InPlay from Briefing.com

Briefing.com

4:14 pm Closing Market Summary: S&P 500 Crawls to Fresh Record High (:WRAPX) : The stock market added to its holiday gain with a Friday advance that was paced by the Nasdaq Composite (+0.7%). For its part, the S&P 500 (+0.3%) climbed to a new record high at 2,088.77 with seven sectors ending in the green.

Although the major averages posted decent-sized gains, the advance occurred on below-average volume. In fact, today's NYSE floor volume of 436 million shares represented the second-lowest total of the year. This was well below the 50-day average of 808 million and only ahead of Wednesday's 340 million that was registered in a shortened session. Anemic volume wasn't unique to the U.S. session as equity indices across Europe were closed altogether while markets across Asia enjoyed a low-volume rally.

Seven sectors finished the day in the green with countercyclical utilities (+1.2%) and telecom services (+1.1%) in the lead. However, the two represent just a small fraction of the market and their performance was not as impactful as the strength in the third largest group by weight-health care (+0.7%).

The health care sector was powered by biotechnology as the industry group continued its rebound from a slip earlier in the week. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 306.61, +6.81) gained 2.3% and narrowed its weekly decline to 3.3% after being down as much as 7.9% at its lowest point on Tuesday.

Biotechnology was largely responsible for the outperformance of the Nasdaq, but the index also drew strength from large cap technology names like Apple (AAPL 113.99, +1.98), Google (GOOGL 541.52, +4.59), and Qualcomm (QCOM 75.62, +0.96). Chipmakers, meanwhile, struggled to keep pace with the PHLX Semiconductor Index adding 0.1%. As for the technology sector (+0.4%), the top-weighted cyclical group settled ahead of the broader market.

Elsewhere among cyclical sectors, consumer discretionary (+0.5%) was the only other area of outperformance thanks to broad strength. Groupon (GRPN 8.14, +0.25) caught some attention, spiking 3.2% after Korea Times reported that Goldman Sachs may purchase Groupon-owned Ticket Monster.

Other cyclical sectors finished behind the broader market with energy (unch) ending at the bottom of the leaderboard. The growth-sensitive sector began the day among the leaders, but was pressured from its early high by intraday weakness in crude oil. Crude futures were up as much as 1.0% overnight following reports of an attack on an oil storage tank at Libya's largest port. The strength was short-lived as oil reversed, and tumbled throughout the day to end lower by 2.0% at $54.65/bbl. The resulting weakness in the sector pressured major components like Chevron (CVX 113.25, -0.22) and ExxonMobil (XOM 93.21, -0.57), which in turn, weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%).

In other commodities, copper futures fell 1.5% to $2.812/lb into the neighborhood of early December lows while gold climbed 1.8% to $1.194.30/ozt.

Treasuries posted modest gains with the 10-yr yield slipping one basis point to 2.25%.

Monday's session will be free of economic data.

  • Nasdaq Composite +15.1% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +13.0% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +8.9% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +4.4% YTD
Week in Review: New Records for Dow and S&P 500

The stock market kicked off the abbreviated week with a Monday advance that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to new all-time highs. The Dow finished ahead of the S&P 500 with 27 of its 30 components ending higher. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 was held back by the underperformance of health care names, and especially, biotechnology. Health care was weak due in large part to a large loss in Gilead Sciences (GILD), which followed reports that pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (ESRX) is going to displace Gilead's hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, in favor of a less expensive offering from AbbVie (ABBV), Viekira Pak, which recently won FDA approval and will become the exclusive option in the formulary for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.4%) and S&P 500 (+0.2%) rallied to new record highs on Tuesday with the Dow crossing above the 18,000 mark for the first time. However, widespread losses in the biotechnology group prevented the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) from taking part in the rally. Equity indices began the day in the green after a better than expected revision to Q3 GDP (5.0%; Briefing.com consensus 4.3%) provided a pre-market boost. The GDP report was a bright spot among a torrent of mostly disappointing data, which was taken in stride by the market. Nine of ten sectors registered gains with the energy space (+1.3%) ending in the lead. The growth-sensitive sector opened ahead of other groups and held the lead into the close. Crude oil, meanwhile, settled higher by 3.1% at $57.09/bbl and continued its advance in electronic trading with the move taking place even as the Dollar Index (90.13, +0.36) climbed 0.4%.

