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US EQUITIES OPENING HEADLINES INCLUDING: Apple’s iPhone is now the fifth best-selling smartphone in Japan

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•          US Initial Jobless Claims (Dec 11) W/W 420K vs. Exp. 425K (Prev. 421K, Rev. to 423K) (RTRS)
 
•          US Continuing Claims (Dec 4) W/W 4135K vs. Exp. 4115K (Prev. 4086K, Rev. to 4113K) (RTRS)
 
•          US Current Account Balance (Q3) Q/Q USD -127.2bln vs. Exp. USD -126.0bln (Prev. USD -123.3bln, Rev. to USD -123.2) (RTRS)
Q3 current account deficit largest as a percentage of GDP since Q4 2008 (4.2%)
 
•          US Housing Starts (Nov) 555K vs. Exp. 550K (Prev. 519K, Rev. to 534K) (RTRS)
US Housing Starts (Nov) 3.9% vs. Exp. 6.0% (Prev. -11.7%, Rev. to -11.1%)
 
•          US Building Permits (Nov) M/M 530K vs. Exp. 560K (Prev. 550K, Rev. to 552K) (RTRS)
US Building Permits (Nov) M/M -4.0% vs. Exp. 1.5% (Prev. 0.5%, Rev. to 0.9%)
US Nov Housing permits rate lowest since April 2009 (523,000 units)
 
•          FTSE 100 (+0.04%), DAX (-0.01%), CAC 40 (-0.20%), Eurostoxx 50 (-0.27%), SMI (+0.04%), IBEX 35 (-0.47%), FTSE MIB (-0.67%). Prices taken at 1343GMT.

 
DJIA
 
Other news:
 
McDonalds - Co. has reportedly increased its profit outlook for its Japan business for the fiscal year ending January 31. Due to the introduction of a new menu and the shutdown of loss-making stores, the co. now estimates a net profit of JPY 7.6bln, up from the JPY 5.8bln previously seen. (Nikkei)
 
ExxonMobil - Co. has announced they have discovered traces of oil in offshore Brazil in the BM-S-22 block, however they have not declared the discovery commercially viable. (Sources) Elsewhere, co.’s investment in Qatar totals USD 15bln, according to co.’s CEO, says the sheikdom will ‘remain an important contributor’ to the oil giant’s profits. (Al Raya)
 
Boeing - Southwest Airlines said it would acquire about 70 larger 737 aircraft over the next three years for expansion in domestic markets and for their first international flights. (WSJ) Elsewhere,  Russian airline Aeroflot said it was buying 16 new 777s over the next six years, valued at over USD 4bln, to make up for the delayed 787 Dreamliner. (RTRS)
 
Procter & Gamble - Co. reaffirms forecast, says Q2 organic sales growth 3-5% and says sees long term EPS high-single to low-double digits. In addition, says sees FY 11 about USD 7bln in share repurchases and sees FY 11 about USD 5.9bln in dividends. (RTRS)
 
Johnson & Johnson - Co. is expected to receive massive support from Crucell shareholders for its EUR 24.75/share offer following a contamination issue at its South Korean plant. The deal had received initially some dissidence, however following the contamination event, it is expected that co.’s offer will exceed the 80% acceptance level and possibly reach 95% by the end of the offer period. (Sources)
 
American Express - Co. to expand international customer base with acquisition of Loyalty Partner, says deal valued at USD 660mln. Says to pay USD 566mln upfront and USD 94mln equity interest and says will acquire that interest over the next 5yrs at a value based on business performance. (RTRS)
 
Companies paying Dividend: Home Depot (USD 0.2363)
 
S&P 500
 
Earnings:
 
FedEx - Q2 adjusted EPS USD 1.16 vs. Exp. USD 1.32 and Q2 revenue USD 9.63bln vs. Exp. USD 9.77bln. Co. boosts forecast, says sees year adjusted EPS USD 5.00-5.30 vs. Exp. 5.20 and sees Q3 EPS USD 0.95-1.15 vs. Exp. USD 1.10. Says holiday peak season volumes exceeding views and reaffirms forecast for capital spending. In addition, says express segment Q2 revenue USD 5.99bln, up 13%, ground segment Q2 revenue USD 2.08bln, up 13% and freight segment Q2 revenue USD 1.22bln, up 14%. (Sources) Elsewhere, co. says to acquire Multipack, says transaction is expected to close in Q2 2011, no terms were disclosed. (RTRS)
 
General Mills - Q2 adjusted EPS USD 0.76 ex-items vs. Exp. USD 0.79 and Q2 revenue USD 4.07bln vs. Exp. USD 4.11bln. Co. reaffirms forecast for 2011, says FY 2011 EPS USD 2.46-2.48 ex-items vs. Exp. USD 2.48, says EPS guidance represents growth of 7-8% from 2010 adjusted diluted EPS of USD 2.30. In addition, says ‘see ourselves solidly on track to achieve out FY sales and earnings growth targets’. (RTRS)
 
