NEW YORK (
) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Monday, June 21, 2010.
Monday's Early Headlines
- China Unshackles Yuan From the Dollar -- China's central bank said over the weekend it plans to allow the yuan, which has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since 2008, to be traded with more flexibility ahead of the Group of 20 meeting. The bank said it would rely more on a basket of currencies that includes the dollar to determine the exchange rate for the yuan. U.S. Treasurys sank while the yuan jumped to nearly a two-year high. Despite increased flexibility, China said Sunday that a substantial appreciation in the currency was "not in China's interests" and that the exchange rate would remain "basically stable."
- BP Oil Spill Costs Reach $2 Billion -- BP (BP) - Get Report said that costs of responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have risen to $2 billion, news that sent shares of the oil giant trading in New York lower by 3.6% in the premarket session. The costs include those of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs, the company said in a statement. To date, more than 65,000 claims have been submitted and more than 32,000 payments have been made, totaling over $105 million, BP said.
- JPMorgan in Talks to Buy Brazil's Gavea: Report -- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report is in advanced discussions to buy Gavea Investimentos, an asset management company that manages about $5.3 billion (£3.6bn) in assets, The Financial Times reports, citing people close to the situation. JPMorgan is moving ahead with talks to buy the large Brazilian hedge fund and private-equity group despite impending U.S. legislation designed to limit the involvement of commercial banks in such activities, the report notes.
- Affymax Shares Plunge Following Anemia Drug Results -- Affymax (AFFY) said its experimental anemia drug Hematide met the primary endpoints of a Phase 3 clinical trial. However, a difference in cardiovascular composite safety endpoint, or CSE, events was noted when a subgroup analysis was conducted in non-dialysis patients, the company said. In the PEARL trials, which evaluated correction and maintenance treatment of anemia in non-dialysis patients, the frequency of CSE events was higher in the Hematide group (21.6%) versus the comparator (17.1%). Shares of Affymax dropped 63.3% to $8.42 on the announcement.
- Ralcorp to Buy American Italian Pasta -- Ralcorp (RAH) is buying American Italian Pasta (AIPC) for about $1.2 billion. Under the deal, Ralcorp will acquire all outstanding shares of American Italian Pasta for $53 a share in cash. This is a 27% premium to American Italian Pasta's closing price of $41.73 on Friday.
- Corn Products to Buy National Starch -- Corn Products (CPO) agreed to acquire National Starch, a global maker of specialty starches, from Akzo Nobel for $1.3 billion in cash. A combination of the two companies will create an "ingredients solutions leaders with nearly $5 billion in revenues," Corn Products said Monday. On a cash basis, the transaction is expected to be accretive by the end of 2011, Corn Products said.
- Biovaile, Valeant Agree to Merge -- Specialty drugmakers Biovail (BVF) and Valeant (VRX) have agreed to merge. The combined company will be called Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. Under the terms of the merger, Valeant stockholders will receive 1.7809 Biovail shares for each Valeant share they own plus a one-time special cash dividend of $16.77 a share. Upon completion of the merger, which is expected to occur before the end of 2010, Biovail stockholders will own about 50.5% of the combined company while Valeant stockholders will own roughly 49.5%.
-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston
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