from 1.4%.
  • Participants received several data points: 
    • Eurozone Manufacturing PMI rose to 51.0 from 50.6, as expected, while Services PMI increased to 52.3 from 51.6 (expected 52.0) 
    • Germany's Manufacturing PMI slipped to 51.0 from 51.2 (expected 51.7) while Services PMI rose to 52.7 from 52.1 (expected 52.5) 
    • UK's Retail Sales ticked up 0.4% month-over-month (expected -0.6%; previous 1.6%) while the year-over-year reading increased 4.3% (consensus 3.0%; prior 6.4%). Core Retail Sales rose 0.2% month-over-month (expected -0.7%; last 1.7%) while the year-over-year reading improved 4.2% (forecast 3.3%; last 6.8%) 
    • French Manufacturing PMI jumped to 49.5 from 47.5 (expected 48.1) while Services PMI fell to 49.5 from 50.6 (expected 50.7). Separately, Business Survey held at 99. 
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  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.2% with materials and consumer names in the lead. CRH, Mondi, InterContinental Hotels, and Tesco hold gains between 0.5% and 2.6%. Tullow Oil is the weakest performer, down 5.2%. 
  • In France, the CAC trades up 1.9% with all but two components in the green. Industrials and consumer names lead with Airbus, Accor, Danone, and Safran sporting gains between 2.4% and 4.5%. Gemalto and ArcelorMittal lag with respective losses of 2.2% and 2.0%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 1.9% amid relative strength in exporters. BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen hold respective gains of 4.5%, 3.1%, and 2.8%. Deutsche Lufthansa lags, trading lower by 1.0%. 
  • Spain's IBEX is higher by 1.3% with support from heavyweights like Telefonica, Iberdola, and Santander. The three names are up between 1.9% and 3.4%.

8:51 am Firsthand Tech. Value Fund announces preliminary results of its tender offer (SVVC) : As previously announced, the Fund conducted a tender offer for up to $20 million of its issued and outstanding common shares for cash at a price per share equal to 95% of the December 31, 2014 NAV.

  • Based on preliminary information, 4,923,542.5277 shares were tendered, representing ~57.5% of the Fund's common shares outstanding. The Fund currently expects to announce the final results of the tender offer on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

8:44 am Ford Motor reaffirms FY14 pre-tax profit guidance of ~$6 bln, ex- $800 mln special charge related to its Venezuela operations (F) : Venezuelan exchange control regulations have resulted in an other-than-temporary lack of exchangeability between the Venezuelan bolivar and U.S. dollar, and have restricted its Venezuelan operations' ability to pay dividends and obligations denominated in U.S. dollars.

  • The co notes that these exchange regulations, combined with other recent Venezuelan regulations, have constrained parts availability and are now significantly limiting the co's Venezuelan operations' ability to maintain normal production. As a result of these conditions, and in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification 810 -- Consolidation, the co began reporting the results of its Venezuelan operations using the cost method of accounting. This change, which the co made effective Dec 31, 2014, will result in a one-time pre-tax special item charge of $800 mln in the fourth quarter of 2014. In future periods, the co's financial results will not include the operating results of its Venezuelan operations.
  • The co continues to expect its full year 2014 total pre-tax profit, excluding special items, to be about $6 billion. The co notes its 2014 pre-tax profit guidance is not affected by the special item charge described above. Net of deferred tax benefits, the charge will reduce net income attributable to Ford by ~$700 mln in the fourth quarter of 2014.

8:40 am UPS follow-up: Co guides Q4 EPS below consensus on higher peak volume expenses, guides FY15 EPS below consensus (UPS) : Co issues downside guidance for Q4 (Dec), sees adj. EPS of $1.25 vs. $1.47 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

  • Company earnings for 2014 were lower than previous guidance, primarily due to the underperformance of the U.S. Domestic segment. While package volume and revenue results were in line with expectations, operating profit was negatively impacted by higher than expected peak-related expenses
    • "UPS invested heavily to ensure we would provide excellent service during peak when deliveries more than double. Though customers enjoyed high quality service, it came at a cost to UPS. Going forward, we will reduce operating costs and implement new pricing strategies during peak season." 
    • Peak plans were designed to provide high quality service for volume surges. The extra capacity was necessary to process the extreme spike in package volume on Cyber Monday and peak day, Dece 22. However, demand was less than expected on other days. This resulted in a sub-optimized network during peak season. A decline in productivity, increased contract carrier rates, as well as costs associated with overtime and training hours contributed to the excess cost. In addition, the network was somewhat disrupted by volume fluctuations caused by the West Coast port dispute. 
    • International adjusted operating profit was also below expectations, primarily due to non-recurring charges and negative currency comparisons. Meanwhile, the Supply Chain and Freight segment performed in line with guidance.
Co issues downside guidance for FY15 (Dec), sees EPS growth slightly less than long term target of +9-11% YoY, which calculates to slightly less than ~$5.18-5.27 vs. $5.64 Capital IQ Consensus. 
  • UPS expects solid business growth across all segments in 2015. However, increased pension expense of ~$180 million due to lower discount rates, and currency headwinds of more than $50 mln will negatively impact results.

8:37 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Host Hotels & Resorts (HST) announced that as part of the Company's efforts to transform the Denver Marriott Tech Center Hotel, the Company has selected Sage Hospitality to manage the hotel pursuant to a Marriott franchise agreement.  
  • Medtronic (MDT) announced it has received United States Food and Drug Administration approval, under a humanitarian device exemption, for the Medtronic Enterra II System. The system is used to treat chronic, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with gastroparesis of diabetic or unknown origin when more conservative treatments fail or cannot be tolerated.
  • Nortek (NTK) announced that its subsidiary NORDYNE LLC, a manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, and its NORDYNE International subsidiary have changed their names to Nortek Global HVAC LLC and Nortek Global HVAC Latin America, Inc., respectively.
  • Deere (DE) announced it will make workforce adjustments at several factories in Iowa and Illinois. The actions include indefinite layoffs at five locations that build agricultural equipment as well as an extended inventory adjustment shutdown at another factory. In addition, Deere said it has added new jobs at two locations that build construction and forestry equipment. Deere said the workforce adjustments reflect the economic forecast included in the company's November 2014 earnings report as the company continues to align the size of its manufacturing workforce to market demand for products. The changes will place ~910 employees on indefinite layoff from facilities in Iowa and Illinois. 