Discover Financial Services - Q4 EPS USD 0.64 vs. Exp. USD 0.44 and Q4 revenue net of interest expense USD 1.60bln vs. Exp. USD 1.63bln. Says Q3 card sales volume was USD 23bln, says Q4 payment services processed transaction volume was USD 40.4bln and Q4 provision for loan losses as adjusted USD 382.7mln. (Sources)
 
Other news:
 
Bank of America - Co. in discussions to settle dispute with large mortgage investors, says talks include NY Fed, Pimco and BlackRock. (WSJ)
 
Anadarko Petroleum - Co. says not involved in decisions aboard the Deepwater horizon at the time of Gulf of Mexico spill. However adds that it recognizes may have obligations under Federal law, will look to BP to pay all legitimate claims. (RTRS)
 
Apache - Co. has shut in the Legendre and Stag oilfields off the coast of northern Western Australia due to a tropical low which had threatened to turn into a cyclone. (Sources)
 
Lockheed Martin - Co. was awarded a USD 1.31bln contract modification which will provide for the production of the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite Vehicle 4. In addition to delivery of the space vehicle, this effort includes SV4 unique systems engineering; system level factory test; system database management functions; systems level support equipment; and program management. Elsewhere, co.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter initiative may be cut by USD 1bln under a bill that the Senate is poised to vote on. (Sources)
 
Danaher - Co. narrows Q4 EPS USD 0.64-0.66 from USD 0.61-0.66 vs. Exp. USD 0.66. Says sees FY11 EPS USD 2.55-2.70 vs. Exp. USD 2.64 and says expects core revenues to grow approximately 6-8% in FY11 compared to FY10. (Sources)
 
AmerisourceBergen - Co. reaffirms FY11 EPS view USD 2.31-2.41 vs. Exp. USD 2.38. Says sees FY11 free cash flow USD 625-700mln and sees FY11 revenue growth 2-4%. (briefing.com)
 
Companies paying Dividend: Duke Energy (USD 0.2450)
             
Companies going Ex-Dividend: Hess Corp (USD 0.1000), Dr Pepper Snapple Group (USD 0.2500), Tiffany & Co (USD 0.2500)
 
Nasdaq 100

Other news:
 
Apple - Co.’s iPhone is now the fifth best-selling smartphone in Japan, and has 12.2% of the market, according to a report from IDC. The firm notes that the iPhone is "not too far away" from Sharp and Panasonic, which hold about 18.8% and 16.6% of the market, respectively. (All Things Digital) Elsewhere, co. is reportedly gearing up to launch upgraded MacBook Pro and iMac models in addition to an upgraded iPad. Sources from upstream component makers say the company is planning to launch "at least four" upgraded MacBook Pros and an iMac that features a new panel size in H1 2011. Also, the sources believe co. won't have any trouble achieving notebook shipments of 10mln units in 2010. In addition, co. is adding new touch panel suppliers for iPad 2, sources say iPad 2 orders could top 6mln units per month. (DigiTimes) In other co. related news, Nokia files patent infringement complaints against co. in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. (RTRS)
 
Google - Co.’s YouTube is looking to buy Web video production company Next New Networks, which has created several successful shows for the Web, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. (NY Times)
 
US Search Engines - comScore releases November 2010 U.S. search engine rankings. Google sites led the US explicit core search market with 66.2% of searches conducted, followed by Yahoo! sites with 16.4% and Microsoft sites with 11.8% (up 0.3%). Ask Network accounted for 3.6% of explicit core searches, followed by AOL Network with 2.0%. (Sources)
 
Companies going Ex-Dividend: CH Robinson Worldwide (USD 0.2900)
 
Broker moves
 

Upgrades:
 
Apple - JPMorgan raises co.’s target to USD 420 from USD 400; rating overweight.
 
Oracle - Co. upgraded to outperform from neutral at Macquarie with a USD 37 price target.
 
Starbucks - Goldman Sachs rates co. conviction list buy.
 
Wynn Resorts - Co. upgraded to overweight from neutral at JP Morgan, price target raised to USD 118 from USD 115.
 
Downgrades:
 
Bank of America - Co. downgraded to market perform from outperform at Keefe Bruyette.
 
Honeywell - Bernstein cuts co.’s price target to USD 59 from USD 61, rating outperform.
 
BB&T - Co. downgraded to market perform from outperform at Keefe Bruyette.
 
Raytheon - Co. downgraded to market perform from outperform at FBR Capital.
 
L-3 Communications - Co. downgraded to market perform from outperform at FBR Capital.
 
Progress Energy - Co. downgraded to neutral from buy at Bank of America, price target USD 45.
 
Comerica - Co. downgraded to market perform from outperform at Keefe Bruyette.
 
Other news
 
General Motors - Co. completed the repurchase of preferred stock issued to the U.S. government last year as part of its bailout. (WSJ)

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