InPlay from Briefing.com

Briefing.com

9:55 am Heritage Finl to submit Alarion acquisition to its stockholders for approval (HBOS) : Co announced that it has been informed by NASDAQ that its pending acquisition of Ocala-based Alarion Financial Services, the holding company for Alarion Bank, must be submitted for approval by the Company's stockholders.

  • The Company intends to proceed expeditiously to schedule a special meeting of its stockholders and does not anticipate any difficulties in obtaining a favorable vote on the merger. 
  • Alarion shareholders have approved the Merger, and the Company has received regulatory approvals from all three of its banking regulators. 
  • The Company still expects to complete the transaction well within the contractual timeframe.

9:48 am Stock indices slip back off opening highs, extend slightly following data -- Dow -3, Nasdaq Comp +8, S&P +1.6 (:TECHX) :  

9:46 am Opening Market Summary: Nasdaq Displays Opening Strength (:WRAPX) : The major averages began the trading day on an upbeat note with the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) in the lead. The S&P 500 (+0.2%) follows not far behind with seven sectors showing early gains.

With the Nasdaq showing strength it is no surprise that the technology sector (+0.4%) trades ahead of the remaining groups. Chipmakers have contributed to the outperformance with the PHLX Semiconductor Index trading higher by 1.0%.

Just released, the Chicago PMI for August rose to 64.3 from 52.6, while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase to 54.8.

The final reading of the Michigan Sentiment survey for August will be released at 9:55 ET. The Briefing.com consensus expects the reading to be revised up to 80.0 from 79.2.

9:38 am Firmer start with Nasdaq Comp +13 outperforming -- Dow +14, S&P +3.7 (:TECHX) : Technology XLK, Semi XSD, Software IGV are displaying relative strength

9:37 am Westmoreland Coal announces commencement of exchange offer for $425 mln of its 10.75 % senior secured notes due 2018 (WLB) : Co announced that it has commenced an offer to exchange up to $425 mln aggregate principal amount of its 10.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2018 that were issued in a private placement on April 28, 2014 for an equal principal amount of its 10.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2018 that have been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

  • The exchange offer is being made to satisfy Westmoreland's obligations under a registration rights agreement entered into on April 28, 2014 in connection with the issuance of the Original Notes, and does not represent a new financing transaction. 
  • Westmoreland will not receive any proceeds from the exchange offer.

9:32 am Kandi Technologies announces entry into agreement for registered direct placement of $71 mln of common stock and warrants (KNDI) : Co announced that it has entered into a securities purchase agreement with certain institutional investors for a registered direct placement of $71 mln of common stock at a price of $17.20/share.

  • The Company will issue a total of 4,127,908 shares of common stock to the institutional investors. 
  • As part of the transaction, the Company will also issue to the investors warrants for the purchase of up to 743,024 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $21.50/share, which Warrants will have a term of 17 months from the date of issuance.
  • The net proceeds from this offering will be used for general working corporate purposes.

9:25 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • PartnerRe (PRE) will publish the co's 2013 Non-Life Loss Development Triangles after 4 p.m. Eastern on Sep 2, 2014.
  • Hilton (HLT) Worldwide announced the opening of Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park, in Plano, Texas.

9:16 am CONMED: ISS and Egan-Jones recommend shareholders vote for all CONMED Director nominees; recommend that shareholders 'do not vote' for any of the three nominees proposed by Voce Capital (CNMD) : Co announced that ISS and Egan-Jones Proxy Services, leading independent proxy advisory firms, have recommended that CONMED shareholders vote "FOR" ALL of CONMED's director nominees on the GOLD proxy card at the Company's September 10, 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. In supporting CONMED's entire slate of director nominees, ISS and Egan-Jones recommend that shareholders "do not vote" for any of the three nominees proposed by Voce Capital Management.

  • "We strongly urge our shareholders to join ISS in supporting CONMED's Board as we seek to create long-term shareholder value."
  • In its August 28, 2014 report, ISS stated: 
    • "...the dissidents have not made a compelling case that additional change at the board level is warranted."

9:13 am S&P futures vs fair value: +4.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +11.00. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for an upbeat start to the final session of the month. The S&P 500 futures trade four points above fair value, which puts the benchmark index on course to build on its August gain of 3.4%.