8:33 am Allete has increased its quarterly dividend to $0.505 per share, up 3.1% from previous dividend of $0.49 (ALE) :  

8:28 am S&P futures vs fair value: +3.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +8.20. : U.S. equity futures continue holding modest gains while their European counterparts sit firmly in the green.

If the current indication holds, the S&P 500 will be on track to register its fifth consecutive advance. Yesterday, the benchmark index reclaimed its 50-day moving average (2046/2047), bringing its week-to-date gain to 2.2%. That puts the index ahead of the Dow, which has added 1.7%, but behind the Nasdaq, which is higher by 2.5% since last Friday.

Elsewhere, Treasuries continue holding gains with the 10-yr yield down four basis points at 1.83% after ending last week at 1.82%.

8:21 am European Markets Update: FTSE +0.3%, CAC +2.1%, DAX +2.2%, IBEX +1.5% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade higher across the board with France's CAC (+2.1%) and Germany's DAX (+2.2%) battling for the lead. The ECB Survey of Professional Forecasters cut its 2015 harmonized inflation forecast to 0.3% from 1.0% and lowered its outlook for 2016 to 1.1% from 1.4%.

  • Participants received several data points: 
    • Eurozone Manufacturing PMI rose to 51.0 from 50.6, as expected, while Services PMI increased to 52.3 from 51.6 (expected 52.0) 
    • Germany's Manufacturing PMI slipped to 51.0 from 51.2 (expected 51.7) while Services PMI rose to 52.7 from 52.1 (expected 52.5) 
    • UK's Retail Sales ticked up 0.4% month-over-month (expected -0.6%; previous 1.6%) while the year-over-year reading increased 4.3% (consensus 3.0%; prior 6.4%). Core Retail Sales rose 0.2% month-over-month (expected -0.7%; last 1.7%) while the year-over-year reading improved 4.2% (forecast 3.3%; last 6.8%) 
    • French Manufacturing PMI jumped to 49.5 from 47.5 (expected 48.1) while Services PMI fell to 49.5 from 50.6 (expected 50.7). Separately, Business Survey held at 99. 
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  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.3% with materials and consumer names in the lead. CRH, Mondi, InterContinental Hotels, and Tesco hold gains between 0.5% and 2.6%. Tullow Oil is the weakest performer, down 5.2%. 
  • In France, the CAC trades up 2.1% with all but two components in the green. Industrials and consumer names lead with Airbus, Accor, Danone, and Safran sporting gains between 2.4% and 4.5%. Gemalto and ArcelorMittal lag with respective losses of 2.2% and 2.0%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 2.2% amid relative strength in exporters. BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen hold respective gains of 4.5%, 3.1%, and 2.8%. Deutsche Lufthansa lags, trading lower by 1.0%. 
  • Spain's IBEX is higher by 1.5% with support from heavyweights like Telefonica, Iberdola, and Santander. The three names are up between 1.9% and 3.4%.

8:19 am GrafTech Intl: 'Save Graftech' Group nominates full slate of seven directors to Graftech Board (GTI) : Group's letter indicates that they believe that "significant operational restructuring is required to address the pervasive issues that continue to damage the company." It states:

  • "We are disappointed that since becoming CEO in January 2014, Joel Hawthorne has proved incapable of addressing the serious challenges currently facing GrafTech." 
  • "Mr. Hawthorne's failures have been tolerated by a four-person majority of the Board that is unwilling to hold management accountable for the company's continuing under performance, and has provided stonewalling resistance to the Save GrafTech slate of directors." 
  • "We have been left with no reasonable choice but to nominate a full slate of seven directors for election at GrafTech's 2015 Annual Meeting. We are open to discussing potential interim CEO candidates with both fellow directors and shareholders. So long as the individual chosen has an in-depth knowledge of the steel industry and the experience necessary to restructure GrafTech's operations, it makes no difference if the interim CEO is selected from our slate or from outside the company."

8:14 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Manufacturing centers of Axalta Coating Systems (AXTA) received certification of conformance with the requirements of the ISO 14001:2004 standard. The certification has been accredited by Lloyd's Register LRQA and is valid for three years. The certification applies to all 34 of Axalta's majority-owned manufacturing facilities that produce liquid and powder coatings.
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT) announced that it expects another year of accelerated growth in North America, where it will surpass the 600th hotel milestone in the next two months. In 2014, Starwood opened 23 new hotels and signed 64 new hotel deals in North America, a 23% signings increase over the previous year and the most deals signed in one year since before the global economic crisis.
  • Total (TOT) and SunPower (SPWR) announced the completion of the 70-megawatt PV Salvador project, one of the world's largest operating merchant solar power plants. Chilean Minister of Energy M ximo Pacheco and executives from Total and SunPower attended the inauguration event today in El Salvador in Chile's Atacama Desert. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government's development finance institution, financed 70% of the ~$200 million project cost through long-term non-recourse project debt.
  • Zillow, Inc. (Z) announced the Zillow Pro for Brokers program has enrolled more than 5,000 partners nationwide and more than doubled its size since July 2014.
  • Willis Group (WSH) announced a series of internal promotions and moves to strengthen the Willis China leadership team. Mitchell Ma has been appointed as Chairman of Willis China. Lincoln Pan has been named as the new CEO of Willis China. Wise Xu has been appointed as Deputy CEO of Willis China
  • ChinaNet (CNET) announced that its subsidiary Business Opportunity Online Network Technology Co., Ltd. has been selected for the Hubei Provincial Science and Technology Agency's "500 Projects" Program including "Key Project" and "Technology Innovation Projects of SME Technology Enterprises".
  • Dana Holding Corporation (DAN) unveiled the results of ongoing field tests of the company's VariGlide technology. Dana engineers have confirmed performance and positioning improvements following hundreds of hours of functional evaluation and dynamometer testing on a standard-sized 2.2-tonne forklift truck equipped with VariGlide technology operating in a typical pick-and-place duty cycle. The co also announced that Dana Rexroth Transmission Systems engineers have completed final validation testing of the R2 hydromechanical variable transmission, with the start of production expected in the third quarter of this year. Also further announced that it is now offering its Spicer PowerBoost hydraulic-hybrid system for field testing by off-highway original-equipment manufacturers.

