InPlay from Briefing.com

6:03 pm Steel Dynamics sees Q4 adjusted EPS of $0.38-0.42 vs $0.44 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate (STLD) :

  • The company is currently in the process of assessing the asset carrying values associated with its Minnesota operations. As the analysis is still underway, no potential impairment impact has been included in the provided fourth quarter 2014 guidance range. 
  • Profitability from the company's steel operations for the fourth quarter 2014 is expected to be similar to the sequential third quarter results.
  • Based on rapidly decreasing ferrous and nonferrous metal product pricing during the quarter, the company's metals recycling operations are expected to record a minimal loss for the fourth quarter 2014, compared to operating income of $13 million in the sequential third quarter. Both shipments and ferrous metal margin are anticipated to decrease by close to ten percent in comparison to the third quarter 2014 results.

6:01 pm Celanese announces price increase for acetic anhydride by 50 USD/MT, effective January 1, 2015, or as contracts allow (CE) :  

5:59 pm ACE Limited CEO makes statement on Senate failure to extend Terrorism Risk Insurance Act - 'deeply disappointing' (ACE) : Co's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Evan G. Greenberg today issued the following statement in response to the Senate's failure to pass legislation reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (:TRIA): "Congressional failure to approve the renewal of TRIA legislation is deeply disappointing. It was simply irresponsible for our elected officials to adjourn without reauthorizing TRIA. By letting TRIA lapse, they have exposed our economy and our society to the threat of severe economic uncertainty in the event of a significant act of terrorism. I sincerely hope this is the first order of business for the new Congress."

5:45 pm Amgen increases quarterly dividend 30% to $0.79 from $0.61 per share (AMGN) :  

5:33 pm Alaska Air announces flight attendants approved a new five-year contract (ALK) : Co announced that Alaska Airlines flight attendants approved a new five-year contract. "Included in the new contract are quality of life enhancements and pay increases that rank Alaska's 3,400 flight attendants among the highest paid in the industry at every pay step."

5:23 pm Avon Products confirms $135 mln FCPA settlement with the DoJ and SEC (AVP) : Co confirmed that it has entered into agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice (:DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC.TO) related to the previously disclosed Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations. The terms of agreements are in line with the expected terms the company previously reported.

  • The agreements include aggregate payments of $135 million to the two U.S. government agencies, with $68 million in fines payable to the DOJ and $67 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest payable to the SEC, in connection with charges that the company violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. As previously disclosed, the company has accrued $135 million for the FCPA matters.

5:21 pm Teekay Offshore awarded new FPSO contract for Petrojarl I FPSO and agrees to acquire Knarr FPSO (TOO) : Co announced that it has entered into an agreement with a consortium led by Queiroz Galvao Exploracao e Producao SA (:QGEP) to provide a floating production, storage and offloading (:FPSO) unit for the Atlanta field located in the Santos Basin offshore Brazil. In connection with the contract with QGEP, the Partnership has agreed to acquire the Petrojarl I FPSO from Teekay Corporation (TK) (Teekay) for $57 million. Subsequent to the acquisition, the FPSO will undergo upgrades at the Damen Shipyard Group's DSR Schiedam Shipyard in the Netherlands for a fully built-up cost of approximately $240 million, which includes the cost of acquiring the Petrojarl I. The FPSO is scheduled to commence operations in the first half of 2016 under a five-year charter contract with QGEP. The charter contract is expected to generate annual cash flow from vessel operations(1) of approximately $55 to $60 million.

5:07 pm Meta Financial announces launch of $26 mln at-the-market equity offering in 2014 (CASH) : Co announced that it has filed a prospectus supplement with the SEC under which it may sell up to $26,000,000 of its common stock pursuant to an at-the-market equity offering program. The shares would be offered over a period of time and from time to time, as needed, through Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., as sales agent. The Company intends to use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes, including capital support for organic growth, possible acquisitions of bank or nonbank entities and upcoming Basel III requirements.

5:05 pm TE Connectivity Board approves recommendation to raise quarterly dividend 14% to $0.33 from $0.29 per share (TEL) :  

5:05 pm MDC Holdings expands and extends credit facility (MDC) : Co announced that it has increased the aggregate commitment under its existing $450 million unsecured revolving credit facility to $550 million and has extended the facility's maturity by one year to December 2019. The facility permits an increase in the maximum commitment amount to as much as $1.0 billion upon the Company's request, subject to receipt of additional commitments from existing or additional participant lenders and the consent of the designated agent and the co-administrative agents.

5:04 pm Dynex Capital announces $50 mln share repurchase program (DX) : Co announced that its Board of Directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $50.0 million of its outstanding shares of common stock through December 31, 2016. This new authorization replaces the Company's prior share repurchase program, which was to expire on December 31, 2014.

5:03 pm Marathon Oil sees FY15 capital, investment, and exploration budget of ~$4.3-4.5 bln (MRO) : Co announced that it anticipates its 2015 capital, investment and exploration budget will be approximately $4.3-4.5 billion, or about 20 percent lower than 2014 levels, excluding its recently disposed Norway business.

  • The 2015 capital program will reflect a significant weighting to the Company's high return investment opportunities in its U.S. resource plays and lower exploration spending. Assuming this level of investment, total Company annual production growth (excluding Libya) would be in the high single digits in 2015.
  • The continuing dynamic change in crude oil markets together with the expected impacts to oilfield service costs warrants additional time before finalizing the 2015 budget. The 2015 capital program will be scalable higher or lower depending on market conditions. Marathon Oil expects to announce details of its 2015 capital, investment and exploration budget together with its fourth quarter earnings release planned for February 2015.

5:01 pm Arthur J. Gallagher acquires Independent Benefit Services, located in Rockville, Maryland; terms not disclosed (AJG) :  

5:01 pm CB Richard Ellis acquires Oklahoma-based affiliate company (CBG) : Co announced that it has acquired CBRE | Oklahoma, a commercial real estate services firm that has served as CBRE's affiliate in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in northwest Arkansas since 1999.

  • CBRE | Oklahoma is one of the region's leading providers of leasing, investment sales, property management and corporate services. The firm, led by co-founder Tom O'Brien and senior leaders Cary Phillips and Lori Bryant, has a staff of 180 and manages more than 18 million square feet in the region.

4:36 pm Genworth Financial announces it is still in the process of completing its annual review of long term care insurance active life margins (GNW) : Co announced that it is still in the process of completing its annual review of long term care insurance active life margins. The scope of this review includes GAAP loss recognition and statutory cash flow testing.

  • "We are focused on completing our active life margin review, and it is imperative that we are thoughtful and thorough in our analysis. While our original intent was to communicate results in December, the review is taking longer than previously anticipated," said Tom McInerney, President and CEO. "To that end, we continue our work and are receiving input from actuarial advisors in our evaluation of key margin assumptions and methodologies. We remain committed to providing transparent and timely communications once the review is complete." 
Given progress to date, the company anticipates communicating results of the active life margin review after completion of a peer review by an independent third party in 2015, on or before the company's fourth quarter earnings conference call.

4:34 pm GT Advanced Tech. issues response to Apple's statement following release of October 8th declaration: 'The position that Apple has taken...is in line with our expectations' (GTATQ) : Co issued the following statement:

  • "The position that Apple has taken in response to the release of our October 8th declaration is in line with our expectations, as reflected in paragraph 52 of Dan Squiller's October 28th declaration in support of the Apple Settlement," said Tom Gutierrez, president and chief executive officer. 
  • "Although we have different views on the matter, we believe we have settled our disputes with Apple and see no point in further addressing the circumstances that led to our Chapter 11 filing or our relationship with Apple. Our focus now is on moving the company forward through the bankruptcy process. We remain optimistic that the Bankruptcy Court will approve the Apple Settlement Agreement on November 25th because it is in the best interest of all parties."

4:32 pm Pattern Energy Group expands credit facilities to $350 mln from $145 mln (PEGI) : Co announced that it has expanded commitments under its corporate credit facility agreement to $350 million from $145 million. The credit facilities are used for general corporate purposes, including financing future asset acquisitions. As of September 30, 2014, the Company had $97.4 million available under its $145 million revolving credit agreements.

4:32 pm AK Steel sees Q4 EPS in the range of $0.05-0.10, Capital IQ consensus $0.04 (AKS) : AK Steel said that, despite incurring approximately $31 million in costs associated with a planned Ashland Works blast furnace outage, it expects to report higher EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) compared to the third quarter of 2014 and net income of $0.05 to $0.10 per diluted share of common stock, excluding the effects of acquisition-related expenses pertaining to its recent purchase of Severstal Dearborn.

Shipments 

  • For the fourth quarter of 2014, the company expects shipments of approximately 2,000,000 tons, an increase of about 37% from the 1,462,900 tons shipped in the third quarter of 2014.
Pricing 
  • The company expects its average selling price for the fourth quarter of 2014 to be approximately $980 per ton, about 10% less than the third quarter of 2014 average selling price of $1,089 per ton. Primarily due to product mix.  

4:17 pm Avianca Holdings announced November metrics; Subsidiary companies transported 2,242,870 passengers, up 7.3% compared to November 2013 (AVH) : Capacity, measured in ASKs (available seat kilometers), increased 7.7%, while passenger traffic, measured in RPKs (revenue passenger kilometers), increased 5.7%. The load factor for the month was 79.0%.

4:16 pm Mercury receives $3.6 mln order for Advanced RF products for electronic warfare application; order was booked in co's fiscal 2Q15 and is expected to be shipped over the next several qtrs (MRCY) :  

4:16 pm Zoetis declared a first quarter 2015 dividend payable to holders of the company's common stock of $0.083 per share, up from $0.072 (ZTS) : The dividend is to be paid on Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015, to holders of record on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

4:12 pm Elli Mae announced that mortgage refinancing volume rose 5% in November, the fourth straight month of increases, as mortgage interest rates continued to fall (ELLI) :  

4:10 pm EPR Properties Catskills land development partner selected by the New York State gaming facility location board (EPR) :

  • Co announce that Empire Resorts (NYNY) wholly owned subsidiary, Montreign Operating Company, its partner for the Gaming venue within EPR's planned Adelaar four-season destination resort, has been selected in a unanimous vote by the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board to apply to the New York State Gaming Commission for a Gaming Facility License. Montreign is the only applicant in its region to be selected by the Board after a rigorous application process. 
  • A Gaming Facility License will be awarded by the Gaming Commission upon confirmation of the applicant's suitability and their respective ability to complete the Montreign Resort Casino.

4:10 pm Closing Market Summary: Stocks Rally While Fed Calls For Patience (:WRAPX) : The stock market 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.

With regard to inflation, Ms. Yellen touched on the drop in oil prices during her press conference, but showed little concern, saying the decline is expected to be transitory.

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, ending higher by 1.0% at $56.44/bbl.

The energy sector was followed by the materials space (+2.8%), which benefitted from gains among miners and steelmakers. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX 17.98, +0.88) and Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 35.31, +1.27) ended higher by 5.2% and 3.7%, respectively.

Outside of the two commodity-related groups, the financial sector (+2.3%) represented the only other outperformer on the cyclical side. Influential sector components fueled the strength with Bank of America (BAC 17.26, +0.54) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM 59.77, +1.34) posting respective gains of 3.2% and 2.3%.

Elsewhere, the industrial sector (+0.9%) climbed out of the red after the FOMC statement, but the sector could not keep pace with the broader market amid relative weakness in transport stocks. FedEx (FDX 167.78, -6.48) tumbled 3.7% after missing estimates while peers Expeditors International (EXPD 43.28, -0.98) and UPS (UPS 108.55, -1.28) lost 2.2% and 1.2%, respectively. However, rail carriers CSX (CSX 35.77, +1.10) and Union-Pacific (UNP 114.89, +2.69) helped the Dow Jones Transportation Average end higher by 0.9%.

Today's participation was ahead of average with more than a billion shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data included CPI, Core CPI, Q3 Current Account, and MBA Mortgage Index:

  • Consumer prices declined 0.3% in November after being unchanged in October, which was the biggest decline since CPI fell 0.8% in December 2008 
    • The Briefing.com consensus expected a decline of 0.1% 
    • The entire decline in prices can be attributed to the energy sector. Energy prices fell 3.8% in November, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline and the largest drop since falling 9.5% in December 2008 
    • Gasoline prices fell 6.6% after declining 3.0% in October 
    • Food prices increased 0.2% in November, up from a 0.1% gain in October 
  • Excluding food and energy, core CPI increased 0.1% in November, down from a 0.2% gain in October, while the consensus expected an increase of 0.1% 
  • The current account deficit for the third quarter totaled $100.30 billion while the Briefing.com consensus expected the deficit to hit $95.00 billion 
    • The second quarter deficit was revised down to $98.40 billion from $98.50 billion 
  • The weekly MBA Mortgage Index fell 3.3% to follow last week's 7.3% spike 
Tomorrow, weekly Initial Claims (Briefing.com consensus 292K) will be released at 8:30 ET while November Leading Indicators (consensus 0.5%) and the Philadelphia Fed Survey for December (consensus 26.0) will cross the wires at 10:00 ET.
  • Nasdaq Composite +11.2% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +8.9% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +4.7% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +0.9% YTD

4:08 pm ZAGG raises FY14 guidance (ZAGG) : Co issues upside guidance for FY14 (Dec), raises FY14 (Dec) revs to $250-255 mln from $225-235 mln vs. $232.49 mln Capital IQ Consensus

  • Raises FY14 EBITDA to $30-32 mln from $15-20 mln.
Net sales at year end have benefited from stronger than expected sell through of accessories for the recent iPhone and iPad launches, and newly gained placement in key retailers, all of which exceeded our earlier forecasts. The company also experienced better than anticipated gross margin contribution due to a higher percentage of sales from the screen protection category than previously projected."

4:08 pm Jabil Circuit beats by $0.08, beats on revs; guides FebQ core EPS above consensus, revs above consensus; guides FY15 core EPS above consensus, revs above consensus (JBL) : Reports Q1 (Nov) core earnings of $0.55 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.08 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.47; revenues rose 4.8% year/year to $4.55 bln vs the $4.32 bln consensus. Co issues upside guidance for Q2 (Feb), sees core EPS of $0.39-0.50, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $0.38 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees Q2 revs of $4.15-4.35 bln vs. $4.10 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. Co issues upside guidance for FY15, sees core EPS of $1.85-2.15, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $1.81 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $17.5-18.5 bln vs. $17.2 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

  • "We had a very strong start to the fiscal year as our team exceeded expectations...Our results reflect strong demand within our Diversified Manufacturing Services segment as well as solid execution and performance across the entire business."

4:07 pm Health Net issues inline rev guidance for FY14, downside rev guidance for FY15; increases share repurchase program to $400 mln (HNT) : HNT issues inline revenue guidance for FY14, sees total consolidated revenue of $14.2 bln vs. $14.2 bln CapIQ Consensus. Company issues downside revenue guidance for FY15, sees total consolidated revenue of $17.4 bln vs. $18.0 bln Consensus.

  • Sees FY15 GAAP EPS of "at least $2.55" and "at least $3.15 per diluted share for the combined Western Region Operations (Western Region) and Government Contracts segments." Non-GAAP EPS CapIQ consensus for FY15 is $3.21.

  • Co approves a $258 million increase to the company's existing share repurchase program, to $400 mln.

