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5:47 pm AbbVie confirms FDA approval of Viekira Pak for the treatment of chronic genotype 1 hepatitis c (:ABBV) : Co confirmed the FDA has approved VIEKIRA PAK, an all-oral, interferon-free treatment, with or without ribavirin (:RBV), for the treatment of patients with chronic genotype 1 (GT1) hepatitis C virus (:HCV) infection, including those with compensated cirrhosis. VIEKIRA PAK is the only FDA-approved regimen that contains three distinct mechanisms of action - NS5A inhibitor, NS3/4A protease inhibitor and a non-nucleoside NS5B polymerase inhibitor - that work together to attack the virus at three separate stages of the disease lifecycle to inhibit it from reproducing.

AbbVie expects to provide earnings-per-share guidance for 2015 in early January. The company will provide detailed 2015 guidance, including product sales estimates and other financial metrics, on its fourth quarter earnings conference call, scheduled for January 30, 2015.

5:31 pm EXACT Sciences announces The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will issue a correction to the 2015 lab fee scheduled; to reimburse Cologuard at $500.76 (:EXAS) : The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (:CMS) has informed representatives of Exact Sciences that next week the agency will be issuing a correction to the 2015 lab fee schedule. Consistent with the November 25th final payment decision, CMS will reimburse Cologuard based on the national limit for CPT codes 82274, 81275 and 81315 which combined lead to a total reimbursement amount of $500.76.

5:28 pm Renewable Energy issues statement in support of reistatement of the Federal Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit (:REGI) : Co's President & CEO Daniel J. Oh issued the following statement upon President Obama's signing of legislation which contained a retroactive reinstatement of the $1 per gallon federal Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit from January 1 through December 31, 2014:

  • "The biomass-based diesel industry has proven that it provides substantial benefits for energy security, food security, job creation and our environment. We are appreciative to see the reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit for 2014 and grateful to all the lawmakers who worked to get it done because they understand how those benefits far outweigh any cost of the tax credit. REG will strive to continue being a good steward of the monies we receive from this worthwhile incentive."

5:26 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:ASPX (53.37 +114.34%),VOLC (17.88 +51.14%),OVAS (47.85 +46.29%),CERS (6.41 +31.62%)
  • Consumer Discretionary:ZQK (2.72 +42.41%)
  • Information Technology:DRIV (24.04 +42.33%),BNFT (31.77 +34.16%)
  • Energy:TLM (7.85 +82.98%),SN (10.47 +50.65%),TPLM (5.78 +42.36%),OAS (17.16 +39.17%),PE (15.92 +38.31%),NBR (13.63 +36.3%),TTI (6.87 +35.77%),EPE (10.13 +35.61%),SGY (18.35 +34.53%),WTI (7.63 +34.33%),BTE (17.96 +33.93%),PVA (6.47 +33.68%),PDCE (43.58 +31.54%)
This week's top 20 % losers
  • Healthcare:IMGN (6.11 -38.96%),EYES (11.19 -26.57%),XOMA (4.01 -14.32%)
  • Materials:WOR (30.06 -14.96%),MUX (0.95 -14.19%)
  • Consumer Discretionary:RT (6.43 -21.59%),FINL (23.35 -17.55%),HABT (35.11 -16.19%),ICON (33.31 -15.13%),WGO (21.23 -14.05%),ARCO (5.27 -11.43%),GPRO (53.9 -10.94%),DNKN (41.67 -10.88%)
  • Information Technology:SIMG (5.19 -23.22%),QIWI (20.06 -16.28%),XNET (6.6 -12.35%),HDP (23.34 -11.52%)
  • Energy:TNK (4.7 -12.15%)
  • Consumer Staples:ANFI (10.5 -12.5%),FRPT (15.01 -12.43%)

5:07 pm Global Brass and Copper announced the promotion of William G. Toler to become the President of GBC Metals (:BRSS) : He will replace John J. Wasz, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Global Brass and Copper Holdings, Inc., who previously held this role. Mr. Wasz will continue in his role as President, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and a member of the board of directors of Global Brass and Copper Holdings, Inc.

5:07 pm Avalon Rare Metals announced that it has closed a non-brokered private placement of 8,981,781 flow-through common shares at a price of $0.27 per Flow-Through Share for gross proceeds of ~ $2.425 mln (:AVL) : Secutor Capital Management Corporation, and its affiliates, acted as a finder for the Company, and were paid a cash commission of 6% of the gross proceeds related to non-insider subscribers and issued non-transferrable finder's warrants equal to 6% of the number of Flow-Through Shares sold to non-insiders, with each finder's warrant being exercisable to acquire one common share of the Company at a price of $0.27, commencing six months from the closing date for a term of 24 months from the closing date. An insider of the Company subscribed for 185,000 Flow-Through Shares.

5:05 pm Access Natl declared a special dividend, which with the normal cash dividend totals $0.35 per share, up from the previous normal dividend of $0.14 (:ANCX) : The dividend is payable to holders of record as of December 30, 2014 and payable on January 16, 2015

5:05 pm GigOptix amends and restates stockholder rights plan (:GIG) : Co announced that on December 16, 2014 it has entered into an Amended and Restated Rights Agreement to extend the expiration date of its stockholder rights plan which provides that the Company issue rights to purchase shares of Series A Junior Preferred Stock. The stockholder rights plan would otherwise have expired on December 16, 2014. The Amended and Restated Rights Agreement amends the Rights Agreement previously adopted by (i) extending the expiration date by three years to December 16, 2017, (ii) decreasing the exercise price per right issued to stockholders pursuant to the stockholder rights plan from $8.50 to $5.25, and (iii) making certain other technical and conforming changes. The Amended and Restated Rights Agreement was not adopted in response to any acquisition proposal.

5:02 pm United Tech recommends shareholders reject TRC Capital 'mini-tender' offer to purchase up to 1 mln shares of UTC's outstanding common stock at a price of $108.85 per share in cash (:UTX) : The co recommends that shareholders reject this unsolicited offer because the offer price is below the current market price for UTC shares. As TRC Capital's own offer document acknowledges, the offering price is ~4.55% below the closing price per share of UTC on Dec. 11, 2014, the last trading day before the mini-tender offer was commenced.

5:00 pm First Savings Finl announced that its wholly-owned bank subsidiary has completed its conversion from a federal savings bank to a commercial bank, effective today (:FSFG) : The bank now operates as an Indiana-chartered commercial bank under the name "First Savings Bank" and as a member of the Federal Reserve System.

4:50 pm United Security Bancshares announces extension of share repurchase program (:USBI) : Co announced that its Board of Directors has extended USBI's existing share repurchase program pursuant to which USBI may repurchase up to 642,785 shares of its common stock. The repurchase program originally approved by the USBI Board of Directors on January 19, 2006 has been extended to expire on December 31, 2015. To date, USBI has repurchased approximately 400,482 shares of common stock under the share repurchase program.

4:47 pm Overseas Shipholding Group announces appointment of Mr Douglas Wheat as Chairman of the Board, Rick Oricchio as Chief Financial Officer (:OSGB) : Co announced several key management changes as the Company continues to execute its strategy following emergence from bankruptcy in August 2014. The Board of Directors of the Company has appointed Mr. Douglas Wheat as Chairman of the Board. Mr. Wheat, who has served as a Director of the Company since August 2014, currently also serves as Chairman of AMN Healthcare Services Inc. and as Vice Chairman of Dex Media, Inc. Mr. Wheat assumes the position of Chairman from Mr. John Ray. Mr. Ray, Managing Director of Greylock Partners, LLC, a restructuring advisory firm, was formerly Chief Restructuring Officer of the Company during its Chapter 11 proceeding. He had agreed to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors following confirmation of the Plan of Reorganization to assist with the transition and development of the Company during the period immediately after the emergence.

Additionally, the Company announced it has appointed Rick Oricchio as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer effective as of January 12, 2015. Mr. Oricchio joins the Company after a 30-year career with Deloitte, LLP.

4:36 pm Black Hills Corp receives regulatory approval to from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for an estimated $3 mln per year in additional revenue (:BKH) :  

4:32 pm Kearny Financial provides update on progress of second-step stock offering (:KRNY) : Kearny MHC (the "MHC") and Kearny Financial (KRNY), the holding company for Kearny Federal Savings Bank, provided an update on the progress of its proposed reorganization into a new stock holding company and second-step stock offering of new shares of common stock. As a result of the passage of time from the initial date of filing of the applications with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and in consultation with the Federal Reserve staff, the applications were voluntarily withdrawn by the MHC with the intention of re-filing updated applications in the first quarter of 2015.

4:32 pm Ryerson announced that President and CEO Michael C. Arnold informed Ryerson's Board of Directors of his intent to retire next year (:RYI) : Specific timing for a transition has not yet been determined, though a new chief executive officer could be in place as soon as Q1 2015. Michael Arnold has committed to staying on as long as necessary to ensure a smooth transition.

4:31 pm CNA Financial announced the retirement of Robert Lindemann, president and COO of CNA Commercial, effective December 31, 2014 (:CNA) : Pending the appointment of a successor, Dave Rutkowski, SVP, Commercial Underwriting, will assume certain of Bob's responsibilities, including day-to-day operational duties.

4:31 pm Kanye Anderson Midstream announced its quarterly distribution of $0.495 per share for the quarter ended November 30, 2014, represneting an increase of 1.5% from the prior quarter's distribution (:KMF) : The distribution will be payable on January 16, 2015 to common stockholders of record on December 30, 2014

4:25 pm Waste Mgmt announced that it will redeem the entire outstanding principal amount of its 6.375% Senior Notes due March 2015, 7.125% Senior Notes due December 2017, and 7.375% Senior Notes due March 2019 (:WM) : The redemption date for the Notes is January 20, 2015. The aggregate principal amount of the Notes outstanding is $946.8 mln.

4:22 pm Supervalu to provide distribution and transition services to expanded Haggen grocery operations (:SVU) : Co announced it had reached agreement with Haggen, a grocery retailer currently operating 18 stores in Washington and Oregon, to serve as one of its primary grocery suppliers and as its transition services provider to the planned expanded Haggen business. Haggen announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 146 stores as part of the divestment process brought about by the Federal Trade Commission's (:FTC) review of the Albertson's LLC and Safeway merger. The acquisition is subject to FTC approval and is expected to close in early 2015.

  • In its role as grocery distributor, SUPERVALU would supply products and provide wholesale services to 64 Haggen stores in Oregon and Washington (comprised of the 46 stores Haggen plans to acquire as well as Haggen's 18 existing stores). In 2015, Haggen plans to convert these acquired stores to the Haggen Northwest Fresh brand. Additionally, SUPERVALU would provide transition services for all 164 Haggen stores, including IT support and certain back-office support functions.
  • In connection with these transactions, SUPERVALU also announced today it has agreed to acquire two Albertson's grocery stores located in Everett and Woodinville, Washington.

4:17 pm S&W Seed to acquire DuPont Pioneer's alfalfa research and production assets for $42 mln (shares halted) (:SANW) : The co announced the acquisition of all of DuPont Pioneer's alfalfa production and research facility assets, as well as all conventional (non-GMO) alfalfa germplasm, for a purchase price of up to $42 million.

  • The purchase price consists of $27 million in cash (payable at closing), a promissory note payable by S&W to DuPont Pioneer in the principal amount of $10 million and a potential earn-out payment of up to $5 million based on sales of the acquired germplasm in the three-year period following the closing. The promissory note bears interest at 3% per annum (paid annually) and is payable on December 31, 2017.
  • Concurrently with the closing of the acquisition, S&W and DuPont Pioneer are entering into exclusive alfalfa seed distribution and production agreements under which, subject to certain exceptions, S&W will be DuPont Pioneer's sole supplier of alfalfa seed through 2024.
  • Under the agreement, DuPont Pioneer will continue to sell S&W-supplied, proprietary Pioneer brand alfalfa varieties to customers for at least the next 10 years, through Pioneer's extensive network of exclusive sales representatives. The agreement provides S&W with a strong and reliable customer for a large portion of the new S&W seed production, and provides DuPont Pioneer customers with the same leading alfalfa seed varieties that they have relied on for years. 
  • The co has also agreed, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, to purchase DuPont Pioneer's GMO alfalfa germplasm and related assets for an additional $7 million in cash. The closing for the second acquisition, if all conditions to closing are satisfied, will occur on December 29, 2017. If the second acquisition is completed, the total purchase price for both acquisitions would be up to $49 million.
  • The newly acquired alfalfa business is expected to contribute ~ $26 million of incremental annual revenues in FY '15 and ~ $40 million of incremental annual revenues in FY '16

4:17 pm Actavis: XYDALBA receives CHMP positive opinion for the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections in adults (:ACT) :  

4:16 pm News Corp. announced that it has acquired BigDecisions.com, an India web startup that helps consumers make financial decisions (:NWSA) : Co announced that it has acquired BigDecisions.com in India. BigDecisions.com aims to help Indian consumers make smarter financial decisions through interactive, decision-making tools powered by sophisticated algorithms and data.

  • News Corp's investment follows its announcement in November that it had acquired a 25% stake in PropTiger.com, a leading residential real estate platform that also provides accurate and independent data and information to India's homebuyers.

4:15 pm Walgreens announces intention to list Walgreens Boots Alliance shares on Nasdaq following completion of holding company reorganization (:WAG) : Co announced  that it intends to apply to list the shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. common stock on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol "WBA" following the closing of the previously announced reorganization of Walgreens into a holding co structure pursuant to a merger of a wholly owned subsidiary of Walgreens with and into Walgreens, in which issued and outstanding shares of Walgreens common stock, par value $0.078125 per share, will be converted automatically into the right to receive shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance common stock, par value $0.01 per share, on a one-for-one basis, and the acquisition of the remaining 55% of Alliance Boots GmbH that it does not currently own.

4:15 pm Grana y Montero receives letter of intent for Shahuindo Project; estimated value of the agreement is $240 for the next five years (:GRAM) : Co announced it has received a Letter of Intent from Rio Alto confirming they have reached a commercial agreement in order for its subsidiary Stracon GyM S.A. to perform as a contractor in Shahuindo Project, located in Cajabamba, province of Cajamarca. The estimated value of the agreement is US$ 240 million for the next 5 years.

4:13 pm Closing Market Summary: Stocks End Strong Week on Upbeat Note (:WRAPX) : The stock market capped a strong week with an advance that sent the S&P 500 higher by 0.5% to extend its weekly gain to 3.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.2%) underperformed today, but the price-weighted index still managed to add 3.0% for the week.

After adding more than 88 points in the previous two sessions, the S&P 500 spent the first half of the day near its flat line, but climbed ahead of the close. Despite the sharp midweek surge, buying interest remained in place today with nine of ten sectors ending the day in the green.

The energy sector (+3.1%) finished in the lead and extended its weekly gain to 9.7%, which put the growth-sensitive group well ahead of the remaining sectors. Crude oil contributed to today's rally as the energy component settled higher by 5.4% at $57.10/bbl and continued its advance into the $58.00/bbl area in electronic trade.

Meanwhile, the other commodity-related sector-materials-ended in the second place with a solid gain of 1.2%. Steelmakers contributed to the advance with the Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 36.61, +1.05) climbing 3.0%.

Outside of energy and materials, only one other sectors was able to end ahead of the broader market. Industrials (+0.5%) rallied behind their top-weighted component-General Electric (GE 25.62, +0.48)-while transport stocks ended just behind the broader market. The Dow Jones Transportation Average climbed 0.4% with freight carriers pacing the advance.

Elsewhere, the health care sector (+0.4%) slipped behind the market into the close, but biotechnology outperformed. Juno Therapeutics (JUNO 35.00, +11.00) surged 45.8% in its debut, which represented the largest biotech IPO of the year. For its part, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 317.20, +3.23) rallied 1.0% and helped the Nasdaq Composite end just behind the broader market even as chipmakers lagged.