8:13 am General Electric beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; reaffirms FY15 guidance (GE) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.56 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.55; revenues rose 4.0% year/year to $42 bln vs the $42.16 bln consensus.

  • 4Q industrial segment organic revenues $32.2 billion, +9%; 4Q industrial segment profit +9%, with 6 of 7 segments growing earnings 
  • 4Q margins +50 bps vs. 4Q'13 
  • Underlying performance as expected in Oil & Gas. Organically, achieved: orders -4%, revenue fl at, operating profit +6%. Reported: orders -10%, revenue -6%, operating profit +1%. 
"We are focused on our 2015 investor commitments. There is no change to our framework: double-digit Industrial operating EPS growth; 2%--5% industrial segment organic revenue growth; margin expansion; a smaller GE Capital; $12--$15 billion in free cash fl ow including dispositions; and $10 billion+ returned to shareowners. In a volatile world, we expect to execute on our pivot to achieve 75% of our earnings from Industrial by 2016."

Co reaffirms guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $1.70-1.80, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $1.76 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

8:04 am McDonald's misses by $0.01, misses on revs; sees negative January comps (MCD) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.22 per share, ex-$0.09 negative impact due to the supplier issue in APMEA, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus of $1.23; revenues fell 7.3% year/year (-1% FX adj.) to $6.57 bln vs the $6.7 bln consensus. 

  • Global comparable sales decrease of 0.9% (vs. estimates near -1.5%), reflecting negative guest traffic in all major segments
    • In the U.S., fourth quarter comparable sales decreased 1.7% and operating income declined 15%, reflecting negative guest traffic amid ongoing broad-based challenges, including sustained competitive activity. In addition, results were impacted by higher selling, general and administrative and other expenses associated with positioning the business for the future. McDonald's U.S. business begins 2015 evolving to a more nimble, customer-led organization with a strategic roadmap focused on menu simplification and local customer tastes and preferences. 
    • Europe's fourth quarter comparable sales declined 1.1% and operating income decreased 14% (down 6% in constant currencies). While consumer confidence issues, particularly in Russia and Ukraine, and weakness in France and Germany negatively impacted the segment's quarterly results, the U.K. delivered positive comparable sales and operating income results. 
    • APMEA's fourth quarter comparable sales decreased 4.8% and operating income declined 44% (down 40% in constant currencies) primarily due to the lingering impact of the supplier issue on sales and profitability in China, Japan and certain other markets. Sales and operating income benefited from solid performance in Australia. 
  • January comparable sales are expected to be negative and results are expected to remain pressured 
"Last year, we announced a set of financial goals for the three-year period from 2014 through 2016. We outlined specific targets to return $18-$20 billion to shareholders through a combination of dividends and share repurchases, refranchise at least 1,500 restaurants and reallocate resources to higher growth initiatives. These targets are designed to enhance long-term shareholder value while supporting the work underway to reignite our business results, and we remain on track to meet these targets."

8:03 am Pacific Mercantile Bancorp announces Curt A. Christianssen has been named EVP and CFO (PMBC) : Mr. Christianssen had been serving as Chief Financial Officer on an interim basis since December 2013, and will retain his additional roles as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Carpenter Community BancFund and Seapower Carpenter Capital. 

8:03 am Brookfield Asset Mgmt to establish global facilities management business (BAM) : Co announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire the other 50% of its Canadian and Australian facilities management businesses from Johnson Controls for ~US$200 mln. Co states that the acquisition will facilitate a merger with its wholly owned businesses in the Middle-East and South America as part of a broader plan to create the leading global facilities management business. Co plans to launch its facilities management businesses in scale in the United States and Europe. 

8:03 am Sapient: Publicis Groupe (PUBGY) announces that it has extended its previously announced tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of common stock of Sapient to February 5 (SAPE) :

  • PUBGY announced that it has extended its previously announced tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of common stock of Sapient Corporation (SAPE) for $25.00 per share in cash. 
  • The Offer will now expire at the end of the day, immediately after 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on February 5, 2015, unless it is further extended. All other terms and conditions of the Offer remain unchanged.

8:02 am Progenics Pharm has dosed the first subject in the resumed pivotal Phase 2 clinical study of Azedra in patients with malignant pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PGNX) : The trial is being conducted under a Special Protocol Assessment with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Progenics acquired Azedra, a novel targeted cancer radiotherapy, in conjunction with its 2013 acquisition of Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals. 

  • "We are focused on successfully completing this pivotal trial and look forward to completing patient enrollment by the end of 2015, building on the promising data seen to date, and advancing this promising candidate toward the marketplace."

8:02 am KC Southern beats by $0.04, misses on revs (KSU) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.27 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.23; revenues rose 4.4% year/year to $642.5 mln vs the $657.86 mln consensus. 

  • Compared to 2013, fourth quarter revenue growth was led by a 13% increase in Automotive and a 9% increase in both Chemicals & Petroleum and Energy. 
  • Intermodal was also strong, with revenues growing by 8% in the fourth quarter of 2014. 
  • Industrial & Consumer revenue grew 1% and Agriculture & Minerals revenue declined by 5% compared to the prior year, primarily due to a decline in grain shipments when compared to the exceptionally strong fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Also, the impact of lower U.S. fuel prices and the depreciating peso reduced revenue growth by approximately 2% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.

8:02 am Atlantic Power announces that its BoD has appointed James Moore as the Co's President and CEO and a member of the BoD effective January 26 (AT) :

  • Co announced that its Board of Directors has appointed James Moore as the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors effective January 26. 
  • Moore replaces Ken Hartwick, Interim President and CEO, who guided the Company during the search for a permanent CEO and will remain a member of the Company's Board of Directors.