4:07 pm Apogee Enterpr reports EPS in-line, beats on revs; raises low end of FY15 EPS guidance; reaffirms rev (APOG) : Reports Q3 (Nov) earnings of $0.47 per share, in-line with the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.47; revenues rose 22.6% year/year to $244.4 mln vs the $238.94 mln consensus.

  • Co raises low end of EPS guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $1.64-1.72 vs. $1.68 Capital IQ Consensus, from $1.62-1.72; reaffirms FY15 revs +20% to ~$925.7 mln vs. $925.28 mln Capital IQ Consensus.

4:06 pm The LGL Group announced the XO5123 Series Ultra-low Phase Noise OCXO to meet the needs of increasing internet bandwidth (LGL) :

  • "As digital bandwidth requirements raise -- more people, more video traffic, internet anywhere -- LTE and satellite equipment makers turn to higher frequencies and more complex modulations. But these shifts mean the primary frequency reference needs to be quieter. The 10 MHz XO5123 lowers phase noise to -146 dB/Hz at 10 Hz offset and -172 dB/Hz at high frequencies." 

4:06 pm IBM announce continued expansion of its global cloud computing network to 40 cloud centers with 12 new locations in Europe, Asia and the Americas (IBM) : Co will reach customers in 12 new locations including IBM Cloud centers in Frankfurt, Mexico City and Tokyo, and nine more centers through a strategic partnership with Equinix (EQIX) in Australia, France, Japan, Singapore, The Netherlands and the US.

4:06 pm SunPower and Sunverge Energy announced an exclusive agreement that offers the co's fully integrated SunPower solar power systems and Sunverge's advanced Solar Integration System energy storage solutions to residential customers and utilities in the U.S (SPWR) : The two companies are providing a similar offering to Australian customers. SunPower and Sunverge expect to make combined solar and storage solutions broadly commercially available in early 2015.

4:06 pm Herman Miller misses by $0.01, reports revs in-line; guides Q3 EPS below consensus, revs below consensus; guides FY15 EPS below consensus, revs below consensus (MLHR) : Reports Q2 (Nov) earnings of $0.51 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.52; revenues rose 20.2% year/year to $565.4 mln vs the $561.9 mln consensus.

  • Co issues downside guidance for Q3, sees EPS of $0.33-0.37 vs. $0.44 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees Q3 revs of $510-530 mln vs. $543.13 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • Co issues downside guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $1.80-1.88, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $1.96 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $2.145-2.185 bln vs. $2.19 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • New orders in this segment totaled $112.4 million in the second quarter, representing a year-over-year increase of 7.7%. 
  • On an organic basis, segment sales increased 13.7% and orders increased 10.5% from the second quarter of last year. Herman Miller's consolidated gross margin in the second quarter totaled 36.4% compared to 25.3% reported in the same quarter of last fiscal year.

4:06 pm Biodel reports Q4 EPS of ($0.10) vs. ($0.24) Capital IQ consensus, no revenue reported (BIOD) : "We look forward to reporting top line data from Study 3-151 early next month and reporting top line results of the Phase 1 proof-of-concept GEM study and the initiation of the Phase 2b BIOD-531 study in the first half of 2015."

4:05 pm Kirby lowers Q4 EPS guidance (KEX) : Co issues downside guidance for Q4 (Dec), lowers EPS to $1.10-1.20 from $1.30-1.40 vs. $1.35 Capital IQ Consensus. 

  • The majority of the change in our earnings guidance is a result of changes in our land-based diesel engine services market. Our production ramp up in that market has not gone as well as expected and demand across our product and service portfolio is being impacted by the sharp decline in crude oil prices which have led to customer cancellations and requests to delay delivery of projects. Customers have recently begun to reduce their capital spending plans in light of the decline in oil prices and we expect this to continue into 2015." 
  • "In our marine transportation markets, our inland marine utilization is in the low 90% range; however, adverse weather conditions along the Gulf Coast have impacted our fourth quarter performance. In addition, the recent drop in crude oil has affected our customers' feedstock purchasing and trading decisions which impacts not only our efficiency, but also imposes enough uncertainty in the market to reduce transportation pricing momentum. As a result, we expect our inland marine growth rate to moderate going into next year. The globally advantaged feedstock price of domestic producers has not changed with the drop in oil prices, however, the majority of expected benefits from new petrochemical plant openings is likely to occur in 2017 and later."

4:04 pm ON Semiconductor announces CMOS operational amplifiers that deliver zero drift operation and quiescent current for front-end amplifier circuits and power mgmt designs (ONNN) :  

4:03 pm AMN Healthcare Services announced a definitive agreement to acquire Onward Healthcare, Locum Leaders and Medefis from OGH, for a total purchase price of $82.5 mln (AHS) : Co announced a definitive agreement to acquire Onward Healthcare, Locum Leaders and Medefis from OGH for a total purchase price of $82.5 mln.

  • The acquisition is expected to be accretive to AMN's earnings in 2015, and will be funded out of cash on hand and borrowings under the co's existing revolving credit facility. 
  • The 2014 projected consolidated revenue for the three companies is $112 mln, with anticipated EBITDA of ~$10 mln. 

4:03 pm Oracle beats by $0.01, beats on revs (ORCL) : Reports Q2 (Nov) earnings of $0.69 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.68; revenues rose 3.5% year/year to $9.6 bln vs the $9.5 bln consensus. 

  • ORCL Q2 Software and cloud revenue +5% to $7.3 bln, guidance +5-8%. 
  • Cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) revenue was up 45% to $516 million. 
  • Hardware Systems revenues were up 1% to $1.3 billion. GAAP operating income was up 4% to $3.5 billion, and the GAAP operating margin was 37%. 
  • "Total Q2 new cloud bookings grew at a rate of more than 140%... By Q4 of this year we expect our new cloud bookings to exceed $250 million...Next fiscal year our new cloud bookings will be well over the billion dollars mark."
  • Co guides on the call.

4:03 pm Dynagas LNG Partners announces transfer of listing of common units to New York Stock Exchange and the listing of its Senior Notes due 2019 (DLNG) :  

4:01 pm Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals announces positive top-line results from Phase 3 IGNITE 1 clinical trial of Eravacycline in complicated intra-abdominal infections; achieves primary endpoint in first of two pivotal trials (TTPH) : Co announced positive top-line results from IGNITE 1, the Company's Phase 3 clinical trial of eravacycline for the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infectioncompared to ertapenem.

  • In the trial, eravacycline met the primary endpoint of statistical non-inferiority of clinical response at the test-of-cure visit, under the guidance set by the FDA and the EMA.
  • There were no drug-related serious adverse events in the trial.

3:33 pm Choice Hotels increases quarterly dividend ~5% to $0.195 from $0.185/share; also increases share repurchase authorization to 3 mln shares (CHH) :  

3:31 pm Earnings Calendar (:SUMRX) : Today after the close look for the following companies to report:

  • ORCL, JBL, MLHR, APOG
Tomorrow before the open look for the following companies to report:
  • ACN, RAD, CAG, WOR, SAFM, SCHL, ATU, WGO, BRLI, MCS, NEOG

3:31 pm Nasdaq Comp +88 runs to fresh session high -- Dow +272 and S&P +36 are back near their initial post-Fed highs (:TECHX) :  

3:22 pm Horizon Bancorp increases quarterly dividend 7% to $0.14 from $0.13/share (HBNC) :  

3:22 pm Andersons increases quarterly dividend 27.3% to $0.14 from $0.11 per share (ANDE) :  

3:02 pm Dow +143 slides 150 points off high -- S&P +20, Nasdaq Comp +53 (:TECHX) :  

2:51 pm Further backtracking off post-Fed highs -- Dow +189, S&P +24, Nasdaq Comp +61 (:TECHX) :  

2:44 pm Dow +221 slipped as much as 100 points off high -- S&P +28, Nasdaq Comp +70 (:TECHX) :  

2:39 pm Energy price action (:COMDX) :

  • Crude oil rose 57 cents today, closing today's pit session at $56.44/barrel
    • Crude pulled back notably off of its $58.98/barrel HoD
  • Natural gas rose 8 cents to $3.70/MMBtu
  • RBOB Gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.57/gallon
  • Heating oil rose 5 cents to $2.01/gallon

2:37 pm Agricultural price action (:COMDX) :

  • Mar Corn rose 2 cents higher to $4.08/bushel
  • Jan wheat rose 21 cents to $6.49/bushel
  • Jan soybeans rose 5 cents at $10.28/bushel
  • Ethanol fell 7 cents higher at $1.59/gallon
  • Sugar #11 rose 0.01 cents to 14.72 cents/gallon

2:35 pm Dollar Whips Around Post-Fed: 10Y: -14/32..2.111%..USD/JPY: 117.68..EUR/USD: 1.2420 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index pressed back to its flat line near 88.15 in as the FOMC Statement was digested, but is beginning to bounce off the level. Click here to see a daily Dollar Index chart.
  • Notable were comments from the Fed indicating it can be 'patient' with rate hikes
  • EURUSD is -60 pips @ 1.2450 as trade dipped to session lows near 1.2380 before surging to the best levels of U.S. trade near 1.2475. Today's action has tested both the upper and lower bounds of the range that has been in place over the past week, but has been unable to produce a breakout. Germany's Ifo Business Climate is due out tomorrow.
  • GBPUSD is -75 pips @ 1.5675 as trade has seen a whippy post-Fed trade. Sterling quickly dropped onto key support in the 1.5600 area before surging to 1.5700. In all, a mostly uneventful day as trade remains stuck in its 1.5600/1.5800 range. Britain's retail sales will cross the wires tomorrow. 
  • USDJPY is +95 pips @ 117.35 as action rallies off one-month lows. The pair has been whipped around as traders digest the Statement, but action has been immaterial.

2:35 pm Some minor slippage in major averages -- Dow +239, S&P +31, Nasdaq Comp +75 (:TECHX) : Relative weakness in Energy XLE, OIl Service OIH, Crude Oil USO.

2:29 pm Metals price action (:COMDX) :

  • Feb gold ended today's session $0.60 higher at $1194.90/oz
  • Mar silver rose $0.20 to $15.93/oz
  • Mar copper rose 1 cent to $2.87/lb

2:16 pm Nasdaq Comp +80 extends to new post-Fed high -- Dow +278 and S&P +37 are hovering just under their peaks (:TECHX) :  

2:05 pm Relative sector strength (:TECHX) : Relative sector strength on the recent upswing has been noted in Energy XLE, Oil Service OIH, Gold Miners GDX, Housing XHB, Rail. Relative weakness in Bank KBE, Reg Bank KRE.

2:01 pm Stock indices jump to new highs after Fed headlines -- Dow +246, S&P +32, Nasdaq Comp +58 (:TECHX) :  

1:40 pm Mid Penn Bancorp announced that its Board has declared a special dividend of $0.10 per common share (MPB) : The dividend is payable on January 19, 2015 to shareholders of record December 29, 2014.

1:40 pm RE/MAX Holdings: RE/MAX, LLC announced that it divided and sold its Caribbean and Central America region; terms not disclosed (RMAX) :  

1:31 pm Intelligent Systems confirmed that it intends to more actively explore strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value (shares halted) (INS) : The company does not have a definitive timetable for exploring these strategic alternatives and it does not intend to provide updates or comment further regarding this process unless a specific transaction is approved by the Board of Directors or the review process is concluded.

1:31 pm Alaska Air flight attendants ratify new contract (ALK) : Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, voted to accept a tentative contract agreement on Wednesday that offers significant improvements for the 3,400 Flight Attendants at Alaska. Assistance was provided through mediation by the National Mediation Board.

  • The new five-year agreement includes some of the top pay in the industry, built-in protections for reining in health care costs, improved job protections and work rules.

1:15 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

  • WHR (182.71 +4.75%): In presentation slides for today's analyst day, the co detailed expected ongoing EPS for 2018 of $22-24 on net sales of $26-28 bln.
  • RCL (80.27 +4.57%): Cruise lines catching a bid on hopes of improvement in US & Cuba relations following reports the two are working to normalize and re-establish those relations.
  • NFLX (326.25 +3.1%): DISH Network (DISH) announced it will rollout the NFLX app into its set-top boxes today.
Large Cap Losers
  • FDX (166.68 -4.35%): Reported Q2 (Nov) earnings of $2.14 per share, $0.08 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $2.22; revenues rose 4.4% year/year to $11.9 bln vs the $12 bln consensus; reaffirmed FY 15 EPS guidance.
  • LVS (51.81 -2.06%): Casino stocks lower following reports that China may crackdown on illegal funds flowing through Macau casinos (WYNN also lower).
  • AAL (46.16 -3.75%): Airlines lower as oil rebounds 4% on the day (UAL & DAL also lower).
Mid Cap Gainers
  • NPSP (35.21 +15.56%): Reports out that Shire (SHPG) may be interested in acquiring NPS Pharma.
  • VC (100.81 +5.38%): The co announced that it entered into an agreement to sell its ~ 70% ownership interest in Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp. to an affiliate of Hahn & Co and Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. for ~ $3.6 bln.
  • COLM (44.94 +3.72%): Upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman; tgt raised to $52 from $41.
Mid Cap Losers
  • XL (33.45 -4.47%): The co confirmed it is engaged in preliminary discussions with Catlin regarding a potential transaction to acquire the co and form a combined entity.
  • CFX (46.5 -2.74%): Co sees FY15 revs of $4.525-4.675 bln vs $4.80 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate, adjusted EPS of $2.20-2.40 vs $2.58 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; Price target lowered at Stifel, Wunderlich, Deutsche Bank.
  • JOY (45.08 -2.11%): Beat Q4 consensus estimates by $0.10, beats on revs; guides FY15 EPS below consensus, revs in-line.

1:10 pm Salesforce.com edges slightly above its first hour high of 56.33 -- session high 56.35 (CRM) : Note that its 200 sma is at 56.47 with the initial thrust high off its Dec low at 56.75.

1:03 pm Tasman Metals announced it has entered into a letter of agreement with Kipu Metals Corp. under which it will acquire a 100% interest in a portfolio of stratiform chromite projects in north-eastern Finland totaling 11,400 ha in size in exchange for the refund of costs incurred to date of ~C$45k (TAS) : Under the Acquisition, Tasman has acquired 2 chromite projects (Akanvaara and Koitelainen) that lie approximately 75 km apart in north-eastern Finland (Figure 1). The projects are secured by 120 exploration claims and claim applications totaling 11,400 hectares in size.

  • There is no additional consideration for the Acquisition. Closing of the Acquisition is subject to TSX Venture Exchange approval.

12:54 pm Midday Market Summary: Stocks Near Highs (:WRAPX) : The major averages hold solid midday gains with the Russell 2000 (+1.5%) in the lead. The small-cap index has been able to turn positive for the week (+0.3%) while the S&P 500 (+1.1%) has narrowed its week-to-date loss to 0.4%. Although the key indices trade near their highs at this juncture, some volatility is expected to surround the 14:00 ET release of the latest policy directive from the FOMC.

Some analysts expect the Fed to remove the "considerable time" language in its statement. Removing that phrase would likely feed perceptions in the market that the Fed is leaning to a rate hike in the first half of 2015. At the end of the day, though, the Fed has said it is data dependent and will reserve the right to accelerate, or defer, a rate hike in accordance with what the data are communicating about the progress it is making toward achieving its dual mandate.

