September 12 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Friday, Sept. 12:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were trading flat to slightly higher Friday ahead of data on retail sales and consumer sentiment.

European stocks were largely down on Friday. Stocks in London bucked the trend and were gaining as the threat of Scotland voting for independence next week has receded over the past two days..

Asian stocks were mixed.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Friday includes retail sales for August at 8:30 a.m. EDT, export and import prices for August at 8:30 a.m., the University of Michigan sentiment for September at 9:55 a.m. and business inventories for July at 10 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Thursday finished with a lack of conviction amid uncertainties about the country's renewed involvement in the Middle East and concerns for the direction of the global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.12% to settle at 17,049. The S&P 500  rose 0.09% to 1,997.45. The Nasdaq  gained 0.12% to 4,591.81.

4. -- The U.S. government wanted to charge Yahoo! (YHOO) $250,000 a day in 2008 if it didn't comply with a request to surrender online information.

Yahoo! said it regarded the expansion of U.S. surveillance as unconstitutional.

The outlines of Yahoo!'s secret and ultimately unsuccessful court fight against government surveillance emerged when a federal judge ordered the unsealing of some material about the Internet company's court challenge. 

Yahoo! said Thursday the government amended a law to demand user information from online services, prompting a challenge in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration.

"Our challenge, and a later appeal in the case, did not succeed," Yahoo! general counsel Ron Bell said.

5. -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) pleaded guilty to felony charges that former employees bribed Russian government officials for a contract. The printer and computer maker was fined $58.7 million.

Hewlett-Packard's Russian subsidiary admitted violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a Northern California court Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

The U.S. alleged that the HP division paid $2 million to retain a technology contract with Russian prosecutors.

"In a brazen violation of the FCPA, Hewlett-Packard's Russia subsidiary used millions of dollars in bribes from a secret slush fund to secure a lucrative government contract," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Marshall L. Miller. "Even more troubling was that the government contract up for sale was with Russia's top prosecutor's office."

6. -- Alliance Data Systems  (ADS) , which manages credit cards and loyalty programs for retailers, agreed to buy digital marketing company Conversant (CNVR) for about $2.3 billion.

The deal is expected to close by the end of 2014.

7. -- Ulta Salon (ULTA) , the beauty products retailer, saw its shares soar more than 13% to $110.36 in after-hours trading on Thursday after it reported better-than-expected second-quarter results and raised its outlook for the year.

Ulta said an increase in online sales and new products helped boost its results.

Sales in stores open at least 14 months and online sales combined rose 9.6% during the quarter, driven by growth in both the number of transactions and the average ticket, Ulta said.

For the full year, the company said it now expects earnings per share and revenue to each grow 20% from the previous year. In June, the company said it expected earnings per share and revenue to grow in the mid-teens percentage range from the previous year.

8. -- Darden Restaurants (DRI) , the owner of the Olive Garden restaurant chain, is forecast by Wall Street to report fiscal first-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share.

9. -- Hertz (HTZ) , the rental company, reached an agreement in principle with billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn to appoint three new board members.

As part of the agreement, Icahn agreed not to run a proxy contest at Hertz's annual shareholders meeting next year and agreed to vote in favor of the company's nominees at the meeting.

Icahn disclosed an 8.48% stake in Hertz last month and announced plans to increase value for shareholders. The activist investor said one of his problems with the company was "lack of confidence in management."

10. -- General Motors (GM) issued a "stop delivery" order that will interrupt supply of one of its hottest selling vehicles: the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The automaker wants to fix two potential problems with the vehicle before they leave the plant in Bowling Green, Ky., or leave dealer lots, spokesman Alan Adler told the newspaper. An air bag problem affects about 2,000 Corvettes that are either at the plant or at dealerships, and a parking-brake issue affects an additional 800 cars, most of which are at dealers.

The interruption in deliveries is "an effort to deal with quality issues quickly and completely," Adler told the Journal. GM hasn't issued a recall at this point.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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