The PHLX Semiconductor Index shed 0.3% with Xilinx (XLNX 43.00, -0.70) falling 1.6% after Bank of America/Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to 'Underperform' from 'Neutral.' As for the broader technology sector (+0.1%), the top-weighted group was kept behind the broader market by relative weakness in influential components like Apple (AAPL 111.78, -0.87), Intel (INTC 36.37, -0.65), and Visa (V 261.67, -2.49).

Shares of Visa were also partially responsible for the underperformance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. However it wasn't just the top-priced listing that kept the index behind the S&P 500. Nike (NKE 94.84, -2.24) fell 2.3% after the company's below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue. Retail names in general displayed weakness with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 94.13, -0.68) shedding 0.7%.

Treasuries climbed throughout the day and ended just below their highs. The benchmark 10-yr yield slipped four basis points to 2.17%.

Today's participation was well ahead of average, which was caused by quadruple witching. As a result more than 2.1 billion shares changed hands at the NYSE floor.

Investors did not receive any economic news today and Monday's data will be limited to the Existing Home Sales report (Briefing.com consensus 5.20 million), which will be released at 10:00 ET.

  • Nasdaq Composite +14.1% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +12.0% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +7.4% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +2.7% YTD 
Week in Review: Oil Remains in Focus

The major averages began the new week amid some old concerns. The S&P 500 settled lower by 0.6% while the Nasdaq Composite (-1.0%) underperformed, but most of the attention was directed to crude oil trading pits once again. After plunging nearly 4.0% on Friday and inviting questions about macroeconomic implications of the continued weakness, crude oil enjoyed an overnight rebound before resuming its downtrend. The energy component ended the pit session lower by 3.2% at $55.96/bbl and continued its retreat into the $55.50/bbl area in electronic trade. Similar to oil, European equities and U.S. equity futures rebounded in overnight action, but accelerated their retreat from highs once the U.S. cash market opened. All ten sectors finished the day in negative territory with heavily-weighted financials (-0.9%), health care (-0.9%), and consumer discretionary (-0.6%) keeping the market under pressure.

The stock market endured a volatile session on Tuesday with investors keeping one eye on the oil market and one on the dollar/ruble exchange rate. The Russell 2000 (-0.1%) registered the slimmest decline while the S&P 500 settled lower by 0.9% after failing to hold its 100-day (1988) and 50-day moving averages (2001). On Monday evening, the Central Bank of Russia hiked its key interest rate by 650-basis points to 17.0% with the move aimed at halting the recent freefall in the ruble. The news gave a brief boost to the Russian currency, but the ruble was down more than 18.0% against the dollar in the morning, which invited concerns about potential economic and financial risks stemming from the continued plunge. This sent participants scrambling in search of safe havens, which boosted Treasuries and the yen. Meanwhile in the commodity market, crude oil was down in excess of 2.5% this morning, but the energy component spiked off its low shortly after the start of the pit session. Oil was able to return to its flat line, but could not make a sustained move into the green, ending with a nine-cent loss at $55.87/bbl.

Stocks ended the Wednesday session with solid gains that were paced by the Russell 2000. The small-cap index jumped 3.1% while the S&P 500 settled higher by 2.0% with all ten sectors registering gains. Equities climbed through the first half of action and saw an extension of their rally in the afternoon once the FOMC released its latest policy directive. As expected by some, the Fed removed the "considerable time" language from its policy statement, but that reference was replaced with a call for "patience," which essentially conveyed the same message. Above all, Chair Yellen reiterated that the central bank will remain data-dependent and reserves the right to accelerate, or defer, a rate hike in accordance with what the data are communicating about the progress being made toward the Fed's dual mandate. The policy statement was followed by volatile action in the bond market, but Treasuries slid to lows into the close. The benchmark 10-yr yield spiked eight basis points to 2.14%. As for equities, the energy sector (+4.2%) paced the advance and ended near its high even as crude oil slumped into the close, narrowing its gain to 1.0% at $56.44/bbl.

Equity indices ended the Thursday affair on their highs with the S&P 500 (+2.4%) extending its two-day advance to 88 points. The key averages started the Thursday session on a sharply higher note after equity futures received an early morning boost, which took place after the Swiss National Bank imposed negative deposit rates (-0.25%). The central bank said the move is aimed at lowering the three-month LIBOR below zero and European investors viewed the announcement as a prelude to a sovereign QE program from the European Central Bank. European equities, U.S. futures, and commodities rallied following the news, but crude oil fell victim to renewed selling interest after climbing above the $58.50/bbl level in the early morning. The energy component ended near its worst level of the day, down 4.0% at $54.19/bbl. For its part, the energy sector (+2.1%) displayed relative strength at the start, but was pressured from its high by the intraday weakness in crude. Marathon Oil (:MRO) finished ahead of the sector, adding 3.3%, after lowering its 2015 capital, investment, and exploration budget by about 20.0% from this year's levels due to the recent plunge in the price of crude.

4:12 pm Estee Lauder to acquire GLAMGLOW, a Hollywood skin care brand focused on fast-acting treatment masks; terms not disclosed (:EL) :  

4:08 pm Forward Industries: ISS recommends FORD shareholders vote on the gold proxy card for substantial change (:FORD) : Co announce that ISS, the world's leading provider of corporate governance solutions, recommends Forward Industries shareholders vote on the GOLD proxy card for Mr. Wise, Howard Morgan and Michael Luetkemeyer.

  • Glass Lewis, the other leading proxy advisory firm, has also recommended that shareholders use the GOLD proxy card at the upcoming annual meeting. 
  • In addition, in a statement issued today, Mr. Wise confronted FORD's entrenched Board of Directors on their recent misrepresentations of the experience and integrity of his Director nominees.

4:07 pm Safeway confirms agreements to sell 168 stores in eight states to four buyers (:SWY) : Co announced that they have entered into agreements, subject to approval by the FTC, to sell 168 stores across eight states to four buyers:

  • Associated Food Stores will purchase eight stores in Montana and Wyoming;
  • Associated Wholesale Grocers / Minyards will purchase 12 stores in Texas;
  • SUPERVALU (SVU) will purchase two stores in Washington; and 
  • Haggen will purchase 146 stores across Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington 
Under the terms of the purchase agreements, the buyers will acquire the stores, equipment and inventory, and they intend to hire most, if not all, of the store employees upon the closing of the purchase of the stores.

4:07 pm TransAtlantic Petroleum announces convertible note offering and provides corporate update (:TAT) : Co announced  that it expects to issue between $25.0 and $55.0 million of convertible notes in a private placement.

  • If $55.0 million of notes are issued, the notes will not be convertible into more than 19.9% of the Company's currently outstanding common shares.
  • A portion of the debt offering is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014. 
  • The Company plans to use the proceeds for short-term debt repayment, working capital, and general corporate purposes, primarily in the Company's Albanian operations.

4:07 pm Alpha Natural Resources Affiliates Settle Selenium Cases; As part of the settlement, the Alpha-affiliated mining operations will pay a civil penalty of $350,000 (:ANR) : As part of the settlement, the Alpha-affiliated mining operations will pay a civil penalty of $350K.

  • The agreed upon compliance dates are largely consistent with existing permits or permit renewal proposals for these mining operations. 
  • By resolving all pending Clean Water Act lawsuits, these mining operations are able to move forward with implementing proven technology in their existing compliance plans rather than focusing on litigation.

4:06 pm C&J Energy Services announces Delaware Supreme Court's decision to overturn injunction and termination of solicitation (:CJES) : Co announced the Delaware Supreme Court has ruled to overturn a bench ruling and order of the Delaware Court of Chancery dated November 24 and 25, 2014, respectively, which had required co to solicit alternative proposals to purchase co from other potential buyers for a period of 30 days before holding its stockholder meeting to approve the merger agreement with Nabors Industries Ltd.

  • The Delaware Supreme Court found that co had pursued its proposed transaction with Nabors in compliance with co's fiduciary duties toward all of its stockholders. 
  • As a result of this ruling, C&J and Nabors are free to proceed to closing following receipt of C&J stockholder approval and C&J is immediately terminating its previously announced solicitation of alternative proposals.

4:06 pm Staples provides update on data security incident: 'Malware may have allowed access to some transaction data at affected stores, including cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates, and card verification codes' (:SPLS) : SPLS' data security experts detected that criminals deployed malware to some point-of-sale systems at 115 of its more than 1,400 U.S. retail stores.

  • Upon detection, Staples immediately took action to eradicate the malware in mid-September and to further enhance its security. 
  • SPLS also retained outside data security experts to investigate the incident and has worked closely with payment card companies and law enforcement on this matter.
  • Based on its investigation, Staples believes that malware may have allowed access to some transaction data at affected stores, including cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates, and card verification codes.

4:05 pm Box Ships announces receipt of notice of non-compliance from NYSE (:TEU) : Co announced that on December 2, 2014, it received notice from the NYSE indicating that co is no longer in compliance with the NYSE's continued listing standards because the average closing price of the Company's common stock over a consecutive 30 trading-day period was less than $1.00 per share.

4:02 pm China Housing & Land announces mgmt change; CFO resigns due to personal reasons (:CHLN) : Co announced that that its CFO, Mr. Cangsang Huang, is resigning from his position at co due to personal reasons, effective December 17, 2014. On December 19, 2014, the Company's board has appointed Ms. Fang Nie, co's Director of Finance, to serve as the Company's new CFO.

4:01 pm Events and conferences of interest for next week : Events and conferences of interest for next week, Dec 22nd-26th, are listed below. For a complete list of next week's events, please see the events calendar.
Monday

  • 2 Year Treasury Note Auction at 13:00
  • China Leading Economic Index at 22:00
Tuesday
  • France GDP (out overnight) UK GDP Data (out overnight)
  • 5 Year Treasury Note Auction at 13:00
Wednesday
  • Equity markets close at 13:00 for Christmas Eve
  • 7 Year Treasury Note Auction at 13:00
Thursday
  • Japan Unemployment Rate
  • US Markets closed for Christmas Day
Friday
  • China Industrial Profits
  • Actavis (ACT) PDUFA date for hypertension drug

3:53 pm Caesars Entertainment Reaches Agreement with First Lien Noteholder Steering Committee on Debt Restructuring (:CZR) :

  • Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc., a subsidiary of CZR, and Caesars Entertainment have reached an agreement with CEOC's first lien noteholder steering committee regarding terms of a financial restructuring plan. The restructuring support agreement has been signed by all members of the first lien noteholder steering committee.
  • To implement the balance sheet deleveraging, CEOC expects to voluntarily commence a reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in mid-January 2015. 
  • CEOC and its properties will continue to operate in the ordinary course throughout the restructuring process.
  • Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Entertainment Resort Properties and Caesars Growth Partners, which are separate entities with independent debt capital structures, will not be part of the court-supervised process. 
  • Under the terms of the proposed financial restructuring, CEOC will convert its corporate structure by separating virtually all of its US-based gaming operating assets and real property assets into two companies, including an operating entity and a newly formed, publicly traded real estate investment trust that will directly or indirectly own a newly formed property company. The proposed transactions would reduce CEOC's debt by approximately $10 billion, providing for the exchange of approximately $18.4 billion of outstanding debt for $8.6 billion of new debt. Annual interest expense would be reduced by approximately 75%, from approximately $1.7 billion to approximately $450 million. PropCo would lease its real property assets to OpCo in exchange for annual lease payments of $635 million, with the lease payments guaranteed by CEC.

3:48 pm Forward Industries encourages shareholders to 'focus on the best plan ahead for the future of the company'; Reiterates strategic vision and plan held by the current Board and management (:FORD) : Highlights of the letter include:

  • "Reviews lack of direction and transparency in "90 Day Plan" submitted by Terence Bernard Wise"
  • "Highlights findings by Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services that certain members of Terence Bernard Wise's slate of director nominees are unqualified"
  • "Co notes Mr. Wise's presentation is also riddled with inaccuracies and exaggerations, which are distracting and misleading shareholder opinion."
  • "Notes that replacing Rob Garrett with Michael Luetkemeyer as interim CEO is a dangerous risk for shareholders. Garrett oversaw Forward's turnaround and return to operating profit while growing sales to $33.4 million in FY 2014, up from $22.8 million in FY 2011, the year before he took over. Meanwhile, Mr. Luetkemeyer oversaw tremendous value destruction as CFO of TranS1, Inc."

3:45 pm Canadian Natl Rail announced that it has negotiated a tentative labour agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union that represents locomotive engineers and conductors working on the company's Northern Quebec Internal Short line (:CNI) : The four-year agreement would provide wage increases and benefit improvements to 93 employees. Details of the agreement are being withheld pending ratification by the affected TCRC members. The union is expected to announce the results of the ratification vote by the end of February 2015.

3:45 pm Earnings Preview for the week of December 22 - 26 (:SUMRX) : Of the companies reporting earnings for the week of December 22 - 26 some of the bigger names include:

  • Monday:
    • After Hours - SCS
  • Tuesday:
    • Pre Market - WAG
    • After Hours - CALM, CAMP

3:36 pm Advaxis announced that it has executed definitive securities purchase agreements with two institutional investors for gross proceeds of ~$16.7 million in a registered direct offering of ~ 3.9 million shares at a price of $4.25 per share (:ADXS) : Proceeds from this financing will be used primarily to fund the continued clinical development of Advaxis's cancer immunotherapy pipeline.

3:32 pm EXACT Sciences addresses CMS reimbursement for Cologuard; 'The reimbursement amount published today for Cologuard in the 2015 Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory Fee Schedule is inconsistent with what the CMS publicly communicated' (:EXAS) : The co notes that the reimbursement amount published today for Cologuard in the 2015 Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory Fee Schedule is inconsistent with what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publicly communicated on November 25, 2014 when CMS issued a final payment decision for Cologuard using the crosswalk methodology to CPT codes 81315, 81275, and 82274.

  • Utilizing the crosswalk methodology based on the updated 2015 fee schedule the total for these codes is $500.76. Exact Sciences is working with CMS to clarify and will communicate more information once it becomes available.
  • CMS received public comments on that recommendation and on November 25, 2014 published their final recommendation which affirmed the crosswalk methodology.

3:31 pm Exeter Resource files amended technical report on Caspiche (:XRA) : The Company filed the PEA Report to respond to items of non-compliance in the technical report dated June 20, 2014 identified by the British Columbia Securities Commission, as a result of a review of the Company's technical disclosure.

  • The staged, lower CAPEX, potential development options for Caspiche identified previously in the Original Report and the News Releases remain unchanged in the PEA Report.
  • The economic analysis contained in the PEA Report is considered preliminary in nature. No inferred mineral resources form part of the PEA studies and no mineral reserves for the PEA have been established.

3:13 pm WTI crude oil is out of control, surges to another new HoD at $58.34/barrel in electronic trade, now up +6.9% at $58.10/barrel (:COMDX) :  

3:12 pm Ferro announced that it has completed the sale of the majority of the assets of its Polymer Additives business to Polymer Additives for ~ $154 mln in cash (:FOE) : The Company estimates that cash proceeds, net of cash income taxes and fees, from the sale will be approximately $143 million, which it plans to use primarily to repay debt under its revolving credit facility and to fund strategic growth opportunities. The asset sale closed concurrently with the signing of the asset purchase agreement.

3:08 pm DTE Energy subsidiary DTE Electric announced it has filed its first electric residential rate increase in four years (:DTE) : If the increase is approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission late next year, on average, residential customers will see a $3.25 increase in their monthly bills since 2013. This represents an annual increase of approximately 1.5 percent and includes other rate offsets in 2014 and 2015.

  • DTE Electric is asking the MPSC to allow recovery of approximately $3.5 billion of investments made over the last four years. The filing requests a rate increase of $370 million.