Staying on that theme, today's CPI report suggests the Fed will not be in a rush to raise the fed funds rate. November CPI fell 0.3% (Briefing.com consensus -0.1%), which was the largest decline since December 2008. The November drop slowed year-over-year CPI growth to 1.3% from 1.7%.

Equities have climbed steadily through the first half of the session with the energy sector (+4.2%) setting the pace. The advance has been supported by crude oil, which trades higher by 3.7% at $58.01/bbl.

However, outside of energy, only two other sectors trade ahead of the broader market. The materials sector (+1.8%) has been boosted by miners and steelmakers while financials (+1.1%) have received support from influential components like Bank of America (BAC 17.06, +0.34) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM 59.15, +0.72).

Elsewhere among cyclical groups, consumer discretionary (+0.7%) and technology (+0.6%) have struggled to keep pace while the industrial sector (-0.4%) has spent the first half in negative territory.

Transport stocks are largely responsible for the sector's weakness with FedEx (FDX 166.19, -8.07) trading lower by 4.6% after missing estimates and reaffirming its guidance for fiscal year 2015. The broader Dow Jones Transportation Average has given up 1.2%.

Treasuries hover near their lows after failing to turn positive this morning. The 10-yr yield is higher by four basis points at 2.10%.

Economic data included CPI, Core CPI, Q3 Current Account, and MBA Mortgage Index:

  • Consumer prices declined 0.3% in November after being unchanged in October, which was the biggest decline since CPI fell 0.8% in December 2008 
    • The Briefing.com consensus expected a decline of 0.1% 
    • The entire decline in prices can be attributed to the energy sector. Energy prices fell 3.8% in November, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline and the largest drop since falling 9.5% in December 2008 
    • Gasoline prices fell 6.6% after declining 3.0% in October 
    • Food prices increased 0.2% in November, up from a 0.1% gain in October 
  • Excluding food and energy, core CPI increased 0.1% in November, down from a 0.2% gain in October, while the consensus expected an increase of 0.1% 
  • The current account deficit for the third quarter totaled $100.30 billion while the Briefing.com consensus expected the deficit to hit $95.00 billion 
    • The second quarter deficit was revised down to $98.40 billion from $98.50 billion 
  • The weekly MBA Mortgage Index fell 3.3% to follow last week's 7.3% spike

12:49 pm Dollar General announced free shipping on all purchases made online on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, with the guarantee all in-stock purchases will arrive on or before Dec. 24, 2014 (DG) :  

12:27 pm Wal-Mart is back hovering near session low at 83.00 (WMT) : Last week's low is slightly below at 82.94 with the Dec/seven day range low at 82.65

12:12 pm Varian Medical announced it intends to submit an offer to acquire MeVis Medical Solutions AG; terms not disclosed (VAR) : VMS Deutschland Holdings GmbH, a Varian affiliate, will make a voluntary public tender offer to all MeVis shareholders to acquire their non-par value registered shares at a price of 17.50 per share, for an expected total payment of 30 million if all outstanding shares are tendered.  

  • While the financial impact of the transaction is not expected to be material to Varian's revenues and earnings in fiscal year 2015, Varian will provide financial details upon closing of the transaction. 

12:01 pm Fairpoint Comms issues statement in response to public letter from Governor Shumlin (FRP) : "FairPoint has always been willing to compromise with the unions and from the outset of negotiations, we have bargained in good faith in an effort to reach a fair deal -- any assertion to the contrary is simply untrue. We have made numerous formal and informal efforts to reach agreement, all without success. Our good faith efforts, however, were not reciprocated. The unions waited to make their first comprehensive proposal until August 2 -- the day the contract expired -- and their two subsequent proposals were more costly than the first. So, despite what we feel are very fair terms, it appears this strike will continue and for longer than anyone wants. You said in your letter "this has gone on long enough," and we couldn't agree more. We did not pick this fight. The unions decided to strike and walked off the job. It is the unions who will decide when to end the strike."

11:57 am Relative sector strength (:TECHX) : Energy XLE, Oil Service OIH, Crude Oil USO run to new highs

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

  • UK's FTSE:+0.1%
  • Germany's DAX:-0.2%
  • France's CAC:+0.5%
  • Spain's IBEX:-0.1%
  • Portugal's PSI:-0.1%
  • Italy's MIB Index:-0.5%
  • Irish Ovrl Index:+0.8%
  • Greece ASE General Index: +3.3%

11:50 am Stock indices continue to work higher -- S&P +22, Dow +143, Nasdaq Comp +47 (:TECHX) : Noted resistance at 1987/1989 S&P this morning. This zone held on a few tests with the breakout above bringing the next short term resistance area into play in recent trade at 1997/1998 (session high 1996.59).

11:46 am DXP Enterprises announced that its Board authorized the repurchase of up to 400k shares of DXP's common stock (DXPE) : Under the authorization, the Company from time to time, over the next 24 months, would repurchase shares in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions depending on market conditions and other relevant factors.The repurchase plan which was authorized in May, 2014 has been completed. About DXP Enterprises, Inc.

11:43 am IntercontinentalExchange announced that several daily volume records were set in energy including Brent Crude options, Low Sulphur Gasoil futures and coal options on December 16, 2014 (ICE) :

  • Brent Crude Options - 151,354 lots traded (the previous record of 127,237 was set on September 26, 2012)
  • Low Sulphur Gasoil Futures -- 138,590 lots traded (the previous record of 110,602 was set on December 10, 2014)
  • Coal Options - 12,390 lots traded (the previous record of 8,190 was set on October 15, 2014) 

11:37 am Stocks/ETFs that traded to new 52 week highs/lows this session - New lows (202) outpacing new highs (36) (:SCANX) : Stocks that traded to 52 week highs: ASPX, ATRI, AYN, BNDX, CCBG, CCL, CHSP, CPIX, CUBA, DPLO, ENSG, ESGR, FGEN, GPT, HNP, ISIG, KMG, LADR, LNDC, LPSB, NKX, NQM, NXP, NXR, OCC, PCQ, PEB, PTRY, RAND, RDUS, RKT, SCG, SPLS, TREC, VCV, VISI

Stocks that traded to 52 week lows: AAU, AEM, AGC, AIT, ALJ, ALXA, AMSC, APF, ARCI, ATK, AVOL, AWAY, AXJS, BALT, BBX, BCOR, BGB, BGX, BKJ, BLIN, BSDM, CASI, CCSC, CEL, CFD, CFX, CG, CH, CLF, CLI, CLSN, CMFN, CNXR, CODI, COOL, CPA, CR, CRCM, CREG, CRRS, CSIQ, CSUN, CTC, CVEO, CYCC, DANG, DCM, DSL, DSX, EAC, EDD, EFF, EFT, EHI, EHIC, EMCB, EMD, EPAY, EPZM, EXK, FAM, FATE, FCO, FENG, FIVN, FLR, FLS, FPP, FSAM, FSC, FSLR, FTGC, FTSL, GAI, GALE, GES, GEVO, GLDC, GORO, GSS, GSVC, GWR, GZT, HIO, HLF, HNSN, HSOL, HTH, IAE, IBTX, IMPR, JGV, JIVE, JKS, JMI, JOY, JPEP, KEYW, KF, KMM, KMM, KMT, KST, KST, KZ, LBF, LBF, LCM, LEU, LIQT, LPHI, LVS, MDR, MGM, MGT, MIL, MN, MOC, MOMO, MPEL, MR, MSD, MSN, MTRX, MUX, MVC, NCTY, NDRM, NLST, NSL, NSPR, NWY, OIBR.C, PHD, PIM, PNK, PNNT, PPT, PRIM, PT, PTNR, PWR, PWRD, QIHU, QLTY, QRM, RNET, RYN, S, SALT, SBSA, SCM, SEAS, SENEA, SFUN, SGOC, SIFY, SJT, SLH, SLRC, SMT, SNR, SOL, SPP, SPW, SQNS, SRV, SSYS, STEM, SWZ, TBPH, TCAP, TEX, TGB, TLI, TMST, TMUS, TOPS, TRCH, TSL, TUP, UAN, UCP, UPLD, UQM, VBTX, VIDI, VLTC, VMI, VPFG, VTIP, WB, WBK, WHF, WHX, WIRE, WLH, WTSL, WYNN, YGE, ZHNE, ZU

ETFs that traded to 52 week highs: none

ETFs that traded to 52 week lows: AFK, BJK, DJP, EPOL, EPP, EPU, EWA, EWC, EWM, EWP, FXA, FXC, REMX, USCI, XME

11:31 am United Stationers announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, United Stationers Supply sold MBS Dev; terms not disclosed (USTR) : For the nine months ended September 2014, MBS Dev's revenues totaled $13 million, and earnings were slightly dilutive to the company. In the fourth quarter of 2014, United expects to record a loss of an estimated $8-10 million related to MBS Dev.

11:26 am New session highs for S&P +17 and Nasdaq Comp +32 -- Dow +118 (:TECHX) : Relative sector strength in recent action has been noted in: Energy XLE, Oil Service OIH, Crude Oil USO, Biotech IBB.

11:07 am Vringo provided an update on its patent infringement action against ZTE (ZTCOF) in Malaysia (VRNG) : At a hearing on December 16, 2014, Vringo formally withdrew its request for interim relief. Although ZTE Malaysia requested costs in a quantified amount, the court denied the request and deferred the determination of the costs to the end of trial. Vringo estimates the costs to be no more than $2,000.

11:06 am Crude oil extends gains, hits new HoD of $56.57/barrel, now +0.8% at $56.41/barrel (:COMDX) :  

10:59 am Currency Commentary: DXY Running Ahead of FOMC (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index is attempting to rally off the 88 level ahead of today's Fed meeting. The market is anxiously awaiting the decision on whether or not to remove the 'considerable time' language that has been so prevalent over the past couple of meetings. Following the statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a highly anticipated press conference with inflation, oil prices, Russia, and the global economy being key topics. This morning we saw the latest round of CPI numbers. Core data was down 0.3% on the decline in energy prices while the headline number was +0.1% on a month over month basis, in line with expectations. 
  • The euro is giving up some of its recent gains as it dips back to test 1.24 for support. A WSJ story with comments from ECB member Coeure is picking up coverage as he pushes the argument for sovereign bond buying. But Mr. Coeure has been one of the more dovish ECB members so his comments are not really representing anything new. A lot of the action here could be profit taking ahead of the FOMC decision. 
  • The pound is pulling back to the 1.56 level ahead of the FOMC. The latest Bank of England minutes were released and viewed as dovish as the bank said a pick up in wages was encouraging but was not enough to lift the near term worries over inflation. 
  • The yen has pulled back from its rally last week as markets see a reduction in volatility ahead of the Fed meeting. The yen has slipped back to 117.50 but has been able to hold that level in early U.S. trade. 
  • The Russian ruble is showing signs of cooling form the recent panic volatility that drove it down to the high 70s against the dollar yesterday morning. The Russian central bank has been running out a number of protective measures in addition to its 650 bps hike in order to stem the outflow. This has helped the ruble recover approx 22% of its recent losses and move the currency rate back to the 60 level against the dollar. This is setting up as a key resistance level in early trade (BONDX, FOREX).

10:48 am S&P +14 retests early high/resistance between 1987/1989 (:TECHX) :  

10:35 am Major averages extend slide off early highs -- Dow +53, S&P +8.8, Nasdaq Comp +13 (:TECHX) : The S&P/Dow paused at resistances noted in The Technical Take (09:50 update) and have extended the pullback in recent trade. 

10:34 am BlackBerry announced a number of new partners and developments (BBRY) :

  • The co announced the availability of two new enterprise solutions bundles that provide increased productivity and collaboration benefits to enterprises at a reduced cost. The Secure Productivity bundle for BlackBerry 10 smartphones and the cross-platform Enterprise Communicator bundle are available today.
  • The co and Ingram Micro Inc. (IM) announced that Ingram Micro Mobility will launch BlackBerry Classic, a device built for the QWERTY keyboard loyalists and those eager to rediscover the speed and accuracy of a physical BlackBerry keyboard
  • Also announced an expansion of its enterprise application ecosystem available on the BlackBerry Classic, including partnerships with Aderant, Bighand Inc., Bloomberg LP, Box Inc., CellTrak Technologies, Cisco Systems Inc., Entrust, GoldCare, InterAct, Onset Technology, Rekoop, Salient Federal Solutions, and SAP. The growing catalog of enterprise applications focused on specific industries
  • The co and Mackenzie Health, announced that Mackenzie Health will use BlackBerry Classic within their organization.

10:32 am Jan crude drops following inventory data, Jan crude now -2% at $54.80/barrel (:COMDX) :  

10:04 am Actua's GovDelivery has acquired NuCivic; Financial terms were not disclosed (ACTA) :  

10:04 am Gogo: Virgin America (VA) to offer Gogo's Faster ATG-4 inflight WiFi service fleetwide (GOGO) :  

10:04 am Piedmont and The Spinx Company announced an agreement to add a Piedmont compressed natural gas refueling station at a Spinx convenience store location (PNY) : The co will lease space at an existing Spinx store located at the corner of Pearman Dairy Road and West Whitner Street in Anderson, South Carolina in order to install the necessary CNG refueling equipment and compressors. Piedmont will own and maintain the site's CNG facilities which will be open to the public for use by commercial fleets and individual vehicles.

10:02 am Carnival announced that Christine Duffy has been named president of Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) : Duffy, currently president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, will assume the role on Feb. 1.

10:02 am Volvo N Am unit announced customers to receive a 4-year subscription to SiriusXM (SIRI) traffic and weather when purchasing any new Model Year 2015 (VOLVY) :  

10:02 am Energy XLE and Oil Service OIH continue to display relative strength (:TECHX) : The hammered sector ETFs formed outside days off of fresh lows for the move and while they finished off their best levels they did close positive. This morning's relative strength leaves them back near the high of yesterday's low bar at 76.29 XLE and 35.75 OIH.

9:55 am DISH Network announced it has became the first major pay-TV provider in the U.S. to integrate the Netflix (NFLX) app into its set-top box (DISH) : Available on DISH's second-generation Hopper, the app gives customers the ability to instantly stream Netflix movies and TV shows from the same platform used to access their linear television channels. The Netflix app will rollout to DISH customers throughout the day.

9:50 am Stock indices extend opening run -- S&P +12, Dow +92 (:TECHX) : The S&P/Dow have extended opening gains to second level resistances from The Technical Take at 1987/1989 (session high 1988) and 17190/17205 (session high 17196), respectively.

9:46 am Teck Resources announced the first shipment of zinc and lead in concentrate from its restarted Pend Oreille Operations in northeastern Washington State to its nearby Trail Operations in British Columbia for processing (TCK) : Pend Oreille, operated by Teck Washington Incorporated, has an expected annual production rate of 44,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate per year. The re-opening of the mine will bring an estimated $20 million of local investment during the start-up phase and supports approximately 230 jobs in Pend Oreille County.

9:42 am Opening Market Summary: Energy and Financials Pace Opening Advance (:WRAPX) : The major averages began the session in the green with the S&P 500 (+0.5%) showing relative strength versus the Nasdaq Composite (+0.2%).