Overnight action has been subdued with Asian markets ending on a mixed note, while indices in Europe trade near their flat lines. Inflation data from Japan was in line with estimates, while the Core CPI reading for the eurozone came in slightly ahead of estimates (0.9% versus expected 0.8%), which suggests the European Central Bank could hold back from deploying a quantitative easing program at next week's meeting. Headline CPI, however, eased to 0.3% from 0.4%.

Domestically, economic data released this morning revealed disappointing readings for July Personal Income (+0.2% versus Briefing.com consensus +0.3%) and Personal Spending (-0.1% versus Briefing.com consensus +0.1%), while core PCE Prices (+0.1%) were in line with estimates.

More data remains on the schedule with the Chicago PMI for August (Briefing.com consensus 54.8) expected to be released at 9:45 ET, while the final reading of the August Michigan Sentiment survey (consensus 80.0) will be reported at 9:55 ET.

Treasuries hold modest losses with the 10-yr yield up one basis point at 2.35%.

9:03 am Transcat acquires Ulrich Metrology and expands reach in Canada (TRNS) : Co announced that it has acquired, effective as of August 31, 2014, Ulrich Metrology, a leading Canadian provider of accredited and commercial calibrations with annualized revenue of $3.7 mln.

  • Ingrid Ulrich, President of Ulrich, and Ronald Barry, General Manager, will be remaining with Transcat.

9:02 am S&P futures vs fair value: +3.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +9.20. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade four points above fair value.

Asian markets ended the week on a mixed note following a full slate of economic data.

  • Japan's National Core CPI held steady at 3.3%, as expected, while Tokyo Core CPI ticked down to 2.7% from 2.8%, as expected. Separately, Household Spending fell 5.9% year-over-year (consensus -3.0%; prior -3.0%), Industrial Production ticked up 0.2% month-over-month (expected 1.0%; previous -3.4%), and Retail Sales rose 0.5% year-over-year (consensus 0.1%; last -0.6%). Also of note, the Unemployment Rate rose to 3.8% from 3.7% (expected 3.7%) and Housing Starts fell 14.1% year-over-year (consensus -10.5%; last -9.5%) 
  • South Korea's Industrial Production rose 3.4% year-over-year (expected 2.7%; prior 0.6%), while Retail Sales ticked up 0.3% month-over-month (forecast 0.4%; last 0.3%) 
  • Australia's Private Sector Credit rose 0.4% month-over-month (expected 0.5%; last 0.7%) 
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  • Japan's Nikkei shed 0.2%, finishing at its lowest level in almost two weeks. Heavyweight Softbank was the top performer, adding 3.4%. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat, holding at a two-week low. Casino stocks weighed with employees planning a weekend protest against high housing costs. Sands China settled lower by 1.7%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite rose 1.0%, climbing off three-week lows. Financials provided support with Agricultural Bank of China higher by 0.8%. 
Major European indices trade little changed, while Italy's MIB (+0.3%) outperforms. Investors received some hotter than expected inflation readings from the eurozone, which suggest the European Central Bank could make no changes to its policy stance at next week's meeting
  • Participants received several data points: 
    • Eurozone CPI ticked up 0.3% year-over-year, as expected, while core CPI increased 0.9% (consensus 0.8%; prior 0.8%). Separately, the Unemployment Rate held at 11.5%, as expected 
    • Germany's Retail Sales fell 1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.1%; previous 1.0%), while the year-over-year reading increased 0.7% (consensus 1.5%; last 0.1%) 
    • Great Britain's Nationwide HPI rose 11.0% year-over-year (expected 10.1%; last 10.6%) 
    • Italy's Quarterly Unemployment Rate ticked down to 12.5% from 12.6% (consensus 12.6%), while CPI rose 0.2% month-over-month (expected 0.1%; last -0.1%). Also of note, GDP was left unrevised at -0.2% quarter-over-quarter, as expected 
    • Spain's Business Confidence fell to -6.7 from -5.7 (expected -6.0), while Retail Sales declined 0.5% year-over-year (expected 0.1%; last 0.2%) 
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  • Germany's DAX is lower by 0.3% with Deutsche Lufthansa showing the largest loss. The stock is lower by 2.0%. Financials are mixed with Commerzbank up 0.5% and Deutsche Bank down 0.7% 
  • In France, the CAC is flat. Oil services company Total leads with a gain of 1.2%, while Renault is the weakest performer, down 2.7%. 
  • Great Britain's FTSE trades up 0.1%. Financials are among the leaders with Aberdeen Asset Management, St James's Place, and RSA Insurance Group up between 0.9% and 1.5%. Consumer names lag with Tesco and WM Morrison Supermarkets both down near 4.1% after Tesco reduced its dividend and lowered its guidance. 
  • Italy's MIB outperforms with an increase of 0.3%. Salvatore Ferragamo has surged 7.7% in reaction to its quarterly report.

