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August 15 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

7. -- Senator Charles Schumer (D., N.Y) announced a plan to limit corporate tax deductions for companies that engage in inversion, the legal but controversial practice in which a U.S. company buys a foreign competitor and at least nominally shifts its headquarters overseas to reduce its tax rate.

Schumer said his goal was to stop "earnings stripping," in which companies move around debt and assets on paper to lower tax rates in the U.S.

Recent inversion deals include those by Medtronic (MDT) and AbbVie (ABBV)

8. -- Metals and mining company BHP Billiton (BHP) said that it was planning a demerger of its aluminum, nickel and manganese asssets, potentially creating a $14 billion spinoff company. BHP now has a market cap of about $185 billion. The spinoff businesses don't add much to the company's earnings.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's Portfolio Proves He's a Dividend Growth Investor

The Anglo-Australian mining company's shares were up 2.18% in premarket trading to $72.70. 

9. -- J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) shares are up as the retailer beat estimates in its earnings report Thursday after the bell. Penney's reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss of $172 million on sales of $2.8 billion (compared to analyst estimates of $2.7 billion in sales). Comparable sales also rose 6%.

The results are a customer endorsement of CEO Mike Ullman's policies. Ullman was fired as CEO in 2011 and replaced with Ron Johnson. But Johnson's plan to end popular coupons and take "JCP" upscale ended after 17 months with the reinstallation of Ullman.

In premarket trading, J.C. Penney stock was up 3.29% to $10.08, crossing that important $10 mark for the first time since September 2013. 

10. -- Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management was on the J.C. Penney board till August 2013; now Ackman's hedge fund has sued the U.S. government over the terms of the $187.5 billion federally funded bailout of Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) in 2008. The Pershing Square suit claims that in its bailout the government schemed to "strip all profits" from Fannie and Freddie shareholders. The Treasury Department has used language in the initial bailout to justify keeping all profits from Fannie and Freddie.

Pershing Square said it wanted damages and restitution. The hedge fund owns about 10% of both Fannie and Freddie's shares. 

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Nora Morrison is an editor, writer and researcher on music, popular culture and business. She is an associate editor at TheStreet, and is on Twitter at No Ticker.
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