3:07 pm Vestas Wind Systems and TPI Composites signed multiyear supply agreement for the V110 wind turbine from TPI's factory in Dafeng, China (:VWDRY) :  

3:04 pm American Realty Capital issues statement regarding Cole Capital Non-traded REITs; notes that the independent investigation being conducted by its Audit Committee was not initiated in response to any allegations concerning the Non-traded REITs (:ARCP) : The co issued the following statement:

  • Affiliates of ARCP sponsor or manage the following non-traded REITs:  Cole Corporate Income Trust, Inc.; Cole Credit Property Trust IV, Inc.; Cole Real Estate Income Strategy (Daily NAV), Inc.; Cole Office & Industrial REIT (CCIT II), Inc.; and Cole Credit Property Trust V, Inc. (collectively, the "Non-traded REITs"). In answer to inquiries, ARCP notes that the independent investigation being conducted by its Audit Committee was not initiated in response to any allegations concerning the Non-traded REITs and that, to date, nothing has come to the Audit Committee's attention that would indicate any financial improprieties at or affecting the Non-traded REITs.

3:03 pm Balchem announced that its Board has declared a dividend on its shares of common stock equal to $0.30 per share; a 15% increase over the prior years level (:BCPC) : The dividend is payable on January 27, 2015 to holders of record on December 29, 2014

3:01 pm Parnell Pharmaceuticals CEO and CFO adopt 10b5-1 trading plans effective December 15, 2014 (:PARN) : Co reported that Robert Joseph, President and CEO, and Brad McCarthy, CFO, have each adopted a prearranged trading plan effective December 15, 2014 in accordance with Rule 10b5-1 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Parnell policy.

  • The 10b5-1 plans call for the personal purchase of shares of company stock by Mr. Joseph and Mr. McCarthy in market transactions which commenced on December 17, 2014.

3:01 pm Energy price action (:COMDX) :

  • Jan crude oil rose $2.91/barrel, closing today's pit session at $57.10/barrel
  • Natural gas fell 16 cents to $3.47/MMBtu
  • RBOB Gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.56/gallon
  • Heating oil rose 4 cents to $1.93/gallon

3:01 pm Mainsource Fincl announces that its Board has authorized a common stock repurchase program effective January 1, 2015 to purchase up to 1,085,000 shares of its outstanding common stock, or ~5.0% of the currently outstanding shares (:MSFG) :  

3:00 pm Agricultural price action (:COMDX) :

  • Mar Corn closed unchanged at $4.11/bushel
  • Jan wheat fell 20 cents to $6.33/bushel
  • Jan soybeans fell 6 cents at $10.30/bushel
  • Ethanol fell 3 cents to $1.62/gallon
  • Sugar #11 fell 0.01 cents to 14.98 cents/gallon

2:20 pm Dollar Hits Best Levels Since April 2006: 10Y: +09/32..2.180%..USD/JPY: 119.55..EUR/USD: 1.2226 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index presses session highs near 89.60 and remains on track for its best close since April 2006. Click here to see a daily Dollar Index chart.
  • The 200 mma provides a headwind near 89.90. 
  • EURUSD is -60 pips @ 1.2225 as trade flushes to levels last seen in August 2012. The single currency has come under pressure during today's session after a report surfaced suggesting the weaker countries from the region could shoulder the largest burden if a QE-type program is implemented. Key support in the 1.2000/1.2200 area is guarded by the 200 mma. 
  • GBPUSD is -45 pips @ 1.5625 as trade continues to test 15-month lows. Sterling was unable to gain traction in overnight trade despite the strongest CBI Realized Sales print in over 25 years, but did manage to reclaim the flat line in early U.S. action. However, the late-morning rally in the greenback pushed the pound back into negative territory. The 1.5600 area is key.
  • USDCHF is +40 pips @ .9835 as trade readies for its best close in more than two years. Action has recoupled with the euro after briefly decoupling in response to yesterday's decision by the Swiss National Bank to initiate a negative rate policy. EURCHF was little changed near 1.2030. 
  • USDJPY is +70 pips @ 119.55. Today's bid has the pair testing resistance in the area, and comes after the Bank of Japan held policy unchanged but warned inflation could slide to 1% into March as a result of the drop in oil prices
  • AUDUSD is -30 pips @ .8130 as trade presses back onto 54-month lows. Support in the .8100 remains under scrutiny. 
  • USDCAD is +40 pips @ 1.1615 as trade ticks back up towards its best levels since July 2009. The pair drifted little changed into this morning's mixed core CPI (-0.2% MoM actual v. +0.1% expected) and core retail sales (0.2% actual v. 0.2% expected) data before grinding higher over the remainder of the session.

2:17 pm Boeing appoints Allen as president of Boeing International succeeding Shephard W. Hill who plans to retire (:BA) : Boeing International President Shephard W. Hill has announced his plans to retire from the company effective April 1, 2015. CFO Smith to oversee Business Development and Strategy. 

2:08 pm GFI Group: BGCP (:BGCP) increases all-cash tender offer to acquire GFI Group to $5.45/share from $5.25/share (:GFIG) :

  • The tender offer is scheduled to expire at 5:00 pm ET on January 6, 2015, unless extended.
  • Co says its revised offer of $5.45 per share represents a premium of $0.20, or ~ 4%, to the $5.25 per share stock and cash transaction announced by CME Group (:CME) and GFI on December 2, 2014 and a premium of more than 75% to the price of GFI shares on July 29, 2014, the last day prior to the announcement of the original CME transaction.
  • "In comparison, the more complex series of transactions proposed by the CME continue to involve severe conflicts of interest on the part of GFI's management team. Neither CME nor GFI have announced any regulatory approvals. GFI Group is rated significantly below investment grade, while the wholesale brokerage business that GFI's management team hopes to purchase will be highly levered and is expected to pay interest rates on its debt of up to 15% per year. These factors could significantly impact GFI's and its management's attempts to meet regulatory capital and other requirements and obtain regulatory approval of their transaction on a timely basis, or at all. Therefore, GFI cannot say with certainty when its shareholders can expect to receive payment from CME.

1:54 pm Metals price action (:COMDX) :

  • Feb gold ended today's session $1.10 higher at $1196/oz
  • Mar silver also ended $0.10 higher at $16.03/oz
  • Mar copper rose 3 cents to $2.88/lb

1:39 pm WTI crude oil rallied to a new HoD of $57.16/barrel, now +4.6% at $56.85/barrel (:COMDX) :  

1:36 pm Standex International announced that it has amended its $225 mln unsecured revolving credit facility on improved terms, including an increase in the maximum borrowing amount to $400 mln and an extension of the agreement through December 2019. (:SXI) :  

1:34 pm Am Natl Bankshares announces that Charles H. Majors will retire from his role as Executive Chairman on Dec. 31, 2014 (:AMNB) : As the final step in the Company's succession plan, he will transition to non-executive chairman of the boards of the Company and the Bank and will continue to be involved in the strategic direction of both. The Board of Directors also elected R. Helm Dobbins, Dabney T.P. Gilliam Jr., H. Gregg Strader and William W. Traynham as Executive Vice Presidents of the Company effective Jan. 1, 2015.

1:31 pm VirnetX Holding and Microsoft (:MSFT) settle pending patent disputes and agree to jointly petition to terminate IPR proceedings as to Microsoft; MSFT to pay $23 mln to VirnetX (stock halted) (:VHC) : Co and Microsoft (:MSFT) announced that on December 17, 2014, VirnetX, Inc. and Microsoft Corporation have signed an Amended Settlement and License Agreement. This agreement amends and restates certain terms of the original Settlement and License Agreement, dated May 14, 2010, between VirnetX, Inc. and Microsoft Corporation. As a result of the agreement, the parties have settled their pending patent disputes.

  • Under the terms of the amended agreement, Microsoft has agreed to pay $23 million to VirnetX to settle the patent dispute and expand Microsoft's license. The parties have also agreed to dismiss the patent infringement case brought by VirnetX, Inc. before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and jointly move to terminate the pending inter partes review proceedings between Microsoft and VirnetX, Inc. as to Microsoft. All other aspects of the agreement were not disclosed.

1:27 pm AT&T raises quarterly dividend to $0.47 from $0.46 (:T) :  

1:08 pm Baker Hughes discloses that its current US rig count totaled 1,875, down 18 from previous weeks count of 1893 (:BHI) :  

12:59 pm Midday Market Summary: Energy and Materials Lead (:WRAPX) : The major averages trade in mixed fashion at midday with the Nasdaq (+0.3%) and S&P 500 (+0.2%) holding slim gains while the Dow Jones Industrial Average sits on its flat line.

Equity indices have respected narrow ranges through the first half of action despite a volume spike that has been brought on by today's quadruple witching. More than 740 million shares have already changed hands at the NYSE floor, which puts the midday total not far behind the average full-day tally of 810 million.

Six of ten sectors trade in the green with energy (+1.0%) and materials (+0.9%) in the lead. The two commodity-related sectors have extended their respective week-to-date gains to 7.5% and 4.7%, respectively, which puts the two groups well ahead of the rest of the pack.

The energy sector has benefitted from a rebound in crude. The energy component has climbed steadily off its overnight low and currently trades up 3.5% at $56.26/bbl. As for influential sector members, Dow components Chevron (CVX 110.38, +1.35) and ExxonMobil (XOM 92.18, +1.01) are both up near 1.2%.

The relative strength in the two names has not been enough to keep the price-weighted Dow above its flat line. The index has been pressured by the likes of Visa (V 262.33, -1.83) and Nike (NKE 94.38, -2.70) with the latter trading lower by 2.8% after the company's below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue.

In addition to pressuring the Dow, shares of Nike have kept the discretionary sector (+0.1%) among the laggards. Major apparel retailers trade lower across the board while the broader SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 93.85, -0.96) has given up 1.0%.

The discretionary sector represents just one of three laggards on the cyclical side. Financials (-0.1%) and technology (+0.1%) also trail the broader market with the tech sector pressured by chipmakers. The PHLX Semiconductor Index has given up 0.6%.

Microchip names also comprise a fair share of the Nasdaq, but the index has been able to resist the pressure thanks to the biotechnology group. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 315.57, +1.60) is higher by 0.5% while the health care sector (+0.4%) trades ahead of the broader market.

Treasuries hover just below their highs with the 10-yr yield lower by three basis points at 2.18%.

Investors did not receive any economic data today.

12:54 pm Vertex Energy announced a change in pricing for the sourcing of used motor oil, the primary feedstock for the Company's processing facilities (:VTNR) : After reducing the Pay for Oil price for internally collected UMO by over 50% since September 2014, the company will be moving to a service fee model for the collection of used motor oil and environmental services starting in 2015. The third party oil purchasing prices are currently being reset to reflect the current market conditions.

12:34 pm IMS Health Holdings receives regulatory clearance for Cegedim transaction (:IMS) : Co announced it has received approval from the European Commission in connection with the pending acquisition of certain Cegedim information solutions and customer relationship management (:CRM) businesses. In addition to the Commission's approval, the waiting period for the U.S. antitrust review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (:HSR) expired on December 5, 2014. Accordingly, all of the material regulatory conditions necessary for the transaction have been satisfied.

12:34 pm Questar subsidiary Wexpro has acquired an additional interest in a natural gas-producing property for about $52.5 mln (:STR) : Co's subsidiary, Wexpro Company, has acquired an additional interest in a natural gas-producing property for about $52.5 million. Wexpro is increasing its working interest in existing Wexpro-operated assets in the Canyon Creek Unit of southwestern Wyoming's Vermillion Basin. Essentially, this is a "bolt-on" acquisition to the company's current Canyon Creek assets, which are governed by the 1981 Wexpro Agreement for the benefit of Questar's Utah and Wyoming utility customers.

  • Wexpro already owns a 70 percent working interest in the properties being acquired; this acquisition will increase that interest to 100 percent and will add an estimated 40 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) of net proved-developed reserves. 
  • Wexpro estimates proved plus probable and possible reserves attributable to the properties to be 60 Bcfe. In addition to 100 producing wells, Wexpro has identified 35 additional well locations for future development.

12:24 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

  • RHT (67.53 +9.81%): Beat Q3 consensus estimates $0.02, beats on revs; sees Q4 revs of $456-459 mln vs $459.26 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate, adjusted EPS of $0.40-0.41 vs $0.41 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; Price tgt raised at Oppenheimer, Stifel, Needham, others.
  • KMX (66.11 +9.22%): Reported Q3 (Nov) earnings of $0.60 per share, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.54; revenues rose 15.8% year/year to $3.41 bln vs the $3.26 bln consensus.
  • ALLY (23.34 +2.57%): The co announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has sold its remaining 54.9 million shares of Ally common stock at $23.25/share.
Large Cap Losers
  • EQT (79.01 -4.23%): Dropping as Natural Gas futures drop 3.5% on the day following warmer weather forecasts in the coming weeks.
  • NKE (94.06 -3.11%): Falling after earnings despite a strong quarter; futures orders were in-line but slowed QoQ and gross margin came in at the low end of guidance; co warned that they face FX headwinds going forwards.
  • XLNX (42.63 -2.47%): Downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill.
Mid Cap Gainers
  • ISIS (65.02 +9.19%): Favorable mention on Thursday's Mad Money.
  • FEYE (32.99 +6.76%): Continued strength in cyber security names as the FBI officially accuses North Korea of being behind the Sony (SNE) hacking.
  • CTAS (78.89 +5.91%): Reported Q2 (Nov) earnings of $0.86 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.08 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.78; revenues fell 0.3% year/year to $1.12 bln vs the $1.11 bln consensus; Raised FY15 EPS above consensus, revs in-line.
Mid Cap Losers
  • UBNT (31.04 -7.78%): Initiated with a Sell at Goldman; tgt $28.
  • FL (53.35 -7.83%): Downgraded to Underperform at BofA/Merrill.
  • BBRY (9.56 -5.11%): Reported Q3 (Nov) adj earnings of $0.01 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.07 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.06); revenues fell 33.5% year/year to $793 mln vs the $919.63 mln consensus.

12:12 pm Myriad Genetics receives FDA approval of BRACAnalysis CDx as companion diagnostic for Lynparza (olaparib) in ovarian cancer patients (:MYGN) : Co announced that it has received approval from the FDA for BRACAnalysis CDx to be used as the only companion diagnostic in conjunction with AstraZeneca's (AZN)  drug Lynparza (olaparib). Lynparza is the first poly ADP-ribose polymerase (:PARP) inhibitor for patients with germline mutations in BRCA1/2 advanced ovarian cancer who have had three or more lines of chemotherapy. BRACAnalysis CDx is Myriad's first FDA-approved companion diagnostic for use with a novel PARP inhibitor.

12:08 pm Market View: Semis- SMH, Financials- XLF tick to new session lows as midday trading gets underway; SPX now seen @ 2064.31 +3.08 (:TECHX) :  

11:57 am European Markets Closing Prices (:SUMRX) : European markets are now closed; stock markets across Europe performed as follows:

  • UK's FTSE:+1.2%
  • Germany's DAX:-0.3%
  • France's CAC:-0.2%
  • Spain's IBEX:-0.3%
  • Portugal's PSI:-0.7%
  • Italy's MIB Index:-0.4%
  • Irish Ovrl Index:0.0%
  • Greece ASE General Index: -1.4%

11:42 am NorthWestern submits rate adjustment request to the South Dakota Public Utilities; request is to increase revenues by ~$26.5 mln (:NWE) :  

11:31 am Stonegate Bank announces that the shareholders of both Stonegate Bank and Community Bank of Broward have approved Stonegate's proposed acquisition of CBB through a merger of the two institutions (:SGBK) : The parties expect the Merger to close on or about January 8, 2015.

11:31 am Roche Hldg acquires Bina Technologies, terms not disclosed (:RHHBY) : Co announced the acquisition of Bina Technologies, a privately held company based in Redwood City, California, USA. Bina provides a big data platform for centralized management and processing of next generation sequencing (:NGS) data. Bina's proprietary on-market Genomic Management Solution, Bina-GMS1, empowers basic, translational and academic researchers to perform fast and scalable analyses to maximize the value of genomic data. Bina will be integrated into Roche Sequencing Unit in Q1 2015 and will continue to focus on expanding its innovative genomic analysis solutions portfolio.

