The Fokker Chronicles
Europe was modestly higher ahead of the return of US trading. The Japanese Nikkei 225 posted a 3.16% gain yesterday and added 0.2% to those gains today. US equity futures are stronger this morning as we head into the first trading day of September. Although equities are just off their highs of the early session, US markets will look to follow the strong gains from overseas during our holiday.
Both the Solomon Smith Barney Tech conference and Lehman Brothers Energy and Power conference kick off today in New York. At 10amEDT, the ISM Index figures will be released for August. Tomorrow's earnings releases will include Heinz(HNZ:NYSE), Comverse Tech(CMVT:NASD) and Hovnanian(HOV:NYSE).
Prudential downgraded both Schlumberger(SLB:NYSE), and Baker Hughes(BHI:NYSE) to hold from buy. Merrill Lynch upgraded Fannie Mae(FNM:NYSE) and Freddie Mac(FRE:NYSE) to buy from neutral saying the worst is over for the two companies. 3M(MMM:NYSE) received some negative valuation chatter over the weekend in Barron's cover story. Thomas Weisel upped Oracle(ORCL:NASD) to outperform from peer perform and FTN Midwest upped ORCL to buy.
Smith Barney upgraded Wendy's(WEN:NYSE) to outperform from in-line. JP Morgan downgraded Hot Topic(HOTT:NASD) to neutral from overweight. Peoplesoft(PSFT:NYSE) was upped over at Prudential to buy from hold. Pru also raised their 2004 EPS estimate and bumped their price target up to $21 from $17 a share for the company.
Prudential upped Wells Fargo(WFC:NYSE) to buy from hold. Intel (INTC:NASD), Micron Tech(MU:NYSE) and Advanced Micro(AMD:NYSE) were initiated with buy ratings at Bank of America. Lehman made some positive chatter on Microsoft(MSFT:NASD) Dell Computer (DELL:NASD) and Seagate Tech(STX:NYSE) upped at Goldman Sachs to outperform.
Solomon Brothers was positive on the telecom equipment stocks. Goldman Sachs upgraded their software sector view to attractive from neutral. National Semiconductor (NSM:NYSE) was upped at Soundview ahead of their Thursday earnings report. JP Morgan made some negative chatter on Altera(ALTR:NASD) ahead of their mid quarter update this afternoon. Prudential downgraded Intl Paper(IP:NYSE) to sell from hold. FTN Midwest upped Radio Shack(RSH:NYSE) to a buy.
CBS Market Watch reports the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said over the weekend that chips sales for July were up 10.5 percent from the July prior. Global sales of semiconductors rose 3 percent to $12.90 billion in July compared with June, posting its fifth consecutive monthly increase. SIA president George Scalise also said that their 3rd quarter estimate of 5.9 percent will be exceeded.
NY Post reports that senators from both parties have sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Snow this past Friday urging him to push China to float its currency. Ahead of Snow's visit, China's FX regulator has said a change in their Yuan policy is "not possible."
Nothing major to report on the earnings front. Lookout for releases from Heinz(HNZ:NYSE), Comverse Tech(CMVT:NASD) and Hovnanian(HOV:NYSE) tomorrow.
Plenty of sell-side conferences this week as we head into earnings pre-announcement season. Lehman will be hosting an energy conference, Solomon Smith Barney and SG Cowen each have tech conferences, Credit Suisse First Boston will have their global software conference while Prudential, Goldman Sachs, Thomas Weisel and Deutsche Bank will be hosting conferences throughout the week as well.
Around the world in 80 ticks:
The CDC has reported that a regional Princess cruise ship will cut its trip short after as many as 300 people aboard contracted the Norwalk virus - CDC
The BBC reports that Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has called for the exile of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat citing his obstruction of peace.
According to Reuters, a "giant asteroid" is heading for the Earth and astronomers who have warned British space monitors say it could hit in 2014. Rest easy, experts say the chances of a catastrophic collision are merely one in 909,000. Gulp!
Reuters reported that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will release plans to include the addition of 5,000 more federal air marshals to be made available for domestic flights.
Have a profitable day.
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