InPlay from Briefing.com

Briefing.com

10:54 am Dow -108 and S&P -9.6 slip to fractional new session lows Nasdaq Comp -6 near mid-range (:TECHX) :  

10:36 am Aggressive 10-Yr yield jump reaches 200 ema (:TECHX) : The TNX broke aggressively above its Feb/two month high in post-data trade with testing/pausing near its 200 day ema and a psych level at 2.25 (session high 2.247).

10:07 am Relative sector weakness in recent trade (:TECHX) : Underperforming the S&P in recent action are Housing XHB, Oil Service OIH, Gold Miners GDX, Casino, Utility XLU, Staples XLP, REITs IYR.

10:02 am Manulife Financial together with four Quebec-based institutional investors acquired an equity interest in Montreal Gateway Terminals, which operates two of the three international container terminals at the Port of Montreal (MFC) :

10:01 am Eldorado Resorts will commence construction at Scioto Downs Racino of The Brew Brothers, a new $5.9 mln microbrewery and restaurant that is expected to open by the fourth quarter of 2015 (ERI) : The Phase II expansion plan for the property will extend its guest amenities and entertainment offerings and includes a 5,000-square-foot outdoor smoking patio that opened in December 2014 with 60 video lottery terminals, as well as a new bakery and snack bar that are expected to open by the fourth quarter.

9:58 am Nasdaq Comp -4.2 and S&P -5.9 quickly rotate back to upside after fractional new session lows failed to develop follow through interest -- Dow -66 (:TECHX) :  

9:53 am Outperforming Nasdaq Comp -15 sets minor new session low along with S&P -10 -- Dow -94 (:TECHX) :  

9:46 am Gilat Satellite announces award of $285 million regional telecommunications infrastructure project (GILT) : Co announced that Peru's Fitel awarded a $285 million regional telecommunications infrastructure project to Gilat. This is the largest contract ever won by the company since its inception. Fitel's regional initiative represents the complementary phase of the Peruvian National Fiber Backbone project, aimed to connect rural villages to broadband services. Within the framework of this phase, Gilat won the bids for three regional projects, in Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac

9:44 am Bank KBE / KRE, Broker IAI, Insurance KIE nearing multi-month highs (:TECHX) : The market has opened weaker after the data but as noted earlier Financial related names have performed well (strong jump in interest rates). The ETFs for these segments of the market have broken above recent highs and are working up toward multi-month highs from Nov-Dec.

9:43 am Opening Market Summary: Dow Leads Opening Decline (:WRAPX) : The major averages began the under pressure with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.5%) leading the opening retreat. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 trades lower by 0.4% with eight of ten sectors in the red.

All four countercyclical sectors trail the broader market with utilities (-2.2%) at the bottom of the leaderboard. The sector has been pressured by today's spike in Treasury yields that was brought on by the better than expected Nonfarm Payrolls report. The 10-yr note is on its low with the benchmark yield higher by eight basis points at 2.20%.

Over on the cyclical side, technology (-0.2%) and financials (+0.4%) trade ahead of the broader market while the other four sectors underperform. Notably, the financial sector has climbed in reaction to higher yields as well as last night's news that all 31 major banks cleared the baseline for required capital levels.

9:36 am Relative sector performance (:TECHX) : Sectors underperforming in early trade include: Gold Miners GDX, REITs IYR, Utility XLU, Silver SLV, Gold GLD, Mining XME, Crude Oil USO, Steel SLX, Home Const ITB. The limited list of gainers include: Bank KBE, Reg Bank KRE, Broker IAI, Insurance KIE.

9:34 am Statoil ASA announces a new timeline for Johan Castberg and Snorre 2040 (STO) :

  • The Johan Castberg partnership has decided to postpone the decision to continue, the so-called DG2, until the second half of 2016, with expectations for an investment decision in 2017. Co stated: 
    • "We have made significant progress in reducing costs for Johan Castberg. However, current challenges in relation to costs and oil prices require us to spend more time to ensure that we extract the full benefit of the implemented measures." 
  • The Snorre partnership has decided to extend the progress plan for Snorre 2040. The new schedule for the preliminary decision to implement (DG2) is the fourth quarter of 2016. Co noted that High investments in combination with challenging profitability characterise the Snorre field's further development leading up to 2040.

9:32 am Quick slide under yesterday's lows for Dow -94 and S&P -8 but Nasdaq Comp -11 did not confirm the move (:TECHX) :  

9:31 am Abengoa announces partnership to launch a 100 MW solar plant in South Africa (ABGB) :

  • The company and state-owned financier, the Industrial Development Corporation, together with KaXu Community Trust have launched a 100 MW solar plant near the town of Pofadder (Northern Cape Province), capable of providing clean and sustainable power to approximately 80,000 homes in South Africa. 
  • The project will result in approximately $891 million direct and indirect investment inflows to South Africa, generate approximately  $516 million in taxes over the next 20 years, and created 1,000 construction jobs during its three-year construction period.
  • Abengoa owns 51 % of the project, the IDC 29 % and KaXu Community Trust 20 %.

9:26 am WTI crude oil falls below $50/barrel; oil, gold, silver and copper all extend losses and hit new lows for the day as the dollar continues to strengthen (:COMDX) :

  • Dollar index is now +1.3% at 97.58
  • Apr crude oil is -1.5% at $50.00/barrel
  • Apr natural gas -1% at $2.81/MMBtu
  • Apr gold -1.7% at $1176.30/oz
  • May silver -2.1% at $15.83/oz
  • May copper -1.4% at $2.62/lb
  • Oil, gold, silver and copper are all near today's lows here

9:23 am NGL Energy Partners prices previously announced 6.25 mln common unit offering at $27.57/unit (NGL) :

  • The offering is expected to close on March 11, 2015, subject to customary closing conditions. 
  • NGL intends to use the net proceeds from this offering, including any net proceeds from the underwriter's exercise of its option to purchase additional common units, to repay borrowings under its revolving credit facility and for general partnership purposes, including capital expenditures and potential acquisitions.

9:19 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Consolidated-Tomoka Land (CTO) announced that it has entered into a 10-year lease with Teledyne ODI for 15,360 square feet at Williamson Business Park. The Company completed the development of Williamson Business Park, a two-building 30,720 square foot flex office property, in June 2014.
  • Herbalife (HLF) announced that Michael Johnson, Herbalife's chairman and CEO, has engaged in a net exercise transaction involving 1.77 million stock options and stock appreciation rights that were due to expire in March and April 2015. Because of his complete confidence in the continued and future success of the company, Mr. Johnson has decided that he will hold all the shares issued on exercise of these awards, which will be the total amount, net of those necessary to cover the exercise price and any taxes related to the transaction.
  • Hudson Pacific Properties (HPP) announced it has completed the sale of its First Financial office property in Encino, California to Douglas Emmett, Inc. for $89.0 million, resulting in net proceeds to the Company of approximately $46.0 million (before certain credits, prorations and closing costs) after repayment of a $43.0 million loan secured by the property.
  • Hain Celestial Group (HAIN) announced that over 100 new products will be featured at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California starting today.  Hain Celestial's products will be rolling out now through the end of 2015 and sold in selected markets in the United States. In its last fiscal year, Hain Celestial's new products generated over $100 million in net sales on a worldwide basis.
  • Texas Instruments (TXN) introduced the industry's first zero standby power controller chipset with the lowest standby power consumption for AC/DC flyback power supplies up to 75 W.

