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Morning Reading: Greece, Earnings and M&A

Rebecca Stropoli
Daniel Gross


-Stock index futures edged higher on Wednesday as leaders in Greece again attempted to reach a deal on reforms in exchange for a new bailout.

-The euro zone rescue fund anticipates it will play a significant role in steps to set Greece's debt back on a sustainable path and provide more bailout funding, the fund's deputy CEO Christophe Frankel said on Wednesday.

-It was just last summer that the Dow Jones industrial average shed 2,000 points in three terrifying weeks. Investors had a host of things to worry about, including the possibility of another recession. Now the Dow is within reach of the rarefied 13,000 mark — a level it hasn't seen since May 2008, four months before the financial system almost came apart.

-Applications for home mortgages jumped last week, fueled by increased demand for refinancing as interest rates fell, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, rose 7.5 percent in the week ended Feb 3.

Companies -

-Sprint Nextel posted a wider fourth-quarter loss as costs from the Apple iPhone weighed down the No. 3 U.S. mobile operator.

-Time Warner says its fourth-quarter earnings grew slightly as revenue jumped 5 percent on strong performance at its Warner Bros. movie studio and its cable television networks.

-Struggling Finnish phone maker Nokia plans to cut 4,000 more jobs at its plants in Finland, Hungary and Mexico as it seeks to cut costs by moving smartphone assembly work to Asia. The cuts of 8 percent of the phone business workforce bring total planned job cuts at the group since Stephen Elop took over as Chief Executive in September 2010 to more than 30,000.

-Glencore International Plc's $41 billion purchase of Xstrata Plc, the biggest takeover in almost three years, may help restore confidence in dealmaking amid evidence global economic turmoil is subsiding. Glencore's proposed takeover, the biggest mining transaction ever, is the latest sign executives are becoming bolder after mergers and acquisitions in January slumped to the lowest level since August 2009, the slowest start to a year in almost a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

-European air safety officials are preparing to extend checks for Airbus A380 wing cracks to the entire superjumbo fleet, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. The move to inspect all 68 A380s in service comes as Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN.AX - News) grounded one of its planes, saying engineers had found 36 wing cracks after the aircraft encountered severe turbulence.