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The Fokker Chronicles



World Markets:
World markets were weaker today. Leading the slide was the German DAX which had given back just over 1% on its session. The Asian markets fared worse than Europe as the Japanese Nikkei lost 0.86% and the Hang Seng gave up 1.37%. US treasuries paused temporarily following the Trade Balance number ultimately dropping a quarter of a point leading up to open on Wall Street. US equities were gaining slightly in pre-market futures trading. Gold and the US dollar index were weaker this morning but have since rebounded from their lows.

Trade balance data for January released earlier came in below expectations. The Wholesale inventory number will be out at 10amEDT; consensus expectations were looking for positive 0.4%. Tomorrow, lookout for retail sales and jobless claim data from the government. On the earnings front, Comverse Tech(CMVT:NASD) and Deutsche Telecom(DT:NYSE) will report their earnings today. Some of the conferences today include an Exxon Mobile(XOM:NYSE) analyst meeting, Ciena(CIEN:NASD) will have its stockholders meeting. Deutsche Bank kicks off its Software and Services Conference while Lehman Brothers continues its Software, IT, Communications and Technology road shows.

Brokerage Chatter:

Coach(COH:NYSE) had its price target raised to $54 from $45 at Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch upgraded Cadence Design(CDN:NYSE) to buy from neutral. Goldman Sachs downgraded Raytheon(RTN:NYSE) to underperform from in-line and cut its 2004-05 EPS estimates below consensus. Friedman Billings Ramsey raised its price target for Capital One(COF:NYSE) from $83 to $85 and took up its EPS estimates for 2004. Morgan Stanley upgraded Medtronic(MDT:NYSE) to overweight from equal-weight and raised its price target to $60 from $54. First Data(FDC:NYSE) was added to the Focus 1 List at Merrill Lynch.

Financial Headlines:
Stories :
According to the Financial Times, Fannie Mae(FNM:NYSE) reportedly paid $25.1 billion in net payments on its derivative trades which might not be recovered and could depress the company's earnings going forward since the extent of these liabilities has yet to be realized in Fannie's earnings.

Procter and Gamble(PG:NYSE) said yesterday that its EPS may exceed consensus expectations for its 1st quarter by as much as $0.02 per share. Also announced it has raised its quarterly dividend to $0.50 from $0.46, and declared a 2 for 1 stock split.
Ingersoll-Rand(IR:NYSE) also raised its quarter outlook.
El Paso(EP:NYSE) said it would its delay earnings release for the 4th quarter, originally scheduled for March 11th.
AnnTaylor(ANN:NYSE) reported in line results for its 1st quarter.

Around the world in 80 ticks:
According to Reuters, a trusted Iranian exile who has provided accurate nuclear information about Iran in the past said yesterday that Iranian leaders recently met to discuss its ability to obtain an atom bomb. The exile quoted these leaders as saying the bomb must be sought "at all costs" by the end of 2005 and further, Iran must covertly begin the enriching process of uranium.

BBC News reports that in a show of improving ties between volatile nuclear nations, the Indian cricket team landed in Pakistan for its first visit in 15 years.

AP newswires report that the number of preventable deaths is quickly becoming America's top killer. In a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths due to poor diet and exercise climbed 33% since 1990. The research concluded that given the recent trend, deaths from obesity could overtake smoking fatalities in the near future. The study added that nearly two-thirds of all US adults and 9 million children are either overweight or obese.

The Associated Press reports that a Florida Judge has ruled the 'Girls Gone Wild' video of a teenager exposing her breasts was not child pornography. Joe Francis, the maker of videos, was slapped with 43 counts of child pornography dating back to last year's spring break but got off yesterday on the grounds there was no physical contact in the video which is a stipulation of Florida child pornography law. Just in time for this year's spring break, however Judge Michael Overstreet had no comment in regards to the timing of the verdict.

Have a great day.


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