Wall Street News

Vodafone confirms Kabel Deutschland interest. Vodafone's (VOD) shares were -3.95% premarket after its stock went ex-dividend and following the company's confirmation that it is interested in acquiring Kabel Deutschland (KBDHY.OB). Vodafone has reportedly offered €10B for the German cable TV, Internet and telecom operator, whose shares were +9.5% at lunchtime in Frankfurt. That gives it a market cap of €7.17B. Any deal would mark a major departure by Vodafone from its focus on the cellular market.

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U.K. regulator mulls probe into possible forex manipulation. The U.K.'s market supervisor, the Financial Conduct Authority, is reportedly considering opening an investigation into the alleged manipulation of WM/Reuters benchmark foreign-exchange rates, which are used to fix the value of trillions of dollars of investments. The practice has apparently been going on every day for at least a decade at major banks.

Amgen's Enbrel blockbuster drug no better than generics -study. Amgen's (AMGN) blockbuster Enbrel treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, which generated sales of $4.23B last year, is no more effective than a combination of three generic drugs, a study shows. While a regimen that includes Enbrel costs $25,000 a year per patient, the "triple therapy" costs just $1,000. Despite the study, researchers feel that the branded treatments might be too well ensconced to be quickly replaced.

Top Stock News
Coty posed for billion dollar IPO. Beauty-products conglomerate Coty (COTY), whose perfumes include Calvin Klein, is due to price its NYSE IPO later today, when it could raise up to $1.22B. The price range is $16.50-$18.50, giving the company a market cap of $6.9B at the mid-point. Some analysts aren't totally convinced by Coty, due to its exposure to Europe and because insiders will retain 97.7% of the firm's voting rights despite selling all the shares in the IPO.

Japanese shares fall, Europe and U.S. regain poise. Japanese shares (EWJ) had another volatile day, dropping as much as 2.4% before rebounding to close a mere -0.2%. Better-than-expected eurozone industrial output helped EU stocks (FEZ) recover some poise after two days of declines, with U.S. futures and the dollar-yen rate (FXY) (+0.55% at the time of writing) also higher. But the continuing theme of uncertainty about central bank stimulus is keeping markets on edge. (See below for details).

Herbalife reckons it has 7.9M customers. Herbalife (HLF) has released the results of a Nielsen study showing that 3.3% of the U.S. population purchased the company's products within the past three months, indicating 7.9M customers. This is against a distributor network of just about 550,000. "(This) confirms what we at Herbalife already know to be true: that Herbalife's products have a broad consumer base here in the U.S," the company said.

Boeing 787 suffers engine failure while on ground. Boeing's (BA) 787 jet has been hit by yet another glitch, with All Nippon Airways scrapping an internal Japanese flight after one of the plane's Rolls Royce (RYCEY.PK) engines failed to start. The cancellation is the third this week after Dreamliner services were recently renewed following a four-month grounding due to battery problems.

ISS backs Softbank's bid for Sprint. Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended that Sprint's (S) shareholders back SoftBank's (SFTBF.PK) latest $21.6B offer for 78% of the U.S. carrier. The proxy advisory firm also supported the Japanese company's earlier $20.1B offer for 70% of Sprint. ISS partly ascribed its latest recommendation to improved terms, although Janco analyst Gerard Hallaren reckons that SoftBank's new bid values Sprint at less than the first one ($27.8B vs. $28.9B).

Yum's KFC continues to suffer in China. Yum's (YUM) Chinese same-store sales fell 19% on year in May as avian flu fears continued to take a toll on local KFC demand. However, the decline represented an improvement on April's 29% drop and matched consensus. KFC same-store sales plummeted 25% but Pizza Hut's climbed 12%.

Top Economic & Other News
MSCI demotes Greece to emerging market. MSCI has cut Greece's classification to emerging market from developed market, making the country the first to suffer such a demotion. MSCI attributed the move to Greece not meeting requirements related to securities borrowing and lending facilities, short selling, transferability and stock-index size. MSCI's decision follows similar action from Russell Investments in March.

Eurozone industrial output surprises on the upside. Eurozone industrial production unexpectedly rose 0.4% on month in April, although growth was held back by a fall in energy and durable and consumer goods. The highest increase was in Ireland (+3%), while Finland and Holland suffered sharp declines. Although the data is "relatively encouraging," says economist Howard Archer, "the eurozone manufacturing sector is not yet out of the woods."

Japanese machinery orders slide sharply. Japan's core machinery orders fell for the first month in three in April, dropping 8.8% on month vs +14.2% in March and consensus of -8.5%. The figures, which are a leading but volatile indicator of capex, show that companies are still reluctant to spend despite the government's and BOJ's stimulus policies. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to change that with tax cuts on capex.