India rejects Novartis bid for patent protection for Glivec. In a landmark decision with ramifications for all the pharmaceutical majors, India’s Supreme Court decided against granting patent protection to Novartis’ (NVS) cancer drug Glivec, thus allowing the country’s generic drugmakers to continue to sell copies at a lower price. The drug was originally rejected from patent coverage in 2006, and the saga since is the most prominent of several battles determining how much protection foreign companies can get from Indian competitors making generic-versions of their products.
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S&P move to record catches analysts off-guard. Shares of companies in the index are trading just 5% shy of analyst estimates – the closest in 7 years, and against a typical gap of 14%. Bulls say the narrowed gap shows the sell-side has been caught flat-footed and will quickly move to ratchet estimates higher, providing more impetus for the rally. Bears say the slowness of analyst response is another sign stocks have gotten ahead of themselves.
China PMI gauge at 11-month high. China’s official PMI rose to 50.9 in March, up from 50.1 previously and now at an 11-month high. Still, the print missed analyst expectations of 51.2. "We are clearly in a lot better state than we were at the end of last year," said IHS’ Alistair Thornton, but the economy faces "fairly large headwinds" such as property curbs and tighter supervision of "shadow" banking.
Top Stock News
Tesla Model S Sales Exceed Target. Tesla (TSLA) announced Model S sales of more than 4,750 units, exceeding mid-February guidance of 4,500. As a result, the company is upping Q1 earnings guidance, and now expects to be profitable on both a GAAP and non-GAAP basis. Also announced: The small battery option for the Model S will not enter production due to lack of demand. "Customers are voting with their wallet that they want a car that gives them the freedom to travel long distances when needed," says the company.
Dell may consider Blackstone bid with CEO guarantee. Previously seen as hostile to the Blackstone (BX) bid for Dell (DELL), Michael Dell is reportedly considering joining in if the P-E firm guarantees his staying on as CEO. Silver Lake – which partnered with Dell for the original $13.65 offer – now considers it possible Dell will drop out of their arrangement to back an alternative plan. With $4.5B in company stock, Michael Dell has leverage as he could cash in, walk away, and leave any buyer with a large financing gap.
Libor suits by bondholders tossed out of court. A federal judge dismissed claims of bondholders against banks such as Bank of America (BAC), Barclays (BCS), and JPMorgan (JPM) due to the inability of the plaintiffs to show they were harmed. "It might be unexpected that we are dismissing a substantial portion of plaintiffs’ claims … (but) there are many requirements that private plaintiffs must satisfy but which government agencies need not."
FDA approves new J&J diabetes drug. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) received approval from the FDA for Invokana – a new type 2 diabetes treatment causing blood sugar to be excreted in the urine, rather than affecting the supply or use of insulin. Next up, the company must carry out five studies determining whether the drug increases the risks of strokes, heart attacks, and other side effects. Invokana is forecast to generate sales of $667M by 2016.
Top Economic & Other News
China unveils new property curbs. Trying to cool the again-bubbly property market, Beijing banned single-person households in the city from buying more than one residence and increased the minimum down-payment required for all buyers of 2nd homes. The city of Shanghai introduced similar measures. Citing "very serious" property bubbles in some regions, Ag Bank chief economist Xiang Zongzuo said measures thus far have seen "very limited" results because they focus on curbing demand rather than boosting supply.
Russia won’t help out Cyprus depositors. "It’s a terrible shame," said First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, but the Russian government will not aid businesses that lost money on the Cyprus bank deposit haircut. The statement underscores Russia’s resolve to clamp down on the flight of capital to offshore banking systems such as Cyprus.
Toys ‘R’ Us cancels IPO plan. The toy retailer – mostly owned by Bain Capital – withdrew its IPO plan after first filing for such nearly 3 years ago, citing "unfavorable market conditions and the company’s recently announced executive leadership transition." The CEO last month announced his resignation as the company struggles for growth amid competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com.
In Asia, Japan -2.1% to 12135. Hong Kong closed. China -0.1% to 2234. India +0.2% to 18871.
In Europe, at midday, London, Paris, Frankfurt all closed.
Futures at 7:00: Dow flat. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq flat. Crude -0.5% to $96.72. Gold +0.2% to $1598.55.
Notable earnings before today’s open: CALM
Notable earnings after today’s close: none
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