9:16 am Myers Industries announces quarterly dividend increase to $0.135/share from $0.13/share (MYE) :  

9:14 am S&P futures vs fair value: -7.90. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -4.50. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a modestly lower open as futures on the S&P 500 trade eight points below fair value.

Index futures spent the bulk of the night near their flat lines, but fell to lows within the past 45 minutes after the Nonfarm Payrolls report came in ahead of expectations. According to the report, 295,000 payrolls were added in February while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 240,000. The Unemployment Rate fell to 5.5% from 5.7%, but that was a result of shrinking labor force participation. Also of note, hourly earnings increased just 0.1% after a 0.5% increase in January (Briefing.com consensus 0.2%).

The better than expected headline number has been met with aggressive selling in the Treasury market, sending the 10-yr yield higher by seven basis points to 2.19%. A similar, albeit not as aggressive, response in the futures market suggests participants believe this report increases the likelihood that the Fed could hike rates as early as June; however, the anemic wage growth provides some ammunition for the other side of that argument.

Shortly after the jobs report, Wall Street Journal reported that Apple (AAPL 128.18, +1.77) will be added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replacing AT&T (T 33.58, -0.42).

One more data point remains on the schedule with the Consumer Credit report for January set to be released at 15:00 ET (Briefing.com consensus $14.00 billion).

9:13 am Novartis AG confirms its Sandoz subsidiary received FDA approval for first biosimilar Zarxio (NVS) : Sandoz is the first company to receive approval of a biosimilar in the US through the new FDA biosimilars pathway established under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act. The approval of Zarxio follows the unanimouspositive vote in January by the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee.

9:03 am Hawaiian Airlines reports February 2015 traffic statistics; PAX +4.7%, RPMS +1.8%, ASMS +4.3%, load factor -1.9 pts (HA) :  

9:03 am BioLineRx has priced its underwritten public offering of 12.5 mln ADS at a public offering price of $2.00 per ADS for gross proceeds of $25 mln (BLRX) :  

9:02 am Ambac announces it will commence a cash tender offer for Las Vegas monorail bonds (AMBC) : The offer is for any and all outstanding Las Vegas Monorail Project Revenue Bonds, 1st Tier Series 2000, issued by the Director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry for the benefit of the Las Vegas Monorail Company

9:00 am FBL Financial Group announces a 14% increase in its quarterly cash dividend to $0.40/share, a special cash dividend of $2.00/share and a new Class B director, Names New Director (FFG) :  

8:59 am Ecopetrol confirms that its Board appointed Mr. Juan Carlos Echeverry as the new CEO, effective April 6, 2015 (EC) : The Board of Directors also appointed Camilo Marulanda as Executive Vice President.

8:57 am Opko Health announces the presentation of late-breaking clinical data in a poster which supports the conclusion that Rayaldee effectively controls SHPT through the correction of vitamin D insufficiency in both stage 3 and 4 CKD. (OPK) : The co announced the presentation of late-breaking clinical data in a poster at the 97th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society on March 6th, 2015 in San Diego, California, that will include twelve months data from OPKO's phase 3 trials for Rayaldee as a treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease and vitamin D insufficiency. The data to be presented include results for 429 patients completing up to twelve months of treatment. The data to be presented include results for 429 patients completing up to twelve months of treatment.

8:55 am S&P futures vs fair value: -5.60. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -4.30. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade six points below fair value.

Gains were widespread across markets in the Asia Pacific region. The Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng were the few notable exceptions as growth concerns on the mainland appeared to weigh on investor sentiment.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Japan's Leading Index slipped to 105.1 from 105.6 (expected 105.9) 
    • Australia's AIG Construction Index fell to 43.9 from 45.9 
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  • Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.2% in a broad-based advance led by the consumer non-cyclical (+2.7%), financial (+1.6%), and basic materials (+1.3%) sectors. The top-performing individual stocks were Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co (+12.5%), UNY Group Holdings (+10.7%), Ajinomoto Co. (+7.3%), Olympus Corp. (+5.8%), and Sumco Corp. (+5.7%). Yahoo Japan (-3.5%) was the biggest decliner. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.1%, pressured by weakness in the communications (-0.9%) and utilities (-0.6%) sectors. The influential financial sector (-0.03%) was little changed. China Unicom (-3.0%) and Kunlun Energy Co (-1.7%) led the decliners while Lenovo Group (+2.3%) and AIA Group (+2.0%) paced the winners. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite declined 0.2%, finishing near its lows for the session. The Chinese market was pressured by losses in the technology, industrial, and consumer sectors. Leading decliners included Shanghai Potevio Co (-10.0%), Shaanxi Broadcast & TV Network Intermediary (-9.8%), China Railway Erju Co (-7.8%), Hisense Electric Co (-7.7%), and Universal Scientific Industrial Shanghai Co (-7.5%). 
Major European indices trade mostly higher with Italy's MIB (+0.6%) in the lead. According to reports, Greece has paid the first installment of EUR310 million to the IMF. The country's next payment in the amount of EUR350 million is scheduled for next Friday.
  • In economic data: 
    • Eurozone Q4 GDP was left unrevised at 0.3% quarter-over-quarter and 0.9% year-over-year 
    • Germany's Industrial Production rose 0.6% month-over-month (consensus 0.5%; last 1.0%) 
    • UK's Inflation Expectations slowed to 1.9% from 2.5% 
    • France's Trade Deficit widened to EUR3.70 billion from EUR3.40 billion (expected deficit of EUR3.00 billion) 
    • Swiss CPI fell 0.3% month-over-month (expected -0.1%; last -0.4%) while the year-over-year reading declined 0.8% (consensus -0.6%; prior -0.5%) 
    • Spain's Industrial Production rose 0.4% year-over-year (last -0.9%) 
    • Italy's PPI fell 1.1% month-over-month (previous -0.7%) while the year-over-year reading declined 2.9% (last -1.8%) 
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  • UK's FTSE is lower by 0.3% with miners on the defensive. Anglo American, Fresnillo, and Randgold Resources are down between 1.3% and 1.9%. Weir Group outperforms, trading higher by 5.1% amid takeover speculation. 
  • France's CAC is higher by 0.2% amid strength in consumer names. Carrefour and Accor hold respective gains of 2.7% and 1.1%. Airbus Group is the weakest performer, down 0.7%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 0.4% with producers of basic materials in the lead. HeidelbergCement and ThyssenKrupp are both up near 2.0%. Utilities lag with E.On and RWE both down near 0.8%. 
  • Italy's MIB trades up 0.6% with BMPS, Banca di Milano Scarl, and Banco Popolare up between 1.6% and 4.7%.

