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

Today’s Top Stories:

  • GS Morning Update: Stocks in Asia were broadly higher Tuesday with notable strength in China on the heels of a better-than-expected 4Q11 GDP growth report overnight (+8.9% vs +8.7% consensus forecast). The strong GDP growth was matched by similar surprises in both Industrial Production and Retail Sales suggesting renewed strength in China’s economy following relaxation of tight monetary policies this past summer (GS)
  • S&P Downgrades European Sovereigns: S&P stripped France of its cherished triple-A rating late Friday and also downgraded Spain’s credit rating by two notches to A from double-A-minus as part of a slew of downgrades of euro-zone countries (WSJ)
  • JPM 4Q11 Investment Banking Results: Total Investment Banking revenues were down 32% from 3Q, with Equities down 45% and FICC down 25% http://bit.ly/wHYzth
  • Romney Leading GOP Race: Romney continues to widen his poll lead heading into the SC primary this Saturday. In an Obama-Romney race, 46 percent say they would vote for the president, while 45 percent say they would back Romney, the Fox News poll finds. Huntsman will exit the GOP presidential race and endorse Mitt Romney
  • U.S. Debt Ceiling: The House returns on Tuesday to focus on a debt ceiling vote expected on Wednesday. “Under the terms of that deal, the debt will increase unless the Senate and Obama go along with the House disapproval — and that’s not going to happen” (TheHill.com)
  • Morgan Stanley Bonuses: The company will pay bonuses this week with cash consideration capped at $125,000, Bonuses of >$125K will be deferred until Dec ’12 and Dec ’13 http://on.wsj.com/w4GHRn
  • Wall Street Bonuses: Compensation consulting is an obscure corner of the management consulting industry, where practitioners operate in the shadows of high finance http://nyti.ms/AtIyia
  • Interview with GS on Economy:  Ahead of the Davos summit, Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn talks to The Sunday Telegraph about the outlook for Europe, the US economy and whether 2012 holds any rays of hope http://tgr.ph/A8S5e6
  • Icahn Buys More WBMD: WebMD Health Corp. (Nasdaq:WBMD) is bucking the trend today, up approximately 3.8%, given that Icahn has disclosed that it has become more than a 10% holder in WBMD common stock http://bit.ly/xxR6aj
  • Lazard Has 5 Weeks To Sell RBS IBD: Lazard Ltd. (LAZ), the largest non-bank merger adviser, has been given five weeks to find a buyer for all or parts of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS)’s equities and advisory operations before managers start firing employees, according to three executives at the bank http://bloom.bg/zCtQyk

M&A Watch:

  • Weekly M&A Trends: M&A volumes declined close to 50% while equity underwriting fell over 80% from the prior week.  Worst week in ECM since 2009 http://bit.ly/wjW2QA
  • Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund to buy Russian Mall for $1.1bn
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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