9:01 am Mattress Firm to acquire Back to Bed and Mattress Barn Stores for ~$60 mln; expected to close by end of Q3 (MFRM) :

  • Co has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all of the mattress specialty retail assets and operations of Back to Bed, M World Mattress, MCStores and TBE Orlando, which collectively operate Back to Bed and Bedding Experts retail stores in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin and Bedding Experts and Mattress Barn retail stores in Florida. This acquisition will add approximately 135 mattress specialty retail stores to the Mattress Firm Company-operated store base in both new and existing markets, primarily in the Chicago and Orlando metropolitan areas, for an aggregate purchase price of ~$60 million, subject to customary adjustments. 
  • The closing of the acquisition is expected to occur by the end of the third fiscal quarter of 2014 and will be funded by cash reserves and revolver borrowings.

9:01 am IMRIS announces receipt of Nasdaq notice of bid price deficiency (IMRS) :  

8:41 am Duke Energy Indiana proposes plan to modernize its statewide electric grid; seven-year, $1.9 billion plan (DUK) : The co is filing a plan with Indiana state utility regulators to modernize its aging electric grid that delivers power to more than 800K Hoosier homes, businesses and industries. The seven-year, $1.9 bln plan uses a combination of advanced technology and infrastructure upgrades to improve service to its customers and provide them with better information about their energy use.

8:31 am S&P futures vs fair value: +4.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +12.70. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade five points above fair value.

July personal income increased 0.2%, while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase of 0.3%. Meanwhile, personal spending fell 0.1%, while the consensus expected an uptick of 0.1%.

Separately, core PCE prices rose 0.1%, which matched the Briefing.com consensus.

8:31 am Market View: Sep. stock-index futures trade up versus fair values, but are off overnight highs following the 8:30 a.m. ET economic data points (:TECHX) :

  • ESu4 now trades @ 1999.75 +3.00

  • YMu4 now trades @ 17095 +18

  • NQu4 now trades @ 4077.50 +7.75

8:31 am Ixys increases quarterly dividend to $0.035 from $0.03/share (IXYS) :  

8:27 am Senesco closed enrollment in its ongoing Phase 1b/2a open-label, multiple-dose, dose-escalation clinical trial of SNS01-T (SNTI) : Co announced the closing of enrollment in its ongoing Phase 1b/2a open-label, multiple-dose, dose-escalation clinical trial of SNS01-T, a first-in-class modulator of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A (eIF5A), in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, plasma cell leukemia or B cell lymphoma.

  • The safety portion of the study has established a maximum tolerated dose following the reporting of a second dose limiting toxicity (DLT.V) in the fourth and highest dosing cohort (0.375 mg/kg). 
  • The first DLT observed was a Grade 4 infusion reaction that occurred in a patient who had not received the designated premedications. The second DLT, an uncomplicated Grade 4 neutropenia, occurred after eight doses in a lymphoma patient.

8:23 am 22nd Century Group announces NASCO Products entered into a multi-year manufacturing agreement with Smoker Friendly International to produce the Smoker Friendly private label cigarette brand (XXII) : Co announced that NASCO Products, a federally licensed tobacco product manufacturer and participating member of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), entered into a multi-year manufacturing agreement with Smoker Friendly International to produce the Smoker Friendly private label cigarette brand.

  • Smoker Friendly International, LLC licenses retailers to use its "Smoker Friendly" name and sell its "SF" products.
  • Starting in January 2015, the SF brand of cigarettes will be made by NASCO Products in the Mocksville, North Carolina factory, which 22nd Century Group purchased earlier in 2014.