8:02 am SFX Entertainment names Greg Consiglio as President and COO; enters into sales agreement with Viggle (VGGL) (SFXE) : Co announces Greg Consiglio has been appointed President and COO. Additionally, it announced entered into an agreement with Viggle (VGGL) that will significantly bolster its brand partnership, media and sponsorship capabilities. Under the agreement, SFXE will take over the 25-person Revenue team of VGGL, who will now have significantly more opportunities to sell.

8:01 am Handy & Harman announces it has finalized the sale of its subsidiary Arlon, LLC to Rogers Corp; transaction value is $157 mln (HNH) :  

8:00 am Array Biopharma has reached a definitive agreement with Novartis (NVS) to acquire worldwide rights to encorafenib, a BRAF inhibitor currently in Phase 3 development; terms not disclosed (ARRY) : This agreement is conditional on the closing of transactions announced by Novartis (NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) on April 22, 2014, which are expected to close in the first half of 2015, and the agreement remains subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals. 

  • Novartis has agreed to provide transitional regulatory, clinical development and manufacturing services as specified below and will assign or license to Array all patent and other intellectual property rights Novartis owns to the extent relating to encorafenib.  As part of the transaction, Array has agreed to obtain an experienced partner for global development and European commercialization of both binimetinib and encorafenib.  If Array is unable to find a suitable partner in the prescribed time period, a trustee would have the right to sell such European rights.

8:00 am Community Health announces that its subsidiaries have executed a definitive agreement for the purchase of an 80% equity interest in Metro Health in Wyoming, Michigan; terms not disclosed (CYH) :

  • Co announced that subsidiaries of it have executed a definitive agreement for the purchase of an 80 percent equity interest in Metro Health in Wyoming, Michigan, a suburb west of Grand Rapids.
  • The agreement includes 208-bed Metro Health Hospital, outpatient centers, and related assets and businesses.
  • The transaction is subject to customary regulatory reviews, including approval by the Michigan Office of the Attorney General and certificate of need review by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

7:55 am S&P futures vs fair value: +2.50. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +5.50. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures trade near their pre-market highs amid upbeat action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover three points above fair value.

On the commodity front, crude oil is lower by 0.2% at $46.19/bbl while copper futures have surrendered 2.2%, sliding to $2.522/lb. The moves have taken place amid dollar strength that has sent the Dollar Index (95.15, +1.08) past the 95.00 level.

Today's data will be limited to Existing Home Sales for December (Briefing.com consensus 5.10 million) and December Leading Indicators (consensus 0.5%). Both reports will be released at 10:00 ET.

Treasuries hold gains with the 10-yr yield lower by four basis points at 1.82%.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • E*Trade (ETFC 24.12, +1.47): +6.5% after reporting a one-cent beat and announcing regulatory approval to operate E*Trade bank at 9.0% Tier 1 leverage ratio. 
  • Honeywell (HON 100.49, +1.10): +1.1% in reaction to its one-cent beat. 
  • Starbucks (SBUX 86.88, +4.14): +5.0% after reporting in-line with estimates and issuing cautious guidance. 
  • Skyworks (SWKS 79.00, -0.33): -0.4% despite beating estimates and guiding higher.
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended higher. China's Shanghai Composite +0.3%, Japan's Nikkei +1.1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng +1.3% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's Manufacturing PMI ticked up to 52.1 from 52.0 
      • China's HSBC Manufacturing PMI rose to 49.8 from 49.6 (expected 49.6) 
      • South Korea's GDP rose 0.4% quarter-over-quarter, as expected, while the year-over-year reading increased 2.7% (consensus 2.8%; prior 3.2%) 
      • Singapore's CPI slipped 0.2% year-over-year (expected -0.1%; prior -0.3%) 
    • In news: 
      • HSBC commented on China's Manufacturing PMI report, saying the labor market remains weak and that further monetary easing is recommended.
  • Major European indices trade higher across the board. UK's FTSE +0.3%, France's CAC +2.2%, and Germany's DAX +2.2%. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB +0.7% and Spain's IBEX +1.5% 
    • Participants received several data points: 
      • Eurozone Manufacturing PMI rose to 51.0 from 50.6, as expected, while Services PMI increased to 52.3 from 51.6 (expected 52.0) 
      • Germany's Manufacturing PMI slipped to 51.0 from 51.2 (expected 51.7) while Services PMI rose to 52.7 from 52.1 (expected 52.5) 
      • UK's Retail Sales ticked up 0.4% month-over-month (expected -0.6%; previous 1.6%) while the year-over-year reading increased 4.3% (consensus 3.0%; prior 6.4%). Core Retail Sales rose 0.2% month-over-month (expected -0.7%; last 1.7%) while the year-over-year reading improved 4.2% (forecast 3.3%; last 6.8%) 
      • French Manufacturing PMI jumped to 49.5 from 47.5 (expected 48.1) while Services PMI fell to 49.5 from 50.6 (expected 50.7). Separately, Business Survey held at 99. 
    • Among news of note: 
      • ECB Survey of Professional Forecasters cut its 2015 harmonized inflation forecast to 0.3% from 1.0% and lowered its outlook for 2016 to 1.1% from 1.4%.

7:50 am UBS to Issue additional Tier 1 capital instrument for employee compensation; supplementary capital return of CHF 0.25 per share following completion of squeeze-out (OUBS) : UBS announces it has enhanced certain features of its employee compensation framework in anticipation of increased focus on tier 1 capital instruments. Starting with compensation for 2014, Deferred Contingent Capital Plan awards will qualify as fully applied additional tier 1 (AT1) capital under Basel III regulations. This will optimize the capital efficiency of these plans under Basel III. 

  • In line with the capital treatment applied to DCCP awards in prior years, at year-end UBS recognized approximately CHF 500 million in AT1 capital, and deducted approximately CHF 500 million from fully applied Basel III common equity tier 1 capital through the end of the fourth quarter of 2014. UBS intends to build approximately CHF 2.5 billion in AT1 DCCP over the next five years and continues to target a fully applied Basel III CET1 ratio of 13% and at least 10% post stress. 
  • Reflecting progress in the establishment of its Group holding company, including the successful completion of its share-for-share exchange offer, UBS fully accrued a supplementary capital return of CHF 0.25 per share in the fourth quarter of 2014.

