Market Snapshot

Asia Markets: Japan -0.4% to 17913. Hong Kong +1.1% to 24683. China +1% to 3205. India +1% to 29095.
Europe, at midday, London +0.7%. Paris +0.7%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
US Stock Futures: Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.3%. Crude +1.3% to $51.86. Gold +0.3% to $1224.80.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 1.99%

Today’s economic calendar

8:30 Import/Export Prices
9:55 Reuters/UofM Consumer Sentiment
Key earnings before today’s open: BAM, CPN, DTE, EXC, HPY, IPG, ITT, MT, NGLS, POR, RRGB, RUTH, SJM, TRW, VFC, VTR, WBC

This Morning

Stock markets are set to open higher, on the back of higher oil prices and some positive growth signals coming out of the eurozone overnight. fueled by strong domestic demand, the German economy rose 0.7% during the fourth quarter, while data from France showed that GDP grew by 0.1%. The eurozone economy as a whole saw growth of 0.3%, fueling hopes that the region’s troubled recovery is finally strengthening.

Technically speaking the markets are beginning to make their move through a key retracement level high reached back on 1/23. The bias runs solidly to the upside over the near term, as we’ve spent most of the last week pushing towards a breakout.

Stock News

Groupon (GRPN) easily beat earnings and revenue expectations after the close yesterday, but its Q1 forecast fell short due to the unfavorable impact of foreign exchange rates and global growth. It now expects Q1 revenue of $790M-840M, below estimates of $855.5M, and adjusted EBITDA of $45M-60M vs. consensus of $77M.

AIG (AIG) posts sharply lower fourth-quarter profit as its big workers’ compensation business, low interest rates and refinancing expensive debt hurt results. The company reported an operating profit of $1.37B, well short of the $1.67B reported in the year-earlier period. The company also announced that it will buy back about $2.5B shares of common stock on top of the roughly $4.9B in stock it repurchased in 2014.

The NY Post is reporting that Freescale Semiconductor (FSL) has hired investment bankers to explore a possible sale. The company went public in 2011 after being taken private in 2006 for $17.6B.

ArcelorMittal (MT) warned this morning of lower profits in 2015, saying it expects core profits to drop to between $6.5B-$7B in 2015, from $7.2B in 2014, as dwindling prices of iron ore dent a recovery in steel demand. Despite a 5% decline in Q4 profit, the steelmaker posted a $1.1B net loss for 2014, an improvement on a $2.5B net loss a year ago.

Rumors are circulating that Shire (SHPG) has joined the mix in preparing a bid for Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP). Yesterday, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) was reported to be arranging financing for a takeout of Salix at a likely price of more than $150 per share. Including net debt, Salix is valued at almost $11B.

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