U.S. stock indexes fell at the open on Wednesday as investors fretted that strong private jobs data could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to scale back an asset purchase program that has boosted equities for much of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.31 percent at 15,866.07, the S&P 500 was down 0.35 percent at 1,788.83 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.19 percent at 4,029.417.
** CITIGROUP INC, $51.25, -1.69 pct
** JPMORGAN CHASE & CO, $56.77, -0.16 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, $51.355, -7.55 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, $16.55, -0.06 pct
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, $38.7, +1.47 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, $19.7, -20.15 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, $6.39, +174.25 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.
** ONCOMED PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $32.15, +16.07 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.
** HEWLETT-PACKARD CO, $28.49, +3.60 pct
The PC maker is set to cut 1,124 jobs in Britain at the start of next year, the Unite union said. Unite said it had attended a meeting where managers were outlining their plans to cut jobs at the group’s sites in Bracknell, Sheffield and Warrington in the first three months of 2014.
** AT&T INC, $34.3, -1.27 pct
J.P. Morgan cut its rating on the U.S. telecom carrier’s stock to “neutral” from “overweight”.
** IMMUNOMEDICS INC, $4.5699, +3.39 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.
** U.S. BANCORP, $38.97, +1.17 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, $49.91, -9.42 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, $64.04, +9.86 pct
The apparel company reported a better-than-expected 23 percent rise in third-quarter profit, helped by strong demand across businesses.
** SCHLUMBERGER NV, $86.95, -0.79 pct
The oilfield services company said on Tuesday that it expected the temporary shutdown of its operations in southern Iraq last month in a “security incident” to reduce fourth-quarter profits by about 2 percent.
** GUIDEWIRE SOFTWARE INC, $49.03, +9.00 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, $15.04, -5.94 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.
** NETAPP INC, $40.46, -0.69 pct
Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the data storage equipment maker’s stock to “equal weight” from “overweight” on Tuesday.
** PANDORA MEDIA INC, $29.54, +4.49 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, $42.93, -5.34 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, $51.91, -3.89 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, $45.72, -2.22 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, $5.19, +3.39 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, $3.4501, +4.55 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.
** LAREDO PETROLEUM HOLDINGS INC, $26.57, +0.26 pct
The oil and gas explorer said its fourth-quarter production would be below its expected range as its operations in the Permian region were affected by power outages, reduced access to production and drilling facilities, curtailed trucking services, and drilling and completion delays due to adverse weather conditions.
The company said that over half of its wells remained shut and production at many operating wells was curtailed.
** AMBIT BIOSCIENCES CORP, $9.3, -27.34 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, $25.95, -4.38 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)