Asia: Japan +0.4% to 20683. Hong Kong +0.5% to 25399. China +2.4% to 4123. India -0.5% to 28370.
Europe: London +0.3%. Paris +0.2%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures: Dow +0.2%. S&P -0.2%. Nasdaq +0.3%. Crude flat at $49.21. Gold +0.9% to $1101.20.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.31%
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index
10:00 Leading Indicators
Key earnings before the open
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Key earnings after the close
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras seems to have contained a rebellion in his left-wing Syriza party after winning parliamentary approval for a second package of reforms required to start bailout talks with international creditors. The bill covered rules for dealing with failed banks and speeding up the justice system – two more conditions set by the eurozone and IMF to open negotiations on an €86B rescue loan.
In Asia news, Japan’s exports increased the most in five months in June, fueled by strengthening overseas demand, but imports remained subdued due to the effect of lower commodity prices. South Korea’s economy logged its weakest expansion in six years in Q2, recording just 0.3% growth from the previous quarter, as the country got battered by a MERS outbreak and a severe drought. Heading south: New Zealand’s central bank cut interest rates for the second time in six weeks, stating further easing would likely be necessary to stoke inflation.
President Obama is urging lawmakers to renew the charter for the Export-Import Bank before leaving on a break in August, saying both small and large businesses are hurting from the lapse in new loan guarantees and trade insurance. The 81-year-old institution recently saw its charter conclude, after Congress allowed it to expire on June 30. The Ex-Im Bank is still allowed to manage and wind down its portfolio of loans, but cannot enter into any new deals.
The New York Wage Board moved on Wednesday to raise minimum pay for fast-food workers from $8.75/hour to $15/hour – in NYC by the end of 2018 and by mid-2021 for the rest of the state. The decision does not need legislative approval, but requires the support of the state labor commissioner, which is expected. Similar wage hikes to $15/hour have been set in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle over the past year.
In other New York news, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed away from his fight against Uber :UBER), deciding to drop a plan to place a cap on the number of vehicles the latter operates in the city. In return, Uber agreed to participate in a four-month traffic study on the effect of for-hire vehicle operators and turn over detailed trip data. City officials may still seek a vehicle cap in the future depending on the results.
While it still hasn’t had talks with U.S. regulators about a deal, China’s Tsinghua Holdings has its eyes set on a potential $23B offer to buy Micron (MU) and hopes the deal could eventually go through, the company’s chairman told Reuters. Micron previously told Tsinghua its offer is not realistic because U.S. authorities would block the deal due to national security concerns.
Apple shares sunk 4.4% yesterday after reporting below-consensus iPhone sales growth, cautious guidance for Q4 and receiving a series of analyst downgrades. Apple (AAPL) also cut its capital-spending projection for this fiscal year by 8%, reducing what it plans to spend on purchasing manufacturing equipment, building data centers and retail stores. The tech giant’s market cap now stands out $721B.
Under an unusual partnership of rivals, the New York Stock Exchange (ICE) and Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) are planning an agreement to back up each other’s closing auctions in the event of an outage similar to the nearly four-hour trading halt at NYSE earlier this month. The closing auction is perhaps the most valuable part of the day for many institutional investors because it sets important benchmark prices for stocks and is a good time to execute large orders.
Anthem is nearing a deal to buy rival Cigna (CI) for around $187/share – more than $48B in total – in a move that would create the country’s largest insurer. Cigna previously rejected Anthem’s (ANTM) earlier $47.5B bid as “inadequate.” If the deal and Aetna’s (AET) $34B agreement to buy Humana (NYSE:HUM) are both approved, the five major U.S. health insurers would drop to three.
Wal-Mart has taken full ownership of Yihaodian, its Chinese e-commerce venture, buying out the 49% stake that it did not already own to solidify its strategy in the region. The investment will help Wal-Mart (WMT) target China’s fast-growing online market at a time when brick and mortar retailers are under pressure and the world’s second-largest economy cools off.
Credit Suisse swung to a profit of 1.05B Swiss francs ($1.1B) in the second quarter, compared with a loss of 700M francs a year earlier, when it was fined $2.6B in the U.S. for helping Americans evade taxes. The results take Credit Suisse (CS) into a new era under Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam (the former CEO of Prudential), who took over the bank at the beginning of the month. Upcoming challenges for Thiam: Scaling down Credit Suisse’s investment bank and bolstering the lender’s capital cushion.
Caesars will have to defend creditor lawsuits claiming up to $11B after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Goldgar denied a request to put those cases on hold while the casino company’s operating unit remains in bankruptcy. Creditors have argued their cases are necessary to determine if the operating unit’s debts are guaranteed by the parent company. Following the news yesterday, Caesars (CZR) shares dropped 40.7%.
An executive shuffle at Bank of America has CFO Bruce Thompson – a potential heir apparent for CEO Brian Moynihan – leaving the bank, WSJ reports. BofA (BAC) veteran Paul Donofrio will take his place. The bank also announced that David Darnell, head of wealth management, is retiring and will be succeeded by Moynihan ally Terry Laughlin.
Monsanto renewed its efforts to woo Syngenta (SYT) today over its buyout proposal after the Swiss agrochemicals maker reported Q2 results. “Syngenta’s earnings announcement confirms it still does not have a long-term vision or plan that would create the same value as Monsanto’s very attractive 449 Swiss franc per share ($45B total) proposal,” Monsanto (MON) Chairman Hugh Grant declared. Syngenta’s CEO is not buying it. “We took a serious look at this thing” and found that the attempted takeover offer to be “woefully short,” said Michael Mack.
Pearson has decided to sell the Financial Times to a global, digital news company, Reuters reports, stating a full announcement will come shortly. The sale will see Pearson (PSO) put a full focus on its education strategy and no longer on the media sector.
After delivering its third profit warning this year, Qualcomm (QCOM) has declared it may break itself up and announced plans to slash 15% of its workforce (4,500 jobs). The move comes after hedge fund Jana Partners called for the company to spin off its chip business from its highly profitable IP licensing unit. Qualcomm also aims to reduce costs by about $1.4B and boost capital returns to shareholders.