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The Fokker Chronicles



World Markets:
Europe was trading higher today leading into the weekend. The German DAX was up nearly 1% halfway through its trading session. The Nikkei added 0.94% and the Hang Seng finished up 0.32% ending the week. US equities were set for a higher opening to trading today following benign inflation data released earlier by the government.

Lookout for the University of Michigan confidence number at 9:50amEDT and the Monthly Budget statement at 2pmEDT. Procter and Gamble(PG:NYSE) will be hosting an analyst meeting today.

Brokerage Chatter:
JP Morgan made some positive chatter on the semi equipments group this morning and reiterated its overweight rating. AutoZone(AZO:NYSE) was downgraded at Smith Barney from a buy to a hold. Thomas Weisel reiterated their outperform rating on Schering-Plough(SGP:NYSE) and raised its target to $25 from $23. Prudential upgraded United Technologies(UTX:NYSE) to overweight from neutral-weight and raised its target to $110 from $100. Legg Mason reiterated its buy on VeriSign(VRSN:NASD) and raised its price target to $20 from $17.

UBS upgraded Pepsi Bottling(PBG:NYSE) to buy from neutral, raised its 2004 estimate to $1.75 from $1.70. UBS downgraded Constellation Brands(STZ:NYSE) to neutral from buy and also downgraded Ciena(CIEN:NASD) to reduce from neutral and cut its target to $5.50 from $6.40. Deutsche Bank upgraded Unisys(UIS:NYSE) to buy from hold. SoundView upgraded Brooks Automation(BRKS:NASD) to outperform from neutral and raised its target to $30 from $22. Lehman upgraded Thermo Electron(TMO:NYSE) to overweight from equal weight.

Financial Headlines:
Stories :
AMG data is reporting that equity funds showed net cash inflows totaling $1.8 billion in the week ended December 10 with half of that going to Domestic Funds.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon has begun an investigation into the Halliburton's(HAL:NYSE) activities in Iraq and has found evidence of "substantial overcharging."

Adobe(ADBE:NASD) reported $0.34 on $358.6 million in revenues versus the street consensus of
$0.32 on $343.87 million. The company also raised its guidance for next quarter.
Ameritrade(AMTD:NASD) increased its earnings guidance for the 1st quarter

Around the world in 80 ticks:

The Associated Press reported that the European Union repeated today that it would investigate the validity of the U.S. decision to bar opponents of the Iraq war, such as France, Russia, and Germany among others from the recently announced reconstruction contracts.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Italy's Mafia gangs have murdered nearly 700 people and netted more than $56 billion since a 1999 study began by a Eurispes research study unit. Contrary to recent claims, crime syndicates are alive and well, figuratively speaking.

AP news cited Israeli leaders taking a possibly tougher stance against the Palestinian militants. Israeli VP Ehud Olmert, told reports yesterday that if the Palestinians do not act against their militant groups, Israel will be forced to take a more "comprehensive step" which could fundamentally change the situation in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. Olmert added that Israel will impose its own solution with or without a peace agreement unless the Palestinians make serious moves against its terror organizations.

MSNBC reports that now that the flu has spread to all 50 states with at least 24 states hit very hard already, the government is said to be scrambling to get over 100,000 vaccine doses shipped following severe shortages throughout the county. Despite CDC authorities urging the public not to panic, some officials fear this could become one of the worst outbreaks in years.

The Associated Press reported that the science journal Cell published today findings of University of California researchers that could help fight alcoholism. Researchers said they found the gene responsible for drunkenness in worms after hazing thousands of the slippery creatures with booze. The study cites these researchers as dosing these worms with enough alcohol that would they have been too drunk to drive legally, not that a worm could drive anyway, but if they could, their blood-to-alcohol level would have been above the legal limit for a human. Interestingly enough, the drunken worms showed signs of moving slower and more awkwardly than the sober ones. Worms that had a mutated gene, however, showed no signs of disability and displayed immunity to the alcohol's intoxicating effects.

ESPN is confirming the Yankee Andy Pettitte, is gone. Yes, gone. I still have trouble getting the words out. Yesterday Pettitte announced he will be headed home to Houston after he accepted a three year contract worth $31.5 million. According to some reports, the deal was worth $7.5 million less than the offer the Yankees made for him.

Have a terrific weekend.


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