The stock market had the rug pulled out from under it as the Christmas Eve session headed for the close. The S&P 500 ended flat after surrendering a five-point gain while the Nasdaq Composite (+0.2%) outperformed. The key indices started with slim gains and inched higher into the afternoon amid light volume, before a wave of selling interest knocked the indices from their highs. Only 340 million shares changed hands at the NYSE floor, which was a far cry from the average full session total of about 826 million. Only three sectors finished in the green while energy (-0.8%) played the role of Grinch. The growth-sensitive group could not make it into positive territory as crude oil weighed. The energy component fell 3.6% to $55.08/bbl with a larger than expected inventory build contributing to the weakness.

Bond and equity markets were closed on Thursday for Christmas.

3:56 pm Market View: SPY, DIA, IWM, & QQQ all see some pullback from highs as we near today's closing bell; SPX currently trades @ 2089.47 +7.59 here approaching the close (:TECHX) :  

2:57 pm Heading into today's final hour with trading volumes running very light, SPX 500 sector leadership is seen in utilities- XLU, telecom- IYZ, pharma- XLV, & consumer discretionary- XLY (SPY) :

  • SPX now trades @ 2092.38 +10.50 & ESh5 now trades @ 2087.75 +9.00

2:49 pm Energy price action; oil sells off in afternoon trade (:COMDX) :

  • Jan crude oil fell $1.12/barrel to $54.74/barrel
  • Natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.01/MMBtu
  • RBOB Gasoline fell 1 cents to $1.52/gallon
  • Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.88/gallon

2:47 pm Agricultural price action (:COMDX) :

  • Mar corn closed $0.07 higher at $4.15/bushel
  • Mar wheat fell 2 cents to $6.09/bushel
  • Jan soybeans ended $0.19 higher at $10.28/bushel
  • Ethanol closed 3 cents higher at $1.67/gallon
  • Sugar #11 fell 0.13 cents to 14.70 cents/gallon

2:20 pm Dollar Holds Steady: 10Y: +01/32..2.247%..USD/JPY: 120.33..EUR/USD: 1.2178 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index drifts little changed near the 200 mma (89.95) as a quiet holiday trade remains in place. Click here to see a daily Dollar Index chart.
  • The Index has spent the majority of the U.S. session trapped in an extremely tight five cent range. 
  • EURUSD is -40 pips @ 1.2180 as trade flirts with its lowest close in 28 months. The 1.2170 level remains in focus. 
  • GBPUSD is flat @ 1.5555 as trade hovers little changed. Sterling has spent the entire session in a tight 30 pip range because of the light holiday participation. 
  • USDCHF is +45 pips @ .9875 as action contends with its best close since August 2012. Action remains tightly correlated to the euro. 
  • USDJPY is +30 pips @ 120.35 as the disappointing data released overnight has put a bid in the pair following two days of small losses. The early December highs near 122.00 remain on the radar. 
  • AUDUSD is flat @ .8115. A choppy session has kept the hard currency trapped near 54-month lows. 
  • USDCAD is unchanged @ 1.1625. The pair has seen just a 25 pip range during today's session.

2:09 pm Commodities: WTI crude continues lower here with CLg5 now @ $54.66 -1.18 setting a new session low @ $54.61 (:COMDX) :  

2:00 pm Metals price action (:COMDX) :

  • Feb gold ended today's session $20.70 higher at $1195.30/oz
  • Mar silver also ended $0.41 higher at $16.16/oz
  • Mar copper closed $0.04 lower to $2.81/lb

1:55 pm Market View: IWM +0.85%, SPY +0.45% tick to new session highs in recent midday trading with SPX now seen @ 2091.80 +9.98 (:TECHX) :  

1:13 pm Commodities: WTI crude slumps to a new session low in recent trading with CLg5 now seen @ $55.15 -0.69 (:COMDX) :  

1:01 pm Midday Market Summary: Nasdaq Leads Post Holiday Snoozefest (:WRAPX) : The major averages sport midday gains in an otherwise sleepy, post-holiday session. The Nasdaq Composite (+0.7%) and Russell 2000 (+0.6%) lead the way while the S&P 500 (+0.4%) follows not far behind. For its part, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.2%) has cut its opening gain in half.

Equity indices climbed out of the gate amid broad strength. The energy sector was among the early leaders, but the growth-sensitive group has narrowed its gain to just 0.2% amid weakness in crude oil. The energy component was up near 1.0% overnight, but began slipping shortly after the pit session began. At this juncture, oil trades just above its session low, down 0.9% at $55.34/bbl.

Elsewhere among commodities, copper futures have dropped 1.6% to $2.807/lb while gold has climbed 2.0% to $1,196.40/ozt. The moves have taken place amid a slight uptick in the Dollar Index, which is higher by 0.1% with the greenback holding gains against the euro and yen.