8:21 am European Markets Update: DAX -0.1%, CAC +0.1%, FTSE +0.2%, MIB +0.5% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade little changed, while Italy's MIB (+0.5%) outperforms. Investors received some hotter than expected inflation readings from the eurozone, which suggest the European Central Bank could make no changes to its policy stance at next week's meeting

  • Participants received several data points: 
    • Eurozone CPI ticked up 0.3% year-over-year, as expected, while core CPI increased 0.9% (consensus 0.8%; prior 0.8%). Separately, the Unemployment Rate held at 11.5%, as expected 
    • Germany's Retail Sales fell 1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.1%; previous 1.0%), while the year-over-year reading increased 0.7% (consensus 1.5%; last 0.1%) 
    • Great Britain's Nationwide HPI rose 11.0% year-over-year (expected 10.1%; last 10.6%) 
    • Italy's Quarterly Unemployment Rate ticked down to 12.5% from 12.6% (consensus 12.6%), while CPI rose 0.2% month-over-month (expected 0.1%; last -0.1%). Also of note, GDP was left unrevised at -0.2% quarter-over-quarter, as expected 
    • Spain's Business Confidence fell to -6.7 from -5.7 (expected -6.0), while Retail Sales declined 0.5% year-over-year (expected 0.1%; last 0.2%) 
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  • Germany's DAX is lower by 0.1% with Deutsche Lufthansa showing the largest loss. The stock is lower by 1.9%. Financials are mixed with Commerzbank up 0.6% and Deutsche Bank down 0.5% 
  • In France, the CAC is higher by 0.1%. Oil services company Total leads with a gain of 1.2%, while Renault is the weakest performer, down 2.7%. 
  • Great Britain's FTSE trades up 0.2%. Financials are among the leaders with Aberdeen Asset Management, St James's Place, and RSA Insurance Group up between 0.9% and 1.5%. Consumer names lag with Tesco and WM Morrison Supermarkets both down near 4.1% after Tesco reduced its dividend and lowered its guidance. 
  • Italy's MIB outperforms with an increase of 0.5%. Salvatore Ferragamo has surged 7.7% in reaction to its quarterly report.

8:18 am Gapping down (:SCANX) : Gapping down
In reaction to disappointing earnings/guidance
: ZOES -1.3%, BIG -0.5%

Select Russia related names showing weakness (Russian stocks downgraded at Morgan Stanley): MBT -3.8% (also dg'd at DB, see below), RSX -1.3%, VIP -1%, YNDX -0.9%.

Other news: ISNS -6.6% (may be related to large shareholder selling shares), FRO -2.2% (cont weakness), NOAH -1.2% (still checking), MCHP -0.6% (co confirmed it is in preliminary discussions with CSR plc).

Analyst comments: MBT -3.8% (downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank), GOMO -1.2% (downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse).

8:16 am ViewPoint Financial & and LegacyTexas Group announced that additional time will be required to obtain regulatory approvals and to satisfy customary closing conditions necessary to complete their merger (VPFG) : The co and LegacyTexas Group announced that additional time will be required to obtain regulatory approvals and to satisfy customary closing conditions necessary to complete their merger, and have amended their merger agreement to extend the agreement to December 31, 2014.

  • Also, the amended merger agreement provides that the closing date of the merger shall take place within five days after receipt of all regulatory approvals, including applicable waiting periods, as well as allows LegacyTexas to make up to two additional distributions to its shareholders prior to the effective date of the merger. 
  • The merger will result in one of the largest independent banks in the state of Texas, with 51 branches and pro forma assets of over $5 bln.
  • As previously announced, the merger has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and by the shareholders of LegacyTexas.

8:13 am Gapping up (:SCANX) : Gapping up
In reaction to strong earnings/guidance
: UEPS +17.9%, VEEV +12.2%, SPLK +6.7%, RALY +6.4%, ANFI +5.4%, AVGO +5.3%, PSUN +4.3%, BONA +3.9%, FRED +2.9%, CO +2.3%, OVTI +2.3%.

M&A news: CRTO +20.7% (may be attributed to Publicis (PUBGY) speculation).

Select Biotech related names showing strength: FOLD +5.2%, AEZS +3.6%, KERX +0.7%, ACHN +0.5%.