8:49 am Envision Healthcare Holdings announces pricing of previously announced ~50.86 mln share public offering by existing shareholders at $36.25/share (EVHC) :  

8:39 am European Markets Update: FTSE -0.2%, CAC +0.3%, DAX +0.5%, MIB +0.7% (:SUMRX) : Major European indices trade mostly higher with Italy's MIB (+0.7%) in the lead. According to reports, Greece has paid the first installment of EUR310 million to the IMF. The country's next payment in the amount of EUR350 million is scheduled for next Friday.

  • In economic data: 
    • Eurozone Q4 GDP was left unrevised at 0.3% quarter-over-quarter and 0.9% year-over-year 
    • Germany's Industrial Production rose 0.6% month-over-month (consensus 0.5%; last 1.0%) 
    • UK's Inflation Expectations slowed to 1.9% from 2.5% 
    • France's Trade Deficit widened to EUR3.70 billion from EUR3.40 billion (expected deficit of EUR3.00 billion) 
    • Swiss CPI fell 0.3% month-over-month (expected -0.1%; last -0.4%) while the year-over-year reading declined 0.8% (consensus -0.6%; prior -0.5%) 
    • Spain's Industrial Production rose 0.4% year-over-year (last -0.9%) 
    • Italy's PPI fell 1.1% month-over-month (previous -0.7%) while the year-over-year reading declined 2.9% (last -1.8%) 
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  • UK's FTSE is lower by 0.2% with miners on the defensive. Anglo American, Fresnillo, and Randgold Resources are down between 1.3% and 1.9%. Weir Group outperforms, trading higher by 5.1% amid takeover speculation. 
  • France's CAC is higher by 0.3% amid strength in consumer names. Carrefour and Accor hold respective gains of 2.7% and 1.1%. Airbus Group is the weakest performer, down 0.7%. 
  • Germany's DAX has added 0.5% with producers of basic materials in the lead. HeidelbergCement and ThyssenKrupp are both up near 2.0%. Utilities lag with E.On and RWE both down near 0.8%. 
  • Italy's MIB trades up 0.7% with BMPS, Banca di Milano Scarl, and Banco Popolare up between 1.6% and 4.7%.

8:34 am Pingtan Marine Enterprise acknowledges recent measures taken by the Indonesia Government to combat illegal fishing activities on the Arafura Sea of Indonesia (PME) : In December 2014, the Indonesia government made an announcement that the Indonesian armed forces will fight illegal fishing in the country's water territory to protect its fish and other resources at sea from illegal activities. In recent weeks, the Indonesian Navy has seized and sunk dozens of foreign fishing boats from neighboring countries like Malaysia and Vietnam, many of which were in search of high-value species like tuna. The Indonesia government has stated that it will aggressively pursue vessels that do not have the requisite licenses to operate in local waters, and will soon enact regulations to against all illegal activities in Indonesian waters. 

  • The Company expects these recent measures from the Indonesian Government to result in a positive impact on the Company's pricing.

8:34 am Following jobs numbers, the dollar index spiked to a new high for the day, which sent gold, silver and WTI crude oil prices to new lows for the day (:COMDX) :

  • Dollar index is now +1% at 97.30
  • Apr crude oil is -0.7% at $50.41/barrel
  • Apr gold -1% at $1184.50/oz
  • May silver -1.6% at $15.91/oz

8:33 am Market View: Mar. eMini stock-index futures little changed here following the 8:30 am ET Feb. Employment Report (:TECHX) :

  • ESh5 now @ 2100.00 +0.25

  • NQh5 now @ 4454.25 +5.75

  • YMh5 now @ 18127 +7

8:33 am Eli Lilly: The German Court of Appeal has ruled that Eli Lilly's vitamin regimen patent for Alimta would not be infringed by a generic competitor that intends to market a dipotassium salt form of pemetrexed in Germany once the compound patent expires in December 2015 (LLY) : The German Court ruled in favor of the generic competitor in the case of LLY v. Actavis (ACT). This decision vacated the prior decision of the Regional Court of Dusseldorf in April 2014. The compound patent for Alimta in Germany remains in force and is expected to provide exclusivity through December 2015.

8:33 am MagnaChip Semi has adopted a stockholder rights plan following evaluation and consultation with outside counsel (MX) : The Board of Directors implemented the plan to ensure that all stockholders realize the long-term value of their investment. The rights plan is designed to reduce the likelihood that any person or group would gain control of the Company through open market accumulation without appropriately compensating the Company's stockholders for such control or allowing the Board and the stockholders sufficient time to make informed judgments. The rights plan will not prevent a takeover, but will incentivize anyone seeking to acquire the Company to negotiate with the Board of Directors before making a takeover attempt.

8:33 am S&P futures vs fair value: -2.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -1.50. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade two points below fair value.

February nonfarm payrolls came in at 295,000 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 240,000. Nonfarm private payrolls added 288,000 against the 230,000 expected by the consensus. The unemployment rate fell to 5.5% from 5.7% while the consensus expected the rate to tick down to 5.6%.

Hourly earnings rose 0.1% while the consensus expected growth of 0.2%. The average workweek was reported at 34.6, which is what the consensus expected.

Separately, the January trade deficit narrowed to $41.80 billion from $46.60 billion, while the Briefing.com consensus expected the deficit to come in at $42.00 billion.

8:32 am Xenia Hotels announces tender offer preliminary results; ~1.79 mln shares were tendered at or below the final purchase price of $21.00/share (XHR) :  

8:32 am Aeterna Zentaris announces pricing of its previously announced public offering of ~59.68 mln units at $0.62/unit (AEZS) :  

8:32 am Alcoa announces strategic review of smelting and refining capacity; 500k metric tons of smelting capacity and 2.8 mln metric tons of alumina capacity under review (AA) : The Company said over the next twelve months it will review 500,000 metric tons of smelting capacity and 2.8 million metric tons of refining capacity for possible curtailment or divestiture. The review will include facilities across the Alcoa system.

  • The potential actions could affect 14% of Alcoa's global smelting capacity and 16 percent of its global refining capacity. Currently, the Company has 19%, or 665,000 metric tons, of smelting capacity and 7 percent, or 1.2 million metric tons, of its global refining capacity idle. 
  • When reviewing capacity, Alcoa will consider a wide variety of alternative actions, ranging from partial to full plant curtailments, permanent shutdowns or divestitures. Decisions on curtailments, closures or divestitures will be announced as reviews are completed. 