The slide from highs in the energy sector has had little effect on the broader market, which remains underpinned by heavily-weighted sectors like consumer discretionary (+0.5%) and health care (+0.7%). The technology sector is keeping pace with the S&P 500 while financials (+0.2%) lag.

Notably, the strength in the health care space has been driven by biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 304.91, +5.11) has spiked 1.7%, which helps explain the outperformance of the Nasdaq. The tech-heavy index has also received a helping hand from its top component-Apple (AAPL 113.34, +1.32)-which has added 1.2%.

All in all, there are no grand conclusions to be drawn from today's session as participation is almost certain to remain limited. To that point, only 168 million shares have changed hands at the NYSE floor so far today.

Treasuries hold modest gains with the 10-yr yield down one basis point at 2.25%.

12:29 pm Stocks/ETFs that traded to new 52 week highs/lows this session - New highs (276) outpacing new lows (48) (:SCANX) : Stocks that traded to 52 week highs: AAL, AAWW, AEE, AEP, AEPI, AFFX, AIG, AKR, ALE, AMED, AMSG, ANW, AOS, APD, APH, ARMK, ASH, ATO, AVA, AVY, AWK, AWR, BC, BERY, BFAM, BFK, BFS, BGCP, BLT, BMI, BMTC, BR, BRKL, CBRL, CCL, CCRN, CDK, CDNS, CDR, CDW, CERN, CFI, CHFN, CHRW, CLC, CMS, COTY, CPIX, CPK, CTB, CUK, CVS, D, DCT, DDC, DDR, DF, DGRS, DGRW, DMF, DMO, DNP, DRE, DTE, DUK, DY, ED, EDE, EE, EFX, EIX, ELS, EMC, EQY, ESGR, ESRT, ESRX, ETB, ETR, EXAM, EXC, FAF, FARO, FCB, FDEF, FE, FFNW, FR, FTNT, GABC, GGG, GIII, GLW, GPC, GPK, GPT, GXP, HA, HAWK, HAWKB, HE, HEI.A, HFBC, HIW, HNH, HNI, HPQ, HR, HTBK, HTD, HVB, HWKN, IBCA, IDA, IHT, IIM, IMDZ, INGR, IPG, IR, IRC, ITC, ITRI, JAH, JBL, JBSS, JBT, JKHY, JLL, JNS, JOB, JOUT, JRN, KMB, KWR, LAMR, LB, LBAI, LBY, LDL, LE, LEG, LFC, LII, LKFN, LNCE, LNT, MAC, MACK, MATW, MGEE, MKTX, MRGE, MTD, MUA, MUSA, NEE, NHI, NI, NNN, NSAM, NU, NUW, NWE, NWL, NWN, O, ODP, OTTR, PCCC, PCG, PEB, PEG, PKOH, PLL, PLMT, PNM, PNW, PNY, POR, PPG, PPL, PRGS, PRI, PSCT, PSCU, PVTB, RAND, RAX, RBA, RCII, RECN, RIT, RL, RMD, ROG, ROIC, ROP, RPM, RSG, RVSB, SCG, SCI, SCS, SFBS, SHO, SHW, SIX, SKT, SLGN, SLM, SNA, SNV, SO, SOR, SPLS, SRCE, SRE, SSNC, SSP, ST, STBA, STL, STR, SVU, SWK, SWX, SXT, SYF, SYMC, TA, TASR, TCX, TE, TEG, TMP, TREC, TRI, TRK, TSRA, TTPH, UEIC, UFI, UGI, UIL, UNF, USAK, USCR, UTG, UTL, UTMD, V, VA, VA, VAL, VONE, VONV, VOYA, VTWG, VUSE, VVC, WASH, WCG, WD, WEC, WGL, WHR, WM, WR, WSTC, WTR, WY, WYN, XEL, XOXO, ZFGN

Stocks that traded to 52 week lows: CFBK, CHKR, CHNR, CNYD, CVRR, DHRM, DSWL, EFF, EQT, FTEK, FTGC, FTSM, HEAR, HELI, HIE, IFON, IGLD, IMNP, JMI, KUTV, LPHI, MEET, MOSY, MTSL, MXE, NEFF, NSPR, ONP, ORMP, PBFX, PBMD, PBT, PLX, PSTI, PSTR, RGDX, ROYT, RTGN, SRF, TFSC, TWN, UPL, VRTA, VSCI, WBAI, WMGI, WPCS, XXII

ETFs that traded to 52 week highs: DIA, DVY, IHF, ITA, MDY, PPA, RTH, VTI, XLU, XLY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
ETFs that traded to 52 week lows: CSJ, DBC, EPOL, GSG, JJC, UHN, UNG, USCI