Other news: DGLY +7.1% (continue momentum higher),BCRX +4.1% (receives additional NIAID funding to conduct a non-human primate study of BCX4430 in Ebola virus disease),RSH +3.5% (cont strength),CHU +3.4% (agreement with Tesla for charging stations),NXPI +3% (Apple and NXP Semi (NXPI) working on payment system technology for iPhone, according to reports),AZN +2.2% (reports that Pfizer (PFE) and AZN may have resumed merger talks),KNDI +2.1% (China considering new tax on gasoline to help electric car market, according to reports),TSLA +1.7% (has agreed to deal with China Unicom (CHU) for charging stations, according to reports) 

Analyst comments: SSYS +1.5% (initiated with a Buy at Stifel),CRH +1.1% (upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman)

8:04 am Ritchie Bros. sold more than $48 mln of heavy equipment and trucks during an unreserved public auction at the co's permanent auction site in Houston, Texas on Aug 27 & 28, 2014 (RBA) :  

8:03 am Reynolds American and Lorillard (LO) receive requests for additional information from FTC (RAI) : Cos announced that each company has received a request for additional information from the FTC in connection with Reynolds American's pending acquisition of Lorillard (LO) and divestiture of select brands to Imperial Tobacco Group. The second request was issued under notification requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended and is a normal part of the regulatory review process.

  • The effect of the second request is to extend the waiting period imposed by the HSR Act until 30 days after Reynolds American and Lorillard have substantially complied with the request, unless that period is extended voluntarily by both parties or terminated sooner by the FTC.
  • The companies continue to expect the transactions to close in the first half of 2015. 

8:02 am Verizon to redeem the entire outstanding principal amount of its $750 mln 1.25% Notes, due Nov 3, 2014 (VZ) : Co announced that it will redeem the entire outstanding principal amount of its $750 mln 1.25% Notes, due November 3, 2014. The redemption date for the Notes will be September 29, 2014.

8:01 am AAR Corp exercises its right to redeem all of the currently outstanding $30 mln principal amount of 1.75% Convertible Senior Notes due 2015 (AIR) : Co announced that it has exercised its right to redeem all of the currently outstanding $30 mln principal amount of 1.75% Convertible Senior Notes due 2015, in accordance with the terms of the Notes. The redemption price of the Notes is 103.358% of the principal amount redeemed, which amount is equal to $1,033.58 per $1K principal amount, plus accrued and unpaid interest to, but not including, the redemption date, in accordance with the provisions of the indenture governing the Notes. The redemption date for the Notes is October 1, 2014.

8:01 am Atlatsa Resources appoints Boipelo Lekubo as CFO, effective 1 September 2014 (ATL) :  

8:00 am S&P futures vs fair value: +5.70. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +14.00. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures hover near their highs amid subdued action overseas. The S&P 500 futures trade six points above fair value. The benchmark index will enter the final session of the month with an August gain of 3.4%. Meanwhile, nine of ten economic sectors are on course to finish the month higher, while the smallest sector by weight-telecom services-will enter the session with an August decline of 1.8%.

