February 24, 2014 / 1:33 PM / 4 years ago

MARKET PULSE-Apple, BlackBerry, RF Micro, GT Advanced, HSBC, Humana

(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 edged higher on Monday, with the S&P 500 within points of its record high, though investors may have few reasons to push shares decisively above that level. Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 0.07 percent at 16,104, S&P 500 futures were up 0.25 percent at 1,838.8 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.26 percent at 3,674.

** APPLE INC, Friday close $525.25, -0.21 pct premarket

A major flaw in Apple software for mobile devices could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, the company said on Friday, and experts said Mac computers were even more exposed.

** BLACKBERRY LTD, Friday close $9.14, +3.83 pct premarket

The handset maker said it would make its messaging service, BBM, available to Microsoft’s Windows Phone and the upcoming Nokia X platforms in the coming months.

** TriQuint Semiconductor Inc, Friday close $9.23, +26.22 pct premarket

** RF Micro Devices Inc, Friday close $5.81, +22.20 pct premarket

Radio frequency chipmaker RF Micro Devices will buy peer TriQuint Semiconductor for about $1.6 billion in an all-stock deal to create a company that could better compete in selling chips to mobile-handset makers.

** MEN‘S WEARHOUSE INC, Friday close $45.11, +6.43 pct premarket

** JOS. A. BANK CLOTHIERS INC, Friday close $55.05, +7.76 pct premarket

Men’s Wearhouse said it has raised its cash tender offer for the rival men’s clothing retailer to $63.50 per share from $57.50. Men’s Wearhouse also said it could potentially increase its offer price to $65.00 per share if it is able to conduct limited due diligence.

** NOKIA CORP, Friday close $7.46, +0.40 pct premarket

** MICROSOFT CORP, Friday close $37.98, -0.08 pct premarket

** GOOGLE INC, Friday close $1,203.79

The handset maker soon to be acquired by Microsoft is turning to software created by arch-rival Google for a new line of phones it hopes will make it a late contender in the dynamic low-cost smartphone market.

** CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP, Friday close $26.57, +1.81 pct premarket

The natural gas producer said it was pursuing strategic alternatives for its oilfield services division, including an outright sale or a potential spinoff to Chesapeake shareholders.

** HSBC HOLDINGS PLC, Friday close $54.33, -3.09 pct premarket

Europe’s largest bank missed market expectations with a 9 percent increase in annual profit and warned of greater volatility in emerging markets this year, sending shares in Europe’s biggest bank to a 15-month low. HSBC, which is based in London but made two thirds of last year’s profit in Asia, has axed more than 40,000 jobs and sold or closed 60 businesses over the past three years to cut costs, but has not yet reached its cost efficiency and profitability targets.

** CANADIAN SOLAR INC, Friday close $37.77, +3.92 pct premarket

The solar company said it would supply 18 megawatts of panels to Japanese electronics maker Hitachi Ltd for a power project. In a separate deal, Canadian Solar said it would supply panels to privately held Strata Solar to power five power projects in North Carolina totaling 30 megawatts

Analysts at JP Morgan Securities began their coverage of Canadian Solar’s stock with an “overweight” rating and a price target of $50, citing the company’s project pipeline for this year, which could push margins high. Canadian Solar’s profit is likely to rise four-fold to $4.31 per share this year on an 87 percent rise in revenue, the analysts wrote in a note to clients.

** GT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES INC, Friday close $12.11, +10.24 pct premarket

The solar and LED equipment maker said it could turn profitable in the second half of this year, after reporting a smaller-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. The company, which will open a manufacturing facility in Arizona to make sapphire materials for Apple Inc’s electronics devices, said about 80 percent of its revenue in 2014 will come from the sapphire business, which makes materials used to manufacture LED chips.

** HUMANA INC, Friday close $102.82, -1.67 pct premarket

** AETNA INC, Friday close $70.43, -1.32 pct premarket

** UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC, Friday close $73.81, -1.71 pct premarket

The U.S. government proposed on Friday a cut in payments to private health insurers for 2015 Medicare Advantage plans, a move Republican lawmakers said would hurt benefits for the elderly and disabled.

