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09/30/2014 03:33 AM
By Wall Street Breakfast:

Following Argentina's proposal to swap BNY Mellon for a local bank as trustee on its restructured debt and plan to pay bonds under local law, U.S District Judge Thomas Griesa has declared Argentina in contempt of court. Despite the ruling, the country's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman says Griesa's decision is a "violation of international law." Argentina plans to deposit the next interest payment due on its restructured debt with a local bank today.

Japan's economy took another big hit in August, with figures displaying annual household spending plunging 4.7%, falling for a fifth straight month. Trade ministry data also shows industrial output dropping 1.5% in August. The effects of the April 1 sales tax hike to 8% from 5% continue to take a toll on the country's economy, as it shoots for its 2% inflation goal by around mid-2015. The Bank of Japan is in no mood to deploy additional easing anytime soon, although a weakening yen will make that target very difficult.

Protestors continue to block many central roads and highways in Hong Kong, as pro-democracy demonstrations extend into their fifth day. Leaders have now issued a warning that the standoff would escalate in coming days if their demands aren’t met. The number of protestors have swelled into the tens of thousands, calling for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to resign and for the government in Beijing to drop plans to control the 2017 leadership election.

The U.S. is set to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum, with output likely to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991. U.S. production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was level with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5M barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. U.S. crude production in August was still lower than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Chances of a Dreamworks buyout is slimming, reports WSJ, although it is still not clear what led the takeover talks between SoftBank (SFTBF) and the animation studio to cool. Reports now say the companies could ultimately strike a deal other than an outright takeover, including some kind of content partnership. Dreamworks Animation (DWA) shares rose 26% yesterday, but fell -7.4% in AH trading.

Microsoft is unveiling its next version of Windows in San Francisco today. New features are expected to be specifically catered to corporate buyers, who shifted away from Windows 8's less work-friendly features. Separately, the Chinese regulator investigating Microsoft (MSFT) in China for alleged antitrust violations has announced that it will conduct an open and fair investigation, after Chief Executive Satya Nadella promised full cooperation in the case yesterday. The tone sharply contrasts with the way Chinese investigators have carried out the case so far, conducting surprise inspections and seizing material.

The iPhone 6 has finally been approved to be sold in China, the world's largest smartphone market and one of Apple's (AAPL) largest for iPhone sales, ten days after its global launch. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was previously concerned about security risks that could result in personal data breaches, but resolved the issues through "rigorous security testing" and talks with Apple.

Just three months into the top job at Ford, Mark Fields cut the auto maker's full-year profit outlook on higher recall costs in North America and steep losses in Russia and South America. Ford (F) now expects pretax profit this year to be $6B-$7B, approximately $1.5B less than it had forecast in July.

The U.S. Army has revised plans to award an $800M helicopter contract to Airbus (EADSY) and does not expect to decide until January whether to open the proposed deal to competition, according to a court filing. Previously, Finmeccanica's (FINMY) AgustaWestland unit sued the U.S. Army over the plans saying its helicopters would be cheaper to buy and operate.

Boeing is further consolidating its defense business, moving significant portions of the division out of Washington state. The new changes affect the jobs of about 2,000 of its 5,200 defense employees in the Puget Sound region, and are part of ongoing efforts by Boeing (BA) to streamline the business. The company says the transition could take three years to complete and that it would shift as many affected workers as possible to commercial jetliner operations.

Fund data and ratings firm Morningstar has downgraded Pimco's flagship Total Return Fund (BOND) to "bronze" from "gold" on the uncertainty regarding outflows and management following the resignation of Pimco co-founder Bill Gross. Despite the downgrade, "Morningstar remains positive overall on Pimco Total Return," says Morningstar analyst Eric Jacobson.

Royal Bank of Scotland says it will release £800M ($1.3B) from provisions it had put aside to cover losses on bad loans following an improvement in the economy, especially in Ireland. RBS (RBS) expects losses from bad loans to be "significantly" lower than its previous guidance of £1B this year due to continued improvement in economic conditions and asset prices.

Six weeks after disclosing a possible June/July data breach, Supervalu (SVU) says a separate intrusion occurred in late August or early September. The company believes an intruder installed different malware into the portion of its computer network that processes payment card transactions at some of its food retail stores and associated stand-alone liquor stores. Supervalu says the incident is now under investigation.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -0.8% to 16174. Hong Kong -1.3% to 22933. China +0.3% to 2364. India +0.1% to 26631.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.1%. Paris +1%. Frankfurt +0.5%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +0.5%. Crude +0.2% to $94.78. Gold -0.6% to $1211.30.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +4 bps to 2.53%

Today's economic calendar:
7:45 ICSC Retail Store Sales
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index
9:45 Chicago PMI
10:00 Consumer Confidence
10:00 State Street Investor Confidence Index

Notable earnings before today's open: [[WAG]]

Notable earnings after today's close: [[SANW]]

See full real-time earnings coverage »

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