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The Fokker Chronicles

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World Markets:
World markets were firmer this morning led in part by the German DAX which gained just over 1% and the surging Spanish IBEX that was up 1.30% prior to open of trading in New York. In Asia, stocks attempted to regroup as the Hang Seng gained just over 0.30% on a regional upgrade from Merrill Lynch. However, Taiwan on the other hand had its weighting lowered by Merrill and saw continued weakness today losing nearly another 3% on its session. The Japanese Nikkei lost 0.33%. Crude oil continued to back off from its last week's highs of $38.18 a barrel as expectations for the OPEC to cut production by April 1st will likely not materialize.

Heads-up:
Amgen
(AMGN:NASD) has its research and development day and JP Morgan will be hosting a Tech & Telecom Conference. Secretary Snow will be speaking at a Social Security and Medicare event in the middle of the day today. Look out for an earnings report after the bell from Red Hat(RHAT:NASD). Micron Tech(MU:NYSE) and AG Edwards(AGE:NYSE) will report tomorrow.

Brokerage Chatter:

Janney upgraded Cisco(CSCO:NASD) to buy from hold. Bear Stearns upped palmOne(PLMO:NASD) to peer perform from underperform. S&P upgraded Nextel's(NXTL:NASD) debt ratings. Intl Bus Machines(IBM:NYSE) has been defended this morning by Merrill Lynch meanwhile JP Morgan was out positive on Pepsico(PEP:NYSE). Jefferies raised its targets on a handful of the oil service names including Transocean(RIG:NYSE) to $41 from $32, Global SantaFe(GSF:NYSE) to $43 from $35, Atwood Oceanics(ATW:NYSE) to $49 from $39, and Noble(NE:NYSE) to $53 from $45.

Needham initiated Intuit(INTU:NASD) with a buy and placed a $55 price target on the stock. JP Morgan upgraded Pinnacle Systems(PCLE:NASD) to neutral from underweight. Oppenheimer upped Pfizer(PFE:NYSE) to buy from neutral. Merrill Lynch raised its 2004 estimate for Mirage(MGG:NYSE) above consensus and raised its target to $53 from $44. AMR Corp(AMR:NYSE) was removed from Merrill's Focus 1 List. Bear Stearns upgraded Norfolk Southern(NSC:NYSE) to outperform from peer perform. Lehman downgraded Kroger(KR:NYSE) to equal-weight from overweight and cut its price target to $16.50 from $20 while it dropped Safeway(SWY:NYSE) to underweight from equal-weight. Smith Barney cut its numbers for Notel(NT:NYSE).



Financial Headlines:
Stories :

The Wall Street Journal reported today that if the government cuts its ties to the GSE's, the current favorable credit ratings for Fannie Mae(FNM:NYSE) and Freddie Mac(FRE:NYSE) could be in jeopardy and most likely placed under review.

After the bell yesterday, Bloomberg newswires reported that Citigroup(C:NYSE)Travelers Insurance Co. and Travelers Life and Annuity Co. units received subpoenas from Eliot Spitzer over improper trading. The subpoenas were related to market timing and late trading practices.

Earnings:
Goldman Sachs(GS:NYSE) posted 1st quarter earnings of 85cents better than consensus on revenues of $5.93 billion versus $4.41 billion forecasted.
palmOne(PLMO:NASD) beat by 32 cents.
Limited(LTD:NYSE) issued an upside preannouncement last night for its 1st quarter.

Around the world in 80 ticks:

Reuters reports that Israel said today all Palestinian militant leaders were in its sights following the assassination of Hamas kingpin Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in a missile strike. Senior defense officials did not specifically mention the next targets but alluded to senior Hamas officials Abdel- Aziz al-Rantissi and Mahmoud al-Zahar.

It's not the Red October but Reuters has reported that Russia's navy chief, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said that his nuclear-powered flagship cruiser should have returned to base because it might explode. However, because of what some referred to as a power struggle with other navy senior officials, the warnings he gave on the heavily equipped 19,000 ton vessel Peter the Great have been dismissed according to the Interfax news agency.

The Associated Press reports that a 4-year-old pre-school boy brought into class some $10,000 worth of crack cocaine yesterday. Authorities said teachers quickly realized it wasn't flour the boy had been carrying despite the child claiming it was and confiscated the illegal drugs until they could find a light and wait for police to show up.


Have a great day.

Fokker

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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