Nine of ten sectors sport opening gains with energy (+0.9%) and financials (+0.8%) in the lead. On the flip side, the industrial sector (-0.3%) hovers in the red amid weakness in the shares of FedEx (FDX 169.70, -4.56) after the logistics company reported below-consensus results. The broader Dow Jones Transportation Average trades lower by 0.7% at this juncture.

Treasuries have climbed off their overnight lows with the 10-yr yield little changed at 2.06% after touching the 2.10% level in overnight action.

9:38 am 21st Century Fox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management (APO) announced the completion of the transaction to create a global content provider, bringing together Endemol, Shine Group and CORE Media (FOXA) : 21st Century Fox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo will jointly manage the newly created group, with each owning 50%. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

9:37 am Modestly firmer bias for market averages -- Dow +72, S&P +9, Nasdaq Comp +8.9 (:TECHX) : Early relative strength has been noted in: Gold Miners GDX, Natural Gas UNG, Energy XLE, REITs IYR, Casino BJK, Social Media SOCL, Oil Service OIH, Retail XRT, Home Const ITB, Internet FDN.

9:33 am Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund moving higher on read-through from news of release of Alan Gross from Cuban prison, President Obama speech at noon ET (CUBA) :

  • CUBA is higher by 6% this morning, as some may be thinking the news of the release of Alan Gross from the Cuban prison, along with the planned Obama speech at noon ET, could suggest the potential for better relations between the U.S. and Cuba.  
  • CUBA invests in issuers that are likely, in the Advisor's view, to benefit from economic, political, structural and technological developments in the countries in the Caribbean Basin. CUBA is focused specifically on companies that are poised to benefit from the resumption of U.S. trade with Cuba, once the U.S. embargo prohibiting trade with that country is eased or lifted. Current NAV is $7.80.
  • Excerpts from CUBA's June Annual Report filing:
    • Largest portfolio positions % of net assets: CPA 7.2%; KOF 6.6%, SEB 5.7%, MTZ 5.5%, LEN 5.0%, RCL 4.9%, WSO 3.7%, BLX 3.7%, CIB 3.6%, CWCO 3.6% 
    • Notes: 
      • Copa Holdings (CPA) was by far largest addition to the portfolio over the fiscal year, and it is now largest holding. 
      • Second largest holding, Coca-Cola Femsa, S.A.B. de C.V. ADR (KOF)
      • A new position added during the period was airline Avianca Holdings S.A. (AVH)

9:32 am Southern subsidiary Southern Power announced plans to develop a 131-megawatt photovoltaic solar project in Georgia (SO) : The electricity and associated renewable energy credits will be sold to three Georgia electric membership corporations. Southern Power has selected First Solar (FSLR) to be the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the facility. Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in September 2015, and the project is expected to achieve commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2016. 

9:25 am Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp. announced that the Board has elected John S. Stanik, as CEO and also as a Director, effective January 1, 2015 (AP) : Mr. Stanik will succeed Robert A. Paul as the Company's Chief Executive Officer upon Mr. Paul's retirement effective December 31, 2014. Mr. Paul will remain on the Company's Board of Directors and serve as its non-executive Chairman of the Board. Mr. Stanik worked at Calgon Carbon Corporation, an international company specializing in purification products, technologies and services, from 1991 through 2012 when he retired for personal reasons.

9:22 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Oxford Properties Group and Hyatt Hotels Corporation (H) announced that Oxford Properties has purchased the 346-room Park Hyatt Toronto hotel from a Hyatt affiliate for ~ $90 million or $260,000 USD per key, subject to certain adjustments. 
  • MGT Capital Investments (MGT) announced the official launch of Daily Fantasy Legend, a Facebook-based fantasy sports game where players create teams of athletes from the rosters of major professional sports, and then compete in tournaments on a daily basis
  • PDI (PDII) announced that its molecular diagnostics subsidiary, Interpace Diagnostics, has launched its new next-generation sequencing ThyGenX test to assist physicians in distinguishing between benign and malignant genotypes in indeterminate thyroid nodules. 
  • Cree (CREE) announced the commercial availability of XLamp Extreme High Power LEDs, a new class of LEDs that enable a system cost reduction of up to 40 percent for lighting applications. 
  • Independence Realty Trust (IRT) announced that, on December 16, 2014, IRT acquired an apartment community located in Little Rock, Arkansas for a purchase price of $31.6 million. 
  • Paytronix Systems announced an agreement with NCR Corporation (NCR) that enables the Paytronix Rewards platform to integrate with the NCR Aloha POS system via the NCR Cloud Connect ecosystem.
  • inContact (SAAS) announced plans for a campus with more than 350,000 square feet of office space in Sandy, Utah.
  • Eastman Chemical Company (EMN) announced a planned increase in its Eastman Texanol ester alcohol manufacturing capacity in Longview, Texas. The plant expansion is expected to be complete in the second half of 2016 and will increase capacity by more than 20 percent. 
  • The Allstate Corporation (ALL) that Matt Winter is being promoted to president of The Allstate Corporation and chief executive officer of Allstate Life Insurance Company, from his current role as president, Allstate Personal Lines.
  • Tyler Technologies (TYL) has signed a contract with the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, an international compact entity, to implement Microsoft Dynamics AX.

9:21 am XL Group plc confirmed that it is engaged in preliminary discussions with Catlin regarding a potential transaction to acquire the co and form a combined entity (XL) :

  • "Specifically, the combined entity would be a leader in the global specialty and property cat markets and would make greater and more efficient use of both companies' global networks and infrastructure. As Catlin is the leading presence at Lloyd's, the combination would immediately expand many of the lines of business in which XL has recently invested. In the increasingly competitive reinsurance market, the combined company would be a top 10 player, thereby increasing alternative capital opportunities and overall relevance to clients and brokers. The proposed transaction is expected to result in attractive economics starting in the first year and long-term value for shareholders."

9:20 am Box Ships announced that it has entered into an agreement with the last remaining lender in the Company's successful efforts to amend the terms of its loan agreements (TEU) : The Company agreed with the lender to waive certain covenants and amend the repayment profile of the loan through its maturity. In return for paying the next four installments up front, the bank has agreed to defer the following four installments so that no additional principal payments will be made until 2017. In addition, the bank has agreed to waive or remove certain financial covenants for as long as we have similar agreements in place with our other lenders.

9:19 am Visteon announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its ~ 70% ownership interest in Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp. to an affiliate of Hahn & Co and Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. for ~ $3.6 bln (VC) : The transaction represents an enterprise value for HVCC of ~10.1 times EBITDA for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2014 and is expected to be completed in 1Q15. VC management will provide greater details on the transaction on Jan. 13, 2015, at the Deutsche Bank 2015 Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit -- including the resultant business structure that will support continued expansion of the electronics and connected car business.

9:12 am S&P futures vs fair value: +5.10. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +8.70. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a higher open with futures on the S&P 500 trading five points above fair value. Index futures have spent the entire night in positive territory, but recent action has seen a slide from highs. The S&P 500 futures hit their best level shortly after 7:15 ET, but they have backed away from that mark over the past two hours.

Today's headline event will be the 14:00 ET release of the latest policy directive from the FOMC and the subsequent press conference with some analysts expecting the Fed to remove the "considerable time" language in the statement. Removing that phrase would likely feed perceptions in the market that the Fed is leaning to a rate hike in the first half of 2015. At the end of the day, though, the Fed has said it is data dependent and will reserve the right to accelerate, or defer, a rate hike in accordance with what the data are communicating about the progress it is making toward achieving its dual mandate.

Speaking of data, the CPI report for November, which was released earlier, is unlikely to push the Fed towards a rate hike in the near term. Total CPI fell 0.3% (Briefing.com consensus -0.1%) in November while Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, matched expectations with an increase of 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, total CPI has eased to 1.3% from 1.7% and core CPI has slowed to 1.7% from 1.8%.

On the corporate front, Dow Jones Transportation Average component FedEx (FDX 167.20, -7.26) is on course to open lower by 4.2% after missing bottom-line estimates and reaffirming its guidance for fiscal year 2015. On the flip side, TASER International (TASR 24.09, +1.24) is indicated to open higher by 5.5% after the Los Angeles Police Department ordered body cameras from the company.

Treasuries hold modest losses with the 10-yr yield higher by a basis point at 2.07%.

9:12 am Wesco guides FY15 below consensus; reaffirms FY14 guidance at lower end of range; announces $300 mln buyback (WCC) : Co issues downside guidance for FY15 (Dec), sees EPS of $5.50-5.90, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $6.06 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 (Dec) revs +3-6% to ~$8.13-8.36 bln vs. $8.38 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

Co reaffirms guidance for FY14 (Dec) at the lower end of range, sees EPS of $5.25-5.35, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $5.29 Capital IQ Consensus; sees FY14 (Dec) revs up ~5% to ~$7.89 bln vs. $7.9 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

  • "We were pleased with our improving sales growth in the second and third quarters, and our fourth quarter has continued the positive momentum. October and November organic sales per workday grew 5% and 8%, respectively."
"The new share repurchase authorization of up to $300 million over the next three years demonstrates confidence in our long-term growth outlook and a commitment to delivering value to shareholders through disciplined cash utilization."

9:07 am Lion Biotech priced 5,217,392 shares of its common stock at a price of $5.75 per share (LBIO) :  

9:07 am Digital River spikes to $24.50 in reaction to MSFT news... see 09:06 (DRIV) :  

9:06 am Digital River extends Microsoft Operations Digital Distribution agreement to March 31, 2017; merger with Siris still expected to close in Q1 (DRIV) :

  • DRIV disclosed that on December 16, 2014, DRIV and Microsoft (MSFT) entered into the Seventh Omnibus Amendment to the Microsoft Operations Digital Distribution Agreement dated September 1, 2006. The Seventh Omnibus Amendment extends the term of Microsoft Operations Digital Distribution Agreement to March 31, 2017. Additionally, Microsoft may extend the Expiration Date for up to four (4) separate six (6) month renewal terms.
  • This morning DRIV also disclosed that the Merger with Siris Capital is currently still expected to close in the first quarter of 2015. 
  • Briefing.com notes: 
    • DRIV had seen substantial weakness related to the extension of the deadline for major customer Microsoft (MSFT) to decide whether to continue their distribution agreement. 
    • This was very important as Microsoft accounts for a large portion of DRIV's sales -- roughly 33% of DRIV's revenue in 2013. 
    • The weakness in the stock had suggested there was some doubt around the previously announced $26/share buyout of DRIV, by an investor group led by Siris Capital.

9:05 am Starbucks anticipates record purchases of Starbucks Cards on Dec. 24 (SBUX) : Last year, more than 2 million Starbucks Cards were sold on Christmas Eve, representing nearly 1,500 Starbucks Cards sold per minute.

9:04 am Kandi Technologies announces the sale and delivery of 1,000 Kandi brand electric vehicles to Chengdu City (KNDI) : The sales revenue for the 1,000 EVs is ~RMB 133 million (USD 21.5 million) including 500 of each SMA7000BEV and SMA7001BEV, which will be used for the newly launched Car-Share Program and Group Long-term Leasing Program in Chengdu upon the receipt of the vehicle license plate registration approval.

9:04 am Teradata announced that it completed the acquisition of RainStor; terms not disclosed (TDC) : This acquisition strengthens Teradata's enterprise-grade Hadoop solutions and will enable organizations to add archival data store capabilities for their entire enterprise, including data stored in OLTP, data warehouses, and applications.

9:03 am Krispy Kreme: James Morgan will transition from Executive Chairman to non-executive Chairman effective Jan 29, 2015; reaffirms adj FY15 EPS guidance given last week (KKD) : As part of its executive succession plan, the Company appointed Tony Thompson as its new President and Chief Executive Officer effective June 1, 2014, at which time Mr. Morgan became Executive Chairman. Mr. Morgan's transition to non-executive Chairman completes the succession plan. The co expects to record a charge to earnings in Q4 for payments to be made pursuant to the terms of Mr. Morgan's employment agreement.

9:03 am Community Bank Shares and First Financial Service Corporation (FFKY) announced that shareholders of both companies have approved the agreement and plan of share exchange (CBIN) :

  • Cos announced that shareholders of both companies have approved the agreement and plan of share exchange dated April 22, 2014. Additionally, the companies have received all required regulatory approvals to consummate the transaction, subject to customary waiting periods. Subject to satisfaction of all remaining closing conditions for the transaction, which is intended to be completed in early January of 2015, 
  • First Federal Savings Bank of Elizabethtown will be merged with and into Your Community Bank. First Federal Savings Bank of Elizabethtown offices will become branches of Your Community Bank. Community Bank Shares estimates it will have ~$1.6 bln in assets.

9:02 am Halozyme Therapeutics enters a global collaboration with Janssen (JNJ unit) to develop and commercialize subcutaneous products using ENHANZE Technology (HALO) : Under the terms of the agreement, Halozyme has granted to Janssen a worldwide license to develop and commercialize products for up to five targets combining rHuPH20 with Janssen's proprietary compounds. Halozyme will receive an initial payment of $15 million, and is eligible to receive additional payments upon Janssen's achievement of specified development, regulatory and sales-based milestones, totaling up to $566 million. Halozyme is also entitled to royalty payments based on net sales of products using the ENHANZE technology. Under the collaboration, Janssen will also obtain access to Halozyme's expertise in developing and applying rHuPH20 to Janssen targets and will obtain a worldwide, exclusive license to develop and commercialize product combinations of rHuPH20 and Janssen target compounds resulting from the collaboration.

9:02 am Curtiss-Wright has sold its Cimarron Energy business to Turnbridge Capital for $100 mln in cash (CW) :  

9:01 am Star Bulk Carriers announced the execution of three agreements with a publicly-traded mining co, for the voyage employment of three Newcastlemax vessels; 1st delivery expected in 2Q15 (SBLK) : Co announced the execution of three agreements with a publicly-traded mining company, for the voyage employment of three Newcastlemax vessels, HN 1359, HN NE 166 (tbn Gargantua) and HN NE 184 (tbn Maharaj), to be delivered with the latest generation fuel-efficient specifications from leading shipyards in China.

  • Under the terms of the agreements, the gross freight rate to be earned by each of the Vessels, on a $/ton basis, will be linked to the Baltic Index C5 route, as published by the Baltic Exchange, less voyage expenses. 
  • Based on the current delivery schedule of the Vessels, the first delivery to the Charterer is expected to take place in the 2nd quarter of 2015.

9:01 am Extended Stay America announced that Jonathan Halkyard will be appointed CFO of Extended Stay America and its subsidiary, ESH Hospitality (STAY) : The Co also announced that Tom Bardenett is joining STAY and will be appointed COO. The appointments of Halkyard and Bardenett are effective January 5, 2015. 

9:01 am I.D. Systems receives follow-on contract from Nestle (NSRGY) for wireless industrial vehicle management technology (IDSY) : The new contract encompasses hardware, software and a service term of five years for more than 700 vehicles across more than 20 facilities. Following implementation, I.D. Systems will have deployed PowerFleet on a cumulative total of more than 2,000 vehicles across more than 60 sites for Nestl .

8:57 am Celadon Group announced that it has increased its credit facility to $300 mln and reset the term on its five-year, revolving credit facility (CGI) : The facility will continue to be used to provide for ongoing working capital needs and general corporate purposes. The amended facility matures on December 12, 2019 and currently bears interest at the option of the Company at LIBOR plus 82.5 basis points or the prime rate plus zero basis points.