8:26 am Gapping down (:SCANX) : Gapping down
In reaction to disappointing earnings/guidance
: CKP -18.1%, DEJ -15.1%, APT -11.2%, WX -10.2%, VMEM -9.3%, CRDS -8.9%, BORN -8.4%, EBS -8.3%, ERII -6.4%, LADR -4.5%, SXE -1.8%, ENT -1.5%, GPS -1.3%, FDUS -0.5%

Select EU financial related names showing weakness: BBVA -1.3%, NBG -1.3%, SAN -1.1%, HSBC -0.7%

Select metals/mining stocks trading lower: RIO -1.5%, GOLD -0.9%, IAG -0.9%, VALE -0.9%, SLV -0.8%, AUY -0.7%

Other news: SSH -34.6% (announces update on COUNTER HF pivotal study of the C-Pulse system; co will be taking a temporary pause from enrollment), AEZS -22.9% (commenced an underwritten public offering of common shares and warrants; size not disclosed), CNAT -14.9% (disclosed that on March 2, 2015, Gary C. Burgess tendered his resignation as SVP, Clinical Research and Chief Medical Officer effective April 2, 2015), GENE -14.7% (co said it expects to make a significant announcement regarding capital raising activity), OREX -14.4% (Forbes reporting that an FDA official said co's data is unreliable), BLRX -10.7% (disclosed that it anticipates its secondary offering to be ~$30 mln with pricing expected tomorrow morning), NGL -5.3% (announced public offering of 6.25 mln common units), EVHC -2.9% (announced sale of ~50.86 mln common stock shares by selling stockholders), CLF -2% (announces increase in size of exchange offers for senior notes from $750 million to $1.25 billion for its 7.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2020), GERN -1.3% (still checking), AZN -1.2% (refines its financial reporting in line with evolving business model; Core EPS guidance unchanged), AMRN -0.8% (announces $52.8 million private placement)

Analyst comments: LULU -3.6% (downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman), DAR -3.6% (downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman), MHR -2.6% (downgraded to Accumulate from Buy at KLR Group), STT -2.5% (downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JP Morgan and downgraded to Mkt Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette), HST -1.9% (downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman), ASML -0.8% (downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at Pacific Crest)

8:22 am Gapping up (:SCANX) : Gapping up
In reaction to strong earnings/guidance
: ICEL +36.7%, RTRX +13.5%, DMD +7.4%, YY +6.9%, FNSR +5.8%, PRTA +5.7%, GALE +5%, FL +4.8%, THO +3.5%, COO +2.9%, TFM +2.8%, MSO +2.7%, BANC +1.2%, BIG +0.9%, SPLS +0.6%

M&A news: LTM +16.2% (in discussions with private equity regarding possible bid, according to WSJ)

Other news: CALA +37.3% (announced an exclusive global license agreement with TransTech Pharma granting Calithera exclusive world-wide rights to research, develop and commercialize TransTech's portfolio of hexokinase II inhibitors),AVEO +26.8% (announces presentation of Phase 2 study analysis: shows longer PFS with Tivozanib compared to Bevacizumab in low serum NRP-1 patients; also reported earnings),ASTI +9% (announces partnership with electronics retailer Micro Center; Ascent's products now available in 25 Micro Center stores across the US),TFM +4.7% (disclosed that on March 4, 2015 it entered into a Second Renewal Agreement with Burris Logistics to renew the parties' existing Supply and Service Agreement; co also reported earnings),MSTR +3% (announced that Douglas K. Thede, Senior Executive Vice President & CFO, has informed of his intention to retire on December 31, 2015),FXCM +2.4% (still checking),BAC +2.3% (following Fed Stress Test results),ALU +1.8% (still checking),BMRN +1.6% (favorable commentary on Thursday's Mad Money)

Analyst comments: MRVL +1.8% (upgraded to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna),AXAS +1.3% (upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity),DOW +1% (upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan),CALD +0.7% (resumed with a Outperform at Credit Suisse)

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

  • FTI Consulting (FCN) announced the appointment of Mark Hunt as Senior Managing Director in the firm's Forensic & Litigation Consulting segment. Hunt joins FTI Consulting from BDO, where he led their Financial Services practice
  • Glowpoint (GLOW) announced the launch of Collaborators, an online community explicitly created for video collaboration professionals and users. Collaborators creates the forum and social fabric to connect enterprises around the world with one another, as well as with Glowpoint industry experts
  • Cambium Learning Group (ABCD) subsidiary ExploreLearning announced that work is under way to make Gizmos math and science simulations Chromebook-compatible, with 20% of the collection already accessible.
  • Abaxis (ABAX) announced that the Center for Veterinary Biologicals of the U.S. Department of Agriculture  has cleared its VetScan Anaplasma Rapid Test Kit for the detection of A. phagocytophelium and A. platys in canine whole blood, serum, or plasma samples.

8:13 am SurModics announces Susan E. Knight as new board chair, effective immediately (SRDX) :

  • She replaces Scott R. Ward, who has resigned, as has board member Timothy S. Nelson. As reconstituted, the board now consists of six members, five of whom are independent. There are also three vacancies on the board. The board may seek to fill one or more of these vacancies based on its determination regarding the appropriate size of the board. 
  • Ward and Nelson resigned over a disagreement regarding how to optimize the working relationship between the Board and the Company's Chief Executive Officer
  • Knight is the former senior vice president and chief financial officer of Minneapolis-based MTS Systems Corporation

8:03 am Axcelis Tech reaches agreement with Vertex Capital; Vertex's independent nominees Richard J. Faubert AND John T. Kurtzweil to join Axcelis' slate of director candidates for election at 2015 annual meeting of stockholders (ACLS) : In connection with today's announcement, Vertex has withdrawn its prior director nominations and agreed to certain customary standstill and voting provisions, including voting in favor of all nominees recommended by Axcelis' Board at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.

8:02 am C&J Energy provides financing update for transaction with Nabors (NBR); CJES has elected to finance the Proposed Transaction with term loans and borrowings under its new revolving credit facility (CJES) : The Proposed Transaction remains fully financed under the revised debt structure and is expected to close by the end of March 2015, subject to approval by C&J stockholders and other customary closing conditions.

  • Under the revised arrangement, C&J has elected to finance the Proposed Transaction with term loans and borrowings under its new revolving credit facility, which allows the Company to maintain future liquidity at the same interest rates that were expected to apply to the revolving credit facility when the transaction was announced in 2014.  Specifically, the revised debt structure is expected to include the same $600 million revolver (with an estimated $92 million drawn at the closing of the Proposed Transaction) that was previously announced, along with an increased term loan B comprised of a $510 million term loan B-1 expected to mature 5 years after closing and a $550 million term loan B-2 expected to mature 7 years after closing, thereby eliminating the need for a high yield offering.

8:01 am iKang Healthcare Group announces 70% share acquisition of high-end, Chinese medical service provider WA Health Care; financial details not disclosed (KANG) :  

8:01 am Muscle Pharm announces the promotion of John Price to CFO (MSLP) :

  • Price joined MusclePharm in July 2014, serving as the Company's Executive Vice President of Finance, and as the Chairman of the Company's Disclosure Committee and its Risk Management Officer 
  • Price succeeds Donald Prosser, who will continue to be employed by MusclePharm as a non-executive officer through the remainder of his employment agreement, which terminates on April 15, 2015

8:00 am Acceleron Pharma announces executive appointments and promotions; Steven Ertel named Executive Vice President and COO (XLRN) : Co announces Steven Ertel has been named EVP and COO; he previously held the title of Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer. In addition, Matthew L. Sherman, M.D., has been promoted to EVP and Chief Medical Officer. 

