February 3, 2014 / 2:18 PM / 4 years ago

MARKET PULSE-AT&T, Herbalife, Biogen, Pfizer, BioTelemetry

(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stock index futures were set to edge higher on Monday, after the S&P 500 closed its worst month since May 2012 on Friday. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.02 percent at 15,633, S&P 500 futures were up 0.03 percent at 1,777.1 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.01 percent at 3,514.25.

** AT&T INC, Friday close $33.32, -0.87 pct premarket

** T-MOBILE US INC, Friday close $30.57, +0.00 pct premarket

** VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC, Friday close $48.02, -1.35 pct premarket

AT&T’s plan to cut prices on its large shared data plans is aimed at winning customers in an increasingly fierce competition with rivals such as T-Mobile US and could force larger rival Verizon to offer new discounts, analysts said.

** GOOGLE INC, Friday close $1,180.97, +0.00 pct premarket

** INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINE, Friday close $176.68, +0.00 pct premarket

U.S. officials are likely to allow China’s Lenovo Group to buy IBM’s low-end server business and Google’s Motorola Mobility handset business if Lenovo agrees to concessions aimed at protecting U.S. national security, experts said.

** JOS. A. BANK CLOTHIERS INC, Friday close $56.22; -3.77 pct premarket

** MEN‘S WEARHOUSE INC, Friday close $48.04

Jos. A. Bank rejected on Sunday yet another offer by rival Men’s Wearhouse, the latest in a prolonged acquisition battle between the two men’s clothing retailers.

** PFIZER INC, Friday close $30.4, +1.41 pct premarket

The drugmaker’s experimental breast cancer drug significantly improved patient survival rates in a mid-stage trial without their condition worsening, maintaining the company’s lead in the race for a new treatment standard for the disease.

** BIOGEN IDEC INC Friday close $312.64, +1.87 pct premarket

The company said its multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, was approved by the European Commission for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease.

Biogen said it would launch Tecfidera in the European Union countries in the coming weeks.

Tecfidera was approved in the United States, Australia and Canada last year and generated sales of $398 million in Biogen’s fourth quarter.

** POST HOLDINGS, Friday close $53.53, +2.52 pct premarket

Food group Nestle is selling its sports nutrition business under the PowerBar and Musashi brands to U.S. group Post Holdings, the Swiss company said, in its drive to shed underperforming assets. The world’s biggest food company is reviewing its portfolio to identify brands to be improved or sold, having already offloaded the bulk of its Jenny Craig weight-loss business in November.

** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC, Friday close $135.64

The Canada-based company said it would buy PreCision Dermatology Inc for $475 million in cash to strengthen its skin products business.

** HERBALIFE LTD, Friday close $64.37, +4.89 pct premarket

The nutrition and weight loss company estimated fourth-quarter profit above analysts’ expectations and announced a $1 billion debt offering.

** BIOTELEMETRY INC, Friday close $7.29, +15.23 pct premarket

Wireless medical technology company BioTelemetry said Mednet Healthcare Technologies and its units entered into a consent judgment stating that they infringed on five patents owned by BioTelemetry, which are all valid.

BioTelemetry said it bought all outstanding shares of Mednet, which makes cardiac monitoring devices, for $16 million. The purchase price comprises $5.5 million in cash, $800,000 of BioTelemetry’s common stock and the assumption of $9.7 million of debt.

** BANK OF AMERICA CORP, Friday close $16.75, +0.12 pct premarket

A New York state judge on Friday approved most of the bank’s $8.5 billion settlement with investors over toxic mortgage securities, but left a caveat that could complicate its efforts to implement the deal.

** GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC, Friday close $164.12

The investment bank is increasing its investment in an upscale chain of fitness clubs founded by a Russian former fencer, betting lifestyle spending will grow despite an economic slowdown and slide in the rouble currency. Goldman’s Special Situations Group (SSG) already owned 12.5 percent of the chain, called World Class. Under the latest deal, SSG and Russian bank VTB will buy out a stake owned by Alfa Capital Partners, an investment unit of billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, and will jointly own 50 percent of the business.

** CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS INC, Friday close $137

** TIME WARNER CABLE INC, Friday close $133.27, +2.12 pct premarket

Charter Communications is discussing raising its bid for Time Warner Cable as soon as in the next two weeks, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could pressure its reluctant rival ahead of a proxy deadline.

** MEDIVATION INC Friday close $79.6, -2.63 pct premarket

At least two brokerages, including Needham & Co and Bernstein, cut their ratings on the drugmaker’s stock.

Needham & Co analyst Chad Messer downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy,” saying that the company could face hurdles during the development of its prostrate cancer drug, Xtandi, for wider use in patients who had not received chemotherapy.