8:56 am Scorpio Bulkers announces agreements to modify and sell existing shipbuilding contracts for six capesize vessels (SALT) : The co announced that it has reached agreements with shipyards in South Korea and Romania to modify six newbuilding contracts for Capesize bulk carriers into newbuilding contracts for LR2 product tankers, reached an agreement to sell four of these LR2 newbuilding contracts to Scorpio Tankers Inc., a related party, and granted options to Scorpio Tankers Inc. to purchase the two remaining LR2 newbuilding contracts

  • At the purchase prices indicated above, a sale of all six modified newbuilding contracts will result in an estimated reduction of future cash obligations of approximately $120 million.
  • The sale price for each of the four LR2 newbuilding contracts is $51.0 million. The two option contracts, which expire on May 31, 2015, may be exercised by Scorpio Tankers Inc. for a fixed purchase price of $52.5 million for each contract.
  • The Company expects to record an aggregate loss on disposal of approximately $41 million on the four modified newbuilding contracts. The Company also expects to record an aggregate loss of approximately $14 million on the potential disposal of the two option modified newbuilding contracts, which will be reclassified on the balance sheet as assets held for sale.

8:55 am S&P futures vs fair value: +8.90. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +15.70. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade nine points above fair value.

Markets finished mixed across Asia. The Bank of Thailand held its key rate unchanged at 2.00%, as expected.

  • In economic data: 
    • Japan's trade deficit narrowed to JPY930 billion from JPY990 billion (expected deficit of JPY990 billion) as imports fell 1.7% year-over-year (consensus 1.1%; previous 2.7%) while exports rose 4.9% (expected 6.3%; last 9.6%) 
    • Australia's MI Leading Index ticked down 0.1% month-over-month (previous 0.1%) 
------
  • Japan's Nikkei ticked off six-week lows, adding 0.4%. Heavyweight Japan Tobacco tumbled 7.8% due to its heavy exposure to Russia. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.4% to a seven-month low. Casino stocks were battered on word authorities will crackdown on illicit money flows. Galaxy Entertainment tumbled 8.2% and Sands China sank 6.2%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite advanced 1.3% to close at its best level since November 2010. Citic Securities surged the limit, 10%, amid continued speculation Beijing will not end margin trading. 
  • India's Sensex fell 0.3% to a two-month low. Pharma was a drag as Cipla lost 2.9% and Sun Pharmaceutical dropped 2.3%. 
Major European indices trade lower across the board with Italy's MIB (-1.9%) showing the largest decline. Elsewhere, The Bank of England released the minutes from its latest meeting, which showed no changes to the voting pattern with seven members favoring no change to policy while two voted for a rate hike.
  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Eurozone CPI rose 0.3% year-over-year while Core CPI increased 0.7%. Both readings matched expectations. 
    • UK's Claimant Count decreased by 26,900 (expected -21,200; previous -25,100) while the Unemployment Rate held at 6.0% (consensus 5.9%). Also of note, Average Earnings Index + Bonus rose 1.4% (expected 1.2%; prior 1.0%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is lower by 0.8% with growth-sensitive names on the defensive. Aggreko, Petrofac, and Mondi hold losses between 1.9% and 4.0%. Miners outperform with Antofagasta and Rio Tinto up 0.6% and 1.4%, respectively. 
  • In France, the CAC trades down 0.7% amid broad weakness. Financials lag with Credit Agricole and Societe Generale lower by 2.6% and 2.8%, respectively. Consumer names have shown relative strength as Louis Vuitton and L'Oreal trade with gains close to 0.5% apiece. 
  • Germany's DAX has given up 0.8%. Deutsche Lufthansa is the weakest performer, down 2.0%, while financials trade in mixed fashion. Commerzbank is lower by 1.3 while Deutsche Bank outperforms with a slim loss of 0.1%. 
  • Italy's MIB leads the retreat with a 1.7% decline. BMPS, UBI Banca, Mediobanca, Intesa Sanpaolo, and Unicredit hold losses between 2.2% and 4.1%.

8:47 am Roper Inds announced that its BoD has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share, payable on January 23, 2015; a 25% increase over the dividend paid in each quarter of 2014 (ROP) : This is the twenty-second consecutive year in which ROP's dividend has increased. 

8:46 am WTI crude oil futures continue to trade lower, now below $55/barrel (:COMDX) :

  • After the close yesterday, WTI crude oil prices fell almost $1/barrel after the API data came out, which showed a weekly build of 2 mln barrels of oil in U.S. inventory
  • Jan crude oil fell as low as $54.21/barrel this morning and is now -2.6% at $54.48/barrel
  • This weakness continues ahead of the weekly EIA oil storage data, which typically has a bigger impact. This data will be released at 10:30am EST.

8:46 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • CGI (GIB) announced that the Canadian Payments Association, a client for 22 years, has renewed its IT infrastructure services contract for five years, with a two-year extension option. 
  • Bovie Medical Corporation (BVX), a maker of medical devices and supplies, and the developer of J-Plasma , a patented new surgical product, today announced that it has added two Senior Surgical Device Specialists to its direct sales force
  • Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Boingo Wireless (WIFI) announced that Passpoint roaming access is now available to their subscribers, marking the launch of the first reciprocal Passpoint roaming agreement in the world.
  • Cerulean Pharma (CERU) announced that the first patient has been dosed with CRLX301 in Cerulean's Phase 1/2a trial in patients with advanced solid tumor malignancies.
  • Rediff.com (REDF) announced that its Rediff Labs has revealed hidden statistics on deadly diseases and women's conditions. The data presented by Rediff Labs helped analyze how deaths due to the three deadliest diseases in India, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, were on the decline while cancer was claiming more lives than before.
  • Host Hotels & Resorts (HST) announced the opening of the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach, a Hyatt Residence Club Resort.  The Company completed the development of the 131 timeshare units on underutilized land adjacent to the Company's Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
  • Highpower International (HPJ) announced that Huizhou Highpower Technology Ltd., Highpower International's wholly-owned subsidiary, officially qualified for addition to Samsung's (SSNLF) supply chain as a supplier of lithium-based battery products.
  • MedAssets (MDAS) announced that its Advisory Solutions enterprise consulting group has broadened its business practices to offer Physician Compensation Alignment services. The move reflects a growing demand among hospitals, care systems and physicians to develop smarter integration strategies as they meet the challenges of accountable care organizations and other value-based payment methodologies.
  • Marrone Bio Innovations (MBII) announced that its REGALIA MAXX Biofungicide has received a product registration from Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture
  • O2Micro International Limited (OIIM) was granted a U.S. patent for its Battery Management Systems with Vertical Bus Circuits.
  • NetSol Technologies (NTWK) announced that it has entered the implementation phase with DongZheng Auto Finance, a joint venture between ZhengTong Auto Services Holding Limited and DongFeng Motors Corporation, to automate its front and back-office finance and leasing operations.
  • Integra LifeSciences Holdings (IART) announced the expansion of its skin and wound product line with the introduction of Integra Meshed Dermal Regeneration Template. Integra Meshed Dermal Regeneration Template has received Pre-Market Approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration, and expects to begin a full market release in the United States in January 2015.
  • CT Miami, owner of BLU Products, has entered a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro Mobility. Through the agreement, Ingram Micro Mobility, a business unit of Ingram Micro (IM), will help grow the retail presence of BLU Products throughout its distribution network, including network operators, national retailers and e-Commerce channels in the United States and Canada.

8:45 am Scorpio Tankers announces agreement to purchase newbuilding contracts, agreements to sell three of its older vessels, delivery of six vessels (STNG) :

  • The Company reached an agreement with Scorpio Bulkers Inc., to purchase newbuilding contracts for four LR2 product tankers to be constructed at shipyards in Korea and options, which expire on May 31, 2015, to purchase two additional LR2 newbuilding contracts. The purchase price for each of the four LR2 newbuilding contracts is $51.0 million with scheduled vessel deliveries in the first three quarters of 2016. The purchase price for the two option contracts is fixed at $52.5 million for each contract with scheduled vessel deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • The Company reached agreements to sell Venice (2001 built Post-Panamax), STI Harmony (2007 built LR1), and STI Heritage (2008 built LR1) for approximately $74.0 million in aggregate. In connection with the Company's entry into these vessel sale agreements, the Company will record a write-down of approximately $2.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.  
  • Also announced that it took delivery of six vessels which have already have voyages booked
 

8:37 am Avis Budget announced that it has agreed to acquire its licensee for the Avis and Budget brands in Norway, Sweden and Denmark for ~$50 mln; acquisition is expected to add more than $100 mln of annual revenue and ~$10 mln of Adjusted EBITDA (CAR) : The licensee being acquired operates both the Avis and Budget brands at major locations throughout the region including Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Sweden's Arlanda and Goteberg airports.

  • The acquisition is expected to add more than $100 million of annual revenue and approximately $10 million of Adjusted EBITDA to Avis Budget Group, after synergies and in addition to the royalties that the licensee was paying to Avis Budget Group. The acquisition is scheduled to close in first quarter 2015, subject to customary closing conditions. 

8:33 am Netsol announced that it has entered the implementation phase with DongZheng Auto Finance, a joint venture between ZhengTong Auto Services Holding Limited, and DongFeng Motors Corporation, to automate its front and back-office finance and leasing operations (NTWK) :

  • Co announced that it has entered the implementation phase with DongZheng Auto Finance, a joint venture between ZhengTong Auto Services Holding Limited, a major premium branded dealership group in China, and DongFeng Motors Corporation, to automate its front and back-office finance and leasing operations.
  • The agreement, previously disclosed in NetSol's second fiscal quarter news release in November, includes the Credit Application Processing System (CAP), Contract Management System (CMS), and Wholesale Finance System (WFS.TO) modules of the NetSol Financial Suite.

8:32 am Biocept patented platform identifies clinically HER2-negative patients with HER2-positive circulating tumor cells (BIOC) :

  • Co announced the presentation of a poster at the 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The presentation highlights Biocept's ability to identify patients who have developed HER2-positive CTCs during disease progression after an initial HER2-negative diagnosis by solid biopsy. 
  • The findings demonstrated that 22 percent of 311 patients, who were previously HER2 negative according to a solid tumor biopsy, were found, upon disease progression, to be HER2 positive by CTC analysis, making them potential candidates for anti-HER2 therapy as the cancer evolves.
  • The discovery of these patients, who may potentially be candidates for anti-HER2 treatment is made possible by OncoCEE-BR, a breast cancer diagnostic developed using Biocept's CTC capture and analysis technology. The study was conducted at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

8:32 am S&P futures vs fair value: +10.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +23.20. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade ten points above fair value.

Total CPI fell 0.3% (Briefing.com consensus -0.1%) in November while Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, ticked up 0.1% (Briefing.com consensus +0.1%). On a year-over-year basis, total CPI is up 1.3% and core CPI is up 1.7%.

The current account deficit for the third quarter totaled $100.30 billion while the Briefing.com consensus expected the deficit to hit $95.00 billion. The second quarter deficit was revised to $98.40 billion from $98.50 billion.

8:31 am Penn West Energy announces that in response to the current commodity price environment, it is reducing its capital budget by ~$215 mln and reducing its 2015 dividend by ~$160 mln (PWE) : Reflecting this reduction in the outlook for crude oil prices, the Co has reduced its Canadian crude oil pricing assumption for 2015 by ~25% to $65.00 per barrel. In order to maintain financial flexibility, the capital budget has been reduced by ~$215 mln from $840 mln to $625 mln. In addition, the Board has approved a reduction to PWE's quarterly dividend commencing in the 1Q15 to $0.03 per share from $0.14 per share.

8:31 am Innodata announced that it plans to commence repurchases of its common stock under a $2 mln program that was authorized by its Board in 2011 (INOD) : No shares have been purchased under the program to date.

8:31 am Market View: Mar. stock-index futures hold a bid above fair values following the 8:30 a.m. ET economic data points (:TECHX) :

  • ESh5 now trades @ 1977.00 +12.00

  • YMh5 now trades @ 17090 +83

  • NQh5 now trades @ 4110.00 +26.75

8:28 am NCR Corp announced that it has entered into an agreement with Principal Life Insurance Company (NCR) : Pursuant to the Agreement, the Plan purchased a single premium group annuity contract from The Principal in order to secure ~$160 mln of benefits for ~4,500 former employees or their related beneficiaries who commenced monthly pension benefits under the Plan before January 1, 1994 

  • This group annuity contract purchase is not expected to have a material impact on NCR's financial results. Any impact of this purchase will be included in the year-end 2014 mark-to-market adjustment. NCR anticipates that the single premium group annuity contract will be issued by The Principal in 2015.

8:26 am European Markets Update: FTSE -0.8%, CAC -0.8%, DAX -1.0%, MIB -1.9% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade lower across the board with Italy's MIB (-1.9%) showing the largest decline. Elsewhere, The Bank of England released the minutes from its latest meeting, which showed no changes to the voting pattern with seven members favoring no change to policy while two voted for a rate hike.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Eurozone CPI rose 0.3% year-over-year while Core CPI increased 0.7%. Both readings matched expectations. 
    • UK's Claimant Count decreased by 26,900 (expected -21,200; previous -25,100) while the Unemployment Rate held at 6.0% (consensus 5.9%). Also of note, Average Earnings Index + Bonus rose 1.4% (expected 1.2%; prior 1.0%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is lower by 0.8% with growth-sensitive names on the defensive. Aggreko, Petrofac, and Mondi hold losses between 1.9% and 4.0%. Miners outperform with Antofagasta and Rio Tinto up 0.6% and 1.4%, respectively. 
  • In France, the CAC trades down 0.8% amid broad weakness. Financials lag with Credit Agricole and Societe Generale lower by 2.6% and 2.8%, respectively. Consumer names have shown relative strength as Louis Vuitton and L'Oreal trade with gains close to 0.5% apiece. 
  • Germany's DAX has given up 1.0%. Deutsche Lufthansa is the weakest performer, down 2.0%, while financials trade in mixed fashion. Commerzbank is lower by 1.3 while Deutsche Bank outperforms with a slim loss of 0.1%. 
  • Italy's MIB leads the retreat with a 1.9% decline. BMPS, UBI Banca, Mediobanca, Intesa Sanpaolo, and Unicredit hold losses between 2.2% and 4.1%.