8:00 am Caixabank: Banco BPI discloses that Caixabank has entered a public tender offer for an undisclosed amount of its common stock shares (CAIXY) :  

7:55 am S&P futures vs fair value: -0.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +1.70. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures trade little changed amid mixed action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover within a point of fair value, but the market is expected to be active around 8:30 ET when the Nonfarm Payrolls report for February crosses the wires (Briefing.com consensus 240K).

Similarly, Treasuries are little changed with the 10-yr yield pegged at 2.12%. Investors will receive the January Trade Balance (consensus -$42.00 billion) alongside the jobs report while January Consumer Credit will be reported at 15:00 ET (expected $14.00 billion).

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • Big Lots (BIG 48.00, +0.18): +0.4% after reporting a one-cent beat and announcing a $200 million share repurchase and a 12% increase to the quarterly dividend. Also of note, the company issued below-consensus earnings and revenue guidance. 
  • Checkpoint Systems (CKP 10.90, -2.53): -18.8% after its cautious guidance overshadowed better than expected results. 
  • Foot Locker (FL 59.76, +2.73): +4.8% after beating earnings and revenue expectations. 
  • Staples (SPLS 16.63, +0.13): +0.8% following its one-cent beat. 
  • YY (YY 59.10, +3.93): +7.1% after beating earnings and revenue estimates. 
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei +1.2%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.1%, and China's Shanghai Composite -0.2% 
    • Economic data was limited: 
      • Japan's Leading Index slipped to 105.1 from 105.6 (expected 105.9) 
      • Australia's AIG Construction Index fell to 43.9 from 45.9 
    • In news: 
      • China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei noted that the country's fiscal deficit is expected to be at 2.7% of GDP in 2015 and cautioned that the country is facing weak tax revenue growth.
  • Major European indices are mixed. Germany's DAX +0.2%, France's CAC +0.2%, and UK's FTSE -0.2%. Elsewhere, Spain's IBEX is flat and Italy's MIB +0.5% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Eurozone Q4 GDP was left unrevised at 0.3% quarter-over-quarter and 0.9% year-over-year 
      • Germany's Industrial Production rose 0.6% month-over-month (consensus 0.5%; last 1.0%) 
      • UK's Inflation Expectations slowed to 1.9% from 2.5% 
      • France's Trade Deficit widened to EUR3.70 billion from EUR3.40 billion (expected deficit of EUR3.00 billion) 
      • Swiss CPI fell 0.3% month-over-month (expected -0.1%; last -0.4%) while the year-over-year reading declined 0.8% (consensus -0.6%; prior -0.5%) 
      • Spain's Industrial Production rose 0.4% year-over-year (last -0.9%) 
      • Italy's PPI fell 1.1% month-over-month (previous -0.7%) while the year-over-year reading declined 2.9% (last -1.8%) 
    • Among news of note: 
      • According to reports, Greece has paid the first installment of EUR310 million to the IMF. The country's next payment in the amount of EUR350 million is scheduled for next Friday.

7:40 am Asian Markets Close: Japan's Nikkei +1.2%; Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.1%; China's Shanghai Composite -0.2% (:SUMRX) : Gains were widespread across markets in the Asia Pacific region. The Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng were the few notable exceptions as growth concerns on the mainland appeared to weigh on investor sentiment.

  • Economic Data
    • Japan
      • January Leading Index -0.2% month-over-month (prior +1.5%); coincident indicator +2.4% month-over-month (prior +1.5%)
    • Australia
      • February AIG Construction Index 43.9 (prior 45.9)
  • Equity Markets 
    • Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.2% in a broad-based advance led by the consumer non-cyclical (+2.7%), financial (+1.6%), and basic materials (+1.3%) sectors. The top-performing individual stocks were Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co (+12.5%), UNY Group Holdings (+10.7%), Ajinomoto Co. (+7.3%), Olympus Corp. (+5.8%), and Sumco Corp. (+5.7%). Yahoo Japan (-3.5%) was the biggest decliner. 
    • Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.1%, pressured by weakness in the communications (-0.9%) and utilities (-0.6%) sectors. The influential financial sector (-0.03%) was little changed. China Unicom (-3.0%) and Kunlun Energy Co (-1.7%) led the decliners while Lenovo Group (+2.3%) and AIA Group (+2.0%) paced the winners. 
    • China's Shanghai Composite declined 0.2%, finishing near its lows for the session. The Chinese market was pressured by losses in the technology, industrial, and consumer sectors. Leading decliners included Shanghai Potevio Co (-10.0%), Shaanxi Broadcast & TV Network Intermediary (-9.8%), China Railway Erju Co (-7.8%), Hisense Electric Co (-7.7%), and Universal Scientific Industrial Shanghai Co (-7.5%). 
    • Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1%, clipped by losses in the gold (-4.5%), metals & mining (-1.7%), and resources (-1.4%) sectors. Regis Resources (-26.7%), Beadell Resources (-8.2%), and Fortescue Metals Group (-6.1%) were the biggest laggards. 
    • Regional advancers: Taiwan +0.5%, South Korea +0.7%, Singapore +0.7%, Malaysia +0.1%, Thailand +1.0%, Indonesia +1.2%, Philippines +0.5% 
    • Regional decliners: Vietnam -0.5% 
    • Holiday closure: India 
  • FX 
    • USD/CNY -0.06% at 6.2638 
    • USD/INR +0.02% at 62.404 
    • USD/JPY -0.1% at 119.97

7:35 am NII Holdings (NIHDQ) announces restructuring agreement (NIHD) : The co announced that the NII Debtors have reached an agreement with the holders of greater than 70% in amount of the senior notes issued by each of NII Capital Corp. and NII International Telecom S.C.A. and the official committee of unsecured creditors regarding the terms of a revised plan of reorganization to be implemented in the NII Debtors' Chapter 11 cases.

  • The agreement is reflected in a Plan Support Agreement that replaces the Plan Support Agreement entered into on November 24, 2014, which was terminated following the Company's January 26, 2015 agreement to sell its operations in Mexico to a subsidiary of AT&T. 
  • The creditors that are parties to the Revised Plan Support Agreement have also agreed to provide $350 million in post-petition financing to fund the Company until it completes the sale of its operations in Mexico. 
  • The Plan Support Agreement requires the NII Debtors to file a revised plan of reorganization and disclosure statement that include the terms reflected in the Revised Plan Support Agreement and related term sheet and to solicit votes of creditors to approve the reorganization plan.  The holders of Senior Notes that are parties to the Plan Support Agreement have agreed to vote in favor of the revised plan of reorganization. 

7:31 am Veracyte announces new data that inform optimal use of molecular testing in preoperative thyroid nodule assessment (VCYT) : The co announced new data demonstrating that diagnostic tests that use increasing numbers of cancer-associated gene mutations to evaluate thyroid nodules can dramatically reduce the specificity of test results, leading to an increase in "false positives," in which benign nodules are erroneously diagnosed as cancerous. In addition, these new data show that some mutational panels actually miss half of the malignancies leading to "false negatives."

