(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. stocks edged higher in choppy trading on Wednesday after a mixed bag of economic data tempered recent expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will wind down its massive stimulus earlier than expected. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.28 percent at 15,870.47, the S&P 500 was down 0.32 percent at 1,789.47 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.18 percent at 4,030.128.
** CITIGROUP INC, $51.81, -0.61 pct
** JPMORGAN CHASE & CO, $57.19, +0.58 pct
EU antitrust regulators fined six financial institutions including Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup a record total of 1.71 billion euros ($2.32 billion) on Wednesday for rigging financial benchmarks. The other banks penalized are Societe Generale, JPMorgan and brokerage RP Martin.
Goldman Sachs cut its rating on Citigroup to “neutral” from “conviction list-buy.”
** SEARS HOLDINGS CORP, $51, -8.19 pct
Billionaire Edward Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Partners, distributed about 7.4 million shares of the U.S. retailer to investors in the fund, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday. Following the distribution, ESL and its affiliates, including Lampert, had a stake of 48.4 percent as of Dec. 2, down from 55.4 percent as of March 19, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
** FORD MOTOR CO, $16.62, +0.36 pct
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, $39.14, +2.62 pct
Major automakers reported their best U.S. sales month in six and a half years in November as aggressive discounting and the continued popularity of big pickup trucks helped trounce Wall Street forecasts. But some investors were worried that the discounts signaled a return to the unhealthy practices that eroded industry profits in the years before the global recession of 2009.
** EXPRESS INC, $18.73, -24.08 pct
The apparel retailer joined other U.S. retailers in forecasting a weaker-than-expected holiday quarter due to muted Thanksgiving sales and a highly promotional environment.
** OCULUS INNOVATIVE SCIENCES INC, $6.2, +166.09 pct
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s anti-scar treatment for raised and red scars resulting from burns, surgical procedures and trauma wounds.
The treatment, Microcyn Scar Management HydroGel, will be marketed by Oculus’s U.S. dermatology partner, Quinnova Pharmaceuticals, in the first half of 2014.
** ARCA BIOPHARMA INC, $2.04, +41.68 pct
The company said the U.S. health regulator accepted the investigational new drug application for its heart drug, Gencaro. The drug will be evaluated as a potential treatment for atrial fibrillation in a mid-stage study - expected to begin enrollment in the first quarter of 2014, the company said in a statement.
** BRE PROPERTIES INC, $59.5, +11.49 pct
Essex Property Trust Inc, a manager of residential properties on the U.S. West Coast, has offered to buy the company for about $5 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.
** ONCOMED PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $29.61, +6.90 pct
Jefferies raised its price target on the biotechnology company’s stock to $46 from $27, saying the deal with Celgene Corp validates OncoMed’s platform and drug pipeline and relieves OncoMed of any near-term financing risk.
The deal with Celgene, announced on Tuesday, would help OncoMed develop and market six of its experimental anti-cancer stem cell drugs, and fetch it upfront payments of $177.25 million.
** EBAY INC, $51.165, -1.47 pct
Evercore cut its rating on the e-commerce company’s stock to “equal-weight” from “overweight,” citing rising competition from retailers who are working to shorten delivery times and making cross-border exchange of goods more convenient.
** HEWLETT-PACKARD CO, $28.3, +2.91 pct
The PC maker is set to cut 1,124 jobs in Britain as part of plans to lay off 27,000 employees globally by the end of 2014, the company said on Wednesday.
** TESLA MOTORS INC, $138.56, -4.24 pct
U.S. auto regulators have asked the car maker for records of consumer complaints, property damage claims and other details as part of a federal probe into two Tesla electric cars that caught fire on U.S. roads since October.
** AT&T INC, $34.46, -0.81 pct
J.P. Morgan cut its rating on the U.S. telecom carrier’s stock to “neutral” from “overweight”.
** IMMUNOMEDICS INC, $4.7922, +8.42 pct
The biopharmaceutical company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug status to its experimental drug IMMU-132 for the treatment of small cell lung cancer.
Orphan status is granted to drugs that treat conditions or diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. The status usually comes with a seven-year marketing exclusivity if the drug is approved for sale.
** KINDER MORGAN INC, $33.15, -5.39 pct
** EL PASO PIPELINE PARTNERS, $36.87, -9.03 pct
At least two brokerages cut their price targets on the pipeline company’s stock, citing its lower-than-expected dividend outlook. Kinder Morgan said it expected to declare dividend of $1.72 per share for 2014, an 8 percent increase from its targeted dividend of $1.60 per share for 2013.
Analysts at RBC Capital Markets said the dividend was 9 cents below their estimates.
Kinder Morgan owns interest in El Paso Pipeline.