8:20 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Bio Blast Pharma (ORPN) received a Notice of Patent Issuance for patent no. 8,912,147 from the USPTO for a composition-of-matter patent for its novel fusion protein for Friedrich's Ataxia (referred to as BB-FA) that is built on its mitochondrial protein replacement platform.
  • Qlik (QLIK) announced that COOK, the high-quality frozen ready-meals manufacturer and retailer, has selected QlikView to provide insight into customer buying trends, inventory, and margins during the festive period. 
  • ITT Corporation (ITT) recently completed the inaugural year of the ITT Golden Gear Academy, a program dedicated to offering educational opportunities to promising engineering and mechanics students in China. Developed in cooperation with local partners Science and Technology Daily and TusPark Co.Ltd, the program launched in September, bringing together senior professors, industry experts and elite students with the goal of cultivating China's engineering technology talent and enhancing the competitiveness of the industry.
  • Broadcom Corporation (BRCM) announced a new digital-terrestrial video platform for Mexico as the country transitions from analog-to-digital television broadcasts. The conversion is scheduled for completion December 31, 2015 and will provide millions of television subscribers in Mexico with high definition content.
  • Global Payments (GPN) and Bank of the Philippine Islands announced an agreement to form a joint venture to provide merchant acquiring and payment services in the Philippines. Global Payments will contribute its Philippines merchant acquiring assets and cash to the joint venture to secure a majority interest in the partnership.
  • VMware (VMW) announced that Apollo Education Group (APOL) has implemented a private cloud based on VMware vCloud Suite and VCE Vblock Systems to power online courses at its open access institutions of higher education.
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) announced the appointment of Zane Yang, M.D. as Vice President, Clinical Development, Oncology. In this position, he will be responsible for advancing Inovio's oncology portfolio of DNA immunotherapies through clinical trials to commercialization.
  • NorthStar Asset Management (NSAM) announced that its sponsored non-traded REITs have raised over $1 billion of capital in 2014, already representing a 49% increase over the prior year. 
  • BorgWarner (BWA) announced it supplies its state-of-the-art fifth generation electro-hydraulic actuated all-wheel drive coupling for Lamborghini's new Huracan LP610-4 sports car, successor to the famous Lamborghini Gallardo.
  • Palo Alto Networks (PANW) revealed details of a backdoor contained in millions of Android-based mobile devices sold by Coolpad. The backdoor, named "CoolReaper," exposes users to potential malicious activity and appears to have been installed and maintained by Coolpad despite objections from customers.
  • UGG, a division of Deckers Brands (DECK), announced the grand opening of its two newest retail stores in Canada: Robson Street in Vancouver and West Edmonton in Alberta. The locations are the eighth and ninth UGG stores in Canada, respectively.

8:17 am GOL Linhas Areas Inteligentes S.A. announced its preliminary traffic figures for November 2014; domestic load factor reached 79.9% in November; Domestic demand increased by 6%; International demand grew by 25.7% (GOL) : In November, the number of paid passengers transported in the domestic market totaled 3.2 million, 5.1% up on the same month last year. Year-to-date, GOL carried 36 million passengers in the domestic and international markets, 10% more than in the same period of 2013. International demand grew by 25.7% in November, leading to a 1.6p.p. increase in the month's load factor to 69.2%. The year-to-da

8:15 am Sparton Corporation announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Sparton IED, LLC completed the acquisition of certain assets of Industrial Electronic Devices; terms not disclosed (SPA) :  

8:03 am Inovio Pharma appoints Zane Yang, M.D. Vice President, Clinical Development, Oncology (INO) : Yang joins Inovio from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), where he was Director, Oncology Medical Affairs in the U.S. Prior to Janssen, he was Director of Global Medical Affairs and Clinical Development at Novartis (NVS) Oncology, and Director of Clinical Development at Merck & Co (MRK)

8:03 am Affiliated Managers announced it has agreed to a transaction which will result in a meaningful increase in its minority investment in AQR Capital Management (AMG) :

  • Co announced it has agreed to a transaction which will result in a meaningful increase in its minority investment in AQR Capital Management, LLC, a global investment manager and an AMG Affiliate since 2004.
  • Following the transaction, AQR's Principals will continue to hold a majority of the firm's partnership interests and operate the firm independently.
  • Founding Principals Clifford S. Asness, David G. Kabiller, and John M. Liew, as well as the firm's other 18 Principals, have entered into long-term commitments with the firm.
  • In addition, all of the net after-tax proceeds from the transaction will be invested in AQR strategies.

8:03 am CST Brands and CrossAmerica Partners LP (CAPL) announced they have agreed to jointly purchase 22 convenience stores in San Antonio and Austin, Texas from Landmark Industries (CST) : The companies also announced the first dropdown transaction of $50.4 million between CST Brands and CrossAmerica, which will close effective January 1, 2015. In addition, the companies have reached final agreement on allocation of the final purchase price paid in connection with the previously announced acquisition of New York-based Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, which closed on November 1, 2014.

  • CrossAmerica has agreed to acquire 5% of the limited partner interests in CST Fuel Supply LP (CST's wholesale fuel supply business) for a total consideration of $50.4 million effective January 1, 2015. CST Brands will receive approximately 1.5 million newly issued common units from CrossAmerica as consideration for this transaction.
  • CrossAmerica will be purchasing all of the 22 fee sites as well as certain wholesale fuel distribution assets for $43.5 million. CST Brands will be purchasing the personal property, working capital and the convenience store operations for $20.2 million. The allocation of the purchase price between CrossAmerica and CST Brands is subject to adjustment following completion of real property appraisals prior to the end of January 2015.

8:02 am Diversified Restaurant Holdings announces amended credit facility agreement; Co Reloads $20 Million Development Line of Credit for Future Growth (BAGR) :

  • Co announced that it has amended its existing credit agreement with Citizens N.A. The amended agreement now consists of a five-year $56 mln term loan facility, as well as a two-year $20 mln development line of capital loan and a $1 mln revolving line of credit. 
  • The new facility will be used to fund the Company's growth plans and other capital expenditures.

8:02 am State Street names Michael F. Rogers as COO (STT) : Co announces that it has appointed Michael (Mike) F. Rogers to president and COO. He will continue to report to Jay Hooley, chairman and CEO of State Street. Rogers has more than three decades of experience leading asset servicing and trading businesses.

8:01 am EnLink Midstream Partners announced the start of a binding open season for volume commitments for interstate common carrier transportation service on a new condensate pipeline system (ENLK) : The ORV Condensate Pipeline will transport condensate from points in Harrison, Belmont, Guernsey, Noble, Monroe, and Washington Counties, Ohio to Bells Run Station in Washington County, Ohio; Black Run Station in Muskingum County, Ohio; and, if Ohio River Valley Pipeline, LLC elects to construct extension(s) of its system, to one or more connecting facilities in Holmes, Coshocton, and Harrison County, Ohio.

8:01 am FMC Technologies awarded $268 million subsea systems contract for Chevron's (CVX) Agbami Project (FTI) : Co announces that it has received an order from Star Deep Water Petroleum (a Chevron company), operator of the Agbami field, to provide subsea equipment for operations in the Agbami field, offshore Nigeria. The Agbami field is located 70 nautical miles (113 km) off the coast of the central Niger Delta region, at a water depth of approximately 4,800 feet.

8:01 am XOMA: Capital Ventures International discloses 6.3% passive stake (XOMA) :  

8:01 am Pfizer announced enrollment of the first patient in a multicenter Phase II clinical trial of the investigational compound PF-06252616 in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (PFE) : Co announced enrollment of the first patient in a multicenter Phase II clinical trial of the investigational compound PF-06252616 in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). PF-06252616 is an experimental, infused, anti-myostatin monoclonal antibody. The phase 2 clinical trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of PF-06252616 in boys aged 6 to EMA.TO) granted the investigational candidate Orphan Medical Product designation in February 2013.

8:00 am Cara Therapeutics reports positive top-line data from Phase 1b trial of i.v. cr845 in dialysis patients; I.V. CR845 observed to be safe, well tolerated (CARA) : Co announced the successful completion of a Phase 1b trial of an intravenous (I.V.) formulation of CR845 in dialysis patients.

  • I.V. CR845 observed to be safe, well tolerated, and to exhibit dose linear exposure in patients undergoing dialysis.
  • In the repeat dosing of I.V. CR845 over one week was observed to be safe and well-tolerated across a five-fold dose range, and the trial established a dosing regimen for the ongoing Phase 2 trial in dialysis patients with uremic pruritus. 
  • The company expects to report top-line data from this trial in the first half of 2015

8:00 am Spirit Airlines announces $100 mln stock buyback (SAVE) :  

7:58 am S&P futures vs fair value: +8.90. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +19.70. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures hover in the top half of their trading range despite cautious action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover nine points above fair value after climbing steadily through the night. Today's main event will be the 14:00 ET release of the latest policy directive from the FOMC with some analysts expecting the Fed to remove the 'considerable time' language in the statement. Removing the phrase "considerable time" would likely feed perceptions in the market that the Fed is leaning to a rate hike in the first half of 2015. At the end of the day, though, the Fed has said it is data dependent and will reserve the right to accelerate, or defer, a rate hike in accordance with what the data are communicating about the progress it is making toward achieving its dual mandate.

The Dollar Index (88.26, +0.14) sports a slim gain after retreating yesterday while crude oil trades lower by 2.0% at $54.84/bbl after ending yesterday's session unchanged.

Treasuries hover near their lows with the 10-yr yield higher by four basis points at 2.10%.

The weekly MBA Mortgage Index fell 3.3% to follow last week's 7.3% spike.

November CPI (Briefing.com consensus -0.1%), Core CPI (consensus 0.1%), and Q3 Current Account Balance (consensus -$95.00 billion) will all be reported at 8:30 ET.

In U.S. corporate news:

  • FedEx (FDX 169.10, -5.16): -3.0% after missing bottom-line estimates and reaffirming its guidance for fiscal year 2015. 
  • Verizon (VZ 45.20, -0.33): -0.7% after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to 'Neutral' from 'Buy.' 
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.4%, Japan's Nikkei +0.4%, and China's Shanghai Composite +1.3% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's trade deficit narrowed to JPY930 billion from JPY990 billion (expected deficit of JPY990 billion) as imports fell 1.7% year-over-year (consensus 1.1%; previous 2.7%) while exports rose 4.9% (expected 6.3%; last 9.6%) 
      • Australia's MI Leading Index ticked down 0.1% month-over-month (previous 0.1%) 
    • In news: 
      • Asia Development Bank lowered its 2015 GDP forecast for developing Asia to 6.2% from 6.4% and cut its 2015 outlook for China to 7.2% from 7.4%
  • Major European indices trade lower across the board. France's CAC -0.7%, Germany's DAX -0.8%, and UK's FTSE -0.9%. Elsewhere, Spain's IBEX -1.1% and Italy's MIB -1.7%
    • Economic data was limited: 
      • Eurozone CPI rose 0.3% year-over-year while Core CPI increased 0.7%. Both readings matched expectations. 
      • UK's Claimant Count decreased by 26,900 (expected -21,200; previous -25,100) while the Unemployment Rate held at 6.0% (consensus 5.9%). Also of note, Average Earnings Index + Bonus rose 1.4% (expected 1.2%; prior 1.0%) 
    • Among news of note: 
      • The Bank of England released the minutes from its latest meeting, which showed no changes to the voting pattern with seven members favoring no change while two voted for a rate hike

7:57 am InterCloud Systems announced that it was recently awarded several new contracts in support network expansion and OEM maintenance valued at over $2 mln (ICLD) : These new contracts include a long term contract with a New York City government office; Juniper Data Networking and security solutions upgrades for a major data center with multiple geographic locations and an insurance company needing system upgrades and maintenance.

  • "Recently we have seen a tremendous influx of purchase orders and contracts for Cloud and Managed Services for the Co. ICLD's new business backlog is currently at an all-time high of over $32 mln. This new business backlog is up 24% over what we just reported in late September of this year."

7:56 am Turquiose Hill Resources announces dismissal of US class action lawsuit (TRQ) : The co announced that on December 16, 2014, United States District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield dismissed the consolidated putative securities class action lawsuit that had been filed in the Southern District of New York against the Company and certain of its officers and directors in December 2013.

7:51 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • W. P. Carey (WPC) announced that it has acquired a newly-constructed, approximately 362,000 square-foot, light-industrial and distribution center in Opole, Poland for $29.5 million leased to Polaris Industries (PII).
  • Synacor (SYNC) announced it has partnered with BuddyTV to launch new syndicated video content from Synacor airing on BuddyTV's homepage.

7:50 am Nevsun extends Harena with additional high grade drill results; intersections display a significant grade improvement over the historical resource grade (NSU) : Co announces new assay results from exploration drilling completed on the Harena Mining License located 10 kilometers south of the Bisha Mine and processing plant. The drilling is part of the 2014 Bisha Regional Exploration program.

Harena Drill Results:

  • Holes HX-040 and HX-041 were drilled to test greater than 100 meter wide gaps in the drill pattern of Harena above the 400 meter depth level. Both holes hit considerable intervals of massive sulphide that is recrystallized and coarse grained and contain appreciable chalcopyrite and sphalerite.
  • This mineralization should be simple to process metallurgically. BHTEM surveys completed in these holes, coupled with the survey results from neighboring holes have defined a large geophysical plate that extends well below the current level of drilling.
  • The two drill holes reported today are believed to be drilled in the core of the Harena deposit based on the thickness of massive sulphide intersected and the increased base metal content. These holes clearly demonstrate that Harena has the potential for further growth.
  • The Harena mineralization is open at depth and down plunge
  • The massive sulphide zone is thick and the host felsic volcanic unit continues to be highly altered, suggesting that the deposit is robust and likely to continue at depth. Future drilling will assess this potential.

7:49 am 21st Century Fox announced it has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire true[X] media; terms not disclosed (FOXA) : true[x] offers online publishers and advertisers a marketing platform for premium content in digital and on-demand environments.

  • As part of the acquisition, true[X] will work closely with Fox Networks Group to drive engagement between brands and consumers on Fox's proprietary digital platforms.
  • Closing of the transaction is subject to the completion of a definitive agreement and other customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

7:45 am CTC Media announced the appointment of Stanislav Ploschenko as the Company's new CFO, effective January 24, 2015 (CTCM) : Nikolay Surikov, who is currently Chief Financial Officer of CTC Media, will be in office through January 23, 2015. Mr. Surikov is resigning to pursue another opportunity to be announced in the near future.

7:42 am Eagle Pharma misses Q4 estimates (EGRX) : Reports Q4 (Sep) loss of $0.65 per share, $0.16 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of ($0.49); revenues fell 39.1% year/year to $2.8 mln vs the $2.6 mln consensus.
 
"Looking ahead, we anticipate Ryanodex may become the new standard of care for malignant hyperthermia, with many top-tier hospitals among our early conversions. We plan to submit our NDA for RTU bivalirudin, we are preparing for a potential launch of bendamustine, and we aim to conduct a pivotal trial of Ryanodex for exertional heat stroke by the end of FY15."