  • Results from a second study, in collaboration with and presented by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researchers at ENDO 2015 this week, demonstrate the potential for novel molecular classifiers developed by Veracyte scientists to improve preoperative prediction of cancer recurrence in malignant thyroid nodules.
  • In this study, researchers utilized FNA material from 79 thyroid nodule samples from patients who were post-surgically diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Each sample was categorized as either "low risk" or "intermediate/high risk" of recurrence using established, post-operative recurrence-risk stratification guidelines (2009 American Thyroid Association). Employing molecular classifiers built using 320 genes, researchers were able to stratify recurrence risk for each of the 79 FNA samples with relatively high levels of accuracy. The highest-performing classifier correctly identified 79 percent of ATA "low-risk" tumors and 82 percent of ATA "intermediate/high risk" tumors.

7:30 am Solar Power has signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (SOPW) : Under the agreement, ICBC has committed to providing credit facilities to support SPI's business expansion, including project financing, re-financing, M&A financing as well as other general funding needs. As part of the agreement, ICBC will link its online e-commerce platform to SPI's Solarbao.com platform and will include SPI's innovative Solarbao investment products as part of its online wealth management product offerings, providing a convenient way for existing ICBC e-commerce customers to purchase Solarbao.com investment products.

7:24 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Phoenix New Media Limited (FENG) announced that Ms. Shu Liu has been promoted to Senior Vice President of the Company. Prior to Ms. Liu's promotion, she served as the Company's Vice President and Chief Editor since December 2010.
  • Ritchie Bros. (RBA) announces it sold more than $47 million of equipment and trucks at its unreserved public auction in Fort Worth, Texas on March 4 - 5, 2015.
  • Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) announced that it has earned a $9 million milestone payment from Biogen Idec (BIIB) related to advancing the ongoing pivotal Phase 3 study evaluating ISIS-SMN in infants with spinal muscular atrophy. 
  • MYOS Corporation (MYOS) announced that its Chairman of the Board, Dr. Robert J. Hariri, will be interviewed live on iHeart Radio's Health Tech Talk Live hosted by Ben Chodor and broadcasted nationwide on iHeart Radio/ Clear Channel Atlanta Studios -- 640 WGST AM tomorrow, at 3:00pm ET.

7:23 am Scor informs investors of purchase agreement by Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings (SCRYY) :

  • The co announced it had been informed of the signing of a purchase agreement by Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings, concerning the entire holding of Patinex AG in SCOR; i.e. 7.8% of SCOR's capital and 8.1% of its voting rights. 
  • SOMPO has declared that it wishes to increase this holding to 15%, subject to the receipt of the required regulatory approvals. 
  • SCOR was not a party in this transaction.

7:04 am Foot Locker beats by $0.09, beats on revs (FL) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $1.00 per share, $0.09 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.91; revenues rose 6.7% year/year (+10.1% ex-FX) to $1.91 bln vs the $1.87 bln consensus. 

  • Q4 comparable-store sales increased 10.2% vs. estimates just below +6%.

7:03 am Post announces that the waiting period under the HSR Act with respect to its previously announced proposed acquisition of MOM Brands Company, expired on Thursday, March 5, 2015 (POST) : The transaction is now expected to be completed in May 2015

7:02 am Chimerix reports Q4 results (CMRX) :

  • Co reports EPS of ($0.52) vs ($0.46) Capital IQ Consensus Estimate; revs $1.2 mln vs $0.90 mln Capital IQ Consensus Estimate
  • "As we look forward in 2015, we are focused on completing enrollment of the SUPPRESS trial of brincidofovir for the prevention of CMV, preparing for its expected NDA filing, and continuing our pre-launch initiatives. We are enrolling patients in our Phase 3 AdVise trial, and we are enthusiastic about our preliminary data that suggest a survival benefit in patients with adenovirus infection who received brincidofovir. We remain confident that there are significant additional opportunities for brincidofovir, with nearly 20 years of expected U.S. patent exclusivity, to pursue additional indications in multiple patient populations. Additionally, we plan to continue to develop additional compounds through our discovery platform, capitalizing on our experienced group of scientists, unique chemical library, and proprietary lipid conjugate technology."

7:01 am Interdigital Comm announces the pricing of its private offering of $275 mln aggregate principal amount of 1.50% Senior Convertible Notes due 2020 (IDCC) :  

7:01 am JinkoSolar Holding has entered into a five-year RMB 3 bln strategic financing agreement with China Minsheng Banking Corp (JKS) : According to the terms of the agreement, CMBC has agreed to provide financing support of an aggregate amount up to RMB3 billion over a five-year period. CMBC's financing will help expand JinkoSolar's financing channels, and further strengthen the Company's leading position in the development of downstream solar projects and manufacturing capabilities.

7:00 am Brown & Brown has entered into an accelerated share repurchase program for up to $100 mln of its common stock (BRO) : The ASR is part of Brown & Brown's board-approved $200 million share repurchase program announced on July 21, 2014.

7:00 am Dynamic Materials comments on the delay in issuing its 2014 fourth quarter and year-end financial results (BOOM) : After review and discussion with management and the Company's independent registered public accounting firm, Ernst & Young, determined the Company incorrectly accounted for income tax expense and related deferred tax assets and liabilities at its business entities in Germany.

  • It was determined a restatement of the related consolidated financial statements and a reevaluation of internal controls was necessary. 
  • While these corrections do not change the Company's sales, do not affect its cash balances, and have no impact on DMC's future operations, the Company estimates the corrected accounting would decrease net income by $1.25 million to $1.75 million for fiscal 2013, and by $400,000 to $700,000 for fiscal 2012.
  • The Company plans to restate its consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, the four quarters of 2013, and the first, second and third quarters of 2014, primarily to reflect the correction as well as to correct other items. 
  • The Company's chief executive officer and chief financial officer, in consultation with the audit committee, concluded that a material weakness in the Company's internal control over financial reporting existed as of December 31, 2014, and as of the end of each of the periods reported in the relevant financial statements.

6:54 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMI) has appointed Dr. Zixue Zhou as the new chairman and executive director of SMIC. Dr. Zhou's position as chairman will become effective as of today. The former Chairman Mr. Wenyi Zhang has decided not to serve as a Board member due to his age, and Mr. Zhang has been appointed as Honorary Chairman and advisor.
  • RMG Networks Holding (RMGN) announced Steve Chang as its new Senior Vice President of Strategy and Solutions. Chang previously held senior management roles with leading financial service and management consulting companies including Prophet, McKinsey & Company, CSC Index and Accenture. 
  • Novogen (NVGN) announces that Professor Gil Mor MD PhD from Yale Medical School will be presenting pre-clinical data on the lead candidate product, Cantrixil, at two upcoming conferences. The first is an oral presentation at the 62nd Society of Reproductive Investigation conference, March 25-28, Hilton San Francisco, CA. The second is a late-breaking poster at the annual American Association for Cancer Research conference, April 18-22, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA. 

