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The Fokker Chronicles



World Markets:
Europe was trading slightly higher half way through the trading day as the anticipation for a quiet Friday in the region looms ahead of Reagan's funeral in DC. Asian markets performed well again today as better economic data in Japan and positive comments from Goldman Sachs on insurers helped boost the regional averages. The Nikkei added 1.10% and the Hang Seng gained 0.67%. Spot gold which lost nearly $7 yesterday was trading slightly higher prior to the open of trading on Wall Street.

Heads up:

The PPI number that was expected to be released this afternoon has been postponed until after June 15th due to what officials referred to as technical difficulties.

National Semi(NSM:NYSE) will report its 4th quarter earnings today with consensus EPS estimates looking for $0.29.

U.S. markets will be closed on Friday as the funeral for Ronald Reagan concludes tomorrow in Washington.

Brokerage Chatter:
Merril Lynch took down estimates on Schwab(SCH:NYSE), eTrade(ET:NYSE), Ameritrade(AMTD:NASD) due to weaker than anticipated trading volumes. Banc of America upgraded Dillard's(DDS:NYSE) to neutral from sell and raised its price target to $21 from $10. Smith Barney upgraded BR(BR:NYSE) to hold from sell and raised its target to $37 from $28.50. Morgan Stanley upgraded Allstate(ALL:NYSE) and Progressive(PGR:NYSE) to overweight from equal weight while cutting Everest Re(RE:NYSE). Meanwhile, Lehman Brothers downgraded the Property and Casualty sector.

CSFB cut its estimates on Ameritrade(AMTD:NASD) below consensus estimates and dropped its target to $16 from $19. Smith Barney upgraded May Dept(MAY:NYSE) to hold from sell and raised its target to $32 from $26. Thomas Weisel lowered its Healthcare Services industry coverage to market weight from overweight. Nucor(NUE:NYSE) was upped to overweight from underweight at Prudential. Merrill Lynch upgraded Costco(COST:NASD) to buy from neutral.

Financial Headlines:
Stories :

The Bank of England raised its interest rates by a quarter point today, in an effort to slow down consumer borrowing and stem inflation; this their fourth increase in seven months.

According to the Financial Times, the Semiconductor Industry Association(SIA) raised its 2004 semi growth forecast from an increase of 19% to an increase of 28%, implying that total industry sales will reach $214 billion this year besting the record of $204 billion set in 2000. The SIA cited end markets such as PCs and handsets were growing faster than it had anticipated.

Target(TGT:NYSE) said late yesterday that it will sell its Marshall Fields unit to May Dept Stores(MAY:NYSE). Target also announced a $3 billion share buyback.

EMC Corp(EMC:NYSE) reaffirmed its outlook.
Danaher(DHR:NYSE) guided to the higher end of its range.
FedEx(FDX:NYSE) guided 4th quarter EPS above consensus.

Around the world in 80 ticks:
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. intelligence is probing an alleged assassination plot of Saudi ruler Crown Prince Adbullah. According to officials, activist Abdurahman Alamoudi, allegedly planned on using $340,000 in cash that he received from a Libyan government charity that would finance the assassination attempt. Alamoudi has been in U.S. custody since Sept on charges of illegal dealings with Libya. The New York Times added this morning that Libyan intelligence chiefs were directly involved by giving the orders and the actual attack had been approved by Colonel Qaddafi himself.

The body of former President Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington yesterday and will lie in state until the services begin tomorrow. Security is said to be at unprecedented levels for the funeral tomorrow as many visitors will see security measures above and beyond extreme according to BBC news. Despite offshore view from the BBC, MSNBC reported yesterday that the U.S. capital building had been evacuated because a plane had reportedly ventured off course and into restricted airspace. It was later determined that the plane in question was carrying diplomats which received prior clearance but had temporarily lost radio contact. Fortunately for the small plane, the two F-16 fighter jets that were scrambled received that information before they could intercept the stray private jet.

Have a great day.


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