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Stocks to Watch: Countrywide, HSBC, Lowe's, Novastar, Whole Foods


Monday's top stories and stocks with potential to move...


Stocks to watch for Monday, August 20, 2007:

  • American Express (AXP) has put its private banking business up for sale, according to a report in London's Sunday Times, quoting banking sources. Bankers say the unit could be worth between $400 million and $500 million, the newspaper said.
  • Countrywide Financial's (CFC) shares were upgraded to neutral from sell by Banc of America Securities. Analyst Robert Lacoursiere said that tapping its $11.5 billion credit facility should provide Countrywide the time needed to address liquidity and capital concerns.
  • FMC Corp. (FMC) declared a 2-for-1 stock split in the form of a distribution payable Sept. 13 to shareholders of record as of the close of business Aug. 31.
  • HSBC (HBC) is in talks with Lone Star for a majority stake in Korea Exchange Bank, as the U.K. bank seeks to boost its emerging-markets business.
  • Google (GOOG) revealed on Monday that it had acquired a stake in Chinese community Web site, indicating the company will enter into social networking in the world's second-largest Internet market.
  • Lowe's (LOW), the home improvement retailer, reported a gain in second-quarter profit on Monday on boosted sales by new stores. Earnings came to $1.02 billion, or 67 cents a share, compared with $935 million, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year, an important retail measure, fell 2.6 percent for the quarter.
  • NovaStar Financial (NFI) said it has stopped offering mortgages through its main wholesale business. This occurs less than two weeks after the company re-started the unit.
  • A court's allowance of Whole Foods Market's (WFMI) acquisition of its smaller rival Wild Oats Markets (OATS) is being appealed by the Federal Trade Commission.

Market Update

  • Asian trading closed soaring with the Hang Seng +5.33%, Nikkei +3.00%, Sensex +2.02%, Taiwan +5.26% and Shanghai +5.33%.
  • A quick check across the pond finds the CAC +1.15%, DAX +0.49%, FTSE +0.85%, ATX +2.03%, Swiss Mkt. +0.73% and Stockholm +1.29%.
  • Crude oil is trading lower -0.66 to 71.32 and gold is also down -0.2 to 666.6 this morning.
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