11:58 am Heading into midday trading with volumes running very light, Utilities- XLU, Telecom- IYZ, Pharma- XLV, Materials- XLB, & Energy- XLE are the top-performing SPX 500 sectors (SPY) :

  • SPX now trades @ 2090.74 +8.86 (+0.43%)

11:57 am European Markets Closing Prices (:SUMRX) : European markets were closed today in observance of Boxing Day/Christmas Holiday/St. Stephen's Day

  • See holiday SUMRX closing comment at 07:48 a.m. ET for further detail

11:14 am Natural gas futures reversing; Feb nat gas now down 1 cent @ $3.02/MMBtu, off its $2.97/MMBtu LoD (:COMDX) :  

11:02 am Dollar Bid in Lackluster Session: 10Y: -02/32..2.262%..USD/JPY: 120.43..EUR/USD: 1.2170 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index lingers near session highs as trade probes the 90.00 level. 
  • A lack of participation due to the holiday has kept action in a tight range throughout U.S. trade.
  • The euro has come under modest selling pressure, -50 pips @ 1.2170. A close below this level would be the worst in 28 months. 
  • The pound drifts little changed amid a lackluster session. Sterling has been trapped in a tight 30 pip range for the entire session. 
  • The yen is trading on its worst levels of the day as trade presses 120.45. Sellers have been in control throughout the day as all of the data released overnight missed estimates.

10:02 am Darling Ingredients expects to benefit from newly signed into law Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014; estimates for Fiscal 2014 net benefit of ~$65 mln (DAR) :

  • Co announced that it expects to benefit from the newly signed into law Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which reinstated retroactively the federal biodiesel mixture excise tax credit for 2014. 
  • The amount of the retroactive credit for Fiscal 2014 is estimated to result in a net benefit to Darling of ~$65 mln. A significant portion of this credit will be attributable to Diamond Green Diesel, Darling's 50/50 joint venture with Valero Energy Services (VLO).

9:53 am SPDR DJIA ETF: Cash DJIA moves to new record highs, crosses the 18,000 mark in recent trade paced by PFE, MRK, JNJ, KO, & APX % gainers (DIA) :

  • DJIA now @ 18097.77 +67.56

9:39 am Opening Market Summary: Stocks Inch Higher (:WRAPX) : As expected, the major averages climbed out of the gate amid broad strength. The S&P 500 is higher by 0.4% with nine sectors showing gains.

The energy sector (+0.8%) began the session in the lead, but it is worth pointing out that crude oil has slipped from its high after being up as much as 1.0%. Currently, the energy component trades little changed at $55.81/bbl.

Outside of energy, health care (+0.5%), utilities (+0.8%), and consumer discretionary (+0.5%) trade ahead of the broader market. On the flip side, the smallest sector by weight-telecom services (-0.1%)-holds a slim loss.

Treasuries remain in the green with the 10-yr yield lower by a basis point at 2.25%.

9:38 am SPX 500 pushes to a new all-time high now @ 2089.57 in early trading paced by sector leadership in utilities- XLU, pharma- XLV, & consumer discretionary- XLY; SPX trades @ 2089.32 +7.44 (SPY) :  

9:09 am S&P futures vs fair value: +6.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +13.30. (:WRAPX) : The stock market is on track for a modestly higher open with futures on the S&P 500 trading six points above fair value. Futures on the benchmark index jumped to highs last evening and have maintained a two-point range, which is understandable considering markets across Europe. In that same vein, today's session is expected to generate below-average volume with many participants enjoying an extended holiday weekend.

Investors did not receive any economic data or noteworthy corporate news this morning. However, major components of the energy sector like Chevron (CVX 114.25, +0.78) and ExxonMobil (XOM 94.39, +0.59) are on track to register early gains as crude oil trades higher by 0.9% at $56.31/bbl.

Treasuries hold gains with the 10-yr yield down two basis points at 2.24%.

9:00 am Amazon.com reported 10 mln new members worldwide tried Prime this holiday (AMZN) :

  • Amazon Fire TV is the best-selling streaming media box on Amazon.com this holiday season. 
  • Fire tablet sales on Amazon.com were up over 3x y/y this Black Friday. Kindle e-reader sales on Black Friday grew nearly 4x y/y
  • Amazon shipped to 185 countries this holiday and Sunday Delivery expanded across the country. This holiday, Amazon customers ordered more than 10x as many items with Same-Day Delivery, over 2013.
  • "We are working hard to make Prime even better and expanding the recently launched Prime Now to additional cities in 2015."

8:55 am S&P futures vs fair value: +6.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +12.30. (:WRAPX) : The S&P 500 futures trade six points above fair value.

Markets rallied across Asia.

