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The Fokker Chronicles



After scientists, CDC officials, and military personnel pronounced Fokker flu-free, or at least well enough to lift my quarantine from the pit of despair, the powers that be reluctantly allowed for a news-brief for the Minyans. Armed with a box of Kleenex, a handful of Tylenol extra-strength caplets, a fresh cup of hot tea... lemon and honey added for extra kick, and rubber gloves and a surgical mask, yours truly has been fighting his way back this morning to bring you the news from the proverbial Green Mile, literally and figuratively. Phlegm-filled graphic images aside, here's hoping you and yours have a happy and prosperous and more importantly, healthy New Year.

World Markets:
The first day of trading in 2004 around the world has been a positive one so far. With better economic data out of Europe as a backdrop, European indices are advancing this morning and giving some traders optimism that the US manufacturing number due out later this morning will show further economic expansion as well. The Spanish IBEX was the European leader today up 1.50% while the German DAX posted a gain of 1.40%. Japan remained closed since Tuesday but the Hang Seng added 1.79% today. US equity markets were preparing to start '04 on a positive note and in 2003 style, were poised to open higher in the face of a weaker US dollar.

The government is due to report its ISM manufacturing figures for December at 10amEDT. The Bloomberg survey was estimating a 61.0 reading for last month. No earnings announcements due out today however looking ahead to next week, look out for reports from Extreme Networks(EXTR:NASD), Seagate Tech(STX:NYSE), and Alcoa(AA:NYSE).

Brokerage Chatter:

AG Edwards reiterated its buy rating and $56 target on Citigroup (C:NYSE), and made Citi its top pick for 2004. Piper Jaffray maintained its outperform rating on Computer Assoc(CA:NYSE) but raised its price target to $31 from $28. Goldman Sachs downgraded Kinder Morgan Partners(KMP:NMYSE) to in-line from outperform. Lehman cut its 4th quarter, 2004 and 2005 EPS estimates for Linens'n Things(LIN:NYSE).

Bear Stearns downgraded both McKesson(MCK:NYSE) and AmerisourceBergen(ABC:NYSE) to peer perform from outperform and cut ABC's price target to $62 from $75. Deutsche also downgraded AmerisourceBergen to hold from buy and cut its target to $60 from $80. Merrill cut its rating to sell for ABC. Merrill Lynch also downgraded Cardinal Health (CAH:NYSE) to neutral from buy. JP Morgan reduced its 2004-06 EPS estimates for Baxter(BAX:NYSE). Goldman Sachs raised its 4th quarter revenue and EBITDA estimates on Yahoo(YHOO:NASD).

Financial Headlines:
Stories :
The European Manufacturing index which surveys 3,000 companies in 12 different countries showed a 4th straight monthly increase in manufacturing and its highest mark since January of 2001. According to Bloomberg newswires, the latest report proves the global growth rate is faster than expected.

Boeing(BA:NYSE) announced that NASA will extend its space station contract, which could be worth as much as $1.6 billion.

CBS Marketwatch reported yesterday that Citigroup(C:NYSE) along with the UK's HSBC, has won approval to issue credit cards in China.

Around the world in 80 ticks:
BBC news reports that North Korea has agreed to let a group of US experts visit its top nuclear facility at Yongbyon next week. This visit marks the first time outsiders have seen the plant since nuclear inspectors were forced out a year ago.

AP newswires reported that authorities canceled or delayed four flights within 24 hours between London and Washington Dulles International Airport. Last night, U.S. authorities delayed a London-bound British Airways flight when the FBI chose to re-screen the passengers because of security concerns.

The Associated Press reported that the Post-Tribune of Merrillville issued results for Gary, Indiana and the data showed the city of 103,000 had a bang-up year. According to police stats, its homicide rate appeared to have finished 2003 with the nation's highest per capita homicide rate for the ninth straight year among cities with a population of 100,000 or more. Based on information from police in major U.S. cities, Gary was poised again to post the highest per capita homicide rate for cities with a population of more than 100,000, the newspaper reported. Chicago, Gary's larger neighbor, finished the year with 599 homicides, the highest unofficial total among major U.S. cities.

According to Reuters, German leader Gerhard Schroeder will become the first German Chancellor to attend the commemoration in France of the 1944 D-Day landings in June after being invited by President Jacques Chirac.

Enjoy your weekend Minyans!

The Fokker Chronicles will be on leave next week and will return on Monday, the 12th.


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