11:30 am Ligand Pharma confirmed that its partner Pfizer (:PFE) has received EU marketing authorization for DUAVIVE from the European Commission (:LGND) : The co will be entitled to a milestone payment following Pfizer obtaining pricing of DUAVIVE in a major European market.

11:20 am Currency Commentary: Euro Hits Multi-Year Lows (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index remains firmly in the 89 area post-FOMC. The DXY hit 89.46 falling just short of the multi-year high of 89.55 set back on December 8. Volume is starting to dry up as wee head towards the Holiday season. It is relatively quiet on the calendar next week with notables being: Existing Home Sales (Mon); Durable Orders, Income and Spending (Tue) and Claims (Wed). 
  • The euro hit a fresh multi-year low this morning as it fell to 1.2233. Earlier there were reports that in order to start sovereign bond buying some countries may be forced to hold more capital at their respective central banks to cover losses. This would mitigate some of the risk for Germany and make a QE program more palpable to citizens. 
  • The pound is under modest selling pressure but continues to hold the 1.56 area. Public Sector Net Borrowing was higher than expected. 
  • The yen has slipped back into the 119 area as it gives up some recent gains. Last night the Bank of Japan met but made no changes to its current stimulus plan. There were rumors that the BoJ would increase its JPY 80 trl asset purchase program by another JPY 3.5 trl but that never materialized (BONDX, FOREX).

11:19 am PowerShares QQQ: QQQ +0.45% continues to new reg. session highs in recent mid-morning tade; NQh5 now trades @ 4282.00 +19.00 (:QQQ) :  

10:49 am FirstEnergy announces that employees of its West Penn Power and Potomac Edison subsidiaries represented by Utility Workers Union of America Local 102 have ratified a new contract (:FE) : The contract runs through April 30, 2019.

10:40 am Market View: R2K small-caps (:IWM) & S&P 400 mid-caps (:MDY) with some slight under-performance vs. SPX this morning (:TECHX) :

  • SPX currently trades @ 2066.55 +5.32 (+0.26%)

10:17 am Finish Line getting crushed after missing earnings for the second quarter in a row; NKE also lower following earnings (:FINL) : Finish Lint (FINL) is down 18% after the company reported an unexpected net loss, missing earnings for the second quarter in a row (EPS -$0.02 vs +$0.01 consensus). Comps came in above estimates but gross margin was below. Co also lowered its FY15 outlook. Earnings guidance was cut to flat growth from high single to low double digits; comp sales to low to mid single digits from mid single digits previously. FINL touched a 15 month low and bounced off support near the $23 level, just above its 200 day moving averages. This is the second quarter in a row FINL missed earnings estimates amid a strong cycle for the footwear and apparel sector.

  • FINL peer Foot Locker (FL) is down 5%. 
Key supplier and worldwide athletic apparel retailer NIKE (NKE) is down nearly 4% this morning despite a strong quarter. Futures orders were in-line but slowed QoQ and gross margin came in at the low end of guidance. NIKE faces FX headwinds, tough comparisons from the World Cup and a rich valuation. NKE (~$81 mln mkt cap) trades at 26x FY15E earnings.
  • Up and coming NKE peer/rival UnderArmour (UA) is down 2%; lululemon (LULU) is down 1%.
  • Sports retailers DICKS (DKS) is down 1.7% while peer Hibbett Sports (HIBB) is down 2.5%

10:13 am LaSalle Hotel announces that it acquired The Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon for $64.3 mln (:LHO) :  

10:06 am Radius Health announces that the FDA has accepted the Company's Investigational New Drug application for its investigational drug RAD1901developed for potential use in metastatic breast cancer (:RDUS) : The co notes they are also continuing discussions with the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer to develop a protocol for the initiation of a European Phase1 trial. The co anticipates initiation of the European trial following regulatory review and upon institutional review board approval.

10:02 am Duke Energy unit Duke Energy Renewables announces it has acquired a 20-megawatt solar project in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., from Geenex and ET Solar Energy Corp (:DUK) : The Halifax Solar Power Project, developed in partnership between Geenex, a leading solar energy developer, and ET Capital, an ET Solar energy investment company based in California, was placed into service this month. Duke Energy Renewables will own and operate the site.

9:57 am Amtrust Financial: Alistair Capital delivers letter to the Audit Committee of AFSI; Believes AmTrust's accounting is flawed in several material ways; Cites discrepancies Alistair believes are indicative of internal control deficiencies (:AFSI) : "In light of what Alistair Capital believes are significant accounting problems that put shareholders, creditors, and policyholders at grave risk, Alistair Capital requests that its letter be treated in accordance with Exchange Act Rule 10A-3(b)(3) [Complaints] and urges AmTrust's Audit Committee to initiate an investigation pursuant to Exchange Act Rule 10A-3(b)(4) [Authority to engage advisers]."

Link to the full letter

9:49 am Market View: Retailers- XRT, Biotechnology- XBI, IBB, Staples- XLP, & Banks- KRE, KBE with some sector ETF under-performance in early trading here (:TECHX) :  

9:48 am Media General announced before the open that it has closed on its business combination with LIN Media (:LIN) and the associated transactions (:MEG) :  

9:48 am CarMax (KMX +8%), Cintas (CTAS +5%) and Red Hat (RHT +12%) all trading at new all time highs following better than expected earnings (:KMX) :  

9:44 am Opening Market Summary: S&P 500 Opens Slightly Higher (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 (+0.1%) has climbed out of the gate amid gains in nine of ten sectors. Telecom services (+0.4%) and materials (+0.5%) began the day in the lead, but it is worth noting that the two groups represent just over 5.0% of the entire market.

Meanwhile, influential sectors like technology (+0.1%), financials (+0.1%), industrials (+0.1%), and health care (+0.2%) trade in-line with or just ahead of the benchmark index.

On the downside, the energy sector is lower by 0.3% even as crude oil trades higher by 2.7% at $55.81/bbl.

Treasuries have extended their advance with the 10-yr yield now down two full basis points at 2.19%.

9:44 am Eros International announces that its on-demand entertainment portal ErosNow has formed a worldwide content partnership with Google (:GOOG) Chromecast, which recently launched in India (:EROS) :  

9:42 am Market View: The UTIL. Index trades higher in early trading, sets a new all-time high print now seen @ 617.73 (:TECHX) :

  • AES, EIX, WMB, D, & FE among the top % gainers here.

9:32 am Fauquier Bankshares announces a special dividend of $0.05 per share (:FBSS) : This dividend was declared for shareholders of record as of the close of business on December 31, 2014 and will be payable on January 16, 2015.

9:30 am LTC Properties announces that it has acquired a 48-unit, private-pay memory care community in Castle Rock, Colorado for $9.8 mln (:LTC) :  

9:28 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Centene Corporation (:CNC) announced that its behavioral health management company, Cenpatico of Arizona, in partnership with University of Arizona Health Plan, has been selected by the Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health Services to be the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (:RBHA) for the new southern geographic service area. The new contract is effective October 1, 2015, and will be held by the newly-formed partnership called Cenpatico Integrated Care.
  • Bridge Capital Holdings (:BBNK) announced that it has provided RichRelevance with a $13 million credit facility to support additional working capital needs.
  • Benefitfocus (:BNFT) announced the first class of graduates from its newly established Benefitfocus Implementation Program. Graduates include consultants from each of the following firms: Deloitte Consulting LLP, ROC Americas, HRchitect, Providence Technology Solutions (affiliate of The HCiGroup) and Motion HR.
  • TravelCenters of America LLC (:TA) announced the expansion of its network with the opening of its newest TA, located in Lincoln, Alabama.

9:27 am Immunogen sinks nearly 50% on disappointing Roche update (:IMGN) :

  • IMGN is trading down 47% at $5.91 in the pre-market, after announcing earlier this morning that Roche (:RHHBY) Roche has reported the MARIANNE study showed that the Kadcyla-containing treatment arm failed to significantly improve PFS compared to Herceptin and chemotherapy. 
  • The study did show the three regimens helped people live without their disease worsening (:PFS) for a similar amount of time, meeting its non-inferiority endpoint as assessed by an Independent Review Committee. 
  • The study evaluated three HER2-targeted regimens -- Kadcyla  plus Perjeta, Kadcyla alone, and Herceptin plus taxane chemotherapy -- in people with previously untreated HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Kadcyla utilizes ImmunoGen's ADC technology and is already approved to treat patients with HER2-positive mBC who previously received trastuzumab and a taxane.
  • IMGN said this event has no impact on its financial guidance for the company's 2015 fiscal year, or on the approved use of Kadcyla.

9:27 am Scotts Miracle-Gro announced Barry Sanders, president and COO, will depart the Company January 31, 2015 (:SMG) :

  • Since the beginning of the current calendar year, the Company has eliminated ~25% of its leadership roles at the senior vice president level or higher. 
  • The Company intends to have completed the vast majority of these efforts by the end of the first half of fiscal 2015.

9:22 am Carnival beats by $0.06, misses on revs; guides Q1 EPS below consensus; guides FY15 EPS in-line (midpoint above) (:CCL) : Reports Q4 (Nov) earnings of $0.27 per share, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.21; revenues rose 1.6% year/year to $3.72 bln vs the $3.81 bln consensus.  

  • On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields increased 2.8% for 4Q 2014, which was better than the co's September guidance, up 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.2 percent in current dollars. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD decreased 1.7 percent in constant dollars, which was in line with September guidance, down 1 to 2 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 5.3 percent.
Co issues downside guidance for Q1, sees EPS of $0.07-0.11 vs. $0.12 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.
  • First quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be flat to up 1.0 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the first quarter are expected to be 5.5 to 6.5 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year and are higher than full year guidance mostly due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Current currency exchange rates and fuel prices net of fuel derivatives are expected to benefit first quarter earnings by $130 million compared to the prior year, or $0.16 per share. First quarter revenue yields (constant dollars) are expected to be slightly higher than the prior year and improve during the remainder of 2015.
Co issues in-line guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $2.30-2.60 vs. $2.37 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at slightly higher prices.

Since September, booking volumes for the first three quarters of 2015 are running ahead of last year's levels at slightly lower prices driven by transactional currency impacts.

"The current base of business for 2015 builds confidence in our expectation of continuing yield growth with acceleration in yield improvement starting in the second quarter."
  • Based on current booking trends, the company forecasts full year 2015 net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis, to be up ~2 percent compared to the prior year.  The company expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD, on a constant dollar basis, for full year 2015 to be up ~3 percent primarily due to higher dry-dock costs, advertising expenses and product enhancements. Based on current spot prices for fuel, forecasted fuel costs for the full year 2015 are expected to decrease $475 million compared to 2014, net of fuel derivatives, benefiting the company by $0.61 per share. This is forecasted to be partially offset by unfavorable movements in currency exchange rates worth $0.20 per share.

9:20 am Teekay Tankers announces that it has priced its follow-on public offering of 20 mln shares of Class A common stock at $4.80 per share (:TNK) : Teekay Corporation is also purchasing $20 million of Class A common stock of the Company at the same price per share to the public. The Company expects to use the net offering proceeds and proceeds from Teekay Corporation's investment to partially finance the previously announced acquisition of four modern coated Aframax tankers and one modern uncoated Aframax tanker and for general corporate purposes, which may include funding future vessel acquisitions.

9:19 am Vringo provides an update with respect to its ongoing disputes with ZTE (:ZTCOF) and ASUS (:VRNG) : The co expects the following trials and hearings against ZTE to occur in 2015:

  • In Malaysia, the oral hearing in Vringo's case against ZTE with respect to Vringo's Malaysian Patent 142,706 is scheduled to be held on March 9, 2014. The Court's judgment is expected in the second quarter of 2015. 
  • In France, the full day oral hearing in Vringo's case against ZTE with respect to Vringo's European Patents 1,186,119 and 1,221,212 is scheduled to be held on April 13, 2015. 
  • In Germany, ZTE's appeal with respect to its infringement of Vringo's European Patent 1,186,119 is scheduled to be held on July 22, 2015. 
  • In Australia, the trial in Vringo's case against ZTE with respect to Vringo's Australian Patents 2005/212,893 and 773,182 is expected to commence in the second half of 2015.
  • With respect to the dispute between the co's wholly-owned subsidiary, I/P Engine, Inc. and Google, Vringo plans to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's split opinion, which issued on August 15, 2014, and reversed a judgment in favor of I/P Engine against Google and certain of Google's customers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. David Boies, Chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, will represent I/P Engine in filing a petition for writ of certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court.

9:16 am Ally Financial announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has sold its remaining 54.9 million shares of Ally common stock at $23.25/share (:ALLY) :

  • Co announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has sold its remaining 54.9 mln shares of Ally common stock at $23.25/share and as a result, Ally will have exited the Troubled Asset Relief Program upon settlement of the sale. 
  • The U.S. Treasury received $19.6 bln in total on the $17.2 bln Ally investment, which is $2.4 bln more than originally invested.

9:12 am S&P futures vs fair value: +6.70. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +4.00. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a modestly higher open that should help the S&P 500 retrace a portion of its December loss. The benchmark index ended yesterday's session with a month-to-date loss of 0.3%, but that masks the fact that the index has spiked nearly 3.0% so far this week.

The S&P 500 should add to its week-to-date gain at the start considering futures on the benchmark index remain seven points above fair value after sliding from their highs. However, it would not be surprising to see some added volatility today with quadruple witching taking place. At the very least, this will cause a notable increase in trading volume.  

On the corporate front, Nike (NKE 95.70, -1.38) is on track to open lower by 1.4% after its below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue. Elsewhere, Red Hat (RHT 68.25, +6.75) is indicated to open higher by 11.0% after beating earnings and revenue expectations.

Treasuries hold modest gains with the 10-yr yield lower by almost two basis points at 2.20%.

9:12 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Harris (HRS) has been awarded an $18 million initial order to provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines with Harris Falcon III tactical vehicular radios and intercom systems. The order was received during the first quarter of fiscal 2015.
  • Exelis (XLS) and Iridium Communications (IRDM) have successfully demonstrated a new global-reach communications capability for the Defense Information Systems Agency's Distributed Tactical Communication System.
  • American Water Works Company (AWK) announced that its current vice president of Investor Relations, Edward Vallejo, will be named vice president of Financial Strategy, Planning and Decision Support, effective Jan. 1, 2015. The co also announced that its current president of Illinois American Water, Karla Teasley, will be named vice president of Customer Service at American Water, effective Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Calvin Klein, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PVH Corp. (PVH), announced that the company has commenced a global e-commerce expansion strategy for calvinklein.com that will culminate in the operation of direct e-commerce in more than 20 countries by the end of 2016.
  • Merchants Bancshares (MBVT) announced a number of executive officer changes at Merchants Bank today. Effective January 1, 2015, Marie Thresher, Chief Risk Officer and Senior Vice President, will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Merchants Bank, and Bruce Bernier, Regional Manager of Commercial Banking and Vice President, will be promoted to Senior Lender and Senior Vice President of Merchants Bank.
  • The San Diego Padres have selected Daktronics (DAKT) to provide a new LED video display system for Petco Park that will include the third largest video display in all of baseball.

9:06 am Family Dollar: Dollar General (:DG) stated that it remains actively engaged in discussions with the FTC regarding the extent of potential divestitures that would be required in connection with an acquisition of FDO (:FDO) : Dollar General does not expect to provide any further update prior to the Family Dollar shareholders meeting currently scheduled for December 23, 2014.

9:05 am Advanced Cannabis Solutions signs master services agreement with Spector Group II, LLP for build out of 'The Greenhouse' (:CANN) : The Greenhouse will focus on securing tenants engaged in business related to the legal cannabis industry and will ACS believes that its15,000 square foot facility will create a hub of intellectual capital.

9:02 am Luxottica and Tory Burch LLC announce the renewal of an exclusive license agreement (:LUX) : LUX announced the renewal of an exclusive license agreement. Under the ten-year agreement, Luxottica will design, manufacture and distribute sun and prescription eyewear globally under the Tory Burch brand through December 31, 2024.