6:53 am Thomas Cook and Fosun International announce strategic partnership (TCKGY) : The companies have established a strategic partnership to support development of concept hotels, collaborate with Fosun's other tourism investments and partner to capture value from the fast growing Chinese tourism market

  • Capital increase:
    • 73.1m new shares equivalent to 5.0% of Thomas Cook's existing share capital will be issued, representing 4.8% of Thomas Cook's expanded share capital 
    • The new shares will be issued and subscribed by Fosun via a private placement 
  • Subscription price: 
    • Newly issued shares will be subscribed for by Fosun at a price of 125.59p 
    • Equivalent to 30 day volume weighted average price as of 5th March 2015 
    • Generates gross proceeds of 91.8m for Thomas Cook 
  • Fosun holding: 
    • Immediately after the placing, Fosun will hold 4.8% of TC's issued share capital 
    • Fosun intends to purchase further shares in the open market, in order to increase its stake in Thomas Cook to c. 10% over time

6:46 am Horizon Pharma prices offering of $350 million in exchangeable senior notes at 2.50% (HZNP) : Horizon currently expects to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes and to fund future acquisitions or investments in businesses, products and product candidates, although Horizon has no present commitments or agreements to do so.

6:36 am Endurance International announces the sale of 10 mln shares of common stock by existing stockholders (EIGI) : Endurance will not receive any of the proceeds from the offering of shares by the selling stockholders.

6:34 am Glori Energy announces the commencement of a full field application of its AERO System in Petrobras' Baxia do Algodao field; project marks Glori's first expansion into the Latin American market (GLRI) :  

6:31 am Dominion Diamond announced updated reserves and resources statement (DDC) :

  • The Company has a 40% interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine. 
  • The updated reserves and resources statement adds an additional 3.9 million tonnes containing approximately 13.0 million carats to the mineral reserves. 
    • As of December 31, 2014, the Diavik Diamond Mine had 18.1 million tonnes of proven and probable mineral reserves containing 53.3 million carats of diamonds, compared to 16.4 million tonnes of proven and probable mineral reserves containing 46.8 million carats as of December 31, 2013.
    • The Diavik processing plant has a potential capacity to process over 2 million tonnes a year. To supplement mined ore in calendar 2015, Diavik plans to
      continue processing old coarse ore rejects material

6:29 am AstraZeneca refines its financial reporting in line with evolving business model; Core EPS guidance unchanged (AZN) : Co announced an update to the presentation of its Statement of Comprehensive Income, which will see revenue from externalisation becoming more visible to enhance transparency for investors. The change is effective from January 2015 and will be reported as part of the Company's first quarter financial results on 24 April 2015. The impact is presentational and therefore does not impact Reported or Core profit.

  • Income will be recorded as externalisation revenue when the Company has an ongoing interest in the product and/or it is repeatable business and there is no derecognition of an intangible asset. Disposals of assets and businesses, where AstraZeneca does not retain an interest, will continue to be recorded in other operating income.
2015 Financial Guidance
  • To reflect the change outlined above, the Company provides 2015 total revenue guidance. Total revenue is expected to decline by mid single-digit percent at constant exchange rates. This is consistent with previous guidance stating that sales revenue was expected to decline by mid single-digit percent at CER. 
  • Core EPS guidance is unchanged and Core EPS is expected to increase by low single-digit percent at CER.

6:25 am S&P futures vs fair value: -0.80. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -0.10. :

6:24 am European Markets : FTSE...6950.83...-10.70...-0.20%.  DAX...11508.76...+4.80...+0.00%.

6:24 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...18971...+219.20...+1.20%.  Hang Seng...24164...-29.00...-0.10%.

6:20 am BP announces the signing of the West Nile Delta project to develop 5 tcf of gas resources and 55 mmbbls of condensates (BP) : The co announced that it has signed the final agreements of the West Nile Delta project to develop 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas resources and 55 million barrels (mmbbls) of condensates with an estimated investment of around $12 billion by BP and its partner.

  • Production from WND is expected to reach up to 1.2 billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d), equivalent to about 25 per cent of Egypt's current gas production and significantly contribute to increasing the supply of energy in Egypt. All the produced gas will be fed into the country's national gas grid, helping to meet the anticipated growth in local demand for energy. 
  • Production is expected to start in 2017.

6:17 am Staples beats by $0.01, misses on revs; guides Q1 EPS in-line (SPLS) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $0.31 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.30; revenues fell 3.7% year/year to $5.66 bln vs the $5.77 bln consensus. Q4 N America comps -4% 

  • Co issues in-line guidance for Q1, sees EPS of $0.16-0.18 vs. $0.17 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. 
  • Grew North American copy and print sales in the high single digits in comparable stores, and double digits in both Staples.com and Contract. 
  • This guidance excludes any potential impact on earnings per share related to restructuring and other related activities or costs related to the company's planned acquisition of Office Depot. The company expects to record pre-tax charges in the range of $15 million to $40 million associated with restructuring and other related activities during the first quarter of 2015. For the full year 2015, the company expects to generate more than $600 million of free cash flow.

6:12 am New Home beats by $0.09, beats on revs (NWHM) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.32 per share, $0.09 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.23; revenues rose 194.4% year/year to $73 mln vs the $55.78 mln consensus.

  • Backlog dollar value grew more than six times to $86.7 million 
  • Equity in net income from unconsolidated Joint Ventures (JVs) more than doubles to $7.4 million 
  • Backlog dollar value of homebuilding JV communities grew 168% to $115.0 million 
  • Land sales at JVs begin. Revenue of $46.9 million with gross margin percentage of 25.4% 
  • Backlog dollar value of JV lot sales was $89.1 million resulting from fourth quarter activity 

6:11 am Ascent Solar announces partnership with electronics retailer Micro Center; Ascent's products now available in 25 Micro Center stores across the US (ASTI) :  

6:09 am Vantage Drilling beats by $0.01, misses on revs (VTG) : Reports Q4 (Dec) earnings of $0.04 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $0.03; revenues fell 9.5% year/year to $215.9 mln vs the $219.25 mln consensus.

6:07 am Big Lots beats by $0.01, reports revs in-line; guides Q1 EPS below consensus; guides FY16 EPS below consensus; approved $200 mln share repurchase; increases quarterly div 12% (BIG) : Reports Q4 (Jan) earnings of $1.76 per share, $0.01 better than the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of $1.75; revenues rose 1.4% year/year to $1.59 bln vs the $1.59 bln consensus. Co reported Q4 comps of +2.9%.  

