(For faster updates on individual market-movers, Eikon users please use search string "STXBZ US"; for the Day Ahead newsletter, link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stocks were modestly higher on Monday, a day after the S&P 500's biggest drop in about two months, as some billion-dollar deals helped provide a lift to the market. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.84 percent at 18,005.9 and the S&P 500 was up 0.38 percent at 2,079.17}.
** HEAT BIOLOGICS INC, $8.659, +17.81 pct
The drug developer’s bladder cancer drug received fast-track designation from the FDA. The status expedites review of drugs intended to treat serious conditions that have few or no treatment options.
** APPLE INC, $127.05, +0.36 pct
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook began showing off features of the new Apple Watch on Monday at a presentation in which he is expected to give details of the launch of the product, the first created under his leadership.
Meanwhile, the anticipated standalone streaming service from premium channel HBO will launch in April exclusively on Apple devices, in time for the season premiere of acclaimed series “Game of Thrones,” the network said on Monday.
** PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT INC, $31.61, +15.28 pct
** GAMING AND LEISURE PROPERTIES INC, $35.955, +11.08 pct
Gaming and Leisure, which buys real estate leased to casino operators, went hostile with its offer to buy Pinnacle Entertainment Inc’s real estate assets due to the casino operator’s “failure to engage” in talks.
GLPI said its offer of $4.1 billion, including debt, would speed up and remove risks from Pinnacle Entertainment’s plan, announced in November, to split its real estate and operating assets into two companies by 2016.
** GREEN PLAINS INC, $28.82, +12.67 pct
The ethanol producer said it filed for IPO of downstream ethanol transportation and storage assets and expects to raise $200-$250 million.
** ALTISOURCE PORTFOLIO SOLUTIONS SA, $16.93, -8.68 pct
Sterne Agee cut its price target on the stock of the mortgage servicer by $3 to $15.50, less than two months after downgrading to “underperform”.
“It is difficult to value a company with declining revenues, and we do not think new product initiatives will be enough to fill the hole associated with the declining revenue tied to the shrinking of Ocwen’s servicing portfolio,” analyst Henry Coffey said in a note.
** UTI WORLDWIDE INC, $13.63, +8.26 pct
FBR Capital Markets upgraded the stock of the logistics company to “outperform” from “market perform” and raised price target to $19 from $11.
“We urge investors to buy this stock now as we believe sentiment will markedly improve and Street numbers will adjust upward after the quarterly report (due later in March),” the brokerage said.
** ICICI BANK LTD, $11.02, -3.67 pct
** HDFC BANK LTD, $60.64, -1.97 pct
Indian shares fell more than 2 percent on Monday, their biggest single-day drop in two months, on increased expectation of a Fed rate hike after stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data. Blue chips favored by foreign institutional investors, including ICICI Bank, led the fall.
** COMSTOCK RESOURCES INC, $4.39, -10.04 pct
KLR Group cut its price target on the oil and gas producer’s stock to $8 from $9, citing “higher cost of debt capital related to the terming out of Comstock’s bank line”.
** SPHERE 3D CORP, $7.4, +5.71 pct
The data management and security software provider announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp to offer Glassware 2.0, its technology for application delivery, on cloud platform Microsoft Azure.
** RECRO PHARMA INC, $4.5, +36.78 pct
The drug developer said it bought rights to a pain-killing drug and a related manufacturing plant for $50 million from Alkermes Plc. The deal brings together two complementary pain therapies, Alkermes IV meloxicam and Recro’s lead product Dex-IN.
** AURICO GOLD INC, $2.9, -5.84 pct
** KINROSS GOLD CORP, $2.36, -5.98 pct
** BARRICK GOLD CORP, $10.81, -4.67 pct
** IAMGOLD CORP, $1.945, -4.66 pct
** YAMANA GOLD, $3.655, -2.27 pct
** AGNICO EAGLE MINES LTD, $27.76, -3.14 pct
Gold stocks fall on expectations of a stronger dollar, BMO Capital Markets analyst say.
