The Fokker Chronicles
Talk about a bracket buster!
A hamas terrorist leader assassination, a couple of weaker priced European telecom IPO's hit the open market and more than sour Asian markets have made for a nasty tasting omelette this morning. The German DAX was one of the weaker indices in Europe which traded down over 2% half way through its session. The Asian stocks were getting slammed across the boards on the heels of Taiwan's turmoil. Japan lost 0.88%, the Hang Seng gave up 1.87% and Taiwan's Weighted Average index crashed 6.7% after the defeated opposition leader Lien Chan demanded a recount to Saturday's election. US equity futures were weaker as well but have since come off its earlier pre-session lows.
No significant earnings out after the bell today however looking ahead to the rest of week, earnings reports will include Goldman Sachs(GS:NYSE), Red Hat(RHAT:NASD), Micron Tech(MU:NYSE), and A.G. Edwards(AGE:NYSE). The economic highlights this week include February Durable goods orders, Homes sales, Personal Income and 4th quarter GDP.
UBS upgraded Hercules(HPC:NYSE) to buy from neutral. Piper Jaffray downgraded Chiron(CHIR:NASD) to market perform from outperform and cut its price target to $53 from $61. Lehman Brothers raised its Semiconductor sales growth estimates for 2004 to 24% from 18%. ThinkEquity downgraded PeopleSoft(PSFT:NASD) to equal weight from overweight. ThinkEquity upped SAP AG(SAP:NYSE) to overweight from equal weight and placed a price target of $46 on the stock. JP Morgan upgraded Sprint (FON:NYSE) to overweight from underweight.
CBS Marketwatch reported that Wal-Mart(WMT:NYSE) has once again ranked number one on the annual Fortune 500 list of the nations largest businesses. Exxon mobile(XOM:NYSE) moved past General Motors(GM:NYSE) for the second postion and General Electric(GE:NYSE) finished near the top as well.
Freeport-McMoRan(FCX:NYSE) said it plans to offer $1 billion in convertible preferred stock.
Wal-Mart(WMT:NYSE) said it sees March same-store sales near the high end of its forecast.
Walgreen(WAG:NYSE) missed by $0.01.
Smurfit-Stone(SSCC:NASD) guided the 1st quarter forecasts below consensus estimates.
Around the world in 80 ticks:
Reuters has reported that the Israeli government assassinated the Hamas founder and spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin early this morning as he left a mosque in Gaza. The Sheikh had been behind dozens of homicide bombings executed within Israel's borders and represents Israel's highest profile strike against Hamas since 1988. Speaking this morning on several television interviews, White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice strongly denied any United States involvement nor did it have advance warning of the assassination.
According to Reuters, the Australian Broadcasting Corp was expected to air tonight an interview between Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir and bin Laden's partner Ayman al-Zawahri alleging Al Qaeda has nukes. Thought to be Al Qaeda's second-in-command, although 60 Minutes proposed last night that al-Zawahri is the mastermind behind the group, he claimed nukes were relatively easy to come by. According to the interview, the Islamic terror group has purchased briefcase bombs on the central Asian black market.
Taiwan's stock market lost nearly 7% today after protestors questioned the legitimacy of President Chen's reelection over the weekend. Bloomberg newswires reported that the opposing Nationalist party demanded a probe into the speculation that, Chen faked an assassination attempt to win votes. According to Reuters, China which had been watching the elections with great interest has put its army on combat alert over the chaos that has developed in Taiwan.
Have a great day.
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