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Before The Bell: Strong Retail?; Healthy Merck

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Retailers may be stronger than many thought. Merck is looking good. Futures are lower.

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Morning Perspective: Black Friday Boom?

Briefing.com reports research firm Jefferies expects retailers to report better-than-expected comparable store sales for the month of November. The research firm maintains buy ratings on a number of retailers, citing strong sales from Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day weekend. The report coincides with a story from Reuters that cooler weather in November should also boost same-store-sales figures across the industry. Read Professor Kevin Depew's Five Things You Need To Know: Black Friday Boom/Bust from last week.

From the Bull Pen: Jefferies maintains buy ratings on Wal-Mart (WMT) and BJ's (BJ); those in agreement may place trading sell-stops below $46.50 and $34.75 respectively. An alternative may be Sony (SNE). Last week Professor Jeff Macke suggested the stock may have bottomed out. Bulls may see an entry should the stock retest its 200 DMA ($51.09); sell-stops may be set below.

From the Bear Cave: Bears that want to fade (read: sell) Sears (SHLD) can set buy-stops above $115, which is the downtrend line from September.


Healthy Merck

Bloomberg reports Merck (MRK) has forecasted that earnings would rise between $3.28 to $3.38 per share in 2008. The company will offset portions of its $3.1 bln in annual sales of its osteoporosis drug Fosamax with sales of newer drugs and cholesterol pills. Just yesterday, the company announced a $170.5 mln partnership with Swiss biotech company Addex to develop a drug for Parkinson's disease. Todd mentioned pharma as a defensive play in Monday Morning Quarterback.

From the Bull Pen: Pharma bulls may see a play in Merck with support at $55.58, which also coincides with its 50 DMA. Sell-stops may be placed below.

From the Bear Cave: Those bearish in the pharma space may see a downside play in Eli Lilly (LLY); buy-stops may be placed above the October high ($54.42). Pfizer (PFE) may also be an option with buy-stops above $24.


Click on Minyanville's Stocks To Watch for more company-specific ideas.


Quick Check Around the World

Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +0.77%, Nikkei -0.95%, Sensex -0.38%, Taiwan +0.79% and Shanghai +0.97%.

A quick look across the pond finds the CAC -1.23%, DAX -0.26%, FTSE -1.24%, ATX -2.28%, Swiss Mkt. -0.90% and Stockholm -2.07%.


A Look At Commodities

Crude oil is lower 0.55 to 88.76. Gold is higher 7.30 to 802.00. Silver is up 0.21 to 14.42, and copper is down 8.9 to 298.95.

As of 8:30 AM, S&P futures are lower by 7.80 points, and Nasdaq futures are down by 16.50 points.


On the Radar

Today's a light radar with no economic events scheduled.

Click here for the full trading radar.

Good luck today!
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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