Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thursday Watch

Late-Night Headlines
- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US reached tentative agreement today to increase pressure on Iran to halt uranium enrichment by tightening United Nations sanctions, Russian and US diplomats said.
- Palestinian leaders completed negotiations for a national unity government after the leaders of the Hamas and Fatah movements agreed on a candidate for interior minister, Prime Minister Ismael Hania said.
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted responsibility for planning the Sept.11 attacks and a host of other terrorist activities, according to a transcript of a hearing released by the US Defense Department. The al-Qaeda leader, captured in 2003, admitted responsibility for a long list of other actual or planned operations in addition to the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the transcript. They include the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an attack on a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, and planned attacks on buildings in NY, Chicago, California and Washington State.
- Toyota Motor(TM), whose Prius is the world’s best-selling gasoline-electric car, may also offer hybrids able to run on fuel that’s mostly ethanol. A flex-fuel hybrid would expand Toyota’s offerings of models that aren’t powered exclusively by gasoline. Toyota and Honda Motor are the only large automakers in the US that don’t sell vehicles able to run on E85, a fuel that’s 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Toyota said in January it would sell a flex-fuel version of its Tundra pickup truck able to run on E85 within 2 years.
- John Richels, president of Devon Energy Corp.(DVN) sees the potential for the company to double its oil reserves.
- Chiquita Brands Intl.(CQB), owner of the namesake banana brand, was charged with doing business with a terrorist group in Colombia, in violation of federal law.
- Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) shareholders rejected a plan that would have given investors more say over who sits on the board, leaving the decision in the hands of CEO Mark Hurd and current directors.
- Prices for luxury homes in London rose last month at the fastest annual rate in 28 years, cementing the British capital’s position as the most expensive city in the world for prime residential real estate.
- China, the world’s biggest producer of steel, boosted production of the alloy 23% in the first two months of the year.

Dow Jones:
- Sharp Corp. said price declines for liquid-crystal display televisions will probably slow this year, citing Hans Kleis, CEO of the company’s European unit.

Financial Times:
- Ensus Plc, a UK biofuels company, has raised $174.3 million from private equity firms Carlyle Group and Riverstone Holdings to build an ethanol plan in north east England, citing CEO Alwyn Hughes.

- OPEC will not assign a ceiling for the oil production of Angola, its newest member, when its meets tomorrow. The African nation, which joined OPEC in January, will be given the right to produce at maximum capacity until further notice.

China Business News:
- The People’s Bank of China may force medium-sized and smaller banks to buy “special” central bank bills to help curb loans. In a so-called window guidance meeting this week, the central bank said it will use bill issues and increases in required reserves to restrain bank lending and stem inflation.

Late Buy/Sell Recommendations
- Farm economics are improving significantly. Farmers are likely to go from breakeven results last year to $190 - $230/acre profits this year. Farm real estate prices have jumped significantly. Today in Iowa, we are seeing farm prices of $5,000 per acre vs. last year’s $3,500 - $4,000 per acre. Five years ago it was $3,000.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are +1.25% to +1.5% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.16%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated +.34%.

Morning Preview
US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Commentary
Before the Bell CNBC Video(bottom right)
Global Commentary
Asian Indices
European Indices
Top 20 Business Stories
In Play
Bond Ticker
Conference Calendar
Daily Stock Events
Macro Calls
Rasmussen Consumer/Investor Daily Indices
CNBC Guest Schedule

Earnings of Note
Company/EPS Estimate
- (ARO)/.98
- (BSC)/3.77
- (BONT)/4.59
- (PLCE)/1.78
- (GLBC)/-1.32
- (LGND)/1.69
- (PSUN)/.39
- (ROST)/.66
- (TEK)/.37
- (TRLG)/.22
- (WGO)/.25

Upcoming Splits
- (CBE) 2-for-1
- (JEC) 2-for-1

Economic Releases
8:30 am EST
- The Producer Price Index for February is estimated to rise .5% versus a -.6% decline in January.
- The PPI Ex Food & Energy for February is estimated to rise .2% versus a .2% increase in January.
- Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated at 328K versus 328K the prior week.
- Continuing Claims are estimated to rise to 2540K versus 2526K prior.
- Empire Manufacturing for March is estimated to fall to 17.5 versus 24.4 in February.

9:00 am EST
- Net Long-term Tic Flows for January are estimated to rise to $70.0 billion versus $15.6 billion in December.

12:00 pm EST
- Philly Fed for March is estimated to rise to 4.0 versus .6 in February.

BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are higher, boosted by automaker and technology shares in the region. I expect US equities to open modestly higher and to maintain gains into the afternoon. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into the day.

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