Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
1. Here Comes Putin. Russia says it is preparing retaliatory measures in response to new U.S. and E.U. sanctions. One measure reportedly under consideration would be to block sections of Russian airspace for Western flights, though Moscow has denied that that is on the table, according the Wall Street Journal’s Gregory White. Russia has also amassed 20,000 troops on the Ukrainian border in response to what it says is a pending humanitarian disaster in Eastern Ukraine.
2. Fox Ends Time Warner Bid. Rupert Murdoch will no longer pursue the cable giant. Henry Blodget talked to insiders who explained why: Time Warner’s board and management demonstrated zero interest, while Fox shares themselves had dropped significantly once the bid leaked. Instead Fox announced a share buyback after the bell Tuesday. Fox shares are up more than 7% before the bell, while Time Warner’s are down 10%. Fox and Time Warner both post earnings today.
3. Tesla Resolves China Trademark Spat. Zhan Baoshang, a Chinese national, had previously claimed copyright on “Tesla.” Reuters’ Samuel Shen and Norihiko Shirouzu report the settlement “[removes] a hurdle that had threatened CEO Elon Musk’s ambition to expand rapidly in the world’s biggest auto market.” Tesla recently announced it was planning to open 100 service stations in China.
4. Troubled Tech Stocks. Shares in First Solar, Zillow and Groupon were all down significantly Wednesday after each reported problematic earnings after the bell Tuesday. First Solar’s profits fell to $US4.5 million from $US33.6 million on project delays; Groupon announced revenues of $US751.6 million, well short of the $US762 million expected by analysts. Zillow said its adjusted Q2 loss per share came in at $US0.05 versus earnings of $US0.01 a year earlier.
5. Walgreens Buys Alliance Boots. The Chicago-based pharma retailer is buying out the remaining 55% of the European pharma retailer. Its headquarters will remain in Chicago and the firm insists it will not attempt a tax inversion, the AP says.
6. Trade. Our only major datapoint for Wednesday is the U.S. trade balance. Consensus is for a reading of -$45 billion versus -$44.4 billion prior. “The headline deficit should be little changed at $US44.5B, with slightly better core numbers and a modest increase in the aircraft surplus offset by a temporary price-induced jump in the oil deficit,” Pantheon Macro’s Ian Shepherdson said in a note.
7. Italy In Recession. The Italian economy contracted 0.2% in Q2, following a negative 0.1% reading in the prior quarter. The recent reading was Italy’s worst Q2 performance since 2000. Germany’s two-year bond yield went to zero on the news.
8. Russian Hackers Steal 1.2 Billion Passwords. The login credentials were scraped from 420,000 different websites, “including household names,” the New York Times’ Nicole Perlroth and David Gelles report. “Companies that rely on user names and passwords have to develop a sense of urgency about changing this,” said Avivah Litan, a security analyst at the research firm Gartner. “Until they do, criminals will just keep stockpiling people’s credentials.”
9. Earnings. This morning we get the aforementioned AOL, Chesapeake, Molson, Mondelez, Ralph Lauren, Time Warner, and Viacom. After the bell we get the aforementioned Fox.
10. Markets. Everything is tanking on weaker Europe data and Russia jitters among other things. U.S. futures are off 0.5%. London’s FTSE was off 1.1%, Germany’s DAX was down 1.6%, France’s CAC40 fell 1.3%. Japan’s Nikkei was down 1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1%.
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