  • In economic data: 
    • Japan's Corporate Services Price Index rose 3.6% (consensus 3.5%; previous 3.6%) while Household Spending increased 0.4% month-over-month (expected 0.2%; previous 0.9%). Separately, National CPI slowed to 2.4% year-over-year from 2.9% and National Core CPI eased to 2.7% from 2.9%, as expected. Tokyo CPI eased to 2.3% year-over-year from 2.4% while Tokyo Core CPI ticked down to 2.3% from 2.4% (consensus 2.4%). Housing Starts fell 14.3% year-over-year (expected -13.2%; last -12.3%) while the Unemployment Rate held at 3.5%, as expected. Lastly, Industrial Production slipped 0.6% month-over-month (consensus 1.0%; prior 0.4%) and Retail Sales increased 0.4% year-over-year (expected 1.1%; last 1.4%) 
    • Singapore's Industrial Production fell 1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.5%; previous 2.3%) while the year-over-year reading fell 2.8% (consensus 0.7%; last -0.2%)
------
  • Japan's Nikkei inched up 0.1% amid a quiet session. Utilities paced the advance with Tokyo Electric Power surging 5.2% in response to reports suggesting top executives are unlikely to be indicted for their handling of the March 2011 disaster. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng was closed. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite rallied 2.8% to its best close since November 2010. Financials led the way with Citic Securities climbing the limit, 10%, on news lenders will be allowed to use more of their money for loans 
  • India's Sensex added 0.1% after finding support near the 100-day average. IT service providers were among the top performers as Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services gained 1.1% and 1.0%, respectively. 
Markets across Europe are closed for Boxing Day.

8:32 am Commodities begin the morning mostly higher, despite some strength in the dollar index; oil at HoD (:COMDX) :

  • Energy futures are starting the day off flat to higher with WTI oil prices sitting near today's high
  • Feb crude oil traded as low as $55.73/barrel in overnight trade, but is now back near today's high, which was initially hit at $56.53/barrel in early morning trade
  • Feb crude touched that level again just now and is currently +1.1% at $56.44/barrel
  • Feb natural gas is back at the unchanged line, now at $3.03/MMBtu
  • RBOB gasoline is +1.3% at $1.55/gallon and heating oil is +0.8% at $1.90/gallon
  • Precious metals are showing some nice gains this morning
    • Fen gold is +1.8% at $1194.50/oz in current trade, while Mar silver is +2.6% at $16.13/oz
  • The dollar index is at its HoD, but still modestly higher at 90.06, up 0.1%

8:26 am S&P futures vs fair value: +5.50. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +11.30. (:WRAPX) : Equity futures continue drifting near their best levels of the morning, which should remain the case until the opening bell, barring an unforeseen headline shock. For the most part, U.S. futures have been left to their own devices with most markets remaining closed for Christmas. This has left Russia and Turkey as the only two countries with equity exchanges that are open for action.

Elsewhere, Treasuries have added to their gains, pressuring the 10-yr yield to 2.24% (-2 bps).

8:17 am Mechel Reports record cargo volumes at Trade Port Posiet (MTL) :

  • Co reports that Trade Port Posiet's annual cargo volume has reached 5 million tonnes of coal products by December 25. This is the best result in the port's history.
  • The shipment including the 5-millionth tonne of coal was expedited to People's Republic of China. This record was made possible by the launch of the trial run of a specialized coal terminal in the first quarter of 2014. In 2015 the port will reach the capacity of 7 mln tonnes of coal.
  • Considering the port infrastructure's future upgrading, which includes construction of a sea terminal and an approach channel for Panamax-type vessels with cargo capacity of up to 60,000 tonnes, Trade Port Posiet's turnover is planned to reach 12 mln tonnes of coal in the mid-term.

8:05 am European Markets Update: Closed (:SUMRX) : The major European indices are closed. The euro, meanwhile, has given up about 40 pips against the dollar and currently trades near 1.2186, which puts the pair just 20 pips above Tuesday's low.

8:02 am UPS survey indicates increased returns with 62% of consumers stating they returned an item bought online in 2014, compared to 51% in 2012 (UPS) : UPS National Returns Day is Jan. 6, 2015, when the co expects consumers will ship more than 800k packages back to retailers and merchants. By the end of the first full week in January, UPS anticipates transporting 4 mln return packages in the U.S.

  • "As e-commerce continues to grow, simple returns services have become an essential part of the overall consumer shopping experience. Our research shows online shoppers care about returns convenience with 66% reviewing a retailer's return policy before making a purchase, and 68% said they would complete an online purchase if the retailer simply offered a free return shipping label." 