7:41 am Rockwell Collins reports EPS in-line, revs in-line; raises FY15 EPS guidance due to the retroactive extension of the Federal R&D tax credit (COL) : Reports Q1 (Dec) earnings of $1.10 per share, excluding tax credit, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.10; revenues rose 16.7% year/year to $1.23 bln vs the $1.22 bln consensus.

  • Co raises FY15 EPS guidance to of $5.10-5.30, due to the retroactive extension of the Federal R&D tax credit, vs. $5.05 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $5.2-5.3 bln vs. $5.28 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • "In the quarter we realized strong revenue growth in our Commercial Systems and Information Management Services businesses and a stabilization of revenues in our Government Systems business. With this return to top-line growth, we executed quite well and delivered improved margin performance. The results for the first quarter support our plan for double digit earnings per share and cash flow growth for fiscal year 2015." 

7:40 am Kimberly-Clark misses by $0.02, misses on revs; guides FY15 below consensus (KMB) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.35 per share, $0.02 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.37; revenues fell 1.4% year/year to $4.83 bln vs the $4.92 bln consensus.

  • Organic sales rose 3%, with net selling prices up 2% and volumes up 1%. Changes in foreign currency exchange rates reduced sales by 4%.
Co issues downside guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $5.60-5.80, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $6.00 Capital IQ Consensus; sees FY15 revs -3 to -6% to ~$18.54-19.1 bln vs. $19.83 bln Capital IQ Consensus. 
  • Organic sales growth of 3 to 5%, with volumes up 2 to 3% and changes in net selling prices and product mix, combined, up an additional 1 to 2%. Negative foreign currency exchange rate impact of 8 to 9%, including an ~3 point impact from the move to using the SICAD II exchange rate in Venezuela. Adjusted operating profit growth of 1 to 4%.
Given increased uncertainty and lack of liquidity in Venezuela, the co has determined that the government's SICAD II floating exchange rate, which most recently was ~50 bolivars per U.S. dollar, is the appropriate rate to use to measure results instead of the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar. As a result of this change, the co recorded a non-deductible charge of $462 mln in the fourth quarter of 2014 for the remeasurement of its Dec 31, 2014 bolivar-denominated net monetary assets.

7:36 am Incyte has earned a $25 mln milestone payment from Novartis (NVS) after the CHMP of the European Medicines Agency adopts a positive opinion for Jakavi (INCY) : The co expects to record this amount as contract revenue, and receive the $25 million payment, in the first quarter of 2015.

7:35 am Asian Markets Close: Nikkei +1.1%, Hang Seng +1.3%, Shanghai +0.3% (:SUMRX) :

  • Markets rallied across Asia after the European Central Bank became the latest central bank to join the QE party. 
  • China's HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI (49.8 actual v. 49.5 expected, 49.6 previous) outpaced estimates. 
  • South Korea's GDP slowed to 2.7% YoY (3.2% YoY previous). 
  • Singapore's inflation rate ticked up to -0.2% YoY (-0.3% YoY expected). 
  • Japan's Nikkei (+1.1%) climbed to a three-week highs as trade reclaimed the 50 dma. Heavyweight Softbank continued to gain, tacking on 4.2%. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng (+1.3%) hit a four and half-month high. Real estate developers were out in front as Sino Land and Cheung Kong rallied 3.7% and 3%, respectively.
  • China's Shanghai Composite (+0.3%) has now recouped virtually all of last Friday's losses. Financials saw solid gains with ICBC adding 2.1%.
  • India's Sensex (+0.9%) put in a fourth consecutive record high. Blue chips paced the advance as Tata Motors gained 3.8% and Bharti Airtel climbed 3.7%. 
  • Australia's ASX (+1.5%) finished at a two-month high. All of the big four banks saw gains between 1.2% and 1.4%. 
  • Regional Decliners: None 
  • Regional Advancers: South Korea +0.8%...Taiwan +1.1%...Malaysia +1.2%...Singapore +1.2%...Indonesia 1.4%...Vietnam +1.4%...Philippines +1.8%...Thailand +2.4% 
  • Fx: USDCNY edged up 0.3% to 6.2275...USDINR ticked up 0.2% to 61.47...USDJPY -50 pips @ 118.00...AUDUSD -80 pips @ .7945

7:33 am S&P futures vs fair value: +0.50. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +2.50. :

7:33 am European Markets : FTSE...6,807.61...+10.80...+0.20%.  DAX...10,631.65...+196.80...+1.90%.

7:33 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...17,511.75...+182.70...+1.10%.  Hang Seng...24,850.45...+327.80...+1.30%.

7:32 am Regeneron Pharms announces EYLEA Injection has been recommended for approval by the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use; for the treatment of visual impairment (REGN) :

  • EYLEA is currently approved in the United States for the treatment of neovascular Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Macular Edema following Retinal Vein Occlusion (:RVO), which includes both CRVO and BRVO, and Diabetic Macular Edema (:DME). 
  • EYLEA has also been approved in the EU and other markets for use in wet AMD and DME. 

7:29 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • CDK Global (CDK) announced that it is launching Cash Management, a completely paperless Payables and Receivables workflow, at the National Automobile Dealers Association Expo in San Francisco.
  • CytoSorbents (CTSO) announced the receipt of $385,642, net of transaction costs, in non-dilutive funding as an approved participant of the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program sponsored by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.  Funds will be used to help expand manufacturing of CytoSorb and support sales of CytoSorb internationally.
  • Rexford Industrial Realty (REXR) announced the acquisition of two infill industrial properties containing a combined total of 213,581 rentable square feet, for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $30.6 million.
  • Michael Kors (KORS) announced that it will open its largest Japanese flagship store this fall, on Chuo Street in Tokyo's renowned Ginza district. The store will be the first in the world to carry every category offered by the global luxury lifestyle brand.