Messer also said that Medivation’s drug could face competition from similar drugs being developed by Johnson & Johnson and privately-held companies including Tokai Pharmaceuticals and Viamet Pharmaceuticals Holdings LLC.

Bernstein downgraded the stock to “market-perform” from “outperform”, according to Streetinsider.com.

** PULTEGROUP INC, Friday close $20.32, +0.00 pct premarket

Susquehanna Financial Group raised its rating on the No.2 U.S. homebuilder to “positive” from “neutral,” after the company reported strong results on Jan. 30 and said it was “optimistic” about the spring home-selling season.

** GENERAL MOTORS CO, Friday close $36.08, +0.00 pct premarket

The company’s unit Opel said it had signed a collective labor agreement with employees at its German factories in Ruesselsheim, Kaiserslautern and Eisenach, in an accord that includes a job protection guarantee until 2018.

** CHEVRON CORP, Friday close $111.63, +0.63 pct premarket

The company plans to keep spending roughly $40 billion per year for the next several years on new oil and natural gas projects in a bid to lift production that is on track to be flat for the third straight year.

** MERCK & CO INC, Friday close $52.97

The drugmaker has received approaches from large consumer companies interested in buying its consumer healthcare business, best known for Coppertone sunscreen and Claritin allergy medicine, according to people familiar with the matter.

Separately, Belgian biotech company Ablynx signed a deal with Merck worth up to 1.7 billion euros ($2.29 billion) to develop potential new treatments for cancer.

** RANDGOLD RESOURCES LTD, Friday close $68.9, +4.18 pct premarket

The miner said it was looking to partner with smaller rivals weakened by lower gold prices and would continue to spend on exploration this year, as it posted record production for 2013.

** HARMONY GOLD MINING CO LTD, Friday close $2.88, -1.39 pct premarket

The South African gold producer posted a second-quarter loss, hit by a lower bullion price and production problems at its key Khusalethu mine. The company said on Monday that it also recorded a loss on foreign exchange adjustments due to rand weakness on dollar-denominated loans and gold inventories.

** NEWMONT MINING CORP, Friday close $21.6, +0.69 pct premarket

The gold and copper producer might curtail operations in Indonesia unless its dispute with the government over a new export tax is resolved in the next couple months, Chief Executive Gary Goldberg said on Friday.

** RYANAIR, Friday close $47.25, +7.17 pct premarket

The Ireland-based company reported strong forward bookings and an easing of intense price competition among European airlines, raising hopes it can quickly regain height with a new customer-friendly image after a profit warning spooked markets last year.

** NOVARTIS, Friday close $79.07, +1.02 pct premarket

The Swiss drugs group intends to cut or transfer up to 4,000 jobs, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported on Sunday, citing an internal email. The plan affecting up to 6 percent of Novartis’s pharmaceuticals workforce comes on top of a plan to reduce the number of production sites and is part of a larger drive to cut costs, the newspaper said.

** GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC, Friday close $51.54, +0.39 pct premarket

The company is set to unveil plans to launch late-stage clinical trials on 10 new drugs over the next two years, the Telegraph reported, without citing sources.

** ARTHROCARE CORP, Friday close $45.38, +7.32 pct premarket

Britain’s Smith & Nephew is to buy ArthroCare for an agreed $1.7 billion in cash to strengthen its treatments for sporting injuries, an area growing faster than its main replacement hips and knees business.

** GIVEN IMAGING, Friday close $29.95, +0.17 pct premarket

The Israeli camera-in-a-pill maker said it received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for a pill to provide visualization of the colon. The pill, called the PillCam Colon, has a global market of 3 million procedures a year and may be used for detection of colon polyps in patients after an incomplete optical colonoscopy, Given Imaging said.

** UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS INC, Friday close $45.84

The parent company of United Airlines plans to lower the number of daily departures from its unprofitable Cleveland hub starting in April because of insufficient demand, according to a memo to employees.

** ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC, Friday close $69.1, -0.32 pct premarket

Czech oil firm Unipetrol has completed the buyout of the company’s minority stake in its refining unit Ceska Rafinerska, in the latest move to reshape an industry hit by low margins and unstable prices.

** LHC GROUP INC, Friday close $22.94

** BIOSCRIP INC, Friday close $8.51, +5.76 pct premarket

Home healthcare and hospice services provider LHC Group said it would buy BioScrip’s home health business for $60 million in cash, expanding its business to 33 locations in five states.

LHC said the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the first quarter, would add $0.05-$0.10 per share to its earnings in 2014.

BioScrip said the deal would add to its earnings in 2014. (Compiled by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

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