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Reports US

US stock market, economy and companies update (February 24, 2014)

February 24, 2014, Monday, 18:55 GMT | 13:55 EST | 23:25 IST | 01:55 SGT
Contributed by Trade The News

- The S&P500 is matching all-time highs this morning as markets move higher in a risk-on atmosphere. As of writing, the DJIA is up 1.13%, the S&P500 is up 0.97% and the Nasdaq is up 1.04%.

- Another regional Fed survey is much better than the sum of its parts: the headline Feb Dallas Fed manufacturing poll looked dreadful, however the employment and shipment sub-indices were good, and new orders didn't slide too much.

- Natural gas futures gained another 2% earlier this morning on fears about another go-round with the polar vortex, however natgas prices slide more than 3% rapidly after 07:30ET to $5.89 from highs above $6.45. The weakness stemmed from milder adjustments to weather forecasts. Crude is just shy of $103, up a bit, putting it around the highs seen over the summer of 2013 and in early 2012.

- EUR/USD pushed out to test last week's highs around 1.3770 earlier this morning in the wake of the solid February Germany IFO survey, but the pair dropped to 1.3710 as US traders came to their desks. Comments by former ECB Chief Trichet that it would be possible the ECB would consider a new QE program sent EUR/USD back toward its highs.

- Shares of Humana are up 7.5% in the early going this morning after the company disclosed that the proposed government cuts to the private Medicare Advantage program are less than expected, only a 3.5-4.0% decline rather than the 6-7% decline estimated earlier. Note that the final version of the funding proposals will be published on April 7th.

- Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast for a direct connection to its internet service customers. The terms of the deal between Comcast and Netflix are not clear, but it appears that Comcast will connect directly with Netflix - which will mean that CDNs like Level 3 and Limelight Networks will no longer be getting the same fees from Netflix. Verizon was out this morning saying it was working on a very similar deal with Netflix. Investors like it, and shares of NFLX are up 2.3%.

- The 2014 Mobile World Congress 2014 is on this week in Barcelona and producing plenty of headlines. Nokia unveiled an Android-based smartphone priced at $129. Nokia also introduced another so-called "smartphone" that sells for $67. Ford has dropped Microsoft in exchange for BlackBerry to run its Sync in-car communications and entertainment system. Deutsche Telekom said it was developing a secure voice and text app in the wake of the Snowden affair and the Facebook/WhatsApp deal. IBM said it would spend $1 billion on new cloud capabilities, including putting its portfolio of business software into the cloud.

- Men's Wearhouse has again increased its offer for Jos. A. Bank, raising the bid a mere 2.4% to $63.50/shr but also hinting they could off $65/shr. Men's Wearhouse said it could potentially increase its offer price to $65 per share if it is able to conduct limited due diligence with access to Jos. A. Bank's management team.

- RF Micro Devices and TriQuint Semiconductor are both up 20% a piece after agreeing to a $3.0B meger of equals. The all-stock deal valued at $9.73/Triquint share, a 5% premium to prior close. TriQuint shareholders will receive 1.675 shares of the combined company and RFMD shareholders will receive 1 share for each TriQuint or RFMD share held.

***Looking Ahead***
- 12:15ET Commerce Secretary Pritzker conducts Q&A with LNKD's CEO Jeff Weiner
- 13:00ET Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with congressional defense leaders before holding a press conference to unveil details of the FY 2015 defense budget

***Economic Data***
- (BR) Brazil Fe FGV Consumer Confidence: 107.1 v 108.9 prior
- (CL) Chile Jan PPI M/M: 0.8% v 1.7% prior
- (TR) Turkey Feb Capacity Utilization: 73.3% v 73.9% prior; Real Sector Confidence: 104.6 v 101.4 prior;
- (US) Jan Chicago Fed National Activity Index: -0.39 v -0.20e
- (BE) Belgium Feb Business Confidence: -4.0 v -5.6e
- (MX) Mexico Jan Unemployment Rate: 5.1% v 4.9%e; Unemployment Rate Seasonally Adj: 4.8% v 4.8%e
- (IL) Israel Central Bank cuts Base Rate to 0.75% from 1.00%
- (US) Feb Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity: 0.3 v 3.0e