The Fokker Chronicles
European markets were mixed to lower today. The London FTSE was up slightly while the German DAX lost 0.19% half way through their respective trading sessions. Asian Markets shrugged off the terror warnings here in the US and finished stronger. The Japanese Nikkei gained 0.85% and the Hang Seng added 0.94% today. US markets have rebounded from the earlier lows but were poised for a lower start to the holiday shortened week. The US dollar lost more ground today following US government terror alert being raised over the weekend.
A very quiet earnings calendar this week although Research In Motion(RIMM:NASD) will be reporting after the bell today and Micron Tech(MU:NYSE) will report tomorrow. No economic data due out today but tomorrow will be busy with GDP figures, Personal Consumption, Personal Income and Spending, and the University of Michigan Confidence number expected to be released.
Smith Barney upped Regions Financial(RF:NYSE) to hold from sell. Smith Barney also said Morgan Stanley(MWD:NYSE) remains its favorite name in the brokerage space and reiterated its buy rating citing expectations for a strong 1st quarter and should be bought on any weakness. Wedbush Morgan upgraded ATI Tech(ATYT:NASD) to buy from hold. Prudential made some negative chatter on Eli Lilly(LLY:NYSE) and thinks the stock is due for a breather. Bank of America reiterated its buy rating on 3M Company(MMM:NYSE), raised its 4th quarter and 2004 estimates above consensus, and raised its price target to $100 from $90. Barron's article over the weekend suggested Honeywell(HON:NYSE) looks attractive at these levels despite the company's warning that its 2004 pension hit to profits. Taiwan Semi(TSM:NYSE) also received some positive chatter from Barron's as the company appears to be benefiting from an improving global economy.
UBS downgraded Rohm & Haas(ROH:NYSE) to reduce from neutral. JP Morgan upgraded the railroad stocks today individually raising Norfolk Southern(NSC:NYSE) to overweight from underweight and CSX Corp(CSX:NYSE) to neutral from underweight, and raised 4th quarter and 2004 estimates for NSC, CSX, Canadian National Rail(CNI:NYSE), and Union Pacific(UNP:NYSE). Morgan Stanley upgraded NCR Corp(NCR:NYSE) to overweight from underweight. UBS upgraded Varian Semi(VSEA:NASD) to buy from neutral. Merrill Lynch added Barr Labs(BRL:NYSE) to their Focus 1 list.
Bloomberg newswires report that Sony(SNE:NYSE) has decided to postpone sales of its PS2 in China due to what it calls unfavorable market conditions.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a Fed paper, which could be due out as early as today, is expected to show that Freddie Mac(FRE:NYSE) and Fannie Mae(FNM:NYSE) don't add much benefit to consumers in the amount it lowers the average mortgage rate and consequently does not justify the $15 billion worth of subsidies given out by the government each year to the GSEs. In related news, the New York Post is reporting that a 185 page report from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight claims the accounting irregularities at FRE did not start in 2000, but had been occurring for much of the 90s as well.
Time Warner(TWX:NYSE) reported that its 3rd Lord of the Rings movie has netted $246million worth of tickets worldwide in its first 5 days, the highest ever for any movie. Its weekend earnings from ticket sales were $73.6 million.
Pfizer (PFE: NYSE) made a $1.3 billion offer to buy Esperion(ESPR:NASD) which translates to $35 per share and a premium of nearly 55 percent over Esperion's closing price from Friday.
Franklin Resources(BEN:NYSE) became the latest mutual fund manager to receive subpoenas in the ongoing mutual fund probe.
Bloomberg newswires reported that Parmalat Finanziaria, Italy's largest food company, said today it may seek bankruptcy protection from its creditors following this week's disclosure that a $4.9 billion account never existed.
Ford(F:NYSE) despite taking a $1.6 billion charge for its spinoff of Visteon, it increased its full-year 2003 earnings guidance from $0.95-to-$1.05 per share to $1.05-to-$1.10 per share from continuing operations.
Around the world in 80 ticks:
Reuters reported that yesterday the U.S. government raised its terror alert to Orange, the second highest level and warned Americans there was a high risk militants might launch attacks around the holidays in the United States that could be bigger than those of 9/11.
BBC news reported that Pakistan has said it is investigating whether its scientists may have spread sensitive nuclear technology to rogue nations. Despite denials of the Pakistani government, the Information Minister Sheikh Ahmed Rashid conceded today that certain scientists may have been acting independently of the authorities.
According to Radio Free Europe online, reports from Iraq have cited Iraqi insurgents have set four oil pipelines ablaze today. Iraqi officials say there have been 86 separate attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure since the fall of Saddam's regime back in April.
Voice of America reported that Time Magazine has made this year's Person of the Year a nameless US Soldier. Managing editor of Time, Jim Kelly, said the award was given to the 1.4 million men and women that are currently serving in the US military.
AP news reports that yesterday thousands of people, mostly Muslim women that shouted "The veil, my choice," marched through Paris against President Chirac's recent proposals to ban Islamic head scarves from public schools and potentially work as well.
UK's the Scotsman reported that the largest lottery in the world and possibly the most complex, dubbed El Gordo, or the Fat One, paid out the equivalent of over $2.2 billion today. El Gordo, which dates back to 1812 and traditionally kicks off the holiday season in Spain held the country glued to its televisions and radios this morning for three hours as the no "winner takes all" system took place. Instead, the lottery uses a complex system of shared numbers that spreads the winnings among millions of people holding numbers that go from 00001 to 66,000. While the lottery winnings are tax free, the Finance Ministry records the names of those that win over $6,000 and closely monitors their bank transactions for any illegitimate actions.
Have a profitable day.
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