morning market updateEvery 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:

  • European Debt Maturities: There are a significant amount of European debt maturities coming up in the next few weeks:
  • U.S. Printing Money: The world’s central banks are “printing money like gangbusters,” which could revive the threat of inflation, Pimco founder Bill Gross told CNBC Wednesday
  • France Downgrade: Bloomberg says the question is now not whether France gets downgraded but by how much
  • RBS Closing Divisions: RBS announced closure/sale of Cash Equities, Corporate Broking, Equity Capital markets and M&A advisory businesses which generated an income of £220mn in the nine months to September 2011 and are currently unprofitable
  • Icahn Gives up on CMC: Activist investor Carl Icahn has given up on his proxy fight regarding Commercial Metals Company (NYSE:CMC)
  • Two GS Departures: In a surprising shake-up, two of the four executives in charge of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s securities division will leave the company as it struggles with a downturn in its huge trading operation
  • York Capital sells USCR: York Capital Management sold out of its position in U.S. Concrete (Nasdaq:USCR)
  • Foreclosure Filings: Foreclosure filings were reported on 205,024 U.S. properties in December, a decrease of 9 percent from the previous month and down 20 percent from December 2010 (RealtyTrac)
  • Google Search: GOOG not willing to give up on China as the company is hiring people and working on services that don’t need to be officially cencored
  • Spanish Bond Auction: Spain’s bond auction very successful = sold nearly €10B across 3 tranches, virtually double the govt’s stated ‘maximum’ target amount, and thereby covering ~10% of the country’s financing needs for the year. Italy also sold a total of €12B in short-term bills = in-line w/ expectations
  • Midcap Banks: “We preview 4Q results and fine-tune our estimates ahead of the mid-cap banks’ 4Q earnings releases beginning next week. We expect further improvement in loan growth and core credit trends will do battle with modestly declining margins and fee revenues” (UBS)
  • US REIT Outlook: “We maintain our Cautious sector view on REITs as we see 5-10% downside risk for the shares in 2012. The bottom line is we no longer see multiple expansion as long as fundamentals are moderating, debt costs have likely bottomed, leverage remains elevated and yields are low” (GS)

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
  • PE Deals of the Week: The Gores Group, a leading LA-based private equity firm, announced that through an affiliate it has signed an agreement to acquire The Hay Group
  • RF (finally) sells Morgan Keegan unit to Raymond James for $930M
  • GILD/VRUS – deal closed, VRUS coming out of MSCI after tonight’s close
  • According to NY Post, FTC likely to block OCR’s purchase of PMC
  • KMI wants bids for parts of EP exploration and prod’n unit by 1/16. (Bloomberg)
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.
Disclaimer:  The information, opinions, material, and any other content provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not to be used or considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities, investment products, financial instruments, or to participate in any particular investment strategy. The information, opinions, material, and any other content provided in this article does not constitute as a recommendation or as advice to buy or sell securities, investment products,  financial instruments, or to participate in any particular investment strategy.
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Thursday (01/12/12) Pre-Market Morning News: Raymond James Buys Morgan Keegan