7:27 am Auspex Systems announces the pricing of its underwritten public offering of 4 mln shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $56.50 per share (ASPX) :  

7:24 am Novartis AG announces the CHMP adopted a positive opinion for Jakavi for the treatment of adult patients with polycythemia vera who are resistant to or intolerant of hydroxyurea (NVS) : If approved in the EU, ruxolitinib could provide the first targeted treatment option for these patients.

7:21 am Vitae Pharmaceuticals announces the pricing of its follow-on public offering of 3 mln shares of its common stock at $11.90 per share (VTAE) :  

7:19 am Celgene receives positive chmp opinion for ABRAXANE for first-line treatment of patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (CELG) : The positive CHMP opinion was based on the results of a study including 1,052 chemotherapy-naive patients with Stage IIIb/IV non-small cell lung cancer.

  • The primary efficacy endpoint, overall response rate, was significantly higher for patients in the ABRAXANE/carboplatin arm at 33%, compared with patients in the control arm, at 25%. 
  • The most common adverse reactions of ABRAXANE in combination with carboplatin were anaemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, peripheral neuropathy, nausea, and fatigue.
  • The European Commission, which generally follows the recommendation of the CHMP, is expected to make its final decision within approximately two months.

7:15 am The Medicines Co receives CHMP positive opinions for three hospital acute care products: KENGREXAL (cangrelor), ORBACTIV (oritavancin) and RAPLIXA (MDCO) : These positive opinion recommendations represent category firsts across three therapeutic areas:

  •  KENGREXAL is the first intravenous antiplatelet agent that provides immediate, consistent, and rapidly reversible P2Y12 inhibition; 
  • ORBACTIV is the first single-dose antibiotic for treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSIs) caused by susceptible designated Gram-positive bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (:MRSA);
  • RAPLIXA is the first ready-to-use, biologically active, powdered fibrin sealant that provides hemostasis in a wide range of bleeding settings.
A new drug application for ORBACTIV was approved by the FDA in August 2014 after designation as a Qualified Infectious Disease Product under the GAIN Act of 2012. KENGREAL and RAPLIXA new drug applications are under active review by the FDA.

7:13 am Euro Cracks 1.1200: 10Y: +21/32..1.805%..USD/JPY: 117.75..EUR/USD: 1.1147 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index threatens the 95.00 level for the first time in more than 11 years. 
  • EURUSD is -200 pips @ 1.1165 as trade presses to its worst levels since September 2003. The single currency has come under pressure following yesterday's QE announcement, but also coming into play are mixed Manufacturing and Services PMI data from the region and Sunday's Greek election. Most of today's PMI data was close to estimates with the notable takeaway being the weakness in France as both Manufacturing (49.5 actual v. 48.1 expected, 47.5 previous) and Services (49.5 actual v. 50.9 expected, 50.6 previous) PMI readings printed contractionary numbers. Meanwhile, Greece will be in focus on Sunday as the anti-euro Syriza party is set to win the election. Click here to see a daily EURUSD chart.
  • GBPUSD is -45 pips @ 1.4965 as action drops to levels last seen in July 2013 despite the retail sales (+0.4% MoM actual v. -0.6% MoM expected) surprise. The 1.4800 area is under close watch as a breakdown puts sterling at levels last seen in the middle of 2010.
  • USDCHF is +65 pips @ .8765 as buyers look to put in a second day of gains. The upper bound of the .8400/.8800 range that has been in place the past week is now in focus.
  • USDJPY is -65 pips @ 117.85 as trade continues to struggle at the 50 dma (118.75). The pair has tested the level for four straight sessions, but has been unable to breakout. A breakdown of 117.00 puts the key 116.00 area in the crosshairs. 
  • AUDUSD is -65 pips @ .7960 as action flushes to a fresh five-year low. Today's selling in the hard currency comes despite China's HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI (49.8 actual v. 49.5 expected, 49.6 previous) outpacing estimates. USDCNY jumped 0.3% to 6.2275. 
  • USDCAD is +35 pips @ 1.2415 as trade climbs to a six-year high. The pair will be in focus this morning as Canada's retail sales and CPI data are scheduled to cross the wires.

7:07 am Honeywell beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line with lowered expectations; reaffirms FY15 guidance (HON) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.43 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.42; revenues fell 1.2% year/year to $10.27 bln vs the $10.17 bln consensus.

  • Co lowered Q4 rev guidance to $10.1-10.2 bln from $10.3-10.4 bln on December 15 when it initially guided for FY15.
  • Segments: Aerospace sales -6% to $3.8 bln, profit -14%; Automation and Control Systems sales +3% to $14.5 bln; profit +8%; Performance Material and Tech sales flat $2.6 bln, profit +6%.
Co reaffirms guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $5.95-6.15, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $6.11 Capital IQ Consensus; sees FY15 revs of $40.5-41.1 bln vs. $41.12 bln Capital IQ Consensus. 
  • "We remain cautious in our planning with regard to the global economy, but are confident that our balanced portfolio mix of short- and long-cycle businesses is well-positioned to deliver on our 2015 commitments that include higher organic sales, continued margin expansion, and double-digit earnings growth. Honeywell's five year plan is on target and we expect that improving end markets, new product introductions, penetration in high-growth regions, and benefits from our HOS Gold initiative will drive both growth and productivity throughout the company." 

7:04 am First Horizon beats by $0.03, misses on revs (FHN) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.20 per share, $0.03 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.17; revenues fell 4.7% year/year to $278.6 mln vs the $281.57 mln consensus. 

  • Average loans were up 10 percent year over year led by commercial loans First Horizon continued to unwind from the mortgage business the company sold in 2008. 
  • Co's strategy to reduce nonstrategic loans resulted in the portfolio falling from 20% of total average loans in fourth quarter 2013 to 16% in fourth quarter 2014. 
  • The prepayment rate on consumer real estate loans in the non-strategic portfolio increased from 18% to 25% for those same periods.

7:03 am Emerge Energy Services declared a cash distribution of $1.41 for the fourth quarter of 2014, up 2% from the previous distribution of $1.38; revises its full year distribution guidance for the year ending December 31, 2015 to $5.25 to $6.00 per unit (EMES) : The distribution will be paid on February 13, 2015 to allunitholders of record as of February 5, 2015.

