The 6am London Cut | FT Alphaville

The 6am London Cut

Markets: A Wall Street rally failed to ignite the few Asian markets not shuttered for the lunar new year holidays. On Friday India’s Sensex opened flat following Thursday’s 0.8 per cent decline, triggered by the US Federal Reserve’s move to taper asset purchases by $10bn per month. Markets were also flat in Japan and Australia. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index had shed 2.5 per cent on Thursday. Asia’s other bourses are closed to observe the lunar new year holiday in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Korea. (FT’s Global Markets Overview)

Japan’s benchmark inflation rate accelerated to 1.3 per cent in December, government data showed on Friday, capping a year in which aggressive central bank easing helped to push consumer prices up for the first time in half a decade and towards the BoJ’s 2 per cent target. Average core inflation for all of 2013, a measure that excludes the volatile price of fresh food, was 0.4 per cent, according to the interior ministry. (Financial Times) Credit Suisse point out though, that on a monthly, seasonally-adjusted basis, core prices actually fell 0.1 per cent last month – the first monthly decline in nine months. Moreover, the report estimates that core prices in Tokyo were flat in January. (FastFT)

Microsoft’s directors could name a successor to Steve Ballmer as chief executive within days, according to two people familiar with its plans, setting the stage for only the third leader in the software company’s 39-year history. Satya Nadella, the executive in charge of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise division, is seen as the likely successor, one of these people said, while cautioning that the board had yet to meet to make the formal selection. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Financial Times)

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, may earn as much as $23m in 2013 – a 10 per cent increase on the previous year – despite the bank’s struggle to overcome a slump in fixed income trading. His rise comes as the bank cut bankers’ bonuses across the board, with the payroll falling 3 per cent to $12.6bn for a pay-to-revenues ratio of 36.9 per cent, a percentage point lower than at the end of 2012. (Financial Times)

“Amazon.com Inc missed Wall Street’s estimates for the crucial holiday period and cautioned investors about a possible operating loss this quarter as shipping costs climb, pushing its shares down more than 5 percent.” (Reuters) It is also asking whether higher shipping costs warrant it charging customers nearly 50 per cent more for its Prime delivery plan. (Financial Times)

Google was held back by rising losses at the Motorola handset business which it agreed this week to sell to Lenovo for $2.9bn. Google’s earnings cane below expectations in the final months of 2013 but optimism about the company’s Android mobile software business in the wake of the planned Motorola disposal contributed to a 4 per cent jump in Google’s shares in after-market trading, extending a rally that had added 2.6 per cent in normal market hours. (Financial Times)

(On the) Blinkx, the online video search company spun out of Mike Lynch’s Autonomy, lost a third of its market value on Thursday after a Harvard academic published a blog alleging it used questionable tactics to boost advertising revenue. Shares in London-listed Blinkx closed down 33 per cent at 117p, having lost almost 50 per cent of their value earlier in the session. (Financial Times) (FT Alphaville)

Zynga is to pay more than $500m to buy NaturalMotion, the UK-based developer of mobile apps such as Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing, in the social gaming company’s largest acquisition yet. (Financial Times)

“Blackstone, TPG Capital LP and CVC Capital Partners Ltd are on a short list of buyout firms competing to acquire Gates Global Inc, in a deal expected to value the industrial company at $5 billion to $6 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. Gates, owned by Onex Corp and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, has chosen those private equity firms for a second round of bidding after reviewing initial offers submitted last week, the people said.” (Reuters)

COMMENTS etc

England must reject currency union with Scotland (Financial Times, Wolf)

Why is India so rarely compared to, say, Zimbabwe? Election edition (Financial Times)

Floating rate notes and why the Fed is under pressure to continue innovating (Financial Times, Tett)

Brussels yesterday proposed tightening oversight of the repo and securities financing market (Financial Times)

Bravo for Bernanke and the QE era (WSJ)

“You just can’t help people in this country who aren’t ready for prime time” (Financial Times, Silverman)