Facebook Pops and KFC is Investigated in China: Morning Buzzers

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Feeling the weight of indecision in Washington, markets traded lower in the morning on Monday before the Christmas break. Lawmakers will return to Washington on Thursday, leaving just a few days to prevent unwanted austerity measures and tax increases from automatically taking effect with the new year.

At 11:49 AM: S&P: -0.30%, Nasdaq: -0.34%, Dow: -0.33%.

Here’s what’s buzzing in the morning:KFC

Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) trekked up as much as 2.11 percent in the morning following news news that an investigation by the Shanghai Food and Drug administration turned up acceptable levels of antibiotics and steroids in KFC chicken, but a suspicious level of an antiviral drug banned for use in food. The investigation was launched after the state-run China Central Television reported that KFC chicken contained high levels of antibiotics. China accounts for nearly half of Yum! Brands’ revenue.

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Zynga, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA) will reportedly be closing its office in Japan. The move comes after CEO Mark Pincus announced a 5 percent staff reduction in October.

After much speculation, French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen will not merge with Opel, the German car manufacturer owned by General Motors Company (NYSE:GM). Despite some hiccups in the arrangement, GM and Peugeot are still moving forward with a parts-buying and production relationship aimed at cutting costs and curbing losses in the struggling European car market.

Shares of Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) received a boost on Monday morning after analysts at Needham & Co. raised their price target on the stock from $25 to $33. Full-year 2013 revenue estimates were increased from $6.27 billion to $6.5 billion with earnings revised from $0.59 per share to $0.65 per share.

ChinaDaily reports that China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE:CHU) sold the largest share of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 devices over the weekend launch. Web statistics show over 300,000 online orders, while management reports a comparable number of in-store sales. Contrary to what many expected to be a soft reception, reports indicate that the new iPhone is immensely popular in the country, with China Unicom reducing its subsidy on the phone.

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