7:41 am Asian Markets Close: Nikkei +0.4%, Hang Sang -0.4%, Shanghai +1.3% (:SUMRX) :

  • Markets finished mixed across Asia. 
  • Japan's trade deficit (JPY0.93 trln actual v. JPY0.99 trln expected) narrowed by almost a third from a year ago. Malaysia's inflation rate ticked up to 3.0% (2.8% previous). 
  • The Bank of Thailand held its key rate unchanged at 2.00%, as expected. 
  • Japan's Nikkei (+0.4%) ticked off one and a half-month lows. Heavyweight Japan Tobacco tumbled 7.8% because of its heavy exposure to Russia.
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng (-0.4%) sank to a seven-month low. Casino stocks were battered on word authorities will crackdown on illicit money flows. Galaxy Entertainment tumbled 8.2% and Sands China sank 6.2%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite (+1.3%) closed at its best level since November 2010. Citic Securities surged the limit, 10%, amid continued speculation Beijing will not end margin trading.
  • India's Sensex (-0.3%) fell to a two-month low. Pharma was a drag as Cipla lost 2.9% and Sun Pharmaceutical shed 2.3%. 
  • Australia's ASX (+0.2%) checked up at 14-month lows. Energy was out in front, supported by heavyweight Santos' 4.3% gain.
  • Regional Decliners: Philippines -2.7%...Taiwan -1.4%...South Korea -0.2% 
  • Regional Advancers: Indonesia +0.2%...Singapore +0.4%...Thailand +1.3% 
  • Fx: USDCNY ticked to 6.1972, its best since July...USDINR fell to 63.61...USDJPY +75 pips @ 117.15...AUDUSD -35 pips @ .8180

7:38 am Lennox Intl guides FY15 in-line at Invesment meeting; reaffirms FY14 (LII) : Co reaffirms guidance for FY14 (Dec), sees EPS of $4.30-4.50 vs. $4.41 Capital IQ Consensus; sees FY14 (Dec) revs +5-7% to ~$3.36-3.42 bln vs. $3.35 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

Co issues guidance for FY15 (Dec), sees EPS of $5.20-5.60 vs. $5.44 Capital IQ Consensus; sees FY15 (Dec) revs +4-8%, with a neutral impact to FX vs. $3.54 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

7:37 am FedEx misses by $0.08, reports revs in-line; reaffirms FY15 EPS guidance (FDX) : Reports Q2 (Nov) earnings of $2.14 per share, $0.08 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $2.22; revenues rose 4.4% year/year to $11.9 bln vs the $12 bln consensus. 

  • Operating margin of 8.5%, up from 7.3% a year ago. 
  • FedEx Express Segment: Revenue of $7.02 billion, up 3% from last year's $6.84 billion; Operating margin of 6.9%, up from 5.2% the previous year.   
    • U.S. domestic package volume grew by 7%; FedEx International Economy volume grew 5%
  • FedEx Ground Segment: Revenue of $3.06 billion, up 8% from last year's $2.85 billion; Operating margin of 15.2%, down from 15.4% the previous year F
  • FedEx Freight Segment: Revenue of $1.59 billion, up 11% from last year's $1.43 billion; Operating margin of 7.1%, up from 5.8% the previous year.
    • Less-than-truckload (LTL) average daily shipments increased 8%, including a 10% increase in demand for Priority service. LTL revenue per shipment grew 3% due to higher weight per shipment, higher rates and increased fuel surcharges. 
Guidance
  • Co reaffirms guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $8.50-9.00, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $9.11 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. The outlook assumes continued moderate economic growth and a modest net benefit from fuel. The capital spending forecast for fiscal 2015 remains $4.2 billion.
Fuel Surcharges 
  • FedEx regularly reviews its fuel surcharge tables and will update certain tables at FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight effective February 2, 2015. Details on these changes will be available on fedex.com by December 23, 2014.

7:30 am TASER announced the purchase of 860 AXON body-worn video cameras and a five-year subscription to EVIDENCE.com by the Los Angeles Police Department (TASR) : This order was announced yesterday by the Mayor of Los Angeles at a press conference, along with intention to budget for a total of approximately 7,000 cameras in the next budget year to equip all front line LAPD officers. The order for the first 860 units is expected in the fourth quarter of 2014 and is expected to ship in the first half of 2015. Revenue will be recognized over the five-year term of the program.

7:20 am General Mills reports Q2 EPS above lowered guidance range, misses on revs; reaffirms FY15 guidance (lowered on November 7) (GIS) : Reports Q2 (Nov) earnings of $0.80 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.04 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.76; revenues fell 3.4% year/year to $4.71 bln vs the $4.78 bln consensus. 

  • Co guided for Q2 EPS of $0.75-0.77 vs. the $0.88 consensus on November 7. 
    • Co also lowered constant currency FY15 adj. earnings and net sales guidance to low single digit growth from high single digit and mid-single digit, respectively.
  • FX reduced net sales growth by 2 percentage points. Pound volume subtracted 2 points of net sales growth, and net price realization and mix contributed 1 point of growth.
  • Gross margin was below year-ago levels reflecting the lower net sales and product mix. Advertising and media expense declined 9%. 
General Mills reaffirmed its fiscal 2015 full-year targets. Net sales in constant currency are expected to grow at a low single-digit rate from the 2014 base of $17.9 billion. This includes an estimated 2 points of sales growth from the 53rd week in fiscal 2015 and ~$120 million of incremental sales from the Annie's acquisition. Total segment operating profit in constant currency is expected to decline at a low single-digit rate from prior-year results of $3.15 billion. Fiscal 2015 adjusted diluted earnings per share (which excludes mark-to-market valuation effects, currency devaluation and restructuring costs) are expected to grow at a low-single-digit rate in constant currency from the base of $2.82 earned in fiscal 2014. At current exchange rates the company estimates a 5-cent EPS headwind from currency translation in 2015.

"The operating environment remains challenging but, as we move into the second half of our fiscal year, we expect to renew sales and profit growth."
  • Initiatives to streamline its North American supply chain network and reduce overhead costs are on track to generate $40 million in cost savings in the second half of fiscal 2015. Cumulative annual savings are expected to total between $260 and $280 million in fiscal 2016, and exceed $350 million in fiscal 2017.

7:15 am Aussie Dips to 54-Month Low: 10Y: -10/32..2.099%..USD/JPY: 117.23..EUR/USD: 1.2458 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index presses session highs near 88.30 as trade holds slim gains ahead of this afternoon's FOMC rate decision. 
  • The greenback has tested the 88.00 level in recent weeks, but support there has so far managed to hold. 
  • EURUSD is -60 pips @ 1.2450 as trade pulls back from yesterday's one-month high. Sellers have been in charge from the get go as trade once again failed at 1.2500 resistance and the 50 dma. The single currency pressed to its worst levels of the day after Final CPI printed an in-line 0.3% YoY. 
  • GBPUSD is -25 pips @ 1.5725 as trade attempts to reclaim the flat line. Sterling dumped to session lows early this morning, but has clawed back those losses as both the Average Earnings Index (1.4% 3MoY actual v. 1.3% 3MoY) and claimant count change (-26.9K actual v. -19.8K expected) posted better than expected results and the unemployment rate held at 6.0% (5.9% expected). The latest Bank of England MPC votes were also released with two members voting in favor of a rate hike and all members wanting to keep the asset purchase program at GBP375 bln. The 1.5600/1.5800 region has held since the middle of November. 
  • USDCHF is +40 pips @ .9640 as trade remains tightly correlated to the euro. Early action tested and held .9600 support and the 50 dma. 
  • USDJPY is +75 pips @ 117.15 as the bulls look to end the modest two-day skid. The pair has seen bids after the trade deficit (JPY0.93 trln actual v. JPY0.99 trln expected) narrowed by almost a third from a year ago. The 118.00 level is home to some modest resistance. 
  • AUDUSD is -30 pips @ .8185 as trade slips to a fresh 54-month low. The .8050 area remains under close watch as a breakdown would have the hard currency at levels last seen in July 2009. USDCNY added 0.1% and finished at its best level since July 23. Click here to see a daily AUDUSD chart.
  • USDCAD is +15 pips @ 1.1640 as action holds near its best levels since July 2009. Canada's wholesale sales are due out later this morning.

7:14 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • CBL & Associates Properties (CBL) announced a new DICK'S Sporting Goods and ULTA Beauty are coming to Janesville Mall in Janesville, Wisconsin. The two new stores will be situated in the former JC Penney location. Construction is expected to begin in January with the grand opening for both stores scheduled for fall 2015.
  • Chambers Street Properties (CSG) announced it has completed the sale of four multi-tenant office assets totaling 534,849 square feet for an aggregate price of $66.3 million.
  • The Priceline Group (PCLN) announced a series of changes to the management teams of two of its operating businesses; Booking.com and rentalcars.com. Gillian Tans has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of Booking.com and will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the global, Netherlands-based accommodation booking business. Rentalcars.com - Ian Brown has been named CEO of rentalcars.com
  • xG Technology (XGTI) announced that it has been awarded a new patent for an automated system to quickly and easily register and connect users of the xMax broadband wireless system during expeditionary deployments, no matter what devices they are using.
  • RXi Pharmaceuticals (RXII) announced completion of enrollment in its first Phase 2a study, RXI-109-1301.

7:07 am MasTec lowers guidance due to reduced levels from major customer and oil price decline; announces $100 mln buyback (MTZ) : Co lowers guidance for FY15 (Dec), sees EPS of $1.87 vs. $1.97 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 (Dec) revs +9% vs. expected 2014 revs of $5 bln, or roughly $5.45 bln vs. $5.28 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 

  • Since the issuance of preliminary guidance in Oct., a major customer has announced reduced levels of 2015 expected wireless project activity and world oil prices have significantly declined. While the Company has not experienced any significant delays or cancellations of pipeline, or related oil and gas facilities projects, the Company believes that it is prudent to moderate its 2015 expectations for its Oil & Gas segment.
  • Co also announced the repurchase of up to $100 million of stock.

7:06 am CASI Pharma announced that it has been granted a Type C meeting with the FDA to discuss ENMD-2076 and that the meeting will be held in February 2015 (CASI) : During this meeting the Company will seek guidance on the clinical trial protocol design and the regulatory path forward to obtain marketing approval for ENMD-2076 for the treatment of fibrolamellar carcinoma.

7:05 am Manhattan Bridge Capital announced that its Board declared a $0.08 quarterly dividend instead of the $0.07 quarterly dividend that was previously declared (LOAN) : The dividend will be paid to all shareholders of record on January 10, 2015 with pay date on January 15, 2015. 

  • The board has not changed the $0.07 quarterly dividend that is set for April of 2015.

7:05 am Pentair reaffirms FY14, guides FY15 just below consensus (PNR) : Co reaffirms guidance for Q4 (Dec), sees EPS of $1.02-1.04 vs. $1.03 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

Co issues downside guidance for FY15 (Dec), sees EPS of $4.20-4.35 vs. $4.40 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 (Dec) revs of ~$7.2 bln vs. $7.3 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate (core rev +2-4%). The company expects to generate greater than $925 million in free cash flow or greater than 115% of net income in 2015.

7:05 am Panera Bread offered details regarding responsibly raised livestock and poultry following the company's Food Policy introduction in June (PNRA) : Co offered details regarding responsibly raised livestock and poultry following the company's Food Policy introduction in June. Co says no antibiotics ever for pigs, no gestation crates for pregnant sows by January 2015.

7:03 am Second Sight Medical Products entered into an exclusive agreement with distributor Erisci Elektronik to offer retinal implant to blind patients in Turkey (EYES) : The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis is intended to restore some functional vision to patients who suffer from a rare opthalmic disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disease that can start at an early age, causes vision loss over time and results in blindness. It is estimated that of Turkey's population of 76 million people, approximately 28,000 people suffer from RP. 

  • The Argus II retinal implant will initially be offered to eligible RP patients at two now approved centers in Turkey: in the Ankara University Medical Faculty Vehbi Ko Eye Hospital by Prof.

7:03 am OvaScience announced that it has achieved its 2014 corporate goals to advance the AUGMENTSM, OvaPrimeSM and OvaTureSM treatments for patients in need of new fertility treatment options (OVAS) :  

7:02 am KLX announced it begins regular way trading today following its spin-off from B/E Aerospace (BEAV) (:KLXI) :  

7:02 am Emergent BioSolutions announces acquisition of the EV-035 series of molecules from Evolva Holding; Lead antibiotic candidate currently under DTRA development contract, valued at up to $15 mln (EBS) :

  • Co announced that it has acquired the EV-035 series of molecules from Evolva Holding. EV-035 is a series of novel small molecule broad spectrum antibiotics of the 4-oxoquinolizine class and targets bacterial type IIa topoisomerase. The lead molecule in the series, GC-072, has demonstrated protection in vivo from lethal B. pseudomallei infection when administered orally. 
  • GC-072 is being developed as a potential oral and IV treatment for B. pseudomallei under a three-year, $15 mln contract with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.

7:02 am AptarGroup announces ~$250 mln acclerated share repurchase; completes private placement of $475 mln in Senior Notes (ATR) : Co has entered into an agreement to repurchase ~$250 million of its common stock under an accelerated share repurchase program. The ASR program is part of AptarGroup's $350 million share repurchase authorization announced on October 30, 2014. Today, AptarGroup will pay $250 million to Wells Fargo Bank N.A. in exchange for ~3.1 million shares, currently estimated to represent ~ 80% of the total number of shares expected to be purchased in the ASR program based on current market prices.

Yesterday, AptarGroup completed a note purchase agreement for the private placement of $475 million in Senior Notes to institutional investors and expects to use proceeds from this private placement for the ASR program and to refinance existing debt.

7:01 am Fortuna Silver Mines announces expansion of its San Jose Mine from 2,000 to 3,000 tpd (FSM) : The capital cost estimate for the plant expansion to 3,000 tpd is US$30 million. The budget for 2015 is US$12.6 million with the balance to be disbursed in 2016. The capital figures are based on a feasibility level capital estimate prepared by M3 Engineering, the same firm that carried out the EPCM for the on-time and on-budget construction of the processing plant in 2011. Project activities are scheduled to commence in the first quarter with commissioning planned for mid-2016. The expansion project is permitted.

San Jose Mine expansion highlights

  • Silver and gold production: Annual production rate ranging from 6.7-8.3 million ounces of silver and 52.0-56.7 thousand ounces of gold or 9.8-11.7 million silver equivalent(i) ounces
  • Capital expenditure: US$30 million
  • Economics: 36% after-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR)(ii); payback period of 2 years
  • All-in sustaining cash cost (AISCF)(ii): Expansion will position San Jose's AISCC in the range of US$8 - 9/oz Ag, net of by-product gold

7:01 am Moody's increases quarterly dividend to $0.34/share from $0.28/share; also announced that the Board authorized a new $1 bln share repurchase program (MCO) :  

7:00 am S&P futures vs fair value: +9.50. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +23.00. :

7:00 am European Markets : FTSE...6,287.33...-44.50...-0.70%.  DAX...9,502.48...-60.40...-0.60%.

7:00 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...16,819.73...+61.40...+0.40%.  Hang Seng...22,585.84...-84.70...-0.40%.

6:47 am Tutor Perini announced that it has reached legal settlements on two long-standing matters (TPC) : In addition, the Company has received its ~$52 mln portion of the payment related to the recently settled Central Artery/Tunnel project dispute with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

  • On December 12, 2014, the co reached a settlement with MGM Mirage Resorts International (MGM) and CityCenter Holdings regarding the CityCenter Project and the litigation which commenced in 2010. The settlement was entered into under confidential terms which fully resolve all material disputes between Tutor Perini, CityCenter, and the related subcontractors. 
  • The co has reached a settlement with the University of California at Los Angeles regarding the UCLA Santa Monica Orthopedic Hospital project subject to the Regents' approval in the first quarter of 2015. This dispute, which has been ongoing since 2006, centered upon Tutor Perini's claims for reimbursement of certain time delay and other costs. The settlement agreement resolves all related outstanding issues in the matter.
  • The co disclosed that "The CityCenter Settlement Agreement, combined with prior proceeds of approximately $51 million from CityCenter to Tutor Perini, will result in total net settlement proceeds to Tutor Perini of approximately $189.5 million on its CityCenter lien claims."

