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The Fokker Chronicles



World Markets:
European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet indicated today that the bank would not be cutting rates anytime soon and left rates firm at 2%. European markets are higher today led in part by the DAX which gained 0.63%. Asian stocks on the other hand finished lower as the Japanese Nikkei closed down 0.27% and the Hang Seng ended slightly into negative territory.

More economic data coming our way at 10amEDT. Lookout for the Construction Spending for February, ISM Manufacturing, Prices Paid and Vehicles sales for March. Lehman Brothers will host its share holder's meeting tomorrow.

Brokerage Chatter:

JP Morgan initiated coverage of Micron Tech(MU:NYSE) with an underweight rating. Bear Stearns downgraded Pacer Intl(PACR:NASD) to peer perform from outperform. Knight-Ridder(KRI:NYSE) was upped to outperform from in-line at Goldman Sachs. eBay(EBAY:NASD) had its 1st quarter estimates raised by Bear Stearns. Banc of America downgraded Qualcomm(QCOM:NASD) to neutral from buy and cut its target to $60 from $72. UBS upgrades Nextel Partners(NXTP:NASD) to buy from neutral and raised its target to $16.50 from $15. Prudential had positive comments on SAP AG(SAP:NYSE) and Bear Stearns raised 1st quarter numbers for eBay(EBAY:NASD). Bear was also negative for Continental(CAL:NYSE).

Merrill Lynch has dropped its coverage of several retail stocks citing higher expected interest rates following the election and competition from China. Individually, they downgraded Dillards(DDS:NYSE) to sell from neutral, and dumped WalMart(WMT:NYSE), Family Dollar(FDO:NYSE), Dollar Tree(DLTR:NASD), Target(TGT:NYSE) and Ann Taylor(ANN:NYSE) to name a few, to neutral from buy. On the flip side, UBS upgraded Gap Stores(GPS:NYSE) to buy from neutral, raised its 2004 estimates above consensus, and took up its price target to $26 from $22.

Financial Headlines:
Stories :

ChevronTexaco(CVX:NYSE) announced last night that they would commence a three buy back program of up to $5 billion.

The Financial Times has reported that following an interview with NYSE chairman John Thain, the New York big board is seriously considering expanding its product range beyond plain vanilla stocks and branching out into derivative trading vehicles such as futures and options.

Bloomberg reports that the Dow Industrials is making a few changes to the 'Dow 30' index. Eastman Kodak(EK:NYSE), Intl Paper(IP:NYSE), and AT&T(T:NYSE) are on their way out and in their place, American Intl(AIG:NYSE), Verizon(VZ:NYSE), and Pfizer(PFE:NYSE) are stepping in.

LM Ericsson(ERICY:NASD) raised its 1st quarter gross margin expectations.
Bed Bath & Beyond(BBBY:NASD) beat by $0.03.
Starbucks(SBUX:NASD) reported March comps up 12%.

Around the world in 80 ticks:

AP newswires report that Alaskan Governor Frank Murkowski said his state will do what it can to help the development of the Artic oil. Governor Murkowski said he will open lease sales in the state's oil-rich waters just offshore of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. How do you take your sea otter, beluga whale, and caribou, oily or greasy?

Appearing in the April issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, scientists believe they might have found the genes that cause autism which ultimately provide the extra if not abnormal energy boost to brain cells. According to the Associated Press, the researchers said that although it's a bit too early to claim victory, they believe about 5 to 10 genes might work simultaneously to produce the disease in children.

Fans of the Howard Stern show were treated to the "G" version this morning with no Howard. Instead, listeners tuned in to find a new show has taken its place, 'Crossing Lopez'. An overly jovial disc jockey that feigned a Jim Jay Bullock impression played top 40 tunes and attempted to give away 'FCC-family-friendly' prizes such as tickets to the new Scooby Doo movie and dinner for two at an Olive Garden. Then they took phone calls from more than irate Stern faithful listeners until a defiant Stern show finally grabbed back its airwaves in an April Fool's joke attempting to scare his following and make a "stern" point: public decency is frightening first thing in the morning.

Have a great day.


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