Markets nervously await the FOMC. U.S. stock futures were higher and European shares mixed at the time of writing as investors awaited the outcome of the FOMC's two day policy meeting, which is due to start today. All the focus is on whether the Fed will announce the winding down of its bond-buying program. Yesterday, U.S. shares fell on FT speculation that the taper was drawing near, only for them to recover after reporter Robin Harding cast doubt on his own predictions.
U.K.: G8 makes progress on tax reform. British Prime Minister David Cameron will lead talks on the exceptionally thorny topic of international tax reform at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland today. The discussion will focus on the key areas of transparency, tax havens and multinational tax avoidance. "We have made more progress in the last 24 hours than people have had in the past 24 years," U.K. Finance Minister George Osborne declared.
Boeing launches 787-10 with orders for 102 jets. Boeing (BA) has officially launched the 787-10, a stretched version of the Dreamliner with up to 330 seats, and said it already has orders for 102 jets worth almost $30B at list prices. The bookings come from five buyers, including United Airlines (UAL) and Air Lease Corp. (AL). However, Boeing has lost out to Airbus (EADSF.PK) for a major deal from Easyjet (EJTTF.OB), which has agreed to purchase 135 A320 aircraft.
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Loeb ups the ante on Sony. Sony (SNE) repeated today that it will review Daniel Loeb's proposal that the company float its entertainment business after Loeb's Third Point hedge fund increased its stake in the electronics firm to 7% from 6.5%. In the past, Sony has said that its film and device units are better together - CEO Kazuo Hirai believes they have valuable synergies - and that it would consider Loeb's spin-off idea.
Studies place doubts on Medtronic spine product. Medtronic's (MDT) controversial Infuse bone-growth implant for spine surgery, which generated $528M in sales in the last fiscal year, is no better than a traditional operation, two independent analyses have found. Medtronic commissioned the studies; the company had been hit by accusations that doctors who had originally supported Infuse had financial ties to the firm worth millions of dollars.
Sprint heads to court to block Dish's bid for Clearwire. Sprint (S) has sued to end Dish's (DISH) $4.40-a-share offer for Clearwire (CLWR), alleging that the deal - endorsed by Clearwire last week - violates Delaware law and the rights of Sprint and other "strategic" investors. Among other things, Sprint, which has a majority stake in Clearwire, said the Dish offer can't be concluded without the approval of Clearwire shareholders that own at least 75% of shares and the authorization of Comcast (CMCSA).
Defense firms enjoy rising overseas demand. While arms manufacturers are being hit by sequestration at home, they are experiencing increasing demand abroad for fighter jets, missile defense systems and other weapons. Air force sales have doubled to $22B over the past two years, while the likes of Raytheon (RTN) are overbooked with meetings at the Paris Air Show this week. Other vendors to benefit include Boeing (BA), United Tech (UTX), Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Textron (TXT).
Smithfield continues to favor the Chinese option. Smithfield Foods (SFD) intends to review a letter from activist investor Starboard, which reckons that the pork producer could earn more value by splitting up into three and then selling itself rather than going through with its $4.7B acquisition by China's Shuanghui. However, Smithfield reiterated its recommendation that shareholders vote for the Shuanghui deal, as it provides "significant, immediate and certain" cash value to shareholders.
Citi looks to bring taxable profit back home. While the likes of Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) go all out to keep their taxable income overseas, for the past few years Citigroup (C) has been trying to shift more of this type of profit back home. It's not because the bank wants to pay more tax, it's just that it has $55B of tax credits and deductions that it wants to use up.
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Economists expect CPI to have returned to growth in May. The FOMC will be able to chew on inflation data for May when it meets, with the reading due out this morning. Economists expect that CPI rose 0.2% on month after sliding 0.4% in April, driven up by slightly higher food and gasoline costs. "Inflation is low in the U.S. at the moment, giving the Fed more room to wait for improvement in employment before it starts tapering," say analysts at Danske Daily.
Obama indicates that Bernanke's time is drawing to an end. Mostly putting to rest any doubt that Ben Bernanke will seek a third term as the head of the Federal Reserve, President Obama told Charlie Rose that the chairman has already stayed "a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to." Bernanke's second four-year stint at the central bank is due to end on January 31.
German investors remain confident. The German ZEW survey of investor confidence rose to 38.5 in June from 36.4 in May and topped consensus of 38.1; however, the current situation print fell to 8.6 from 8.9 and missed forecasts of 9.5. "The financial experts stick to their assessment: the German economy is likely to pick up speed" in H2, ZEW President Clemens Fuest said. "However, the results of the current survey indicate that the economy will improve rather slowly."
EU car market stuck in the doldrums. The EU new-car market showed no signs of bottoming out in May as registrations dropped 5.9% to 1.04M units, the lowest level for the month since 1993. The fall followed a 1.7% gain in April. In January-May, registrations slid 6.8% to 5.07M vehicles. GM (GM) was among those to suffer the most in May with an 11.3% decline. Toyota's (TM) registrations dropped 4.9% but those of Ford fell just 0.3%.