9:01 am Deluxe unit VerticalResponse unveils developer program and new integrations (:DLX) : VerticalResponse, a business unit of the co announced the launch of an open API and integrations marketplace. Developers now have open access to use the company's REST-based API to add feature-rich email and social media marketing functionality to their business applications.

9:01 am Enduro Royalty Trust announces its monthly cash distribution of cash distribution of $0.0658, reports results from recently completed wells in the Permian Basin Wolfcamp play and announced its 2015 capital program (:NDRO) : The current month distribution includes receipts from 13 Rocker B wells producing through September 2014. In total, the 13 Rocker B wells contributed $1.1 mln of oil cash receipts for the current distribution period, including ~$0.6 mln from the first revenue receipts for the Rocker B 43H, 44H, 45H, 47H, and 48H.

9:01 am Aeterna Zentaris receives notification from NASDAQ relating to minimum bid price; has been provided 180 calendar days, or until June 16, 2015, to regain compliance (:AEZS) :  

8:58 am S&P futures vs fair value: +6.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +6.20. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade six points above fair value.

Markets rallied across Asia as the Fed-induced enthusiasm on Wall Street traveled across the Pacific. The Bank of Japan kept policy on hold and said inflation could dip to 1.0% into March due to low oil prices.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Japan's All Industries Activity Index ticked down 0.1% month-over-month (expected 0.2%; previous 1.4%) 
    • Hong Kong's current account deficit of HKD8.08 billion swung to a surplus of HKD43.30 billion 
    • New Zealand's ANZ Business Confidence slipped to 30.4% from 31.5% 
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  • Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.4% to post its biggest gain since Halloween. Heavyweights Softbank and Fast Retailing provided support, rising 2.4% and 2.3%, respectively. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.3% as part of its second consecutive day of buying after hitting seven-month lows on Wednesday. Financials led AIA Group gained 3.4% and Bank of Communications added 2.6%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite climbed 1.7% to its best levels since November 2010. Aluminum maker Chalco surged the limit, 10%, after announcing intentions to sell non-core assets. 
  • India's Sensex climbed 0.9%, gaining for the second day in a row, but struggled to reclaim the 50-day average. Commodity plays were strong as Hindalco Industries jumped 3.2% and Reliance Industries added 2.3%. 
Major European indices trade mostly lower with Italy's MIB (-1.3%) showing the largest decline. According to Reuters, the ECB is looking into ways of making weaker eurozone countries bear a larger portion of the risk associated with a sovereign QE program. The same countries would stand to benefit most from asset purchases.
  • In economic data: 
    • Eurozone Current Account surplus narrowed to EUR20.50 billion from EUR32.00 billion (expected surplus of EUR27.40 billion) 
    • Germany's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (expected -0.2%; previous -0.2%) while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (expected -1.2%; previous -1.0%). Separately, GfK Consumer Climate improved to 9.0 from 8.7 (expected 8.8) 
    • UK's Public Sector Net Borrowing increased to GBP13.41 billion from GBP6.43 billion (expected GBP15.37 billion). Separately, CBI Distributive Trades Survey jumped to 61 from 27 (expected 31) 
    • French Business Survey held at 99, as expected 
    • Italy's Industrial New Orders rose 0.1% month-over-month (previous -1.5%) while Wage Inflation ticked up 0.1% month-over-month (prior 0.1%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.4% with miners in the lead. Antofagasta and Randgold Resources hold gains close to 3.0% apiece. Consumer names lag with Diageo, Next, and Coca-Cola HBC down between 0.7% and 1.6%. 
  • In France, the CAC is lower by 0.7% with Alstom leading the decline. The stock has surrendered 3.5%. Financials trade in mixed fashion with AXA and Unibail-Rodamco sporting respective gains of 0.4% and 1.0% while Societe Generale trades lower by 2.1%. 
  • Germany's DAX has given up 0.9%. Influential index components lag with BMW, Deutsche Bank, and Bayer down between 1.1% and 1.7%. Henkel AG outperforms, trading higher by 1.6%. 
  • Italy's MIB leads to the downside with a 1.3% decline. Financials lag with BMPS, Intesa Sanpaolo, Unicredit, and Mediobanca holding losses between 2.6% and 4.0%.

8:56 am Hansen Medical announces recent developments in the company's global expansion strategy (:HNSN) :

  • The co and AB Medica s.p.a today announced an exclusive distribution agreement for Magellan and Sensei Robotic Systems in Italy
  • In addition, the company's exclusive distribution partner in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, AFYA Medical Group, completed the first end user hospital installation of a Magellan system in the Middle East, at King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in October.

8:54 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Boulder Brands, Inc. (BDBD), a leader in the natural foods industry, today announced Timothy Kraft has been appointed Chief Legal Officer and Secretary, effective December 16, 2014.
  • Perma-Fix Environmental Services (PESI) announced that Larry M. Shelton, current member of the Board of Directors since 2006, has been appointed Chairman of the Board, replacing Dr. Lou Centofanti who will continue in his current role as President and CEO of the Company, as well as a member of the Board of Directors.
  • ITG (ITG) announced the release of an ITG Investment Research Report on Mobile Payments, focusing on the new Apple (AAPL) payments product, Apple Pay. Based on early trends since the October 20th launch, the research finds that Apple Pay has the ability to significantly transform the mobile payment space. The ITG Mobile Payments report, which uses data from the ITG Investment Research proprietary consumer panel, found that Apple Pay was responsible for 1% of digital payment dollars in the month of November.
  • Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) announced the appointment of Mr. Richard C. Henriques, Jr. to the Company's Board of Directors. He will also be a member of the Audit Committee. The Company also announced that Dr. Ian MacLachlan, Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, will be resigning from the Company, effective Dec 31, 2014.

8:51 am Camden National Corp. announced the promotion of Deborah Jordan to EVP, COO and CFO (:CAC) : The co announced the promotion of Deborah Jordan to Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Camden National and the creation of a new executive position of Chief Customer Experience Officer; both will report directly to Dufour.

8:50 am PPG Industries announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with the AXSON Group to acquire REVOCOAT, a global supplier of sealants, adhesives and damper products for the automotive industry; terms not disclosed (:PPG) : The Co expects the transaction to close in the 1Q15. Financial terms were not disclosed.

8:37 am Geo Group announced the development of a 626-bed expansion to the company-owned, 532-bed Karnes County Residential Center in Texas; expected to generate ~$20 mln in additional annualized revenues for GEO and returns on investment consistent with GEO's company-owned facilities (:GEO) : The Co will finance, develop, and manage the $36 mln expansion, which will increase the Facility's total capacity to 1,158 beds. GEO expects to complete the 626-bed expansion and begin intake in Q4 of 2015. 

8:36 am Gildan Activewear announced the appointment of James Kehoe as Executive Vice-President, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer effective January 1, 2015 (:GIL) : Mr. Kehoe succeeds Laurence G. Sellyn, who is retiring from this position which he has filled since 1999. Mr. Kehoe, has spent 25 years within the Kraft Foods (:KRFT) organization in successive roles of increasing responsibility, both in Europe and North America.

8:35 am Cyanotech Corporation announced that all existing litigation and administrative proceedings between it and U.S. Nutraceuticals LLC d/b/a Valensa International and The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois have been amicably resolved (:CYAN) : In Reports covering periods beginning in Fiscal 2013 the Company had disclosed significant increases in legal expenditures as a component of general and administrative expenses due to pending litigation and administrative proceedings. The Company also stated in those prior Reports that it did not believe that the ultimate resolution of pending legal proceedings was likely to have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, results of operations, cash flows or financial condition. 

  • All litigation and related administrative proceedings involving the Company are being, or have already been, dismissed with prejudice or otherwise effectively terminated.

8:33 am Timberline Resources names Kiran Patankar as CEO (:TLR) : Co announces that it has appointed Mr. Kiran Patankar as Timberline's new President and CEO. Mr. Patankar will succeed Paul Dircksen, a founding member of the Company's management, who will semi-retire and has been appointed as the Company's new Vice-President of Business Development and Technical Services. The appointments of Mr. Patankar and Mr. Dircksen will be effective on January 1. Mr. Patankar has spent the past 7 years in the investment banking industry in Canada.

8:33 am Paychex beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; reaffirms FY15 guidance (:PAYX) : Reports Q2 (Nov) earnings of $0.47 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.46; revenues rose 9.7% year/year to $676.3 mln vs the $673.66 mln consensus. 

  • Total service revenue increased 10% to $665.9 million. Payroll service revenue increased 4% to $411.2 million. 
  • Human Resource Services revenue increased 21% to $254.7 million. 
Guidance is unchanged from that provided in June 2014 and is as follows:
  • Low High Payroll service revenue 3% - 5% 
  • HRS revenue 16% - 19% Total service revenue 8% - 10% 
  • Net income 6% - 8%

8:33 am Vringo announced it has entered into a consulting agreement with Alexander R. Berger, who will transition from the role of COO and director to a consultant to the company (:VRNG) : Co announces that the company has entered into a new employment agreement with Anastasia Nyrkovskaya, who will continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer, and a consulting agreement with Alexander R. Berger, who will transition from the role of Chief Operating Officer and director to a consultant to the company. Mr. Berger will remain a member of boards of directors of certain Vringo subsidiaries.

8:32 am European Markets Update: FTSE +0.6%, CAC -0.5%, DAX -0.4%, MIB -1.2% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade mostly lower with Italy's MIB (-1.2%) showing the largest decline. According to Reuters, the ECB is looking into ways of making weaker eurozone countries bear a larger portion of the risk associated with a sovereign QE program. The same countries would stand to benefit most from asset purchases.

  • In economic data: 
    • Eurozone Current Account surplus narrowed to EUR20.50 billion from EUR32.00 billion (expected surplus of EUR27.40 billion) 
    • Germany's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (expected -0.2%; previous -0.2%) while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (expected -1.2%; previous -1.0%). Separately, GfK Consumer Climate improved to 9.0 from 8.7 (expected 8.8) 
    • UK's Public Sector Net Borrowing increased to GBP13.41 billion from GBP6.43 billion (expected GBP15.37 billion). Separately, CBI Distributive Trades Survey jumped to 61 from 27 (expected 31) 
    • French Business Survey held at 99, as expected o Italy's Industrial New Orders rose 0.1% month-over-month (previous -1.5%) while Wage Inflation ticked up 0.1% month-over-month (prior 0.1%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.6% with miners in the lead. Antofagasta and Randgold Resources hold gains close to 3.0% apiece. Consumer names lag with Diageo, Next, and Coca-Cola HBC down between 0.7% and 1.6%. 
  • In France, the CAC is lower by 0.5% with Alstom leading the decline. The stock has surrendered 3.5%. Financials trade in mixed fashion with AXA and Unibail-Rodamco sporting respective gains of 0.4% and 1.0% while Societe Generale trades lower by 1.9%. 
  • Germany's DAX has given up 0.4%. Influential index components lag with BMW, Deutsche Bank, and Bayer down between 1.1% and 1.7%. Henkel AG outperforms, trading higher by 1.6%. 
  • Italy's MIB leads to the downside with a 1.2% decline. Financials lag with BMPS, Intesa Sanpaolo, Unicredit, and Mediobanca holding losses between 2.6% and 4.0%.

8:31 am Halozyme Therapeutics announces that the European Commission, acting on the recommendation from the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency, has designated PEGylated recombinant human hyaluronidase an orphan medicinal product for the treatment of pancreatic cancer (:HALO) : The EMA Orphan Designation is a status assigned to a medicine intended for use against a rare condition and allows a pharmaceutical company to benefit from incentives offered by the EU to develop a medicine for the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a disease that is life-threatening or a chronically debilitating rare disease.

8:31 am Arkansas Best announces that David R. Cobb has been named CFO effective January 1 (:ARCB) : Co announces that David R. Cobb has been named CFO effective January 1, while previous CFO Michael E. Newcity takes on a newly created role as ArcBest Chief Innovation Officer and President of subsidiary ArcBest Technologies.

8:31 am NTN Buzztime names Allen Wolff as CFO effective December 29 (:NTN) : Co hires Allen Wolff, 42, as CFO effective December 29. Sandra Gurrola, who served as the interim principal accounting officer since September 8, 2014, will continue to serve as vice president of finance and report to Wolff.

8:30 am S&P futures vs fair value: +11.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +16.00. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures remain near their recent levels with the S&P 500 futures trading 11 points above fair value.

Thanks to yesterday's broad-based surge, the S&P 500 will enter today's session after having added 2.9% so far this week. That spike has helped the index eliminate the bulk of its December loss, but the S&P remains lower by 0.3% for the month. Of course, if the current indication holds, the S&P will retrace the bulk of that remaining month-to-date loss.

Meanwhile, the Russell 200 has surged 3.5% since last Friday, and the small-cap index is now higher by 1.6% for December.

8:27 am Silvercorp Metals announced a Normal Course Issuer Bid, pending TSX approval, to acquire up to 16.5 mln common shares (:SVM) : The co announced a Normal Course Issuer Bid, pending TSX approval, to acquire up to 16.5 million common shares (approximately 10% of the public float) from December 23, 2014 to December 22, 2015 from the 170,883,808 common shares currently issued and outstanding.

  • "The Company is taking this action because it believes that prevailing market conditions have resulted in Silvercorp's shares being undervalued relative to the immediate and long term value of Silvercorp's portfolio of producing and development properties in China."

8:26 am Soligenix announced the pricing of its registered public offering of 1,886,530 units at an offering price of $1.21 per unit (:SNGX) : The co announced the pricing of its registered public offering of 1,886,530 units at an offering price of $1.21 per unit, with each unit consisting of one share of common stock and 0.6 of a warrant to purchase one share of common stock.  Each whole warrant will be immediately exercisable to purchase one share of common stock at an exercise price of $1.48 per share and will expire on the fifth anniversary of its issuance. 

  • The co expects to receive gross proceeds of approximately $2.3 million from this offering, before deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and other related expenses. 

8:25 am Oil prices starting the morning off higher, nat gas down 2% (:COMDX) :

  • Feb crude oil is currently trading +1% at $54.91/barrel, off its overnight high of $55.66/barrel
  • Jan nat gas -1.9% at $3.57/MMBtu
  • Mar copper +1.1% at $2.89/lb
  • Feb gold +0.2% at $1197.50/oz
  • Mar silver -0.2% at $15.90/oz

8:24 am Scorpio Bulkers announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell a Kamsarmax newbuilding dry bulk vessel for ~$30.7 mln (:SALT) : The vessel is currently being constructed at Tsuneishi Group Shipbuilding Inc., and has an expected delivery date in the third quarter of 2015.

8:22 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Kite Realty Group Trust (KRG) announced that it has acquired Rampart Commons in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Company acquired the 81,000 square foot shopping center for a gross purchase price of $32.3 million, including $12.3 million of assumed debt. 
  • Semtech (SMTC) announced it has teamed up with Link Labs, a wireless connectivity product design company based near Washington, D.C., for the LL-LP-20 radio module featuring Semtech's LoRa long distance radio transceiver technology.
  • TigerLogic (TIGR) announced the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first NBA team to install four permanent social media displays in its arena.
  • Zillow (Z) announced that in 2014, created more new partnerships across the real estate industry than in any prior year. 
  • El Pollo Loco (LOCO) celebrated the grand opening of its newest location in Edinburg, TX on Thursday, December 18. The new restaurant, located at 2808 W University Drive., is owned and operated by local franchisees Mark Wright, Wayne Pearson and partners and it is their third El Pollo Loco restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley. 
  • MultiCare Health System of Tacoma, Wash. has joined Premier (PINC) as a new member and is expected to leverage Premier's full suite of performance and supply chain improvement services to drive cost and quality efficiencies, better outcomes and patient experiences, and advances in population health.