Treasuries hold slim losses with the 10-yr yield up one basis point at 2.35%.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • Avago Technologies (AVGO 79.94, +3.58): +4.8% in reaction to its solid results 
  • Big Lots (BIG 47.05, -0.15): -0.3% despite reporting a one-cent beat and announcing a new $125 million repurchase program 
  • OmniVision (OVTI 27.80, +0.52): +1.9% following its better than expected revenue 
  • Splunk (SPLK 47.75, +2.46): +5.4% after beating on both metrics and guiding higher 
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei -0.2%, China's Shanghai Composite +1.0%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's National Core CPI held steady at 3.3%, as expected, while Tokyo Core CPI ticked down to 2.7% from 2.8%, as expected. Separately, Household Spending fell 5.9% year-over-year (consensus -3.0%; prior -3.0%), Industrial Production ticked up 0.2% month-over-month (expected 1.0%; previous -3.4%), and Retail Sales rose 0.5% year-over-year (consensus 0.1%; last -0.6%). Also of note, the Unemployment Rate rose to 3.8% from 3.7% (expected 3.7%) and Housing Starts fell 14.1% year-over-year (consensus -10.5%; last -9.5%) 
      • South Korea's Industrial Production rose 3.4% year-over-year (expected 2.7%; prior 0.6%), while Retail Sales ticked up 0.3% month-over-month (forecast 0.4%; last 0.3%) 
      • Australia's Private Sector Credit rose 0.4% month-over-month (expected 0.5%; last 0.7%) 
    • In news: 
      • Japan's disappointing Household Spending report marked the fourth consecutive decline, while inflation readings were largely in line with expectations
  • Major European indices are little changed. Germany's DAX -0.1%, Great Britain's FTSE +0.1%, and France's CAC is flat. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB +0.6% and Spain's IBEX -0.2% 
    • Participants received several data points: 
      • Eurozone CPI ticked up 0.3% year-over-year, as expected, while core CPI increased 0.9% (consensus 0.8%; prior 0.8%). Separately, the Unemployment Rate held at 11.5%, as expected 
      • Germany's Retail Sales fell 1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.1%; previous 1.0%), while the year-over-year reading increased 0.7% (consensus 1.5%; last 0.1%)
      • Great Britain's Nationwide HPI rose 11.0% year-over-year (expected 10.1%; last 10.6%) 
      • Italy's Quarterly Unemployment Rate ticked down to 12.5% from 12.6% (consensus 12.6%), while CPI rose 0.2% month-over-month (expected 0.1%; last -0.1%). Also of note, GDP was left unrevised at -0.2% quarter-over-quarter, as expected 
      • Spain's Business Confidence fell to -6.7 from -5.7 (expected -6.0), while Retail Sales declined 0.5% year-over-year (expected 0.1%; last 0.2%) 
    • Among news of note: 
      • Hotter than expected inflation readings from the eurozone suggest the European Central Bank could make no changes to its policy stance at next week's meeting

7:47 am Asian Markets Close: Nikkei -0.2%, Hang Seng UNCH, Shanghai +1.0% (:SUMRX) :

  • Markets ended mixed across Asia. 
  • Japan's household spending dropped -5.9% YoY (-2.7% YoY expected) while preliminary industrial production advanced just 0.2% MoM (1.2% MoM expected). Tokyo Core CPI was in-line at 2.7% YoY while retail sales was the lone beat, advancing +0.5% YoY (-0.1% YoY expected). 
  • Japan's Nikkei finished at its lowest level in nearly two weeks. Heavyweight Softbank was the top performer, adding 3.4%. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng (UNCHF) held at a two-week low. Casino stocks weighed as employees are planning a weekend protest of high housing costs. Sands China ended lower by 1.7%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite (+1.0%) climbed off three-week lows. Financials provided support with Agricultural Bank of China higher by 0.8%. 
  • India's Sensex was closed for Ganesh Festival. 
  • Australia's ASX (UNCHF) held just shy of six-year highs. Mining giant BHP Billiton sank 0.6% as iron ore prices fell to their lowest level in two years. 
  • Regional Decliners: Indonesia -0.9%...Philippines -0.7%...Malaysia -0.5%...Taiwan -0.4%...South Korea -0.4%...Singapore -0.1% 
  • Regional Advancers: Thailand +0.2%...Vietnam +0.7%
  • Fx: USDCNY held @ 6.1423...USDINR was little changed @ 60.51...USDJPY +25 pips @ 103.95...AUDUSD -20 pips @ .9335

