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The Fokker Chronicles

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World Markets:
European markets were weaker heading into trading on Wall Street. Leading the region lower was the German DAX, dropping nearly 2% in mid-day trading, due to a lackluster business confidence report that dropped for the 1st time in 10 months according to Bloomberg newswires. Asian stocks took a hit today as well, with the Japanese Nikkei losing over 2% and the Hang Seng closing around unchanged.

Heads-up:
The Consumer Confidence report for February is due out at 10amEDT. Lookout after the bell for the earnings report from Dollar Tree(DLTR:NASD).

Brokerage Chatter:

Guidant(GDT:NYSE) was upped to buy from neutral at Merrill Lynch. CSFB raised its target on Forest Labs(FRX:NYSE) to $84 from $78. Banc of America was out positive on Novellus Systems(NVLS:NASD) and said they expect the company to report increased order guidance when it holds its mid-quarter update tomorrow after the bell. UBS added Citigroup(C:NYSE) to its Select 20 List and removed Biogen(BGEN:NASD). UBS upgraded Boston Scientific(BSX:NYSE) to buy from neutral and raised its target to $54 from $45. CSFB upgraded Sealed Air Corp(SEE:NYSE) to outperform from neutral. Lehman Brothers upgraded TXU Corp.(TXU:NYSE) to overweight from equal-weight, target was sliced to $35 from $26. Labranche(LAB:NYSE) was cut to junk by Moody's.

Morgan Stanley raised its view of the Telecom Services industry to in-line from cautious. Meanwhile, Morgan individually made the following rating changes in the group: It downgraded Nextel(NXTL:NASD) to underweight from equal-weight, upgraded AT&T Wireless(AWE:NYSE) and Verizon(VZ:NYSE) to overweight from equal-weight, and downgraded PCS Wireless(PCS:NYSE), Sprint(FON:NYSE), and AT&T(T:NYSE) to underweight from equal-weight.

Financial Headlines:
Stories :

Halliburton(HAL:NYSE) said today that the Pentagon is now conducting a criminal investigation into overcharging the U.S. government for Iraqi gasoline. Some analysts have suggested that this could stir the government into removing HAL from consideration of any future government contracts.

Computer Sciences(CSC:NYSE) won a $1.75 billion Civilian Police Program contract which has a one base year and four one-year options.

The Financial Times reports that Greg Mankiw, an aid to President Bush, urges an overhaul of Fannie Mae (FNM:NYSE) and Freddie Mac(FRE:NYSE).


Earnings:
Home Depot(HD:NYSE) beat by $0.03 however it was light on sales; HD reaffirmed its full yr targets.
Monsanto(MON:NYSE) confirmed 2004 EPS in the range of $1.40-1.50, below the consensus of $1.56.
Triad Hospitals(TRI:NYSE) beat by a penny.
Nextel Partners(NXTP:NASD) beat by $0.03 and topped revenue estimates as well.
Netflix(NFLX:NASD) raises Q1 subscriber growth and revenue guidance.
Agile Software(AGIL:NASD) beats by a penny.
Zoran(ZRAN:NASD) misses by $0.05.


Around the world in 80 ticks:

Out of Moscow, Russian President Putin nixed his government including his Prime Minister. Bloomberg newswires are reporting that in an email statement, Putin dropped his government in an effort to highlight his policies. He also set March 14th for elections but plans to announce his new government before then.

Reuters reported that according to a tape aired by Al Jazeera television today, Ayman al-Zawahri, Bin Laden's right hand man said, "Bush, strengthen your defenses and your security measures, for the Muslim nation which sent you the legion of New York and Washington has determined to send you legion after legion seeking death and paradise." Zawahri added that France displayed "Crusader hatred" toward Islam as well because it bans Muslim headscarves from state classrooms.

The Washington Post reports that U.N inspectors in Iran have again discovered nuclear experiments which were not previously disclosed by Tehran. The article adds that these undisclosed experiments reinforce current suspicions about Iran's intent to make weapons of mass destruction.

AP news reports that for the second straight day at the World Court, Israel faced condemnation for the protective wall currently being built that ultimately separates the West Bank from the Jewish state. Even Cuba spoke out to lambaste Israel on how the barrier was illegal; nothing like getting scolded by the neighborhood thief for stealing a pack of cigarettes while he lifts your wallet.

The European Commission(EU) said today it would ban the imports of live chickens and eggs from the U.S. following the discovery of the "extremely infectious and fatal" bird flu in Texas.

Have a great day.

Fokker

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