  • Based on current market conditions, Emerge Energy is also revising its full yeardistribution guidance for the year ending December 31, 2015 to $5.25 to $6.00per unit.

7:01 am NanoViricides Reports that FluCide candidate was found to be safe in cGLP-like safety and toxicology study in rats performed by BASi (NNVC) :

  • No direct adverse clinical effects were found upon administration of the FluCide candidate intravenously at doses of up to 300mg/kg/day for 14 days in rats. 
  • There were no adverse histological findings in gross organ level histological examination, nor were there any adverse findings in microscopic histological analysis. 
  • There were no meaningful effects observed on animal weight gain, food consumption, hematology, or clinical chemistry at the end of the 14 day dosing period.
  • These results are in agreement with the previously reported results of a non-GLP toxicology study in mice 
  • The next phase of the toxicology package studies will involve larger animals and dates for beginning that next phase were not released.

7:00 am Mallinckrodt plc approved a share repurchase program; open-ended authorization permits repurchase up to $300 mln ordinary shares. (MNK) : Under the share repurchase program authorized by the Board, the company's ordinary shares may be purchased through any one or more of discretionary purchases on the open market, a 10b5-1 trading plan, block trades, accelerated share repurchases or privately negotiated transactions. The number of shares repurchased and the timing of repurchases will depend on a number of factors, including share price, trading volume and general market conditions, along with working capital requirements, general business conditions and other factors. The repurchase authority may be suspended, modified or discontinued at any time, subject to the parameters of any 10b5-1 trading plan, if applicable, that the company may implement.

6:51 am BNY Mellon misses by $0.02, misses on revs (BK) : Reports Q4 (Dec) non-GAAP earnings of $0.58 per share, $0.02 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.60; non-GAAP revenues fell 2.8% year/year to $3.67 bln vs the $3.8 bln consensus. 

  • Investment services fees increased 1% reflecting organic growth, net new business offset by lower Depositary Receipts revenue and the unfavorable impact of a stronger U.S. dollar. 
  • Investment management and performance fees decreased 2% reflecting the unfavorable impact of a stronger U.S. dollar and lower performance fees, partially offset by higher equity market values. 
  • Foreign exchange revenue increased 31% driven by higher volumes and volatility, partially offset by lower Depositary Receipts-related activity. Investment and other income increased $121 million driven by a loss related to an equity investment recorded in 4Q13, partially offset by lower seed capital gains. 
  • Net interest revenue decreased 6% reflecting lower asset yields, higher premium amortization on agency mortgage backed securities, lower accretion and the impact of interest rate hedging. 
  • AUC/A of $28.5 trillion, increased 3% primarily reflecting higher market values and net new business, partially offset by the unfavorable impact of a stronger U.S. dollar.
  • Estimated new AUC/A wins in Asset Servicing of $130 billion in 4Q14. 
  • AUM of a record $1.71 trillion, increased 8% driven by higher equity market values and net new business, partially offset by the unfavorable impact of a stronger U.S. dollar. 
  • Repurchased 11.0 million common shares for $432 million in 4Q14

6:50 am First Niagara reports EPS in-line (FNFG) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.17 per share, excluding non-recurring items, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.17. Average total loans increased 7% annualized from the prior quarter, driven by continued growth in the company's commercial lending, indirect auto and home equity portfolios.

6:38 am IEC Electronics Correction: Vintage Capital announces that three major Proxy Advisors - ISS, Glass Lewis and Egan-Jones - recommend IEC stockholders vote on the GOLD Proxy card (IEC) : Vintage Capital recommended that stockholders vote for all seven Vintage nominees because of their belief that "the slate has a better strategy and relevant experience to execute Vintage's plans and maximize value for all shareholders."

ISS noted that "the risk of a complete change in the board ... is likely less worrisome than the risk of leaving all seven incumbents in place, and missing entirely the opportunity to effect meaningful change in the company's performance."

Glass Lewis concurred, stating that they "see room for improvement on the IEC board, owing to the recent operational struggles, unsatisfactory communication with shareholders and reoccurring instances of poor corporate governance."

6:21 am Independent Bank Group announces that the Board has authorized the repurchase of up to $30 mln of its common stock (IBTX) : The repurchase program is authorized to continue through December 31, 2015

6:10 am Prosperity Bancshares beats by $0.04 (PB) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.12 per share, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.08.

  • The net interest margin on a tax equivalent basis increased to 3.89% for the three months ended December 31, 2014, compared with 3.82% for the same period in 2013 and 3.85% for the three months ended September 30, 2014.
  • Deposits at December 31, 2014 were $17.693 billion, an increase of $2.402 billion or 15.7% compared with $15.291 billion at December 31, 2013, primarily due to the acquisition of F&M.  Linked quarter deposits increased $679.131 million or 4.0% from $17.014 billion at September 30, 2014.  
  • Average loans increased $2.087 billion or 28.8% to $9.325 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2014, compared with $7.238 billion for the same period in 2013.
  • The provision for credit losses was $6.350 million for the three months ended December 31, 2014 compared with $7.865 million for the three months ended December 31, 2013 and $5.000 million for the three months ended September 30, 2014.  
  • Net charge offs were $3.201 million for the three months ended December 31, 2014, primarily due to one acquired loan made to a company that filed bankruptcy and subsequently sold the collateral, compared with $496 thousand for the three months ended December 31, 2013 and $653 thousand for the three months ended September 30, 2014. 

6:07 am State Street beats by $0.10, beats on revs (STT) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $1.37 per share, $0.10 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.27; revenues rose 7.8% year/year to $2.72 bln vs the $2.67 bln consensus.

  • Q4 Net interest margin1 1.04% vs 1.06% in Q3
  • Net interest revenue of $587 million increased from $580 million in the third quarter of 2014 and decreased from $596 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • ROE of 11.6% increased from 11.4% in the third quarter of 2014 and from 10.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Provision for loan losses of $4 million increased from $2 million in the third quarter of 2014 and decreased from $6 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
Capital
  • Common equity tier 1 ratio as of December 31, 2014, calculated under the advanced approaches in conformity with the Basel III final rule, was 12.5%. 
    • Estimated pro forma Basel III common equity tier 1 ratio as of December 31, 2014 was 10.8%. 

