Every morning the Street of Walls team puts out an update on market levels, today’s top stories, and active M&A deals.

Today’s Top Stories:

  • Lowe’s Buys Online Retailer: UBS thinks the acquisition of online retailer ATG is a nice bolt-on in the right strategic direction.  Profit contribution expected to be minimal in the short term, not a lot of financial details disclosed
  • Pending Home Sales Soar: “The pending home sales index increased by a more than expected 7.3%m/m (cons: 1.5, UBS 3.0%) in Nov after jumping 10.4% in October. The last time the index was higher was in April 2010 when the homebuyer tax credit was in effect. A sale is considered pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction hasn’t closed”
  • IMF Warned Greece on Debt Levels: The International Monetary Fund recently told the Greek government that a worsening economic outlook suggests the beleaguered nation may be unable to reduce its debt to sustainable levels even with a planned 50% write down in privately-held Greek government bonds, according to two officials familiar with the conversations http://on.wsj.com/uTMViR
  • 2012 Top Investment Themes: The world is facing 4 structural supply shocks http://bit.ly/uWyMI9
  • Banks Prepare for Facebook IPO: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Are Considered Front-Runners for Top Job in Handling 2012?s Trophy IPO http://on.wsj.com/tynNui
  • 4-week jobless claims lowest since June 2008: “Although initial jobless claims rose for the first time in the month of December to 381k (cons 372k, UBSe 375k) from a revised 366k (was 364k), the four-week average, at 375 k, was down roughly 20k from a month earlier and roughly 30k from two months earlier. New jobless claims have been falling, on balance, in 2011. The latest four-week average of 375 k compares with an average of over 400k in the first three quarters of 2011” (UBS)
  • Sears closing 100-120 Kmart & Sears Stores: “Among the public REITs, Sears/Kmart closings should be a bigger threat to the class B or C malls, in addition to strip center REITs as fundamentals for retailers in these properties are taking longer to recover than those occupying class A malls” (Goldman Research)

M&A Watch:

  • Weekly M&A Trends: Completed M&A volumes doubled from last week to $49.5 billion. 4Q11 volumes are averaging 11% below the 3Q11 average. Expect precedent transactions to be comp’ing down double digits for 2011 http://bit.ly/rAKBwc
  • LOW announced its acquisition of Allied Trade Group (ATG Stores), a WA-based operator of 500+ specialty online stores with over 3.5 million products from more than 3,000 name brand manufacturers
Disclosure: I do not have a position in any stocks mentioned in this article, do not have a plan to initiate a position within the next 72 hours.
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