  • Co issues downside guidance for Q1, sees EPS of $0.55-0.60 vs. $0.65 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. This guidance assumes a comparable store sales increase in the 1% to 2% range.
  • Co issues downside guidance for FY16, sees EPS of $2.75-2.90 vs. $2.96 Capital IQ Consensus Estimate. FY16 Guidance: Forecasting comparable store sales to increase in the low single digit range Forecasting cash flow of approximately $175 million Forecasting cash returned to shareholders of approximately $240 million, including share repurchases and four quarterly dividend payments.
  • On March 4, 2015, our Board of Directors approved a share repurchase program providing for the repurchase of up to $200 million of our common shares. Co increased quarterly dividend 12% to $0.19/share from $0.17/share

6:01 am Baker Hughes announces that the international rig count for February 2015 was 1,275, up 17 from the 1,258 counted in January 2015, and down 66 from the 1,341 counted in February 2014 (BHI) : The average U.S. rig count for February 2015 was 1,348, down 335 from the 1,683 counted in January 2015, and down 421 from the 1,769 counted in February 2014. The average Canadian rig count for February 2015 was 363, down 5 from the 368 counted in January 2015, and down 263 from the 626 counted in February 2014.

  • The worldwide rig count for February 2015 was 2,986, down 323 from the 3,309 counted in January 2015, and down 750 from the 3,736 counted in February 2014.

6:00 am AVEO Pharma announces presentation of Phase 2 study analysis: shows longer PFS with Tivozanib compared to Bevacizumab in low serum NRP-1 patients (AVEO) :

  • The key objective of the BATON-CRC study is the assessment of prospectively defined biomarkers that may be predictive of response in selected patient subpopulations. 
    • Among these, patients with low neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) showed an improved progression free survival versus patients with high NRP-1 in both treatment arms, supporting the value of NRP-1 as a potential prognostic marker for angiogenesis inhibitors. 
    • Further, patients with serum NRP-1 levels below the median demonstrated longer PFS when treated with tivozanib, compared to bevacizumab, suggesting NRP-1 may have potential as a predictive biomarker of tivozanib activity relative to bevacizumab. 
    • Patients with high serum NRP-1 had PFS of 7.3 months and 7.5 months for the tivozanib and bevacizumab arms, respectively. 
    • With only 21 deaths in the NRP-1 low group upon study termination, no conclusion could be reached in an analysis of overall survival.

5:54 am Solar3D comments on recent activities including completion of uplifting to Nasdaq (SLTD) : In order to uplist to the NASDAQ, Solar3D conducted a reverse stock split to meet the share price requirement. To meet the NASDAQ's shareholders' equity requirement, the Company completed a public offering of $12.5 million by selling 3 mln units at 4.15 per share

  • The co expects to report 2014 revenues in the range of $19.5 - $20.5 million with positive EBITDA, and is on a path to more than double its revenues in 2015.

5:45 am Big Lots increases quarterly dividend 12% to $0.19/share from $0.17/share (BIG) :  

5:43 am Sunshine Heart announces update on COUNTER HF pivotal study of the C-Pulse system; co will be taking a temporary pause from enrollment (SSH) : The Company notes it continues to experience increased interest from the medical and patient community regarding participation in the COUNTER HF study. In fact, over the past twelve months, the number of patients considering enrollment in this study has dramatically increased from 7 in Q1 2014 to approaching 100 for the first quarter in 2015.

  • While Sunshine Heart is pleased with the study's progress in terms of the recent enrollment pace and site interest, it will be taking a temporary pause from enrollment. This is in accordance with the study protocol where in the event more than three of the first twenty subjects pass away for any reason, including non-device related deaths, the Company will work with the FDA to discuss a plan to resume enrollment. To date, of the four reported patient deaths, two have been adjudicated by an independent Clinical Events Committee as being non-device related. The Company has received study documentation from the sites that reported the most recent two deaths that these were also non-device related. Patients already in the trial will continue follow-up according to the protocol.
  • The FDA has responded to Sunshine Heart's notification and has advised the Company to file an IDE supplement that discusses the reasons for the temporary study suspension and a plan for study resumption. A supplement carries up to a 30-day review period by the FDA and the Company expects to submit the document by March 16, 2015.

5:15 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • China Information Technology (CNIT) announced that an affiliate entity of the Company, Wuda Geoinformatics Co, jointly launched China's first standardized real estate registration platform with the Ministry of Land and Resources at Xuzhou City of Jiangsu Province. 
  • Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) announced an 138 million ($216 million) acquisition loan for Brookfield Property Partners (BPY) to support the purchase of Moor Place, a 226,000 square-foot office building in the City of London. 
  • ZTE Corporation (ZTCOF) has signed a deal to build Algeria Telecom's LTE Phase II project. This is the second time ZTE has worked with Algeria Telecom following its LTE Phase I project, with the first purchase order for Phase II covering 14 wilayas in the north east region. 

5:01 am Amarin announces $52.8 million private placement (AMRN) : Co announced that it has entered into a definitive securities subscription agreement with a group of institutional investors, including both existing and new investors, for the private placement of up to a maximum of $52,822,618.50 of restricted American Depositary Shares, each representing one share of Amarin's Series A Convertible Preference Shares, par value 0.05 per share, in the capital of the Company.

For each restricted American Depositary Share, the investors have agreed to pay a negotiated price of $0.15, resulting in $52,822,618.50 in aggregate gross proceeds to Amarin, before deducting estimated offering expenses of approximately $0.6 million.

2:12 am Intra-Cellular Therapies prices 4,750,000 shares of common stock at $24.00 per share (ITCI) :  

2:10 am Consolidated-Tomoka Land prices $75 mln of 4.5% Convertible Notes due 2020 (CTO) :  

2:09 am PNC releases results of annual Dodd-Frank Company-Run Stress Test (PNC) : Under the hypothetical severely adverse scenario provided by the agencies, PNC estimates that as of Dec. 31, 2016, its capital ratios would be as follows: 

Basel I:
Tier 1 Common 10.7%
 
Transitional Basel III:

  • Common Equity Tier 1  9.2%              
  • Tier 1 Risk-Based Capital 10.6% 
  • Total Risk-Based Capital 13.4% 
  • Tier 1 Leverage  9.2%

2:03 am Forest City Enterprises announces exchanges of $40.5 million of Convertible Senior Notes due 2016 for Common Stock (FCE.A) : Co announced that it has entered into separate, privately negotiated exchange agreements under which it expects to exchange approximately $40.5 million aggregate principal amount of its 5.00% Convertible Senior Notes due 2016 for a total of 2,805,513 shares of the company's Class A common stock, plus a total cash payment of approximately $6.2 million, including accrued but unpaid interest, consideration in respect of additional interest that would otherwise be payable on the exchanged notes through maturity, and in lieu of fractional shares.

2:02 am Retail Properties of America prices $250 million of its 4.00% senior unsecured notes due 2025 (RPAI) :  

2:01 am Peabody Energy prices $1.0 bln of Senior Secured Second Lien Notes (BTU) :  

1:00 am Cliffs Natural Resources announces increase in size of exchange offers for senior notes from $750 million to $1.25 billion for its 7.75% Senior Secured Notes due 2020 (CLF) :  

12:56 am Quest Diagnostics announces amendments to the prices offered in its previously announced cash tender offer for up to $250 million combined aggregate principal amount of certain of its outstanding notes (DGX) : Co announced that it is amending the terms of its cash tender offers to purchase up to $250 million combined aggregate principal amount (the "Maximum Tender Amount") of its 6.950% Senior Notes due 2037 and 5.750% Senior Notes due 2040 

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