7:25 am USDJPY Nears 104.00: 10Y: -02/32..2.341%..USD/JPY: 103.93..EUR/USD: 1.3182 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index holds little changed near 82.50. 
  • The greenback saw early buying provide a test of the 821.60 level, but trade has surrendered those gains over the course of the morning. 
  • EURUSD is +5 pips @ 1.3190 amid a choppy trade. The single currency withstood some early selling pressure following the German retail sales (-1.4% MoM actual v. 0.1% MoM expected) miss as the recent lows above 1.3150 were able to hold, and has rallied into positive territory following the in-line eurozone CPI Flash Estimate (0.3% YoY). The region's unemployment rate was also released, holding at 11.5%. 
  • GBPUSD is +5 pips @ 1.6595 as light buying persists for a third day. A stronger than expected Nationwide Home Price Index (0.8% Mom actual v. 0.1% MoM expected) has sterling yet again testing the 1.6600 level that has acted as a ceiling on action for more than the past week. A breakout above the level puts 1.6700 and the 200 dma in play. 
  • USDCHF is -5 pips @ .9145 as trade continues to hold near nine-month highs. Today's strong KOF Economic Barometer (99.5 actual v. 97.9 expected, 97.9 previous) has had little impact on trade as traders are more interested in EURCH holding at 1.2060, the lowest since December 2012. 
  • USDJPY is +25 pips @ 103.95 as buyers regain control following two days of selling. Today's advance comes after more disappointing data out of Japan. Household spending dropped -5.9% YoY (-2.7% YoY expected) while preliminary industrial production advanced just 0.2% MoM (1.2% MoM expected). Tokyo Core CPI was in-line at 2.7% YoY while retail sales was the lone beat, advancing +0.5% YoY (-0.1% YoY expected). Any close above 104.10 would be the best since January. Click here to see a daily USDJPY chart.
  • AUDUSD is -15 pips @ .9340 as trade pulls back from one-month highs. The hard currency has seen sellers emerge in defense of resistance that is guarded by both the 50 and 100 dma. USDCNY was flat @ 6.1423. 
  • USDCAD is -15 pips @ 1.0845 as trade contends with its lowest close in a month. The 1.0820 area is defended by the 50 dma and will be watched closely into today's GDP and Raw Materials Price Index data.

7:07 am BioCryst Pharm receives additional NIAID funding to conduct a non-human primate study of BCX4430 in Ebola virus disease (BCRX) :

  • Co announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded a contract modification for an additional $2.4 million to BioCryst to conduct a dose ranging efficacy study of an intramuscular formulation of BCX4430 in non-human primates as a treatment for Ebola virus disease. The study is expected to be initiated within weeks. 
  • The successful completion of an efficacy study in an experimental Ebola virus disease model in non-human primates represents an important next step towards understanding the potential of BCX4430 as a treatment for Ebola disease in humans. NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, granted a contract to BioCryst in September 2013 valued up to $22.0 million over five years. With this additional award, the BCX4430 development contract has been increased in value to $24.4 million, if all options are exercised.

6:52 am S&P futures vs fair value: +7.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +16.50. :

6:52 am European Markets : FTSE...6,818.65...+12.90...+0.20%.  DAX...9,477.69...+15.10...+0.20%.

6:52 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...15,424.59...-35.30...-0.20%.  Hang Seng...24,742.06...+1.10...0.00.

6:48 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (CMS), is accelerating its plan to provide updated electric meters to homes and businesses across Michigan. By the end of 2017, two years earlier than scheduled originally, 1.8 mln electric meters will be updated along with 600,000 natural gas meters for customers who also have Consumers Energy electric service.

6:48 am Fiat SpA provided update in connection with proposed cross-border merger to create Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.; co is nearing completion of process of determining the number of shares for which cash exit rights have been validly exercised by Fiat shareholders (FIATY) : Co provided an update in connection with the proposed cross-border merger to create Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., which was approved at the extraordinary meeting of shareholders held on Aug 1, 2014:

  • Fiat is nearing completion of the process of determining the number of shares for which cash exit rights have been validly exercised by Fiat shareholders and is preparing for the mandatory offer of such shares to existing Fiat shareholders at the Exit Price. 
  • Fiat is in the process of completing the matching of notices received with the required certifications for intermediaries. Fiat expects to complete this process and publicly announce the number of shares for which cash exit rights have been validly exercised no later than Sep 4, 2014.
  • Based on the notices and confirmations received, co has determined that the EUR500 mln cap has not been exceeded. Co has determined that even if all remaining unmatched noticed and unmatched confirmations were to be matched, the maximum number of shares for which cash exit rights have been validly exercised will yield an aggregate exposure that is below the cap.

6:46 am Albemarle and ICL to form polymeric flame retardant manufacturing joint venture (ALB) : The co and ICL announced that the two companies have entered into an agreement to establish a manufacturing joint venture for the production of ICL's FR-122P polymeric flame retardant and Albemarle's GreenCrest polymeric flame retardant. These flame retardants are designed to replace hexabromocyclododecane. HBCD has been the leading flame retardant used in expanded and extruded polystyrene foam applications, but is being phased out in the European Union, Japan and other countries.