6:45 am Oxford Lane Capital authorized a stock repurchase program to acquire up to $35 mln of outstanding shares of common stock (OXLC) :

6:44 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Trimble (TRMB) announced that its PurePixel Precision Vegetation Health solution is now available in Canada and Europe. 
  • A formal collaboration was announced between the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute and Fluidigm Corporation (FLDM) to accelerate the development of new methods for the analysis of single-cell genomics data. The Single Cell Genomics Centre on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus will work with onsite Fluidigm senior staff to ensure that the centre has early access to the latest equipment, workflows and methods for genomics and proteomics research. 
  • CYREN (CYRN) announced that Hamburg, Germany-based secucloud GmbH will integrate CYREN Embedded Antivirus and URL Filtering technology into its family of Elastic Cloud Security System solutions.

6:31 am Paramount Gold and Silver: Coeur d'Alene Mines (CDE) announced it has entered into a merger agreement to acquire all of the outstanding shares of PZG in an all-stock transaction valued at $146 mln (PZG) : Immediately prior to completion of the merger, Paramount will spin-off to its existing stockholders a separate, publicly traded company, expected to be named Paramount Nevada Gold Corp., a subsidiary that owns the Sleeper Gold Project and other assets in Nevada. As part of the transaction, Coeur will provide $10 million in cash to SpinCo and receive a 4.9% common share interest. 

  • Paramount stockholders will receive: 0.2016 Coeur shares per Paramount share, equal to $0.90 based on Coeur's 20-day volume weighted average price of $4.47 as of December 16, 2014, representing a premium of 19.8% to Paramount's 20-day VWAP of $0.75
  • In a separate transaction not conditioned on the successful acquisition of Paramount by Coeur, Coeur has paid $5.25 million for a 0.7% net smelter returns royalty from Paramount's San Miguel project.

6:30 am POZEN announced that its investigational drug candidates YOSPRALA 81/40 and 325/40 have received a second complete response letter from the FDA (POZN) : In this CRL, the FDA used identical wording to that of the first CRL, which was that during an inspection of the foreign manufacturing facility of an active ingredient supplier on April 25, 2014, a FDA field investigator conveyed deficiencies to the representative of the facility. Satisfactory resolution of these deficiencies is required before this application may be approved. There were no clinical or safety deficiencies noted with respect to either YOSPRALA 81/40 or YOSPRALA 325/40 and no other deficiencies were noted in the CRL. Final agreement on the draft product labeling is also pending. 

  • "FDA regulations allow us to request a Type A meeting with the FDA to discuss the next steps required to gain approval of our NDA and we intend to request that meeting as soon as possible."

6:23 am Smith & Nephew reports data from international study showing incisions managed with unique PICO NPWT System demonstrated significantly fewer healing complications and improved scar quality in bilateral breast reduction patients (SNN) : Co presented at the Aesthetic Surgery of the Breast Symposium, has shown significantly fewer wound healing complications associated with breast reduction surgery, through the post-operative application of PICO Negative Pressure Wound Therapy. 

  • 200 bilateral breast reduction patients were observed across six leading centres PICO was used as an incision management system and compared to the standard post--operative wound care procedure. The primary analysis shows significantly fewer healing complications for PICO compared to standard care, and a 38% relative reduction in surgical dehiscence from 26.4% to 16.2%. 
  • Scar Quality Improved - The study also evaluated the scar quality at 42 and 90 days post surgery. Both POSAS, and VAS scoring systems demonstrated that PICO provided a superior quality scar over standard of care at 42 and 90 days. 

6:15 am Tenax Therapeutics reports Q3 EPS of ($0.14) vs ($0.12) single analyst estimate (no revs reported) (TENX) :

  • In September, Tenax announced the dosing of the first patients in its Phase 3 LEVO-CTS trial for levosimendan, a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study that will evaluate the use of levosimendan administered before and during cardiac surgery to reduce the incidence of LCOS and associated morbidity and mortality. 
  • In October, the Company held an investigator meeting with current and prospective clinical site participants around the LEVO-CTS trial. Today, Tenax announced that the Company has currently enrolled 14 patients in the LEVO-CTS trial, and has 21 clinical sites activated. 
  • The Company also disclosed that it has signed an additional 8 contracts with hospital sites, and is in discussion with an additional 26 sites. It expects to have approximately 50 hospital sites activated by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2015.
  • The Company continues to expect that its cash balance, including the fair value of its available for sale securities, will be sufficient for it to accomplish its corporate goals through fiscal year 2017. 

6:12 am Joy Global beats by $0.10, beats on revs; guides FY15 EPS below consensus, revs in-line (JOY) : Reports Q4 (Oct) earnings of $1.25 per share, $0.10 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.15; revenues fell 4.1% year/year to $1.13 bln vs the $1.05 bln consensus.

  • Backlog at the end of the fourth quarter was $1.3 billion, compared to $1.5 billion at the beginning of the year. 
  • Bookings $783 million, down 27 percent from a year ago
  • Service bookings $648 million, down 9 percent from a year ago
  • Cash provided by continuing operations $65 million; $75 million used for share repurchases 
Guidance/Outlook:
Co issues mixed guidance for FY15, sees EPS of $3.10-3.50, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $3.57 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; sees FY15 revs of $3.6-3.8 bln vs. $3.8 bln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate.

Market Outlook 
  • Chinese growth remains muted as the ongoing transition to a more consumer driven economy has slowed manufacturing growth. While growth in China is expected to exceed 7 percent in 2014, conditions constraining growth persist, including a cooling of the housing market, high levels of debt and a weak export market. 
  • The slowdown in steel production has also impacted the global iron ore market. The seaborne iron ore market is facing nearly 200 million tonnes of new supply coming online in 2015 and 2016. Combined with the possibility of slowing demand, iron ore prices are expected to remain in the range between $70 and $85 per tonne with movements primarily driven by the reaction of marginal supply in China and elsewhere. 
  • Multi-year low commodity prices will continue to impact customer capital expenditure decisions and drive demand for only those products and services that improve mine productivity and reduce operating cost. While a number of mines have closed over the last year, there remain many high-cost uneconomic mines that will face pressure in 2015 as the industry continues to consolidate and optimize the global portfolio of mines. 
Co Outlook:
"Despite challenging market conditions and an environment where capital expenditure decisions are being highly scrutinized, we will continue to make the necessary investments that are required to provide world-class service to our customers. During 2014, we opened a new service center in Australia that is capable of handling both surface and underground machinery. Improving our service infrastructure near our customer's mines is important as we seek to increase the share of service work on our fleet of equipment in the field and drive our branded consumable product offerings. With our service business representing nearly 70 percent of our revenue in 2014, developing our global network of service centers will remain a priority in 2015 beginning with our Peru and Russia locations, which set to open in fiscal 2015..."

6:05 am RedHill Biopharma announces first patients enrolled in the Phase III study of RHB-102 for gastroenteritis and gastritis (RDHL) :

  • Co announced that the first patients have been enrolled in the Phase III clinical study of RHB-102 for acute gastroenteritis and gastritis, inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract which cause, among other symptoms, nausea and vomiting. RHB-102 is a proprietary, extended-release, once-daily oral pill formulation of the antiemetic drug ondansetron. 
  • Top-line results from the Phase III GUARD study are expected during the second half of 2015 and are intended to support potential future submissions of marketing applications in both the U.S. and Europe for this indication. If approved for marketing by the FDA, RHB-102 could become the first 5-HT3 antiemetic drug indicated for the treatment of acute gastroenteritis and gastritis, targeting a potential worldwide market estimated to exceed $650 million annually.
  • Along with the data generated from prior studies, RedHill plans on using post-marketing data from Europe to further support a potential submission of a U.S. NDA for RHB-102 for CINV.
  • RedHill recently submitted a European Marketing Authorization Application seeking approval of RHB-102, newly branded as BEKINDA.

6:02 am Lake Share Gold to repay $20 mln standby line of credit (LSG) :

  • Co announced that it will repay the $20.0 mln outstanding balance on its standby line of credit on December 31, 2014. 
  • Under the terms of an agreement with Sprott Resource Lending Partnership, the Company will repay the $20.0 mln of principal and pay approximately $1.4 mln in fees. By repaying the remaining balance in December 2014, the Company will save over $2.4 mln of interest over the remaining term of the debt (to November 2016), including $1.8 mln during 2015.

6:01 am United Therapeutics announced Roger Jeffs named President and Co-Chief Executive Officer; David Zaccardelli named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (UTHR) :

  • Co announced the promotion of Roger Jeffs to President and Co-Chief Executive Officer and David Zaccardelli to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
  • In connection with these promotions, Rothblatt's title will change from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer to Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer.  As Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Rothblatt will continue to serve as the principal executive officer of the company.  These title changes will become effective January 1, 2015. Zaccardelli currently serves as Chief Manufacturing Officer and EVP, Pharmaceutical Development

5:33 am Genetic Technologies reports clinical validation study supporting the use of BREVAGenplus in breast cancer risk assessment (GENE) : Co announces that findings from a new research study show that adding a panel of 77 single-nucleotide polymorphisms improves the predictive accuracy of four commonly used breast cancer risk assessment models. This same panel of 77 SNPs is used in the Company's recently released BREVAGenplus, an easy-to-use predictive risk test for sporadic, or non-hereditary, breast cancer.

  • Results show that adding a SNP risk score to these four breast cancer prediction models can improve risk estimates obtained by these models. 
  • Because these models place different weighting on different risk components, this new study also shows that combining the 77 SNP score with the most patient-appropriate breast cancer risk-assessment model can improve a clinician's ability to identify high-risk women in different patient populations. 

5:18 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Quality Systems (QSII) announced the appointment of Zachary Sherburne to the post of senior vice president and global chief information officer. 
  • JLL (JLL) has been appointed by Spain's financial institution BBVA (BBVA), to provide integrated real estate services. 
  • Technip (TKPPY) has been awarded an ~ 100 million contract by Oil and Natural Gas Corp to build a 6 MMSCMD onshore terminal at Odalarevu in Andhra Pradesh, India, as part of the Integrated Development of Vashishta & S1 fields. 

4:32 am Alstom confirms the existence of discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice with respect to its current investigations (ALSMY) : Co states further information will be disclosed in due course.

3:14 am Yingli Green Energy comments on U.S. Department of Commerce's final decisions on tariffs for solar PV panels using non-chinese cells (YGE) : Co commented on the final anti-dumping and countervailing duty decisions by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the import of solar PV panels assembled in China using components from a third country. According to today's decision, Yingli and its affiliates will be considered part of the Separate Rates Group and will be subject to an AD tariff of 52.13%, and a CVD tariff of 38.72%. This is a separate tariff case from the one determined in 2012, which applied to solar PV panels assembled in China using components from China. Yingli is currently subject to a combined AD/CVD rate of 29.18% in that case. 

Co's comment: "We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to accept such a broadly defined scope for this ruling, and to levy harsh, protectionist tariffs. It's well known that our customers, partners, and other stakeholders represent the majority of the solar industry and U.S. jobs. We will continue our vigorous defense on their behalf with the hope that national efforts to increase solar power's cost-competiveness are not derailed further..." 

3:06 am Volcano: Philips (PHG) to acquire Volcano for $18 per share (VOLC) : Royal Philips (PHG) and Volcano (VOLC) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

  • Philips will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Volcano for $18.00 per share, or a total equity purchase price of $1 billion (approx. EUR 800 million), to be paid in cash upon completion. 
  • The board of directors of Volcano has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends the offer to its shareholders. 
  • The transaction is expected to be accretive to Philips' reported earnings per share by 2017, and Philips targets an EBITA margin for its image-guided therapy business group of around 20% by 2017. 

2:37 am Emergent BioSolutions acquires EV-035 Series from Evolva (EBS) : Evolva Holding announced that Emergent BioSolutions (EBS) has acquired Evolva's anti-bacterial programme, the EV-035 series. The lead compound in the EV-035 series is the broad-spectrum antibiotic GC-072, which is being developed with US government biodefense funding. For Evolva, this transaction is worth up to $70.5 million plus royalties. 

  • GC-072 has shown efficacy in both in vitro and in vivo studies against a wide range of bacterial pathogens, most notably Burkholderia pseudomallei. 
  • Evolva and Emergent are working closely with DTRA on the transfer of the funding contract to Emergent, and expect this process to be completed within the next few weeks.
  • Evolva will receive from Emergent an upfront payment of $1.5 million, an additional $4 million after the US government approves transfer of the GC-072 contract to Emergent, development milestone payments up to $65 million, and tiered royalties up to a maximum of 10% on product net sales generated from the EV-035 programme. 

2:11 am Koninklijke DSM to sell DSM Synres to Standard Investment (RDSMY) : Royal DSM announced it has reached agreement with Standard Investment for the sale of DSM Synres. Subject to customary approvals and notifications, the transaction is expected to close in Q1 2015. Financial details will not be disclosed at this time.

  • The sale of DSM Synres is in line with DSM's strategy for its Performance Materials cluster to improve performance via among other things upgrading its portfolio. 

1:48 am Black Hills Corp receives regulatory approval to increase revenues (BKH) : Black Hills Corp subsidiary Black Hills Energy today received approval of a rate case settlement from the Kansas Corporation Commission that allows Black Hills Energy an estimated $5.2 million a year increase in base revenue from the utility's 111,000 natural gas customers in Kansas, effective January 1, 2015.

  • The new rates provide a return on the $51 million Black Hills Energy has invested in its natural gas infrastructure since 2006, when the utility last proposed a new rate structure in Kansas. 
  • The settlement does not stipulate return on equity and capital structure. 

1:13 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Realty Income (O) announced its Board of Directors has declared an increase in the company's common stock monthly cash dividend to $0.1834167 per share from $0.1831042 per share.
  • In-Situ announced that it has finalized the divestiture of PR Aqua Supplies to Pentair plc (PNR). PR Aqua designs and integrates comprehensive systems for water treatment for fish handling in the public and private sectors on a worldwide basis. 

12:57 am Rosetta Resources announces 2015 capital budget and guidance; plans to spend $700-800 mln (ROSE) : Co announced its Board of Directors has approved a 2015 capital budget with the flexibility to spend up to $900 million. Considering the current commodity price environment, the Company anticipates total capital spending to be between $700 million and $800 million.

  • ~54% will be allocated to development activities in the higher rate of return project areas of the Eagle Ford shale in South Texas and ~40% on further delineation activities in the Delaware Basin in West Texas. 
  • Drilling and completion costs should account for ~80% of total spending with the remaining 20% allocated to central facilities, leasehold and other corporate costs. 
  • The 2015 capital expenditure program will be funded from a combination of internally generated cash flow, cash on hand, and borrowings under the Company's credit facility. 
2015 Guidance and Hedging Update
  • Rosetta expects full year 2015 production to range from 76 -- 82 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day. The average oil ratio is expected to be ~27%. 
  • As part of Rosetta's ongoing risk management, the Company recently placed additional hedges for its 2015 forecasted crude oil production. 
  • The Company added roughly 7,000 barrels of oil per day in the form of costless collars with an average Louisiana Light Sweet floor price of $55 per barrel and an average ceiling of ~$85 per barrel

12:50 am Par Petroleum names Joseph Israel as CEO (PARR) : Co announced that it has appointed Joseph Israel to be its new President and Chief Executive Officer effective January 5, 2015. Israel is the former Senior Vice President of Hunt Refining Company, and was Chief Operating Officer of Alon USA Energy. 

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