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A marked rise in political risks threatens to derail the eurozone's still fragile recovery, warns the IMF, adding that the region is at a "critical juncture." Managing Director Christine Lagarde also called for the creation of a fund to help finance structural reforms in the euro area, echoing ideas floated by the European Commission in 2012 but subsequently dropped in the face of German opposition.

The European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone emergency fund, has agreed to disburse fresh loans to Greece worth some €7.5B, ensuring the country doesn't default to its creditors later this summer. The move comes after Athens passed a series of painful austerity measures, signed off on a framework to free up the sale of bad loans and agreed to set up a privatization fund.


Japanese households put more money into stocks and mutual funds in the January-March quarter, but the value of their assets dropped for the first time since 2010 - falling 0.6% to ¥1.7 quadrillion - due to a stronger yen and weakening stock market. Despite the slight shift towards riskier assets, it may still be too soon to draw any conclusions on the role played by negative interest rates.

Bernie Sanders has pledged to work with Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election, in a potential sign that his quest to win the Democratic nomination is over. "The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly," he declared. "I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party."

Russian aircraft dropped bombs on rebels battling Islamic State in southern Syria lateThursday, including those supported by the U.S. "We will seek an explanation on this action and assurances this will not happen again," a senior U.S. defense official said. Washington has consistently refused to join forces with Moscow against Islamic State in Syria and has been critical of the Russian presence in the country.


Why did Microsoft's bid for LinkedIn reach an astronomical $26.2B? Well, there could have been other offers involved. Bloomberg reveals that Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) was bidding for the professional social network before it agreed to the record deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). LinkedIn's (NYSE:LNKD) recruiting/jobs products could've complemented Salesforce's cloud CRM apps, and its user data would've likely been integrated with the applications.

Ericsson is being investigated by the DOJ and SEC over possible corruption related to its business in China, Svenska Dagbladet reported late Thursday. A company spokesperson declined to comment on the report, but said Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) was cooperating with U.S. authorities regarding a request for information it had received in March 2013.

The unions representing nearly 40K Verizon (NYSE:VZ) landline workers are expected to ratify a tentative contract today, finalizing a deal last month that ended a drawn-out labor dispute. The parties are anticipating high turnover in favor of the contract amid better gains as compared to management's previous proposal. Verizon workers went back to work on June 1 following a strike that lasted over seven weeks.

Disney is installing signs that warn theme park guests about alligators after a 2-year-old boy was snatched and killed by one of the animals at the company's Orlando resort on Tuesday. The boy's family has not yet announced if it will file a suit against Disney (NYSE:DIS), but relatives said they were "devastated" and thanked "local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly" after the attack.

The drama at Viacom continues after Sumner Redstone removed five of the company's directors, including CEO Philippe Dauman. The latest developments ratcheted up the wrangling for control over Redstone's $40B empire, amid questions over whether the 93-year-old is making his own decisions or is even of sound enough mind to do so.

As state after state legalizes marijuana in one way or another, big names in corporate America have stayed away entirely. But Microsoft (MSFT) is breaking the taboo by announcing a partnership with Kind Financial. The company provides "seed to sale" services for cannabis growers, allowing them to track inventory, navigate laws and handle transactions.

The number of women infected with Zika during their pregnancies in the continental United States has risen to 234, according to health officials. The CDC also said three babies have been born in the country with birth defects connected to Zika infections during the mothers' pregnancy, along with three cases of lost pregnancies linked to the virus. Related tickers: SNYINOAEMDXONCEMIBCRXTMOOTCQB:GOVX

California's insurance commissioner is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to block Anthem's (NYSE:ANTM) takeover of Cigna (NYSE:CI), stating it will raise premiums in the state. "California has a highly consolidated insurance market today," Dave Jones declared, adding that the two companies would control 61% of the state's administrative services market alone.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has ended its probe of Lumber Liquidators (NYSE:LL) for selling formaldehyde-laden flooring without issuing a product recall, while calling for corrective measures it has already largely undertaken. The stock is still down more than 70% since the devastating 60 Minutes report in March last year that plunged the retailer into losses and led to the exit of top executives. LL +12.2% premarket.

HSBC has agreed to pay $1.6B to settle a lawsuit related to subprime lending. The deal remains subject to court approval, but if it proceeds, HSBC is expected to record a $585M pre-tax charge in Q2 (it could have faced liability as high as $3.6B). Investors appear to be digesting the charge well this morning, with the stock up 1.6% premarket.

Looking to bolster its weak position in the onshore market, Siemens (OTCPK:SIEGY) has agreed to combine its wind business with that of Gamesa (OTCPK:GCTAY) to create the biggest builder of wind farms. Having weathered years of overcapacity and losses, the wind industry is now thriving as demand for carbon-free electricity increases.

Dow Chemical has become the first foreign company to receive a trading license from Saudi Arabia, giving it full ownership in the country's trading sector. The initiative is part of Saudi's plans to diversify its economy and end its dependence on crude exports amid weak global oil prices. DOW unchanged premarket.

Mitsubishi Motors is planning to pay around $600M to compensate owners of four minivehicle models where it overstated mileage readings, with each owner receiving ¥100K ($960). The money will cover any extra costs, such as those for gasoline, while any increase in taxes as a result of the fraud will be paid separately by Mitsubishi (OTC:MMTOY).

Search teams have retrieved a damaged cockpit voice recorder from EgyptAir flight MS804 in a breakthrough for investigators hoping to explain what caused the plane to plunge into the Mediterranean last month. Officials are also putting together a map of the Airbus A320 (OTCPK:EADSY) debris on the seabed to determine whether the plane broke apart in the air or stayed intact until it struck the water.

NASA is poised to designate an all-electric plane concept today as its newest, futuristic aircraft in the biggest boost yet for the idea of building airliners that don't burn fuel. The plane, expected to be called the X-57, will be the next aircraft the U.S. has pursued through its "X-Planes" series, and could fly as early as next year.

Thursday's Key Earnings

Oracle (NYSE:ORCL+2% AH following cloud business growth.
Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC+7.6% AH on strong guidance.

Today's Markets 

In Asia, Japan +1.1% to 15599. Hong Kong +0.7% to 20169. China +0.4% to 2885. India+0.4% to 26625. 
In Europe, at midday, London +1.2%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +1.1%
Futures at 6:20, Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq flat. Crude +1.6% to $47.48. Gold -0.6% to $1290.30. 
Ten-year Treasury Yield +4 bps to 1.6%

Today's Economic Calendar

8:30 Housing Starts
10:00 Atlanta Fed's Business Inflation Expectations
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count


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