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) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010.

Thursday's Early Headlines

  • Greece Reportedly To Get Debt Aid -- European leaders, meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, said a deal had been reached regarding Greece and its debt but that details would be withheld for the time being. RTE News reports EU president Herman Van Rompuy has announced a deal has been reached to help Greece cope with its deficit crisis, but that the agreement needs to be discussed with all EU leaders before all details are revealed.
  • Jobless Claims Fall Below Consensus -- The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 440,000 last week from a revised 483,000 the prior week, below the average economist target of 465,000. Continuing claims fell to 4.538 million from 4.617 million.
  • FirstEnergy to Buy Rival Allegheny in $8.5 Billion Deal -- First Energy (FE) - Get Free Report and Allegheny Energy( AYE) have announced a stock-for-stock merger. Allegheny shares are valued at $27.65 a share, or $4.7 billion, based on the closing stock prices for both companies on Wednesday. FirstEnergy will also assume about $3.8 billion in Allegheny net debt. The merger would create a power company with about $16 billion in annual revenue and $1.4 billion in annual earnings.
  • AIG Rolls Out Graded Incentive Pay Program -- American International Group (AIG) - Get Free Report has unveiled a new incentive pay system where the insurer will rank employees on a scale of 1 to 4, based on how they do relative to their peers. "These ratings will help ensure that our people are accountable, recognized and rewarded for their achievements," a spokesperson told Reuters. The move follows public outrage over AIG bonus payments following the insurer's massive bailout by the U.S. government.
  • Motorola Reportedly Alters Split Plans -- Motorola( MOT) is moving to break in two its division that makes set-top boxes and wireless-networking gear, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Motorola has signaled it will continue an auction for its wireless-networking businesses, and spin off its set-top box business with its core handset business into a new, publicly traded company, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. It was previously thought the company would sell off the set-top box and wireless-networking gear business, the largest of Motorola's divisions.
  • Air Products Goes Hostile in Bid for Airgas -- Air Products (APD) - Get Free Report has launched a hostile offer for Airgas (ARG) at $60 a share after its friendly bids were rejected. The offer expires on April 9. Airgas earlier this week rejected a $5.1 billion unsolicited takeover offer from Air Products saying the bid "very significantly undervalues" the company.

Thursday's Earnings Roundup

  • PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Free Report posted a fourth-quarter profit of 90 cents a share, matching the Thomson Reuters average estimate. Sales were up 4.5% to $13.3 billion, which also matched estimates. PepsiCo said it expects full-year 2010 earnings will rise 11% to 13% on a constant currency basis.
  • Marriott (MAR) - Get Free Report reported a fourth-quarter profit of 32 cents a share, which was above the 26-cent-a-share analyst target. Revenue was down 12.1% to $3.38 billion, which also came in better than forecasts. Looking ahead to the first quarter and full-year 2010, Marriott offered in-line earnings and revenue guidance.
  • Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) said it earned 46 million euros ($63.4 million) in the fourth quarter as revenue fell almost 20% to 3.97 billion euros. Alcatel said it was "too early to have a firm view on the extent of margin expansion," and the company cut its adjusted operating profit for 2010 to a range of 1% to 5%, as opposed to the 5% it had previously forecasted.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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