8:20 am Gapping down (:SCANX) : In reaction to disappointing earnings/guidance: FINL -9.7% (light volume), BBRY -5.3%, BGCP -2.7%, NKE -2.6%, NQ -2.6% (also announces proposal to sell FL Mobile to Tack Fiori International Group Limited and become controlling shareholder).

Select pharma stocks trading lower: RHHBY -6% (Immunogen reported that Roche has announced top-line results of its Phase III Marianne study; Roche has reported the Marianne study showed the three regimens helped people live without their disease worsening ), SHPG -1.8%, AZN -1.8%, SNY -1.7%.  

Select Euro financial related names showing weaknessBBVA -3.1%, SAN -2.9%, ING -2.6%, DB -1.9%...oil/gas related names: STO -2.3%, TOT -1.7%... telecom names are lowerPT -7% CHA -6.1% (ticking lower), TI -2.2%

Other news: IMGN -39.2% (Immunogen reported that Roche has announced top-line results of its Phase III Marianne study; Roche has reported the Marianne study showed the three regimens helped people live without their disease worsening ), RXII -11.9% (entered into an assignment and exclusive global license agreement with Hapten Pharmaceuticals for the therapeutic use of Samcyprone), NVGN -8.4% (entered private placement), GFI -3.6% (still checking), YNDX -2.7% (ongoing Russia related volatility), CRH -2.4% (still checking), NOK -2% (following BBRY results), TNK -1.9% (plans to offer 20,000,000 shares of Class A common stock; downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS, tgt raised to $6 from $5.50), BUD -1.9% (still checking), DEO -0.8% (still checking), MET -0.6% (has been designated as systemically importan by regulatorst, as expected), UA -0.5% (following NKE results), .

Analyst comments: SDRL -6.1% (downgraded at Goldman), EVC -1.4% ( downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Wedbush ), MXIM -0.4% (downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman), WAG -0.2% (downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust).

8:19 am Campus Crest Communities announced that its Board declared its Q4 common stock dividend of $0.090 per share vs its Q3 dividend of $0.165 per share (:CCG) : The dividend is payable on January 29, 2015 to stockholders of record as of December 31, 2014.

8:14 am Mountain Province Diamonds announced that it has been approved for listing on NASDAQ (:MDM) : Trading on the NASDAQ is expected to commence on December 31, 2014. The Company's common stock will continue to trade on the NYSE MKT until the market close on December 30, 2014.

8:13 am PVH and Gazal Corporation announced that, through wholly owned subsidiaries, they had entered into an agreement with their Australian JV to add businesses to the joint venture (:PVH) :

  • Co and Gazal Corporation Limited (ASX:GZL) announced that, through wholly owned subsidiaries, they had entered into an agreement with their Australian joint venture to add businesses to the joint venture, significantly expanding its scope.
  • The transaction, which is expected to close in early February 2015, will add the Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and Nancy Ganz businesses in Australia and New Zealand to the joint venture, as well as certain of Gazal's other shirting, tailored and shapewear businesses.

8:12 am Celgene confirms EMA CHMP adopted a positive opinion for continuous oral treatment with REVLIMID in adult patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma who are not eligible for stem cell transplantation (:CELG) :

  • Co announced that the European Medicines Agency's (:EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (:CHMP) has adopted a positive opinion for continuous oral treatment with REVLIMID in adult patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma who are not eligible for stem cell transplantation. 
  • The CHMP reviews applications for all 28 member states in the European Union, as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. The European Commission, which generally follows the recommendation of the CHMP, is expected to make its final decision in approximately two months.
  • If approval is granted, detailed conditions for the use of this product will be described in the Summary of Product Characteristics, which will be published in the revised European Public Assessment Report.

8:12 am Gapping up (:SCANX) : In reaction to strong earnings/guidance: RHT +10.6%, PIR +7.9%, CTAS +7.3%.

M&A related: APP +4% (following late spike higher following NYPost report of takeover offer valuing company at $1.30-1.40/share),XRX +3.7% (Atos to acquire Xerox's information technology outsourcing business for $1.05 bln; does not anticipate earnings per share dilution beyond 2015; updates Q4 and FY15 guidance to reflect acquisition), CBST +1.3% (Merck (:MRK) begins tender offer to acquire Cubist for $102.00 per share in cash), UTIW +0.8% (responds to Bloomberg report that UTIW is in 'advanced talks' to sell itself to DSV; UTIW states that those discussions never progress beyond a preliminary stage) .

A few Brazil names are trading higher: BRFS +3.9%, PBR +2.2% EBR +2.5%, CBD +1.5%

Other news: PETX +26.2% (announced positive top-line results from AT-001 pivotal field study in client-owned dogs with osteoarthritis),MOLG +13.7% (announces commencement of share repurchase program),CERS +13.6% (FDA approves intercept blood system for platelets),ISIS +7.1% (among stocks with favorable commentary on Thursday's Mad Money),MSG +4.6% (authorized and directed mgmt also to consider other spin-off structures including separation of the media business from its sports and entertainment businesses),KEG +3.7% (after 35% move higher yesterday),ALLY +3.3% (files for offering of common stock, size not disclosed; U.S. Department of Treasury launched offering to sell its remaining ~54.9 mln shares of Ally common stock),OREX +3.3% (confirms that the Committee for Medicinal Products For Human Use of the European Medicines Agency has adopted a positive opinion recommending the granting of a centralized marketing authorization for Mysimba),OGXI +3.1% (nnounced results from the randomized, controlled Phase 2 Borealis-1 trial evaluating low and high dose apatorsen in combination with gemcitabine/cisplatin chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone in the treatment of metastatic bladder cancer),RCAP +2.5% (following yesterday's 15%+ move lower following ARCP news; issues statement regarding recent market developments; says 'here have been no reported accounting irregularities at RCS Capital'),MBT +2.5%/ VIP +1% (Mobile TeleSystems partnered with VimpelCom to jointly roll-out and utilize LTE networks in 36 Russian regions),SIMG +2.4% (after 30% move lower yesterday),FRO +2.3% (cont strength),Q +1.9% (among stocks with favorable commentary on Thursday's Mad Money),TICC +1.3% (adopts stock repurchase program of up to $50 mln worth of common shares),PTCT +1.1% (Translarna Granted Orphan Drug Designation in the U.S. and Europe for the Treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis),CQP +0.7% (Cheniere and GE Sign $1B Service Agreement for Sabine Pass LNG Export Terminal),NRZ +0.7% (increases quarterly dividend),GILD +0.4% (Gilead Sciences and Ono Pharma (:OPHLY) announced that the companies have entered into an exclusive license agreement for the development and commercialization of ONO-4059),KO +0.3% (Coca-Cola Bottling Co. announces agreement with Coca-Cola to expand franchise territory).

Analyst comments: POT +1.8% (upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS; tgt raised to $40 from $38),ORAN +1.1% (upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank),RYAAY +1% (upgraded to Outperform from In-line at Imperial Capital; tgt raised to $85 from $60),IRBT +0.7% (initiated with Overweight and $42 target at Piper Jaffray),-hammer and fly afterTWTR +0.7% (initiated with Perform at Opco; tgt $36), MPW +0.6% (upgraded to Hold from Underweight at KeyBanc Capital Mkts),AAPL +0.3% (positive Morgan Stanley comments related to iPhone demand)

8:08 am Medovex prices 1.39 mln unit IPO at $5.75/unit (:MDVX) : Co priced its initial public offering of 1,391,305 units, each unit consisting of one share of common stock and one Series A Warrant, at a price to the public of $5.75 per unit. The units are expected to begin trading on The NASDAQ Capital Market on Dec 19, 2014 under the ticker symbol "MDVXU." The closing of the offering is expected to occur on December 24, 2014, subject to customary closing conditions.

  • Medovex intends to use the net proceeds it receives from the offering to fund its clinical trials and product development, related regulatory expenses, and general administrative expenses, and for general working capital purposes. 
  • Laidlaw & Company (:UK) Ltd. is acting as sole book-running manager of the offering.

8:07 am PTC Therapeutics: Translarna granted Orphan Drug Designation in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis (:PTCT) : Translarna is a protein restoration therapy designed to enable the formation of a functioning protein in patients with genetic disorders caused by a nonsense mutation. In preclinical models of MPS I, Translarna demonstrated that it crosses the blood-brain barrier and penetrates skeletal and cardiac tissues. The same preclinical models indicate that Translarna treatment reduces GAG levels in multiple tissues with no observed signs of cell toxicity or stress. Since Translarna is administered systemically, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and penetrates other tissues relevant to disease, there is potential for Translarna treatment to address the cardiac and neurological defects associated with nonsense mutation MPS I.

8:07 am Ashford Hospitality Trust to acquire Prudential Real Estate Investors' interest in the Highland Portfolio for a total transaction value of $1.735 bln (:AHT) : The co and Prudential Real Estate Investors announced they have signed a definitive agreement in which Ashford Trust will acquire the remaining 28.26% ownership interest of the Highland Hospitality portfolio from its joint venture partner, a value-add fund managed by PREI. Ashford Trust currently has a 71.74% ownership interest in the joint venture. At the end of the third quarter, Ashford Trust had net working capital of $547 million.  Ashford Inc. (AINC) will become the advisor on the remaining 28.26% of the Highland portfolio. 

  • The 28-hotel Highland Hospitality portfolio includes 19 full-service hotels and nine select-service hotels with a concentration in major brands such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and Starwood.  The expected total transaction value is $1.735 billion.  The purchase of the Fund's interest, which will be made by a cash payment of $250.1 million, includes the Fund's 28.26% equity ownership, its preferred equity position, as well as the Fund's share of the venture's net working capital balance.

8:06 am Cardiome Pharma enters development and commercialization agreement with Eddingpharm for BRINAVESS (:CRME) : The co announced that one of its subsidiaries has entered into an agreement with Eddingpharm to develop and commercialize BRINAVESS in China, Taiwan, and Macau and re-launch BRINAVESS in Hong Kong. Eddingpharm will be responsible for any clinical trials and regulatory approvals required to commercialize BRINAVESS in the countries covered by the agreement.

  • Under the terms of the agreement, Eddingpharm has agreed to an upfront payment of $1.0 mln and specific annual commercial goals for BRINAVESS. Cardiome is also eligible to receive regulatory milestone payments of up to $3.0 mln. Other financial details have not been disclosed.

8:05 am MOL Global announces commencement of share repurchase program (:MOLG) : Co announces that it has commenced repurchases pursuant to its share repurchase program announced on December 1, 2014. The company's purchases are subject to customary blackout periods, and may be made from time to time at prevailing market prices in open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block purchases or otherwise, as determined by the company's management. The share repurchase program may be suspended, modified or discontinued at any time and has no set expiration date.

8:04 am Cytori Therapeuticsand BARDA amend contract option to accelerate the advancement of a thermal burn injury countermeasure; Increased option value of $14.1 mln plus $8.3 mln for FDA approved clinical trial (:CYTX) : The supplemental funds from this amended contract will be primarily used to support 2015 activities such as verification, testing and validation for delivery and processing of adipose-derived regenerative cells. Reports generated by the funded activities will be submitted to the FDA as part of an IDE package for a proposed clinical trial using Cytori Cell Therapy in thermal burn injury. The original contract retains two additional options to fund a pivotal clinical trial and additional work in thermal burn complicated by radiation exposure valued at up to $45 mln and $23 mln, respectively. 

8:04 am Paramount Gold and Silver announces the results of its annual shareholder meeting (:PZG) :

  • Co announces the results of the votes from its annual shareholder meeting which was held on December 18, 2014. 
  • Of the 162,027,422 shares outstanding and entitled to vote at the meeting, 122,233,369 shares or 75.44% were voted including 56,844,564 broker non-votes.

8:03 am Alnylam Pharma announces that Laurence Reid, Ph.D., the co's Chief Business Officer, plans to resign on Dec 31 (:ALNY) : Co announces that Laurence Reid, Ph.D., the company's Chief Business Officer, plans to resign from the company, effective December 31, 2014. Dr. Reid will be joining Third Rock Ventures as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and is expected to become a Chief Executive Officer for a TRV portfolio company in the future. Alnylam will initiate an external search to identify a new Chief Business Officer.

8:03 am Atossa Genetics announced it has begun to offer pharmacogenetics testing (:ATOS) : The co notes that the National Reference Laboratory for Breast Health is providing the following information about this new test:

  • Since first making the test available in late October 2014, the NRLBH has now processed more than 500 pharmacogenetics tests for U.S. patients with an average retail price of approximately $1,700 per patient.
  • The NRLBH has the current capacity to process approximately 5,000 pharmacogenetics tests per month and can increase capacity by hiring additional employees and adding additional equipment to its facility.

8:02 am UBIC releases notice regarding co's termination of basic agreement on acquisition of shares through third-party allocation of shares, acquisition of share warrants (10th share warrants) and withdrawal of securities registration statement (:UBIC) : In connection with the share issuance program through a third-party allocation of its shares to the London Branch of Deutsche Bank that was resolved by a meeting of the Board of Directors of UBIC, Inc. held on August 28, 2014 and announced on the same day, the Board of Directors resolved to terminate the Basic Agreement on Acquisition of Shares dated August 28, 2014 between the Company and the Purchaser and to acquire the 10th Share Warrants from the Purchaser. Further, the Company delivered to the Purchaser a termination notice of the Agreement and also withdrew a securities registration statement regarding the Fourth Issuance of New Shares that was filed with a Chief of the Kanto Local Financial Bureau today. Accordingly, the Company makes the following announcement.

8:02 am OncoGenex Pharma announced results from the randomized, controlled Phase 2 Borealis-1 trial evaluating low and high dose apatorsen in combination with gemcitabine/cisplatin chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone in the treatment of metastatic bladder cancer (:OGXI) :

  • Co announced results from the randomized, controlled Phase 2 Borealis-1 trial evaluating low and high dose (600mg and 1000mg) apatorsen in combination with gemcitabine/cisplatin chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone in the treatment of metastatic bladder cancer.
  • Overall trial results indicated that the addition of 600mg apatorsen to standard of care chemotherapy showed a 14% reduction in risk of death (overall survival hazard ratio (:HR) = 0.86) and a 17% reduction in progressive disease and death (progression-free survival HR = 0.83) when compared to chemotherapy alone. Over one-third of the patients in the trial had lower performance status, as defined by a Karnofsky score of 80%or less.
  • These patients derived the greatest benefit from 600mg apatorsen in combination with chemotherapy, resulting in a 50% reduction in risk of death (overall survival HR = 0.50) compared to chemotherapy alone.
  • Less benefit was observed in the 1000mg apatorsen arm due to increased adverse events leading to a higher rate of discontinuation of both apatorsen and chemotherapy. Apatorsen 600mg was well tolerated in combination with chemotherapy.

8:02 am Cubist Pharma: Merck (:MRK) begins tender offer to acquire Cubist for $102.00 per share in cash (:CBST) : Co is commencing, through a subsidiary, a cash tender to purchase all outstanding shares of common stock of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (:CBST). On Dec. 8, 2014, Merck announced its intent to acquire Cubist. Upon the successful closing of the tender offer, stockholders of Cubist will receive $102.00 in cash for each share of Cubist common stock validly tendered and not properly withdrawn in the offer, without interest and less any required withholding taxes. Following the purchase of shares in the tender offer, Cubist will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck. Merck will file today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (:SEC) a tender offer statement on Schedule TO, which provides the terms of the tender offer. Additionally, Cubist will file with the SEC a solicitation/recommendation statement on Schedule 14D-9 that includes the recommendation of the Cubist board of directors that Cubist stockholders accept the tender offer and tender their shares.

8:01 am Alderon Iron Ore appoints interim CFO (:AXX) : Co announced the appointment of Anthony Glavac as Interim CFO of the Co effective December 29, 2014. Alderon's current CFO, Francois Laurin, is taking an executive position outside of the mining sector in the New Year and is committed to ensuring a seamless transition of his responsibilities to Glavac. Prior to joining AXX, Glavac spent thirteen years at KPMG, most recently as a Senior Manager in Audit.