** ALEXION PHARMACEUTICALS, Friday close $181.52, +0.31 pct premarket

The biopharmaceuticals company focused on rare diseases said the European Commission granted orphan drug designation to Soliris, its drug to cure a complication that causes a transplanted kidney to fail. The drug was granted orphan drug status in the United States last month.

** AUXILIUM PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Friday close $28.76, +1.98 pct premarket

The specialty biopharmaceuticals company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted the marketing application for its drug to treat multiple palpable cords, a painful condition that causes fingers to bent towards the palm. The agency is expected to announce its decision by Oct. 20.

The drug, Xiaflex, is already approved in the United States, European Union, Canada and Australia to treat Peyronie’s disease, a chronic swelling deformity in the penis.

** DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC, Friday close $51.01

Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP wants to put to shareholder vote the restaurant company’s plan to spin off its Red Lobster chain, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a letter Starboard plans to send to shareholders on Monday.

** BOEING CO, Friday close $128.28

The aerospace company’s machinists’ union in St. Louis approved a seven and a half year contract extension that will keep the company’s unionized employees away from a defined benefit retirement plan.

** GENERAL ELECTRIC CO, Friday close $24.94, +0.40 pct premarket

The conglomerate plans to intensify research focusing on complex energy projects such as waterless fracking and gas turbine efficiency by earmarking an additional $10 billion through 2020 for its “ecoimagination” budget. The new spending is set to be announced by Chief Executive Jeff Immelt on Monday.

** LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP, Friday close $80.89, +0.63 pct premarket

The casino operator’s Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson said on Monday his company was willing to spend “whatever it takes” to set up a casino project in Japan, one of the largest untapped gaming markets in the world. Las Vegas Sands is considered a strong candidate to win a license in Japan, should the country open its market to casino gambling.

** SINA CORP, Friday close $72.95, +4.93 pct premarket

The online media firm has hired Credit Suisse AG and Goldman Sachs for a U.S. initial public offering worth about $500 million of its Sina Weibo microblogging service, a source familiar with the plans said on Monday.

** FREEPORT-MCMORAN COPPER & GOLD, Friday close $33.36, +0.27 pct premarket

The U.S. miner is expected to resume copper concentrate exports from Indonesia in the “near future”, a minister said, after halting shipments due to a dispute over new mining rules imposed last month.

** NETFLIX, Friday close $432.23, +1.10 pct premarket

** COMCAST CORP, Friday close $51.05, +1.47 pct premarket

The online video subscription firm has agreed to pay one of the largest broadband providers in the United States Comcast for faster speeds, throwing open the possibility that more content companies will have to shell out for better service. Comcast and Netflix made the joint announcement on Sunday, marking the first time that Netflix is paying for faster speeds in the U.S. after customers complained about slow service.

In another development, the production company behind Netflix’s political thriller “House of Cards” is taking a step that could have come straight from the show’s script: threatening to move filming from Maryland unless lawmakers provide enough tax breaks.

** UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP, Friday close $115.38, +0.02 pct premarket

Turkey signed a deal worth $3.5 billion on Friday to buy helicopters from the company’s Sikorsky Aircraft unit, finalizing an order originally agreed upon in 2011, the prime minister said. The agreement includes options that analysts say could result in billions of dollars of additional orders over the next three decades.

** ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND CO, Friday close $39.99

** BUNGE LTD, Friday close $79.37

Archer Daniels, one of the world’s top grain traders, said on Friday it would not accept crops containing a new genetically modified Syngenta AG corn trait until major importers approve the strain, joining rivals Cargill and Bunge which have signaled they will limit their handling of the product.

** VALERO ENERGY CORP, Friday close $50.23

The refiner plans to begin the overhaul of a crude distillation unit and gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit at its 180,000 barrel-per-day Memphis, Tennessee, refinery in the first 10 days of April, sources said on Friday.

** ENDO HEALTH SOLUTIONS INC, Friday close $78.45

The drugmaker will pay $193 million to resolve civil and criminal allegations of unlawful marketing of the pain treatment Lidoderm, the U.S. Justice Department and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Friday.

** AU OPTRONICS CORP, Friday close $3.18

Innolux Corp, the world’s No.3 flat-panel maker, declined to rule out a potential merger with smaller rival AU Optronics, but a fund manager said such a potential merger may not be realized soon. (Compiled by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore, Editing by Don Sebastian)

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