Gold also fell on Friday after stronger-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls fueled expectations the Fed will raise rates sooner rather than later, and dollar jumped to an 11-1/2 year high.
** SKY-MOBI LTD, $4.12, -13.81 pct
The Chinese mobile application developer’s fourth-quarter revenue fell on sequential basis due to a fall in revenue from feature phones.
** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $203.45, +2.39 pct
Hedge fund mogul William Ackman has purchased a $3.3 billion stake in the company, making his firm the company’s fifth-largest stakeholder, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
** ACELRX PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $5.6899, -34.90 pct
AcelRx said the U.S. FDA had asked the company to conduct an additional clinical study on its pain drug. The regulator rejected the drug, Zalviso, once last July.
** CTI BIOPHARMA CORP, $2.815, +6.23 pct
The company said its experimental blood cancer treatment achieved the main goal of a late-stage study.
Data from the study showed that the drug, pacritinib, was significantly better than the “best available therapy” as prescribed by the patients’ physician to treat myelofibrosis.
** GENERAL MOTORS CO, $37.39, +2.33 pct
The U.S. car maker said on Monday it would launch a new, $5 billion share buyback in an agreement with dissident investors, and put forward a more detailed plan for capital allocation that promises investors the potential for further cash returns.
** WHITING PETROLEUM CORP, $38.18, +12.20 pct
North Dakota’s largest oil producer is seeking a possible buyer, according to the Wall Street Journal, but a person familiar with the board’s thinking told Reuters he was not aware of any such plan.
** ALCOA INC, $13.67, -5.59 pct
** RTI INTERNATIONAL METALS INC, $37.89, +38.89 pct
Alcoa said it would acquire titanium supplier RTI International for $1.5 billion, or the equivalent of $41 per share, in an all-stock transaction as it continues to invest in more profitable products for the aerospace and automotive industries.
** SIMON PROPERTY GROUP INC, $180.59, +0.01 pct
** MACERICH CO, $92.19, +6.31 pct
Simon Property offered to buy rival Macerich for $14.39 billion in cash in a deal that would join the No. 1 and No. 3 U.S. shopping mall owners.
Simon said the enterprise value of the deal was $22.4 billion, including $6.4 billion in debt.
The offer, which is at a premium of 4.9 percent to Macerich’s Friday close, will be 50 percent in cash and 50 percent in Simon common stock.
** AVEO ONCOLOGY, $1.6299, +8.66 pct
RBC Capital upgraded the stock to “sector perform” from “underperform” and raised its price target to $3 from $2.
The company on Friday presented data from a mid-stage study, which showed patients with low protein levels in their blood could benefit from its experimental cancer drug, tivozanib.
** BLACKBERRY LTD, $9.93, -6.94 pct
Goldman Sachs cut its rating to “sell” on the stock, forecasting widening losses in 2016 and 2017, rather than a return to profitability.
“In 2015, the turnaround efforts shift from cutting costs to driving revenues - a more challenging phase that we think will fall short of expectations,” said Simona Jankowski, rated three stars by Thomson Reuters StarMine for the stock’s coverage.
** FOOT LOCKER INC, $60.88, +2.54 pct
Foot Locker reported a better-than-expected rise in same-store sales, a reason the stock could surge another 20 percent this year, according to the March 9 edition of Barron’s.
The retailer is scheduled to present a new financial plan on with targets on March 16.
** 58.COM INC, $44.29, +6.16 pct
The Chinese online classified provider buys minority stake in online interior decoration service To8to for about $34 million in cash.
** OPEXA THERAPEUTICS INC, $0.7802, -3.70 pct
The drug developer said it would receive additional milestone payment of $3 mln from unit of Germany’s Merck KGaA for its experimental multiple sclerosis drug, Tcelna.
** GEVO INC, $0.2794, +12.43 pct
The renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company said it sold renewable Alcohol-to-Jet fuel to NASA. The fuel would be used at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. (Compiled by Rohit T.K. in Bengaluru; Edited by Maju Samuel)