  • The joint venture and its partners will own and operate a 2,400 MT per year Netherlands plant, which is currently operating, and a 10,000 MT per year Israel plant, which is scheduled to come on line in the 4th quarter of 2014.

6:24 am Big Lots beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; raises bottom end of FY15 EPS guidance in line; reaffirms FY15 comp guidance; Q2 comps +1.7%; announced new $125 mln share repurchase program (BIG) : Reports Q2 (Jul) earnings of $0.31 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.30; revenues rose 1.2% year/year to $1.2 bln vs the $1.2 bln consensus with comps +1.7% vs guidance of +1-3%.

  • Co issues in-line guidance for FY15, raises bottom end of EPS to $2.40-2.50 from $2.35-2.50 vs. $2.49 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; reaffirms FY15 comparable store sales range of +1% to +2%
  • Inventory ended the second quarter of fiscal 2014 at $799 million, compared to $914 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2013. 
  • "Yesterday, on August 28, 2014, our Board of Directors approved a new share repurchase program providing for the repurchase of up to $125 million of our common shares."

6:23 am NanoString Technologies files for $100 mln mixed security shelf offering (NSTG) :  

6:02 am Rubicon Minerals announces Ontario Divisional Court dismissed application for judicial review in respect of co's production closure plan for its fully-permitted Phoenix Gold Project (RBY) : Co announces the Ontario Divisional Court has dismissed an application for judicial review that was previously filed by Wabauskang First Nation in respect of co's production closure plan for its fully-permitted Phoenix Gold Project located in Red Lake, Ontario.

  • Construction of the Project has been unaffected.
  • The Project remains on schedule for projected production in mid-2015.

6:01 am The9 Ltd announces the joint venture with Qihoo 360 (QIHU) obtained the publishing and operating license of Firefall in China & NCTY announces sale of certain businesses for total consideration of RMB200 mln (NCTY) :

  • The co announced that it's subsidiary, Red 5 Singapore Pte. Ltd. has entered into a license agreement with System Link Limited, a joint venture formed by The9 and Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd. (QIHU) for publishing and operating Firefall for a five-year term in mainland China. Under this license agreement, System Link Limited will pay to Red 5 Singapore at least $160 mln including license fee and royalties during the contract period. 
  • The co also announced that it's wholly-owned consolidated interest entity Shanghai The9 Information Technology Co., Ltd., has closed a transaction with Shanghai Zhengwu Investment Center for sale of its wholly-owned subsidiary Shanghai Huopu Cloud Computing Terminal Technology Co., Ltd. for a total consideration of RMB200 million in cash. Huopu Cloud holds a web game QiJiGuiLai and has the right to receive a minority portion of royalties generated from operation of the game Firefall in mainland China upon payment and other conditions. 

3:04 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Royal Philips (PHG) announced the full range of its cardiology solutions serving clinicians and patients across the care continuum from prevention and diagnosis, to treatment, recovery and wellness.
  • United Microelectronics (UMC) and Fujitsu Semiconductor announced an agreement for UMC to become a minority shareholder of a newly formed subsidiary of Fujitsu Semiconductor that will include its 300mm wafer manufacturing facility located in Kuwana, Mie, Japan 

1:39 am Glori Energy Common Stock meets NASDAQ requirements & warrants to be delisted as of September 4, 2014 (GLRI) : Co announces that it was formally notified on August 25, 2014 that its common stock has satisfied the requirements for initial listing on the NASDAQ Capital Market. Glori meets the requirements for initial listing as common stock and its trading symbol will continue to be GLRI.

Glori also announced that it was formally notified on August 25, 2014 by NASDAQ that its warrants do not meet the minimum 400 round lot holder requirement under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5515(a)(4) and IM-5101-2, and the warrants will be delisted as of September 4, 2014.

1:35 am Ur-Energy completes technical report on Shirley Basin Uranium Project; no marterial difference from prior report (URG) : Co announces the completion of a Technical Report for its Shirley Basin Uranium Project in Carbon County, Wyoming. This report discloses an initial uranium resource estimate for the Project of 8,816,000 pounds U3O8 of Measured and Indicated Resources, averaging 0.23% eU3O8. There are no material differences in the resources between this Technical Report and an earlier disclosure in our Press Release dated July 22, 2014.

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