8:02 am Tianyin Pharma announced that the Company is engaged in discussion with a pharmaceutical industry strategic partner to form an Alliance (TPI) :

  • Co announced that it is engaged in discussion with a pharmaceutical industry strategic partner to form an Alliance in building a nationwide mTCM portfolio platform.
  • The outline of the initiative is described as follows:
    • Two Companies to form an Alliance to integrate and synergize the sales network to reach over 10,000 hospitals nationwide, 10 fold increase from TPI's current 1,000 own network hospitals
    • The Alliance is expected to transform TPI's portfolio landscape by creating a multifaceted platform that focuses on cardiovascular franchise led by TPI's revenue driver, Gingko Mihuan Oral Liquid 

8:01 am Banco Latinoamer announces the closing of a $40 mln, 36-month senior secured trade finance term loan (BLX) : The Co plans to use the proceeds to support the growth of Banco Financiero's trade-related operations.

8:01 am Sphere 3D's long-term channel partner, Industrial Networking Solutions, has selected Sphere 3D's SnapServer network attached storage for integration with MOBOTIX video surveillance cameras and management software (ANY) :  

7:56 am S&P futures vs fair value: +5.20. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +10.70. (:WRAPX) : U.S. equity futures trade modestly higher amid upbeat action overseas. The S&P 500 futures hover five points above fair value. Things are setting up for a very quiet start to the Friday session with markets across Europe shuttered for Boxing Day. Domestically, investors did not receive any earnings or data this morning, which has kept futures in narrow ranges near their highs.

On the commodity front, crude oil has climbed 0.9% to $56.35/bbl while Natural Gas (3.010, -0.02) has dipped below the $3.00/MMBtu mark before inching back above that level.

Treasuries hold slim gains with the 10-yr yield down one basis point at 2.25%.

In U.S. corporate news of note:

  • The overnight rebound in crude oil has given a boost to major components of the energy sector like Chevron (CVX 114.49, +0.94) and ExxonMobil (XOM 94.40, +0.62). The two names are both up near 0.7%.
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended higher. Japan's Nikkei +0.1%, China's Shanghai Composite +2.8%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was closed. 
    • In economic data: 
      • Japan's Corporate Services Price Index rose 3.6% (consensus 3.5%; previous 3.6%) while Household Spending increased 0.4% month-over-month (expected 0.2%; previous 0.9%). Separately, National CPI slowed to 2.4% year-over-year from 2.9% and National Core CPI eased to 2.7% from 2.9%, as expected. Tokyo CPI eased to 2.3% year-over-year from 2.4% while Tokyo Core CPI ticked down to 2.3% from 2.4% (consensus 2.4%). Housing Starts fell 14.3% year-over-year (expected -13.2%; last -12.3%) while the Unemployment Rate held at 3.5%, as expected. Lastly, Industrial Production slipped 0.6% month-over-month (consensus 1.0%; prior 0.4%) and Retail Sales increased 0.4% year-over-year (expected 1.1%; last 1.4%) 
      • Singapore's Industrial Production fell 1.4% month-over-month (expected 0.5%; previous 2.3%) while the year-over-year reading fell 2.8% (consensus 0.7%; last -0.2%) 
    • In news: 
      • China's Shanghai Composite surged amid continued expectations for more easing from the PBoC. In addition, the PBoC is expected to loosen reserve requirements for lenders.
  • Markets across Europe are closed for Boxing Day 
    • There was no data or news coming out of the region

7:30 am Ligand Pharma announces submission of New Drug Application for Captisol-Enabled Melphalan (LGND) : Co announces that its partner Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (SPPI) has submitted a New Drug Application to the FDA for Captisol-enabled Melphalan HCl for injection for use as a high-dose conditioning treatment prior to hematopoietic progenitor cell transplantation in patients with multiple myeloma. Spectrum is also seeking approval for the palliative treatment of patients with multiple myeloma for whom oral therapy is not appropriate.

  • Ligand licensed global development and commercialization rights to CE-Melphalan to Spectrum in 2013. Spectrum assumed the responsibility for a pivotal clinical trial and was responsible for filing the NDA. Under the license agreement, Ligand received a license fee and is eligible to receive revenue from Captisol material sales, milestone payments, as well as royalties on net sales following potential commercialization. 

7:24 am Shanghai...+2.8% :  

7:24 am S&P futures vs fair value: +4.70. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +11.10. :

7:24 am European Markets : FTSE...Holiday.........  DAX...Holiday.........

7:24 am Asian Markets : Nikkei...17819...+10.00...+0.10%.  Hang Seng...23349.34...+15.70...+0.10%.

