Jan 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks slipped into negative territory in early trading Monday, in the wake of a number of economic reports, including U.S. service sector growth which showed a slowdown in December. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.02 percent at 16,474.1, the S&P 500 was down 0.04 percent at 1,830.61 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.36 percent at 4,117.13.
** SIRIUS XM HOLDINGS INC, $3.825, +7.14 pct
** LIBERTY MEDIA CORP, $142.98, -1.62 pct
Liberty Media on Friday said it would offer to buy out the minority shareholders in satellite radio provider Sirius XM, in a deal that could give cable mogul John Malone a freer hand in driving cable consolidation.
** MEN‘S WEARHOUSE INC, $52.22, +3.22 pct
** JOS. A. BANK CLOTHIERS INC, $56.78, +3.45 pct
Men’s Wearhouse mounted a hostile $1.61 billion bid for Jos. A. Bank in an attempt to break the resistance of its smaller rival and pacify investor demand for a merger of the suit retailers.
** SELECT COMFORT CORP, $17.335, -18.81 pct
** TEMPUR SEALY INTERNATIONAL, $52.35, -3.73 pct
The specialty mattress maker estimated holiday-quarter sales below analysts’ average expectations, blaming a slowdown during the period from Cyber Monday through the end of December.
Shares of rival Tempur Sealy fell after Select Comfort also warned that the weak shopping trends would continue into 2014.
** HHGREGG INC, $12.91, -5.07 pct
The appliance and electronics retailer said it expects third-quarter revenue well below analysts’ average expectations, hurt by heavy promotional activity for its television and tablet products during the holiday season. The company said third-quarter revenue would be about $707.1 million, lower than the average analyst estimate of $776.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** VERSO PAPER CORP, $1.9, +192.31 pct
The coated paper maker said it would buy privately held NewPage Holdings Inc for about $900 million in cash and Verso bonds to form a larger company that can withstand increasing pressure from digital media.
** CUI GLOBAL INC, $6.83, +5.24 pct
Brokerage Dougherty & Co started coverage on the electronic products distributor with a “buy” rating, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
The stock was trading nearly one-and-a-half times its average 10-day volume.
** COMBIMATRIX CORP $2.7695, +9.04 pct
The clinical diagnostic laboratory said investment adviser Longwood Capital Partners LLC took a 5.08 percent stake in the company. (link.reuters.com/gav75v)
** OXYGEN BIOTHERAPEUTICS INC, $6.2, +30.25 pct
The specialty pharmaceutical company said it plans to enroll the first patient later this year for a late-stage study of its heart drug, levosimendan. The company, which has a market capitalization of about $50 million, plans to enroll 760 patients in the trial.
** TWITTER INC, $64.88, -5.97 pct
At least two brokerages cut their rating on the microblogging website’s stock on Monday.
CRT Capital Group cut Twitter’s stock to “fair value” from “buy” on valuation. Morgan Stanley also cut its rating on the stock to “underweight” from “equal weight”, benzinga.com reported.
** EBAY INC $53.26, -3.55 pct premarket
Brokerage Morgan Stanley downgraded the e-commerce company’s stock to “equal weight” from “overweight”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** FIRST SOLAR INC, $51.22, -9.73 pct
** SOLARCITY CORP, $65.772, +10.97 pct
Analysts at Goldman Sachs cut their rating on First Solar to “sell” from “buy”, saying growth in the United States was likely to shift away from utility-scale solar projects to rooftop projects in the coming years. The analysts said First Solar’s technology was ill-suited for rooftop projects, calling it “mis-positioned” versus U.S. solar peers.
The analysts raised their rating on SolarCity to buy from neutral, saying it was well positioned to capitalize on fast growth in the rooftop market.
** JINKOSOLAR HOLDING CO LTD, $34.68, +6.58 pct
The Chinese solar company signed a loan agreement with China Development Bank for about $66 million. The 15-year loan will be used to build three solar plants in Western China.
** RENESOLA LTD, $4.16, +2.21 pct
The Chinese solar products maker said it won a contract to supply 420 megawatts of panels to a project developer based in Japan. ReneSola did not name the company. Shipments will begin this month and is expected to be completed by December 2015.
** ARIAD PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $6.65, -6.99 pct
** SAREPTA THERAPEUTICS INC , $18.0001, -11.94 pct
Citigroup cut the ratings on both companies to “sell” from “neutral”, according to Theflyonthewall.com.
** PROSENSA HOLDING NV $5.95, +5.50 pct
JP Morgan analyst Richard Vosser cut his rating on the company’s stock to “underweight” from “neutral”, saying that its drug, drisapersen, is unlikely to be approved based on existing data. The drug is being tested to treat a genetic muscle disorder in young boys.
** WORLD FUEL SERVICES CORP, $44.08, +3.14 pct
The U.S. fuel logistics company said it would buy England-based privately held Watson Petroleum Ltd for $191 million. The deal, which is expected to be completed in the next three months, could add $0.18-$0.22 per share to World Fuel’s earnings in the first year, the company said.
** XPO LOGISTICS INC, $29.51, +5.28 pct
** PACER INTERNATIONAL INC, $8.95, +7.44 pct
XPO Logistics said it would buy Pacer International for $335 million to become the third-largest North American provider of intermodal services, one of the fastest-growing areas of transportation logistics.
** ARATANA THERAPEUTICS INC, $19.75, +3.40 pct
The pet medication products maker said it acquired Belgium-based Okapi Sciences NV, expanding its presence in Europe and broadening its product portfolio.
Aratana paid about 10.3 million euros ($14 million) in cash and issued a promissory note for 11 million euros with a maturity date of Dec. 31. Aratana also agreed to pay an additional 12 million euros in cash or shares of common stock under certain conditions.
** CELL THERAPEUTICS INC, $2.33, +5.91 pct
The company said Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which decides if drugs should be paid for on the state health service, said its cancer drug, Pixuvri, was cost-effective and recommended its funding as a treatment for adult patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The company said it expects to launch Pixuvri in England and Wales in early spring, when NICE’s recommendation is implemented.
** GENWORTH FINANCIAL INC, $15.99, +3.90 pct
Analysts at UBS raised the rating of the financial services company’s stock to “buy” from “neutral”, according to theflyonthewall.com. (Compiled by Rohit T.K. in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)