**Economic Data*** - (CZ) Czech Feb Budget Balance (CZK): -10.6B v 13.1B prior - (BR) Brazil Feb PMI Manufacturing: 55.8 v 57.8 prior - (BE) Belgium Jan Unemployment Rate: 8.0% v 8.1% prior - (CA) Canada Jan Industrial Product Price M/M: 0.3% v0.5%e; Raw Material Price Index M/M: 3.3% v 2.2%e - (CA) Canada Dec Gross Domestic Product M/M: 0.6% v 0.4%e; Q4 GDP Annualized: 5.0% v 4.0%e - (US) Jan Personal Income: 0.1% v 0.4%e; Personal Spending: 0.5% v 0.4%e - (US) Jan PCE Core M/M: 0.0% v 0.0%e; Y/Y: 1.4% v 1.4%e; PCE Deflator Y/Y: 2.1% v 2.2%e - (BR) Brazil Jan Trade Balance: $0.4B v $1.0Be - (US) Feb ISM Manufacturing: 56.5 v 57.8e; Price Paid: 67.0 v 68.1e - (US) Jan Construction Spending M/M: -0.6% v -0.6%e
- Trading got off on the right foot this morning, with an impressive slate of merger deals undergirding sentiment. The latest Greece developments are also stimulating risk appetite, now that it appears Germany and France will step up and have state-owned banks buy up to â‚¬30B in Greek bonds. The US January personal spending index showed consumer spending growth for the fourth consecutive month. The February ISM Manufacturing data was a little soft, with the new orders sub index a focus for some concern, although the employment sub index was better than expected. Copper had spiked in Asian and European thanks to the earthquake in Chile, although the contract for March delivery is near its post-quake lows in mid morning trading still up close to 2% on the day. Treasury prices opened lower and remain under some modest pressure. The 10-year yield is trading just below 3.62%.
- AIG's sale of its AIA unit to the UK's Prudential is the big M&A news this morning. In other deal news, Japanese drugmaker Astellas launched a $3.5B hostile takeover offer for OSI Pharmaceuticals, bidding $52 a share in cash, 40% above Friday's closing price. Note that this move follows Astellas' unsuccessful $1.1B bid last year for CV Therapeutics. Roche partners with OSI on lung and pancreatic cancer drug Tarceva and some say Roche may emerge as a rival bidder. Late in the morning OSIP said the unsolicited offer undervalues the company. After unsubstantiated reports of interest from Thermos Fisher, GE and Danaher in recent days, Germany's Merck KGaA swept in and snapped up biotech supplier Millipore for around $6B in cash, at $107/shr, or a 13% premium to Friday's closing costs and about 50% higher than the closing price on 2/19, the last day of trading prior bid rumors made the rounds.
- In earnings, DISH Network beat top- and bottom-line expectations, while losses at former unit Echostar are still piling up. DISH is up 5%. SATS opened down slightly, but has popped back up into positive territory in early trading. Natural gas names El Paso and Targa Resources both crushed earnings estimates, and El Paso also raised its daily production guidance. EP is up 6%, while NGLS is up 2% or so. sp
- Sterling entered the New York session morning with market sentiment heavily skewed to the downside on continued weakness attributed to M&A flows from Prudential's purchase of AIG's AIA unit. GBP/USD gapped to test 1.4785 before retracing to the 1.4930 area. The stronger Canadian GDP data helped the loonie firm up. EUR/USD is consolidating in the lower quarter of its session range but has managed to hold above the lows made in February.
***Looking Ahead*** - 11:00 (IC) Iceland Q4 Current Account (ISK): No est v -36B prior - 11:00 Germany's Merkel and Spain PM Zapatero press conference - 12:00 (IT) Italy Feb New Car Registration Y/Y: No est v 30.2% prior - 14:00 (IT) Italy Feb Budget Balance: No est v 4.2B prior; YTD: No est v 4.2B prior
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