8:01 am Vascular Solutions announces FDA 510(k) clearance of Zigiwire Access Guidewire System (:VASC) : Co announces that the ZigiWire access support guidewire system has received FDA 510(k) clearance. ZigiWire is designed to facilitate placement and exchange of catheters during peripheral diagnostic or interventional procedures. The co plans to launch ZigiWire through its 101-member direct US sales force in January 2015. "By delivering small diameter wires consecutively into the peripheral vasculature, ZigiWire allows an operator to more easily access the intended vessel."

8:01 am Flamel announced that its second clinical study in healthy volunteers using its proprietary Micropump technology applied to sodium oxybate has achieved the objective of one single dose before bedtime for patients suffering from narcolepsy, confirming the results of a previous, first-in-man, study (:FLML) : The current dosing regimen for the standard of care, Xyrem, in the United States is two equal, divided doses: the first dose at bedtime and the second dose 2.5 to 4 hours later. The elimination of the second dose for narcolepsy patients would not only provide more convenience, but may improve the benefit sodium oxybate provides as there will be no disruption to nighttime sleep.

8:00 am GeoPark announces $10 mln share repurchase program (:GPRK) : Co has approved a program to repurchase up to US$10 mln of common shares. The program will begin on December 19, 2014 and will expire at the close of business on March 27, 2015, but may be terminated prior to such date.

8:00 am Teva Pharma announces FDA approval of QNASL nasal aerosol for treatment of children with seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis (:TEVA) : FDA approval was based on data from three double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that evaluated the safety and efficacy of QNASL 40 mcg in children with AR. Data demonstrated that once-daily treatment with QNASL 40 mcg provided significant nasal allergy symptom relief in children with seasonal allergic rhinitis and perennial allergic rhinitis in comparison to placebo. In all three studies, the safety profile of QNASL 40 mcg was similar to that of placebo and the most common adverse events were nosebleeds and ulcers, which is consistent with those seen in previous clinical studies of QNASL Nasal Aerosol.

7:57 am S&P futures vs fair value: +12.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +17.00. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures have slipped from their overnight highs, but they continue trading with solid gains. The S&P 500 futures hover 12 points above fair value. Markets across Asia followed yesterday's rally on Wall Street with a broad-based advance of their own; however, European indices have not followed suit as they trade mostly lower.

On the commodity front, crude oil has recovered a portion of yesterday's decline and currently trades higher by 1.4% at $54.85/bbl. Meanwhile, the Dollar Index (89.31, +0.08) holds a slim gain of 0.1%.

Treasuries sit just below their flat lines with the 10-yr yield at 2.22%.

Today's session will be free of economic data, but quadruple witching will be taking place, which could introduce additional volatility.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • BlackBerry (BBRY 9.65, -0.42): -4.2% after missing revenue estimates on better than expected earnings. 
  • Nike (NKE 94.50, -2.58): -2.7% after its below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue. 
  • Red Hat (RHT 68.00, +6.50): +10.6% after beating earnings and revenue expectations.
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng +1.3%, China's Shanghai Composite +1.7%, and Japan's Nikkei +2.4% 
    • Economic data was limited: 
      • Japan's All Industries Activity Index ticked down 0.1% month-over-month (expected 0.2%; previous 1.4%) 
      • New Zealand's ANZ Business Confidence slipped to 30.4% from 31.5% 
    • In news: 
      • The Bank of Japan made no changes to its policy stance, but did raise its assessment of Housing Investment, Exports, and Industrial Output
  • Major European indices trade mostly lower. France's CAC -0.3%, Germany's DAX -0.4%, and UK's FTSE +0.5%. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB -1.2% and Spain's IBEX -1.0% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Eurozone Current Account surplus narrowed to EUR20.50 billion from EUR32.00 billion (expected surplus of EUR27.40 billion) 
      • Germany's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (expected -0.2%; previous -0.2%) while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (expected -1.2%; previous -1.0%). Separately, GfK Consumer Climate improved to 9.0 from 8.7 (expected 8.8) 
      • UK's Public Sector Net Borrowing increased to GBP13.41 billion from GBP6.43 billion (expected GBP15.37 billion). Separately, CBI Distributive Trades Survey jumped to 61 from 27 (expected 31) 
      • French Business Survey held at 99, as expected 
      • Italy's Industrial New Orders rose 0.1% month-over-month (previous -1.5%) while Wage Inflation ticked up 0.1% month-over-month (prior 0.1%)
    • Among news of note:
      • According to Reuters, the ECB is looking into ways of making weaker eurozone countries bear a larger portion of the risk associated with a sovereign QE program

7:38 am CarMax beats by $0.06, beats on revs (:KMX) : Reports Q3 (Nov) earnings of $0.60 per share, $0.06 better than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.54; revenues rose 15.8% year/year to $3.41 bln vs the $3.26 bln consensus. 

  • Total used vehicle unit sales grew 14.0% and comparable store used unit sales increased 7.4% YoY vs. ests near 4%. 
    • Comparable store used unit sales benefited from a combination of factors, including our sixth consecutive quarter of growth in customer traffic, as well as improved conversion. 
  • Wholesale vehicle unit sales grew 10.0% versus the third quarter of fiscal 2014. 
    • Wholesale unit sales primarily benefited from increased appraisal traffic and the growth of store base.

7:38 am Asian Markets Close: Nikkei +2.4%, Hang Seng +1.3%, Shanghai +1.7% (:SUMRX) :

  • Markets rallied across Asia as the Fed induced enthusiasm on Wall Street traveled across the Pacific. 
  • The Bank of Japan kept policy on hold and suggested inflation could dip to 1% into March due to the weakness in oil prices.
  • Hong Kong's current account deficit swung to a surplus (HKD43.3 bln actual v. -HKD8.08 bln previous). 
  • Japan's Nikkei (+2.4%) posted its biggest gain since Halloween. Heavyweights Softbank and Fast Retailing provided support, tacking on 2.4% and 2.3%, respectively.
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng (+1.3%) saw a second day of buying after hitting seven-month lows on Wednesday. Financials led AIA Group gained 3.4% and Bank of Communications added 2.6%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite (+1.7%) climbed to its best levels since November 2010. Aluminum maker Chalco surged the limit, 10%, after announcing it intends to sell off non-core assets.
  • India's Sensex (+0.9%) gained for a second day, but struggled to reclaim the 50 dma. Commodity plays were strong as Hindalco Industries jumped 3.2% and Reliance Industries added 2.3%.
  • Australia's ASX (+2.5%) surged to its best close in nine sessions as three days of gains have erased six days of selling. Miners led the market higher as BHP Billiton climbed 3.4% and Rio Tinto gained 2.9%. 
  • Regional Decliners: Vietnam -1.0%...Thailand -0.2% 
  • Regional Advancers: Indonesia +0.6%...Malaysia +0.9%...Singapore +1.1%...Taiwan +1.4%...Philippines +1.4%...South Korea +1.7% 
  • Fx: USDCNY edged up to 6.2202, best since June...USDINR climbed 0.4% to 63.25...USDJPY +50 pips @ 119.35...AUDUSD +10 pips @ .8175

7:36 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • TransEnterix (TRXC) announced the successful completion of four general surgery and urology procedures using its SurgiBot system patient-side robotic surgery system. Management also stated that the preparation of its FDA 510(k) filing is proceeding as planned, and affirmed prior guidance of its intention to submit the filing in mid-2015.
  • W. P. Carey (WPC) announced that CPA:18 -- Global, one of its managed non-traded REITs, has acquired a single tenant office building and an adjacent multitenant high-rise tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands for approximately $86 million. 
  • Operators at PPL's (PPL) Susquehanna nuclear power plant reconnected Unit 1 to the regional electric grid Friday (12/19) after repairing a small water leak inside the containment structure. The massive concrete containment structure, which surrounds the reactor, is not accessible to plant workers when the unit is running.

7:31 am Rogers signs definitive agreement to acquire Arlon, LLC; Co expects the transaction to be accretive to its earnings in the first 12 months following the acquisition, ex. purchase accounting charges (:ROG) :

  • Co announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Arlon, LLC, currently owned by Handy & Harman Ltd. (:HNH), for $157 mln, subject to closing and post-closing adjustments
  • The transaction, which is subject to regulatory clearances, is expected to close in the first half of 2015. Rogers intends to finance the transaction through a combination of cash and borrowings under an existing bank credit facility.

7:31 am Republic Services to acquire Tervita Corporation's U.S.-based operations; terms not disclosed (:RSG) : The co and Tervita Corporation announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement whereby a subsidiary of Republic Services will acquire Tervita, LLC , a subsidiary of Tervita Corporation. Tervita is a leading pure-play environmental waste solutions provider serving oil and natural gas producers in the United States.

7:25 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • GigaMedia Limited (GIGM) announced that Giga Card Cloud Service and Virtual Platform Solution launched by its GigaCloud Business are available on the market.
  • P tria Investimentos and Blackstone (BX) announced that Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII and P tria Brazil Real Estate Fund III acquired four office buildings in Rio de Janeiro from Opportunity's Real Estate Fund for R$700 million. P tria and Blackstone will own the portfolio in a 50/50 joint venture.
  • Rexford Industrial Realty (REXR) announced that it has acquired a three-building industrial complex in Los Angeles, California for $11.9 million, or approximately $187 per square foot. The acquisition was funded with the Company's credit facility.
  • Reuters, a Thomson Reuters (TRI) company, announced a new UK edition of its news app for iOS and Android devices. This is the first time a UK edition of the Reuters app has been available for download, and it launches alongside new versions in Chinese and Japanese, each customised to deliver regionally-relevant content as well as global news coverage.
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) announced that Ocean Capital Investments, and its subsidiaries, members of the Irving family of companies, are migrating to BES12: a cross-platform EMM solution by BlackBerry. The co also announced that BES12: a cross-platform EMM solution includes support for Android 5.0 Lollipop.

7:21 am Orexigen Therapeutics confirms that the Committee for Medicinal Products For Human Use of the European Medicines Agency has adopted a positive opinion recommending the granting of a centralized marketing authorization for Mysimba (:OREX) : The co announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products For Human Use (:CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (:EMA) has adopted a positive opinion recommending the granting of a centralized marketing authorization for Mysimba (naltrexone HCI / bupropion HCI prolonged release), as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, for the management of weight in adult patients 

  • The CHMP opinion was based on the results of four Phase 3 clinical trials evaluating Mysimba in more than 4,500 overweight and obese patients including a dedicated clinical trial in obese patients with diabetes. The CHMP also reviewed the interim analysis of the Light Study, a cardiovascular outcomes safety trial with more than 8,900 patients evaluating the effects of Mysimba on heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death.

7:16 am Euro Threatens December's Lows: 10Y: unch..2.212%..USD/JPY: 119.32..EUR/USD: 1.2269 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index has pulled back from session highs, but continues to hold small gains near 89.40. 
  • Trade came within a penny of its best print Since April 2006 before sellers emerged
  • The 200 mma (89.90) remains a significant hurdle. 
  • EURUSD is -15 pips @ 1.2270 as action presses the December lows. The single currency has been in a steady decline since the slightly better than expected GfK German Consumer Climate (9.0 actual v. 8.9 expected, 8.7 previous) crossed the wires as reports out suggested the weaker countries could share a heavier burden of QE risk. The December lows at 1.2250 remain in focus. Click here to see a daily EURUSD chart.
  • GBPUSD is -50 pips @ 1.5620 as trade presses its worst levels of the day. Today's weakness comes despite public sector net borrowing (GBP13.4 bln actual v. GBP14.8 bln expected) topping estimates and CBI Realized Sales surging to 61 (30 expected, 27 previous), the highest in more than 25 years. The December lows near 1.5550 remain under close watch. 
  • USDCHF is +20 pips @ .9815 as buyers remain in control for a third session. Today's bid has the pair threatening yesterday's two-year high of .9850 that came after the Swiss National Bank introduced a negative interest rate policy. EURCHF trades flat @ 1.2035. 
  • USDJPY is +20 pips @ .9815 as trade firms after the Bank of Japan kept policy on hold and suggested inflation could slow to 1% into March because of the decline in energy prices. Minor resistance at 119.70 is all that stands in the way of a retest of the December highs near 122.00. 
  • AUDUSD is +10 pips @ .8175 as action firms off 54-month lows. A quiet session for news and data down under has kept the hard currency in a tight 40 pip range. USDCNY edged up 0.1% to 6.2202, best since June. 
  • USDCAD is +25 pips @ 1.1600 as action presses its best levels of the session. The pair will be in focus this morning as CPI and retail sales figures are set to cross the wires.

7:09 am BlackBerry beats by $0.07, misses on revs; reports 2 mln BBRY smartphones; continues to target sustainable non-GAAP profitability some time in FY16 (shares halted -- will resume 7:30 ET) (:BBRY) : Reports Q3 (Nov) adj earnings of $0.01 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.07 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.06); revenues fell 33.5% year/year to $793 mln vs the $919.63 mln consensus. 

  • The revenue breakdown for the quarter was ~46% for hardware, 46% for services and 8% for software and other revenue. 
  • During the third quarter, the Company recognized hardware revenue on ~2 mln BlackBerry smartphones vs 2.2 mln ests vs 1.9 mln last year. 
  • Non-GAAP and GAAP gross margin of 52%.
  • Outlook: The Company continues to anticipate maintaining its strong cash position, while increasingly looking for opportunities to prudently invest in growth. The Company continues to anticipate break-even or better cash flow from operations. The Company is expanding its distribution capability, and expects traction from these efforts to manifest some time in fiscal 2016. The company continues to target sustainable non-GAAP profitability some time in fiscal 2016.
  • Co also announced that BES12: a cross-platform EMM solution includes support for Android 5.0 Lollipop.  Co also announced that Ocean Capital Investments, and its subsidiaries, members of the Irving family of companies, are migrating to BES12: a cross-platform EMM solution by BlackBerry.

7:08 am Finish Line misses by $0.03, beats on revs; tempers guidance (:FINL) : Reports Q3 (Nov) loss of $0.02 per share, $0.03 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.01; revenues rose 8.6% year/year to $395.8 mln vs the $390.31 mln consensus.

  • Outlook: 
    • Sees FY15 EPS flat vs. FY14 EPS of $1.67, vs. Capital IQ Consensus of $1.79
    • Sees comparable store sales to increase low to mid-single digits. 
    • Guidance is tempered vs. prior guidance for comparable store sales to be up mid single digits and earnings per share to increase in the high single to low double digit range YoY.

7:07 am RXi Pharma announces assignment and exclusive global license agreement with Hapten Pharmaceuticals for the therapeutic use of Samcyprone (:RXII) : Co announced that it has entered into an assignment and exclusive global license agreement with Hapten Pharmaceuticals, LLC for the therapeutic use of Samcyprone. Samcyprone is expected to demonstrate an improved safety and use profile over DPCP as currently applied.

7:04 am Canadian Solar issues statement in response to the United States Department of Commerce's decision to impose counter-veiling and anti-dumping tariffs on certain Chinese and Taiwanese photovoltaic modules and cell imports (:CSIQ) : "We are very disappointed by the DOC's decision, and the damaging impact this has on the American solar industry. This decision threatens the employment of tens and thousands of American workers in the various facets of the solar industry, including manufacturing, design, installation and operations."

7:03 am Israel Chemical announced that its ICL Performance Products segment has entered into an agreement to sell its Rhenoflex business unit to Findos Investor; terms not disclosed (:ICL) : The sale of the Rhenoflex business unit is part of ICL's 'Next Step Forward' strategy to divest its non-core businesses to focus on its core businesses in the agriculture, food and engineered materials markets and to optimize its positioning in those markets.