6:01 am Targa Resources to launch syndication of $430 mln senior secured term loan (TRGP) : The loan matures seven years after closing. The co intends to use the net proceeds from the term loan issuance, in conjunction with a $670 million revolving credit facility,

  • (i) to finance, in part, the proposed acquisition of Atlas Energy, following the spin-off of its non-midstream assets 
  • (ii) to pay related fees and expenses 
  • (iii) to refinance existing indebtedness.

6:00 am Joes Jeans announces that Marc Crossman has tendered his resignation as President and CEO and that in conjunction with his resignation, he will be transitioning to a consulting position (JOEZ) : Samuel Joseph Furrow, Jr. will serve as Interim CEO.

5:30 am Baidu.com unit and NVIDIA (NVDA) announce establishment of the iQIYI-NVIDIA research and development center (BIDU) : Co iQIYI, an independently operated subsidiary of Baidu (BIDU) and one of the largest internet and mobile video service providers in China, today announced its strategic partnership with NVIDIA (NVDA). The two companies will establish the iQIYI-NVIDIA Research and Development Center to enhance iQIYI's deep learning and media cloud computing capabilities using NVIDIA's Graphic Processing Units and deep learning architecture. Both sides will improve iQIYI's video platform for a more personalized viewing experience for Chinese users. 

5:28 am Hanwha SolarOne amends shareholder circular to reflect restructuring of Q Cells (HSOL) : Co announced that it will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission supplemental information to the shareholder circular (the "Circular") dated December 24, 2014 regarding the proposed acquisition of Hanwha Q CELLS Investment Co.

  • As part of the program, Q CELLS' German site will cease production as of March 1, 2015. At present, its German site has production capacities of 230 MW for cells and 130 MW for modules respectively. 
  • Q CELLS intends to transfer the respective production equipment to more cost competitive sites, namely its main production site in Cyberjaya, Malaysia for cells, and another site to be determined later for modules. The organization in Germany will be restructured accordingly and be focused on its core functions: Research & Development, Quality Management, Component Sales and Power Plant Solutions Business.

5:27 am Tianyin Pharma's JCM updates on import registration for international clients (TPI) : Co announced the business and development progress at its Jiangchuan Macrolide Facility (:JCM) API operation.

  • Following the September 2014 JCM application for the import certificate to India via India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organization Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, TPI's JCM successfully passed the preliminary examination on December 30, 2014, and was notified on January 16, 2015 by the Directorate General Of Health Services, Office of Drug Controller General Import and Registration Division regarding the application to import Azithromycin API products and intermediates to send in samples of Azithromycin API from three different lots for analysis. Upon request, the samples were sent to the Central Drug Testing Laboratory in Mumbai, India.
  • In addition to the business and development at India, JCM has developed business with a number of international clients located in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Iran with substantial progress on import status.
  • JCM has also been in negotiation with a subsidiary of a large international (:US) pharmaceutical company who specializes in Azithromycin tablets sale worldwide for API orders.  

5:24 am Zafgen prices 3,942,200 shares of its common stock at a price of $35.00 per share (ZFGN) :  

5:24 am Michaels Stores prices 18,800,000 shares of its common stock at a price of $23.52 per share by selling shareholders (MIK) :  

5:22 am Radius Health prices 4,000,000 shares of its common stock at $36.75 per share (RDUS) :  

5:22 am Verastem prices 7,250,000 shares of its common stock at $6.50 per share (VSTM) :  

4:45 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • The Automotive Advertising Agency, an Austin based full-service creative agency serving the automotive industry, has inked a multi-market deal with consumer viewership data giant Rentrak (RENT)
  • Quintiles (Q) announced the launch of a handbook to guide physicians in the conduct of investigator initiated clinical trials. Top clinical researchers from academia and industry across Asia-Pacific joined Quintiles' experts in contributing to and editing the handbook
  • IAMGOLD (IAG) reports that an event occurred in a confined area of the Westwood mine in Quebec this afternoon, January 22, 2015.  A rock burst occurred and caused a localized underground ground fall. No employees were injured and all employees in the mine were evacuated. 

4:27 am Nippon Telegr strengthens enterprise cloud and wideangle security services with Fortinet (FTNT) (NTT) : NTT Communications (NTT) announced the immediate launch of a software security appliance service that can be deployed in a customer's private cloud, and in the near future via NTT Com's WideAngle security service for managed security. The service, which is being offered in collaboration with Fortinet (FTNT) and enables the on-demand use of basic security functions, such as cloud intrusion prevention system (IPS) and filtering, for the unprecedentedly fast, flexible and low-cost implementation of security measures. 

4:18 am Nevro Receives approvable letter from FDA for Senza Spinal Cord Stimulation System (NVRO) : Co announced that it has received a letter from the FDA informing the company of the approvability of its Premarket Approval Application for the Senza spinal cord stimulation system.  

  • According to the approvable letter, approval of the PMA is subject to satisfaction of regulatory inspections and audits of manufacturing facilities, methods and controls for Senza to ensure compliance with the FDA's Quality System Regulation, as well as finalization of the product's labeling with the FDA. 

4:16 am Safeway announces extension of offer to purchase senior notes due 2019, 2020 and 2021 (SWY) : Co is extending the expiration of its offer to purchase of the following: 

  • $500 mln of 5.00% Senior Notes due August 15, 2019 
  • $500 mln of 3.95% Senior Notes due August 15, 2020 
  • $400 mln of 4.75% Senior Notes due December 1, 2021 

4:14 am Dataram announces appointment of Dave Moylan as interim CEO (DRAM) : Co announced that its board of directors appointed board member and Chairman David Moylan as its interim President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), replacing John Freeman. Moylan brings extensive experience and knowledge to Dataram. He joined Dataram's Board of Directors in November 2014 and serves as its Chairman 

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