7:17 am Asian Markets Close: Nikkei +0.1%, Hang Seng CLOSED, Shanghai +2.8% (:SUMRX) :

  • Markets rallied across Asia. 
  • Japanese data disappointed across the board as preliminary industrial production (-0.6% MoM actual v. 1.0% MoM expected), retail sales (0.4% YoY actual v. 1.2% YoY expected), and average cash earnings (-1.5% YoY actual v. 0.5% YoY expected) were the latest numbers to fall short of estimates. 
  • Japan's Nikkei (+0.1%) inched higher amid a quiet session. Utilities paced the advance with Tokyo Electric Power surging 5.2% in response to reports suggesting top executives are unlikely to be indicted for their handling of the March 2011 disaster. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng was closed. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite (+2.8%) rallied to its best close since November 2010. Financials led the way with Citic Securities climbing the limit, 10%, on news lenders will be allowed to use more of their money for loans.
  • India's Sensex (+0.1%) found support near the 100 dma. IT service providers were among the top performers as Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services gained 1.1% and 1%, respectively. 
  • Australia's ASX was closed. 
  • Regional Decliners: None. 
  • Regional Advancers: South Korea +0.1%...Singapore +0.2%...Vietnam +0.3%...Thailand +0.4%...Indonesia +0.5%...Taiwan +0.6%...Philippines +0.7%...Malaysia +0.8%
  • Fx: USDCNY slipped to 6.2131...USDINR edged up to 63.59...USDJPY +20 pips @ 120.25...AUDUSD +15 pips @ .8130

7:00 am Spectrum Pharma files a new drug application with the FDA for captisol-enabled Melphalan (SPPI) :

  • Co announced the company has submitted a New Drug Application to the FDA for the approval of Captisol-Enabled Melphalan HCl for injection (propylene glycol-free) for use as a high-dose conditioning treatment prior to hematopoietic progenitor cell transplantation in patients with multiple myeloma. Spectrum is also seeking approval for the palliative treatment of patients with multiple myeloma for whom oral therapy is not appropriate. 
  • Co plans to launch this drug with its existing hematology/oncology sales force next year pending approval. 
  • The Company expects FDA review to take approximately 10 months; "Our formulation is free of propylene glycol and does not use a custom solvent for its reconstitution; it is more stable with a longer use time, simplifying clinical administration logistics."
  • Spectrum Pharmaceuticals gained global development and commercialization rights to CE-Melphalan from Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND) in March 2013. Under the license agreement, Ligand received a license fee and is eligible to receive milestone payments, as well as royalties following potential commercialization.  

6:56 am Weak Japanese Data Hits Yen: 10Y: unch..2.252..USDJPY: 120.29..EUR/USD: 1.2186 (:SUMRX) :

  • The Dollar Index has trimmed its overnight losses and now drifts little changed near 89.95. 
  • Early selling pressured the greenback to the 89.80 level, but action has managed to make another run at the psychologically important 90.00 area.
  • Participation has been lackluster as banks across much of the world remain closed for the Christmas holiday. 
  • EURUSD is -35 pips @ 1.2185 as trade slips back towards 28-month lows. The recent lows near 1.2150 are in focus. 
  • GBPUSD is +5 pips @ 1.5560. A quiet session has seen the pair trapped in an extremely tight 20 pip range. 
  • USDCHF is +30 pips @ .9860. Action remains tightly correlated to the euro. 
  • USDJPY is +20 pips @ 120.25 after Japanese data disappointed across the board. Preliminary industrial production (-0.6% MoM actual v. 1.0% MoM expected), retail sales (0.4% YoY actual v. 1.2% YoY expected), and average cash earnings (-1.5% YoY actual v. 0.5% YoY expected) were the latest numbers to fall short of estimates. The recent highs near 122.00 are being watched closely. Click here to see a daily USDJPY chart.
  • AUDUSD is +15 pips @ .8130 as action lingers near 54-month lows. The hard currency has been limited to a tight 25 pip range in a light holiday trade. USDCNY slipped to 6.2131.
  • USDCAD is -15 pips @ 1.1610. Trade holds just off its best levels since July 2009.