7:02 am Tesco has appointed Fernando Assing as President and CEO (:TESO) : The co announced that, in accordance with the previously disclosed executive succession plan, Julio M. Quintana has resigned from the positions of President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Quintana will remain an employee of the Company until his January 1, 2015 retirement date and will remain on the Board of Directors through his current term. The Board correspondingly appointed Mr. Assing as President and Chief Executive Officer and appointed him to a vacant seat on the Board of Directors. Mr. Assing joined TESCO in 2009 as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.

7:01 am BioAmber announced it has repaid the $25 million loan that it secured in June 2013 and secured a new debt facility with funds managed by Tennenbaum Capital Partners (:BIOA) : The new $25 million term loan has a three-year maturity and an interest-only period that defers principal repayment until at least September 30, 2015. The Company has improved terms with Tennenbaum and the debt facility is expected to free up an additional $12 million of cash through to the end of 2015.

7:01 am Renewable Energy and Neste Oil settle US and Singapore patent lawsuits (:REGI) : Co and Neste Oil Corporation of Finland have entered into a Settlement and License Agreement whereby the parties have settled Neste's US patent infringement lawsuit against REG and REG's Singapore patent infringement lawsuit against Neste and REG has licensed certain Neste Oil NEXBTL technology and intellectual property rights for use at REG Geismar.

6:57 am ExOne announces management changes; S. Kent Rockwell continues as CEO & Chairman (:XONE) :

  • David J. Burns, formerly ExOne's President and Chief Operating Officer, is now the Global Head of Sales
  • JoEllen Lyons Dillon, currently ExOne's Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, will add "Executive Vice President," to her current roles

6:48 am Shanghai... +1.7% (:FXI) :  

6:48 am S&P futures vs fair value: +9.10. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +12.80. :

6:48 am European Markets : FTSE...6493.42...+27.40...+0.40%.  DAX...9774.79...-36.30...-0.40%.

6:48 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...17621.40...+411.40...+2.40%.  Hang Seng...23116.63...+284.40...+1.30%.

6:42 am Novogen announced that it has entered into definitive agreements today to issue securities in a private placement with gross proceeds of ~AUD 1.75 mln (:NVGN) :

  • Co disclosed that it has entered into definitive agreements today to issue securities to existing institutional investors in the Unites States in a private placement with gross proceeds of ~AUD 1.75 mln. 
  • This private placement follows a private placement for gross proceeds of AUD 4.1 million that was previously announced on December 17, 2014. Aggregate gross proceeds from the two private placements are AUD 5.85 mln. 
  • The closing of each private placement is expected to occur on or about 22 December 2014 and is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

6:37 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • NTT Communications Corporation, the ICT solutions and international communications business within the NTT Group (NTT), announced its immediate launch of the NTT Communications API Gateway. The gateway enables customers and partner companies to use their own systems to directly view and control information to operate and maintain these services, as business processes related to the provision of these services to end users, such as application procedures. 
  • Sanuk, a division of Deckers Brands (DECK) announced that Jeff Kelley, founder of the Sanuk brand, will be transitioning from an active role at the brand at the close of the year. 
  • MSCI (MSCI) announced two next generation Barra risk models aimed at helping firms who invest in China and greater-Asia markets better understand risk and performance.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the contract for its flagship Work Programme in North East Yorkshire and the Humber has been awarded to MAXIMUS (MMS).
  • Carnival Corporation (CCL) announced new cruise ship orders for two of its brands with Fincantieri S.p.A.
  • Saneamento Basico (SBS), informed its shareholders and the market in general that ARSESP published Public Hearing Rule 003/2014, which will provide for the "Presentation and discussion of ARSESP's resolution proposal that provides for the inclusion of contingency tariff mechanisms into Sabesp's water consumption reduction incentive program," which will take place on 12/29/2014.
  • Sierra Bancorp (BSRR) announced Michael Olague will assume the position of Executive Vice President, Chief Banking Officer of Sierra Bancorp and the Bank, on January 1, 2015.

6:32 am Coeur d'Alene Mines announced an initial resource estimate for its high-grade underground Independencia silver-gold deposit (:CDE) :

  • Measured and indicated resources total approximately 1.9 million short tons grading 4.05 oz/ton of silver and 0.073 oz/ton of gold, for a total of 7.7 million ounces of silver and 138,000 ounces of gold, using a silver equivalent cutoff grade of 2.63 ounces per ton
  • Inferred resources total approximately 526,000 short tons grading 2.48 oz/ton for silver and 0.045 oz/ton for gold, for a total of 1.3 million ounces of silver and 23,000 ounces of gold, using a silver equivalent cutoff grade of 2.63 ounces per ton

6:31 am Eli Lilly and Adocia announced a worldwide licensing collaboration focused on developing an ultra-rapid insulin, for treatment in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes (:LLY) : Lilly and Adocia will develop BioChaperone Lispro with the goal of optimizing glucose levels during and after meals.

  • Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly is responsible for future development, manufacturing, and commercialization of BioChaperone Lispro. The total up-front and milestone payments could reach up to $570 mln; Adocia will receive a total upfront fee of $50 mln with the potential for future payments of up to $280 mln if the product reaches certain development and regulatory milestones, and sales milestones up to $240 mln, as well as tiered sales royalties. Lilly shall also reimburse Adocia for certain research and development expenses during the terms of the agreement.

6:28 am UTI Worldwide responds to Bloomberg report that UTIW is in 'advanced talks' to sell itself to DSV; UTIW states that those discussions never progress beyond a preliminary stage (:UTIW) :

  • Co announced that Bloomberg reported UTi is in 'advanced talks to sell itself to DSV A/S'. Although UTi can confirm that exploratory conversations have taken place between the companies, in response to an inquiry from DSV? A/S, those discussions never progressed beyond a preliminary stage. 
  • Currently there are no discussions taking place between the companies.

6:23 am NQ Mobile also announced a proposal to sell FL Mobile to Tack Fiori for total consideration between $570-630 mln (:NQ) : The co announced  that it has entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Tack Fiori International Group Limited.  As contemplated under the MOU, Tack Fiori proposed to purchase 100% of the equity interests in, and assume all liabilities of, FL Mobile by paying a total consideration of between $570-630 mln payable by way of allotment and issue of certain number of new shares of Tack Fiori at an issue price per new share which shall represent a discount of 10% to 20% to the average closing price per share of Tack Fiori as quoted on the HK Stock Exchange for the last thirty consecutive trading days up to and including the day immediately prior to the date of the MOU to NQ Mobile and other shareholders of FL Mobile, which shall be documented by a sale and purchase agreement to be negotiated and executed by and among Tack Fiori, NQ Mobile and other shareholders of FL Mobile.   

  • The MOU contemplates that, after the completion of the Proposed Transaction, NQ Mobile and/or its affiliates shall become the controlling shareholders of Tack Fiori. 

6:20 am Sorrento Therapeutics announce exclusive global collaboration (:SRNE) :

  • Co announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement to jointly develop next generation CAR-TNK immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. The CAR-TNK technology platform combines Conkwest's proprietary Neukoplast cell line with Sorrento's proprietary G-MAB fully human antibody technology and CAR designs to further enhance the potency and targeting of Neukoplast. 
  • Under the terms of the agreement, Sorrento and Conkwest will establish an exclusive global strategic collaboration focused on accelerating the development of CAR-TNKs for the treatment of hematological malignancies as well as solid tumors. 
  • Both companies will jointly own and share development costs and revenues from any developed CAR-TNK products. As part of the transaction, Sorrento will make a $9 million strategic equity investment in Conkwest and provide $2 mln in research credit payments towards the development of novel CAR-TNK cell lines.

6:18 am CareTrust REIT announced that it has acquired Prelude at Woodbury, an upscale memory care facility in Woodbury, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb, for $7.2 mln (:CTRE) : The transaction was a sale-leaseback with Prelude Homes & Services, LLC, which developed the 30-bed facility in 2011 and has operated it since it opened.

6:16 am Wolters Kluwer N.V. to acquire SBS software in Germany (:WTKWY) : Co announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire SBS Software GmbH, a German provider of accounting and payroll solutions. Based in Bretten, Germany with a 40-year history, SBS Software has more than 100 employees and serves over 6,000 customers. Closing of the acquisition is expected in January 2015.

6:15 am Metso OYJ to divest its Tampere foundry to Tevo (:MXCYY) :

  • Co concluded the study related to Tampere foundry announced in 2013. As a result Metso will divest the Tampere foundry to a Finnish company TEVO. The new owner will continue the foundry operations under the TEVO-Lokomo name at the foundry's current premises in Tampere.

6:14 am Hanwha SolarOne obtains three-year $87 mln term-loan facility (:HSOL) :

  • Co announced that Hanwha SolarOne has secured a three-year US$87 million term loan facility from the Export-Import Bank of Korea. The loan will mature on December 29, 2017 with payment of principle to be made at maturity. The interest rate floats with the three-month LIBOR, plus 1.83% per annum. 
  • The loan proceeds will be used for working capital including redemption of the company's convertible senior notes with a January 15, 2015 put option. The Company previously announced a three-year US$23 million term loan facility from KEXIM to its Qidong subsidiary on December 15, 2014.

6:12 am Roche Hldg: MorphoSys's partner RHHBY provides update on trial of gantenerumab in prodromal Alzheimer's patients (:RHHBY) :

  • MorphoSys informed today that its partner Roche (:RHHBY) has decided to discontinue the phase 3 SCarletRoAD trial of gantenerumab in prodromal Alzheimer's Disease patients. The decision is based on a pre-planned futility analysis and a recommendation by the independent Data Monitoring Committee. 
  • According to Roche, no new safety signals were observed in the SCarletRoAD trial and the overall safety profile was similar to that seen in the phase 1 study. The second Roche-sponsored phase 3 trial of gantenerumab in mild Alzheimer's Disease patients will continue. 
  • Today's news has no impact on MorphoSys's financial guidance.

6:06 am Immunogen reported that Roche (:RHHBY) has announced top-line results of its Phase III Marianne study; Roche has reported the Marianne study showed the three regimens helped people live without their disease worsening (:IMGN) :

  • Roche has reported the MARIANNE study showed the three regimens helped people live without their disease worsening for a similar amount of time, meeting its non-inferiority endpoint as assessed by an Independent Review Committee. However, neither Kadcyla-containing treatment arm significantly improved PFS compared to Herceptin and chemotherapy. 
  • Adverse events observed in the two experimental arms of the study were generally consistent with those seen in previous studies of Kadcyla and/or Perjeta. 
  • Roche expects data from the MARIANNE study to be reported at an upcoming medical meeting, and to discuss the findings with appropriate regulatory authorities.

6:05 am Roche Hldg's Genentech provides update on Phase 3 marianne study; study met non-inferiority endpoint, showing similar progression-free survival among the three arms (:RHHBY) :

  • Co announced today top-line results of the Phase III MARIANNE study. The study evaluated three HER2-targeted regimens -- Kadcyla plus Perjeta, Kadcyla alone, and Herceptin plus taxane chemotherapy -- in people with previously untreated advanced HER2-positive breast cancer. 
  • The study showed the three regimens helped people live without their disease worsening for a similar amount of time, meeting its non-inferiority endpoint as assessed by an Independent Review Committee. 
  • However, neither Kadcyla-containing treatment arm significantly improved PFS compared to Herceptin plus chemotherapy. Adverse events observed in the two experimental arms of the study were generally consistent with those seen in previous studies of Kadcyla and/or Perjeta.

6:02 am Gilead Sciences and Ono Pharma (:OPHLY) announced that the companies have entered into an exclusive license agreement for the development and commercialization of ONO-4059 (:GILD) :

  • Co announced that the companies have entered into an exclusive license agreement for the development and commercialization of ONO-4059, ONO's oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor for the treatment of B-cell malignancies and other diseases. 
  • Under the terms of the agreement, Gilead will pay ONO an upfront payment plus additional payments based upon achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones. The companies will collaborate jointly on global development of ONO-4059. 
  • Gilead will have exclusive rights to develop and commercialize ONO-4059 in all countries of the world outside of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries, where ONO retains development and commercialization rights.

5:58 am RCS Capital issues statement regarding recent market developments; says 'here have been no reported accounting irregularities at RCS Capital' (:RCAP) : "The fundamentals driving the success of our business remain strong and unchanged. Our confidence in the long-term prospects for the company is resolute," said Michael Weil, Chief Executive Officer of RCS Capital...There have been no reported accounting irregularities at RCS Capital, none, and the recent unfounded allegations reported in the press in connection with our Chairman, Nicholas S. Schorsch, should not have any material impact on the long-term strength of our business model or our operating results." Mr. Weil continued, "Progress on our strategic initiatives has resulted in recent positive analyst recommendations and upgrades, citing a strong outlook for our retail advice business and stabilization in other areas of RCS Capital over the longer term. We believe investors remain confident in the direct investment and mutual fund products we distribute as evidenced by the steady increase in sales volume throughout November."

5:56 am Cerus: FDA approves intercept blood system for platelets (:CERS) :

  • Co announced that the FDA has approved the Intercept Blood System for platelets. 
  • The Intercept platelet system is approved for ex vivo preparation of pathogen-reduced apheresis platelet components in order to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infection, including sepsis, and to potentially reduce the risk of transfusion-associated graft versus host disease.

5:52 am SJW Corp announces the public utility commission of Texas' decision on SJWTX 2013 rate case; the final decision will settle all issues with the coalition for equitable water rates (:SJW) :

  • As approved, the final decision will settle all issues with the Coalition for Equitable Water Rates, the PUCT and the Office of Public Utility Counsel regarding the 2013 rate case for all customers located outside the City of Bulverde's jurisdiction. 
  • The decision authorizes the requested average system-wide rate increase to be phased-in annually beginning January 1, 2015 through January 1, 2018. The decision further provides that no refunds or credits will be owed to customers for application rates in effect between December 2, 2013 and December 31, 2014.

5:45 am Education Mgmt announces extension of exchange offer (:EDMC) :

  • Co announced that it has extended until 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on December 19, 2014 the expiration date for its previously announced private offer to exchange all outstanding Senior Cash Pay/PIK Notes due 2018 and Senior PIK Toggle Notes due 2018 issued by certain of its subsidiaries or a combination of mandatory convertible preferred stock of EDMC and warrants to purchase common stock of EDMC. 

5:43 am Xerox: Atos to acquire Xerox's information technology outsourcing business for $1.05 bln; does not anticipate earnings per share dilution beyond 2015; updates Q4 and FY15 guidance to reflect acquisition (:XRX) :

  • Co announced their intention for Atos to purchase Xerox's ITO business for $1.05 billion and become a primary IT services provider for Xerox. 
  • As part of this transaction, Atos will add Xerox's blue-chip ITO clients to its portfolio in order to accompany them on their digital journey. 
  • With estimated 2014 revenue of $1.5 billion. Also under the terms of this transaction, Atos will provide IT services to Xerox. 
  • The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2015.
  • As result of the pending sale of the ITO business, Xerox expects to report this business as a discontinued operation.
  • Additionally, Xerox expects initial net after-tax proceeds from the transaction of approximately $850 million and plans to increase its 2015 capital allocation for repurchasing shares to approximately $1.0 billion and up to $900 million for acquisitions. 
  • Xerox does not anticipate earnings per share dilution beyond 2015.
  • Co issues guidance for Q4 (Dec), lowers EPS of $0.28-0.30 from $0.30-0.32, may not be comparable to $0.31 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. Co issues guidance for FY15 (Dec), lowers EPS to $1.05-1.11 from $1.11-1.17, may not be comparable to $1.16 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

5:40 am Turquiose Hill Resources reports production from Oyu Tolgoi for 2015 is expected to be 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper and 600,000 to 700,000 ounces of gold (:TRQ) :

  • Production from Oyu Tolgoi for 2015 is expected to be 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper and 600,000 to 700,000 ounces of gold in concentrates. The variance in volume, when compared to the 2014 Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report, is driven by minor differences in the mine schedule and design as a result of timing. 
  • Operating cash costs are expected to be approximately US$900 million and capital expenditure is expected to be US$230 million, of which approximately US$185 million relates to sustaining capital. 
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