Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday Watch

Late-Night Headlines

- The cost of protecting Asia-Pacific bonds from default tumbled, according to traders of credit- default swaps. The Markit iTraxx Asia index of 50 investment-grade borrowers outside Japan, including Thailand and Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., fell 70 basis points to 490 and earlier traded at 480, according to ICAP Plc data as of 8:19 a.m. in Hong Kong. The iTraxx Australia index was quoted 30 basis points lower at 280 in Sydney, Citigroup Inc. data show. The Markit iTraxx Japan index fell 20 basis points to 270 at 9:38 a.m. in Tokyo, according to prices from Morgan Stanley.

- The Federal Reserve agreed to provide $30 billion each to the central banks of Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore, expanding its effort to unfreeze money markets to emerging nations for the first time. The Fed set up ``liquidity swap facilities with the central banks of these four large systemically important economies'' effective until April 30, the central bank said yesterday in a statement. The arrangements aim ``to mitigate the spread of difficulties in obtaining U.S. dollar funding.''

- The US dollar and the yen fell as a wave of global interest rate cuts sparked a rally in Asian stocks, bolstering demand for higher-yielding assets. The greenback slid to a one-week low against the euro after the Federal Reserve cut its target lending rate to the lowest in a half-century. The yen slumped for a third day versus the euro on speculation the Bank of Japan will lower borrowing costs when it meets tomorrow. South Korea's won jumped the most in a decade after the Fed extended swap lines to the nation's central bank to help ease a shortage of the U.S. currency.

- Nike Inc.(NKE) Chairman Philip Knight has pledged $100 million for cancer research to the Oregon Health & Science University. The donation from Knight and his wife, Penny, is the largest gift in the Portland, Oregon, school's history, the university said in a statement today.

- Delta Air Lines Inc.(DAL) and Northwest Airlines Corp. won U.S. approval to combine, clearing the last regulatory hurdle to becoming the world's largest carrier.

Wall Street Journal:
- India's employment boom in its flagship industries -- one of the most visible signs of the vast nation's rapid development -- could be set to burst in dramatic fashion. Many Indian companies in sectors including technology, financial services and construction are likely to cut one quarter or more of their employees in coming weeks, warned the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, a trade group, on Wednesday.

- Kenneth Heebner, manager of last year’s top US equity fund, said stocks will rise with a “buying panic” by investors who put cash to work. The market will rise “appreciably” from current levels, Heebner said. Asset managers who are holding “massive” amounts of cash will need to resume investing in stocks to produce positive returns, he said. “As the market starts up, there is going to be the same buying panic as the selling panic we have had in the last month,” Heebner said. (video)

- US regulators are working on a new federal program that could provide government guarantees for up to $600 billion of home mortgages to help prevent foreclosures, a source familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Wednesday. The plan, being hammered out by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and the U.S. Treasury, could provide guarantees for up to 3 million at-risk mortgages, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the program is still being discussed.
- How will Apple(AAPL) put cash hoard to work?

- Hedge Fund Trauma. Examining the heavy selling suffered by the hedge-fund community.


- Dow Jones news service corrected a report that had quoted General Electric Co's(GE) top executive about 2009 earnings after the report battered GE shares and sparked a late stock-market sell-off. The report had helped push the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 Index down from near session highs at 3:30 p.m. into negative territory 2 minutes before the close. The correction made clear that GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt had not forecast 2009 profit to be flat. The news service said Immelt had been speaking hypothetically when he told a business group in Spain that he would ask his managers to maintain profits even if revenues at their businesses fell as much as 10 percent to 15 percent.

- Coffee chain Starbucks Corp (SBUX) may have weathered the worst of a sales slowdown as growth improved somewhat this month, its top executive said on Wednesday, and its share rose 8 percent. "The downturn continued in the fourth quarter, and we did see a slight improvement in the first weeks of Q1 ... which might suggest that Starbucks may have hit bottom in terms of negative transactions in our fourth quarter," Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz told reporters at a company leadership conference in New Orleans.

- The United States and China kicked off what is likely to be a global round of interest rate cuts, part of a barrage of measures deployed around the world to fight a deep economic slowdown.

- General Motors Corp(GM) and Cerberus Capital Management have resolved the major issues in a proposed GM-Chrysler merger, but the final form of any deal would depend on the financing and government support available, sources familiar with the talks said on Wednesday.

Financial Times:
- GM calls bottom of downturn. General Motors(GM) on Wednesday said it had continued to feel the impact of the financial crisis in its third quarter sales but that the US had reached the bottom of its economic downturn.


- Porsche and VW share row: how Germany got revenge on the hedge fund ‘locusts’. Many fund managers believe they are victims of a stitch-up orchestrated by the German government and Porsche. The German establishment has never tried to hide its contempt for them, with a leading politician referring to hedge fund managers as "locusts". One trader went as far as describing this week's events as "payback".

Late Buy/Sell Recommendations
- Reiterated Buy on (NLC), target $17.

- Reiterated Buy on (BWA), target $32.

- Upgraded (SLAB) to Buy, target $33.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are +1.5% to +6.5% on average.
S&P 500 futures +2.3%.
NASDAQ 100 futures +2.41%.

Morning Preview
US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Commentary
Pre-market Stock Quote/Chart
Before the Bell CNBC Video(bottom right)
Global Commentary
WSJ Intl Markets Performance
Commodity Movers
Top 25 Stories
Top 20 Business Stories
Today in IBD
In Play
Bond Ticker
Economic Preview/Calendar
Daily Stock Events
Rasmussen Business/Economy Polling

Earnings of Note
Company/EPS Estimate
- (MYL)/.11

- (CVS)/.60

- (CBS)/.41

- (ATK)/1.81

- (LEA)/-.10

- (EXPE)/.40

- (ABC)/.70

- (TBL)/.46

- (ENR)/1.18

- (IP)/.77

- (ICE)/1.04

- (CI)/1.06

- (EK)/.24

- (MOT)/.01

- (APA)/3.72

- (IGT)/.31

- (MCRS)/.33

- (SGMS)/.31

- (CHK)/.88

- (OSG)/3.56

- (BMC)/.51

- (MEE)/.74

- (ERTS)/-.06

- (ESRX)/.78

- (MNST)/.34

- (SQNM)/-.17

- (AKAM)/.39

- (CL)/.98

- (SGR)/.71

- (KLAC)/.34

- (WYNN)/.59

- (JAVA)/-.06

- (MRO)/2.33

- (MFE)/.49

- (BJS)/.55

- (AVP)/.50

- (MORN)/.51

- (XOM)/2.40

Economic Releases
8:30 am EST

- Advance 3Q GDP is estimated to fall .5% versus a 2.8% gain in 2Q.

- Advance 3Q Personal Consumption is estimated to fall 2.4% versus a 1.2% increase in 2Q.

- Advance 3Q GDP Price Index is estimated to rise 4.04% versus a 1.1% gain in 2Q.

- Advance 3Q Core PCE is estimated to rise 2.5% versus a 2.2% increase in 2Q.

- Initial Jobless Claims are estimated to fall to 475K versus 4478K the prior week.

- Continuing Claims are estimated to rise to 3735K versus 3720K prior.

Upcoming Splits
- None of note

Other Potential Market Movers
- The weekly EIA natural gas inventory report, BIO Investor Forum, (SPLS) analyst conference and (WAG) analyst meeting could also impact trading today.

BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are sharply higher, boosted by technology and commodity stocks in the region. I expect US equities to open higher and to maintain gains into the afternoon. The Portfolio is 100% net long heading into the day.

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