6:19 am Sumitomo Mitsui will be taking an initial 2.77% strategic stake in Reliance Capital amounting to Rs 371 crore ($58.4 mln) (SMFG) :

  • As part of the agreement, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank will be taking an initial 2.77 percent strategic stake in Reliance Capital amounting to Rs 371 crore (US$ 58.4 million) through preferential allotment, with a lock-in period of one year. The investment is being made at Rs 530 per share representing a premium of over 11 percent to the stock price of relevant date of Reliance Capital.  Reliance Capital Release

6:10 am Carbonite Board of Directors to review unsolicited tender offer from j2 Global (JCOM) (CARB) :

  • Co confirmed that j2 Global, Inc. has commenced an unsolicited tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Carbonite common stock at a price of $15.00/share
  • Consistent with its fiduciary duties, Carbonite's Board of Directors, in consultation with its independent financial and legal advisors, will review the offer. 
  • The Board intends to advise stockholders of its formal position regarding the tender offer within ten business days by making available to stockholders and filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission a solicitation/recommendation statement on Schedule 14D-9. 
  • Carbonite's stockholders are advised to take no action at this time pending the review of the tender offer by the Company's Board.

6:01 am On The Wires (:WIRES) :

  • IHI Corporation and Toshiba Corporation (TOSBF) have been selected by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization as co-researchers in the "Research and Development of Ocean Energy Technology.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Panasonic Corporation (PCRFY) announced the release of the new 2015 World Heritage calendar application for PCs and tablets.
  • Atos and Panasonic Corporation (PCRFY) announced that they will jointly develop technology-based solutions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Acacia Research (ACTG) announced that its Credit Card Fraud Control Corporation subsidiary has entered into a settlement and patent license agreement with TCSP dba TrustCommerce. The agreement resolves litigation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

5:57 am Novartis AG announced that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare approved Cosentyx (NVS) :

  • Co announced that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare  approved Cosentyx for the treatment of both psoriasis vulgaris and psoriatic arthritis in adults who are not adequately responding to systemic* therapies. 
  • This approval marks the first country approval for Cosentyx in the world and makes it the first interleukin- 17A inhibitor to receive regulatory approval in either of these indications in Japan.

5:54 am Citigroup confirmed definitive agreement to sell its retail banking business in Japan to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMFG); financial terms of the transaction are not material to Citi (C) :

  • Co announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell its retail banking business in Japan to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. The entire retail banking operations of Citibank Japan Ltd., including its Japan-wide network of retail branches and ATMs, will be transferred to a trust bank subsidiary of SMBC as part of the transaction, together with ~1,600 Citi Japan employees, about 740,000 customer accounts and ~JPY2.5 trillion of yen and foreign currency deposits as of November 30, 2014. 
  • The financial terms of the transaction are not material to Citi. The transaction is expected to close in late 2015, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

5:52 am Timmins Gold announces extension of credit facility with Sprott Resource Lending partnership (TGD) :

  • The new credit agreement will have a term of 12 months from January 1, 2015. Interest remains payable at the rate of 9% per annum. Payment of the principal amount outstanding will be made at the end of the term. 

5:51 am Roche Hldg's Genentech announced that the FDA approved a supplemental biologics license application for Gazyva (RHHBY) :

  • Co announced that the FDA  approved a supplemental biologics license application (sBLA) for Gazyva in combination with chlorambucil chemotherapy in people with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia. 
  • The sBLA adds to the label data from Stage 2 of the CLL11 study showing significant improvements with Gazyva plus chlorambucil across multiple clinical endpoints when compared head-to-head with Rituxan plus chlorambucil.

5:49 am NQ Mobile announces annual general meeting results (NQ) : Co reported "RESOLVED, as an ordinary resolution: that the Company's authorized share capital be increased from US$80,000 divided into (a) 560,000,000 Class A Common Shares of a par value of US$0.0001 each."

5:48 am Dejour Energy reported it has now drilled, logged and cased the second new well of the campaign to the targeted base of the Gething (DEJ) :

  • As per the previously announced 2014 development program, Dejour has now drilled, logged and cased the second new well of the campaign to the targeted base of the Gething. Well logs indicate a net 17' of high quality productive hydrocarbon pay in the same Gething gas pool as the first well, in anticipated commercially viable quantities. 
  • Both wells are expected to contribute to the 2015 Woodrush production profile upon completion. Production test results will be forthcoming.

5:45 am Biomarin Pharm announce expiration of the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period for BioMarin's proposed acquisition of Prosensa (RNA) (BMRN) : Co announced the expiration of the mandatory waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, which occurred at 11:59 p.m. on December 23, 2014, with respect to BioMarin's pending acquisition of Prosensa.

5:44 am Rogers Comms to form joint venture with BCE (BCE) for Canadian retail operations of Glentel (RCI) :

  • Co announced that it has reached an agreement with BCE under which the two companies will jointly own GLENTEL's Canadian retail distribution outlets once the pending acquisition of GLENTEL by BCE is completed. 
  • As part of the agreement, Rogers will withdraw the recently filed court application for an injunction, pending closure of the agreement with BCE.
View Comments (124)