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:

  • GS Morning Update: “Stocks in Asia traded mostly lower Thursday amidst little local news and unimpressed with better-than-expected US December auto sales reported Wednesday. And stocks in Europe are also trading lower this morning as investors may be focusing on this morning’s sovereign debt auction in France which saw the yield on 10-year bonds rise 11 bp to 3.29% – a sharp contrast to the steep decline in yields that Italy experienced in a bond auction last week” (GS)
  • EU Banks in Focus: the SX7P index is now in the red for the week (off 2.3% so far Thurs morning) amid ongoing worries about capital
  • Defense Spending: the Pentagon will deliver an overview of planned spending cuts during a major address Thurs (remember gov’t trying to cut ~$500bn from the defense budget)
  • Housing Market: the Pentagon will deliver an overview of planned spending cuts during a major address Thurs, the paper talks about converting foreclosed properties into rentals and also loan modifications to help minimize new foreclosures http://1.usa.gov/w2YEQJ
  • Blackstone Fundraising: Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) will conclude fundraising for its latest buyout fund in January, raising just over $16 billion, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, in a 4-year process challenged by the global financial crisis http://reut.rs/zvdcKl
  • RBS Scaling Back IB: has hired investment bank Lazard to advise it on a scale-back of its investment banking arm, including options to sell parts of the business (Reuters)
  • RBS Cutting 10k: Royal Bank of Scotland Group could shed up to 10,000 bankers as part of its plan to retreat from investment banking (DJ)
  • SocGen Cutting 10% of IB: on Wed said it was considering cutting about 10% of its IB headcount http://on.ft.com/xkat0b
  • KBW Best Ideas of 2102: KBW is hosting their Best Ideas conference tomorrow at the Grand Hyatt in NYC. Below are some select slides along with some of their top picks http://bit.ly/wNSunJ
  • MOS Earnings: “Mosaic (MOS) reported Q2 f2012 headline results of $1.40/sh. Excluding unusual items (foreign currency transaction gains), we estimate operating earnings of $1.32/sh versus our estimate of $1.25/sh and consensus of $1.30/sh (Bloomberg). The main difference from our expectation was lower corporate expenses and higher other income” (Barclays)

Economic Calendar:

  • Sale Store Sales on Thursday: “We expect Dec to be strong, driven by easier comps, aggressive promos, and strong post-Christmas demand; We favor LTD, also ROST, ARO, URBN, TJX; GPS could be weak” (UBS Research)

M&A Watch:

  • Weekly M&A Update: M&A volumes decline by over 50% while equity underwriting saw some improvement http://bit.ly/xgT4fL
  • CS On Capital Markets: It continues to be a tough market out there for small to mid-size brokerage firms that are struggling to stay alive in this lower trading and banking activity http://bit.ly/wiksT7
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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