** U.S. BANCORP, $39.01, +1.27 pct
Goldman Sachs raised the stock of the fifth-largest U.S. commercial bank by assets to “conviction list-buy” from “neutral,” saying higher capital expenditure, slowing savings rate and improving government spending in 2014 are likely to boost the lender’s revenue growth.
** BOB EVANS FARMS INC, $52.54, -4.65 pct
The restaurant operator reported second-quarter results below analysts’ estimates, hurt by a higher-than-expected rise in sow prices. The company also lowered the top end of its adjusted earnings forecast range for fiscal 2014.
** G-III APPAREL GROUP LTD, $64.71, +11.01 pct
The apparel company reported a better-than-expected 23 percent rise in third-quarter profit, helped by strong demand across businesses.
** CF INDUSTRIES HOLDINGS INC, $236.61, +10.47 pct
Analysts at RBC Capital Markets started coverage of the company’s stock with a “sector perform” rating and a price target of $235, saying its planned $3.8 billion expansion of facilities would significantly increase capacity in 2015-2016 and partially offset the effect of lower nitrogen prices.
The analysts said the company’s margins would remain strong despite modestly lower nitrogen prices.
** PLUG POWER INC, $1.1, +39.10 pct
The fuel cell maker said it would turn profitable in 2014, helped by higher sales orders and cost management.
The company said it was negotiating sales agreements with several large customers and expected orders to range between $30 million and $40 million in the fourth quarter.
** MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP, $84.76, -2.56 pct
** HOLLYFRONTIER CORP, $46.46, -3.11 pct
** VALERO ENERGY CORP, $45.38, -2.97 pct
** PHILLIPS 66, $69.59, -1.43 pct
** TESORO CORP, $56.18, -2.16 pct
The closely watched spread between U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and European benchmark Brent CL-LCO1=R fell more than a dollar to about $15 per barrel on Wednesday. A narrower spread could shrink margins for U.S. refiners, which process cheap U.S. crude into gasoline, diesel and other products to be sold at prices linked to the more expensive Brent.
** GUIDEWIRE SOFTWARE INC, $47.17, +4.87 pct
The company, which provides software to the property and casualty insurance industry, reported a smaller-than-expected adjusted loss and higher-than-expected revenue for the first quarter ended Oct. 31.
** OMNIVISION TECHNOLOGIES INC, $14.915, -6.72 pct
The chipmaker forecast current-quarter revenue way below analysts’ estimates. The company, which pioneered imaging sensors that use both sides of a chip to deliver better quality in a smaller-sized camera, forecast third-quarter revenue of $310 million-$340 million. Analysts on average were expecting $399.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
** PANDORA MEDIA INC, $29.74, +5.20 pct
The Internet radio company said the number of active listeners in November rose 16 percent from a year earlier to 72.4 million.
** TERADATA CORP, $14.27, +2.29 pct
Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the data analytics firm’s stock to “underweight” from “equal weight” late on Tuesday.
** ACCESS MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP, $51.93, -3.85 pct
The natural gas services provider priced its offering of 6 million common units at $51.45 per unit on Wednesday, below its stock’s closing price of $54.01 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
** OASIS PETROLEUM INC, $46.15, -1.30 pct
The oil and gas producer said it planned to sell 7 million shares and would use the proceeds of the offering to repay debt.
Analysts at SunTrust Robinson cut their price target on the stock to $62 from $66, citing the offering.
** CHEMOCENTRYX INC, $5.17, +2.99 pct
The company said its experimental drug to treat a potentially fatal autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of blood vessels showed improvement over standard treatment in the first two steps of a 12-week treatment. The drug, CCX168, is currently being tested in a mid-stage study to treat ANCA-associated renal vasculitis.
** HANWHA SOLARONE CO LTD, $3.44, +4.24 pct
The solar products maker said it signed a deal with Jiangsu Zhongtian Technology Co Ltd for development of photovoltaic (PV) projects. Hanwha SolarOne will manufacture PV modules for Jiangsu Zhongtian’s 150 megawatt energy project in China.
** AMBIT BIOSCIENCES CORP, $8.1699, -36.17 pct
The company said it would not file an application for approval of its lead drug candidate, quizartinib, after the U.S. health regulator said the company’s mid-stage trial results did not warrant accelerated approval.
As a result, the drug, code-named AC220, will be tested further in a late-stage study for the treatment of relapsing and treatment-resistant strains of acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
** CELLDEX THERAPEUTICS INC, $26.72, -1.55 pct
The company said it would offer 6.5 million shares of its common stock to fund clinical development and to meet working capital needs. The company did not disclose the price at which it would offer the shares. ($1 = 0.74 euros) (Compiled by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)