- The Obama administration pledged to press
- Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Treasury Department’s special master on compensation, said he is reluctant to impose “clawbacks” to recoup pay from executives when their company’s financial performance falters. “I have an assumption in my mind that it’s not a great idea” to recover money “already paid and maybe already spent and already taxed,” Feinberg said today via video conference at a meeting of the Chicago Bar Association. “I’m wary of exercising that authority in too many cases.”
- General Motors Co. will close Saturn, the brand created 24 years ago to mirror Japanese companies’ carmaking, after Penske Automotive Group Inc. broke off discussions to buy the unit. Penske, operator of 310 auto retailers, backed out because of concern it wouldn’t have access to cars and sport-utility vehicles after 2011 when GM was due to stop supplying them, Penske said in a statement. “This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality,” GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson said in a statement on the company’s Web site. “I’m a little surprised that there was no plan B here,” said Stephen Spivey, an auto analyst with Frost & Sullivan in
- Bank of America Corp.(BAC) Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis, his credibility battered by the Merrill Lynch & Co. takeover, plans to step down at the end of this year. No successor was named for Lewis, who will also retire as a director, according to a statement today from Bank of America, the biggest
- The People’s Republic of China celebrates its 60th anniversary today by staging a military parade
- The yen may weaken to around 100 against the dollar over the next “few months” given that there are few reasons for it to advance further, said Makoto Utsumi, a former top currency official at
Wall Street Journal:
- Investors have agreed so far to plow more than $1.13 billion into a long-awaited Treasury Department program to buy the toxic assets at the heart of the financial crisis. The Treasury announced that two of the nine investment firms tapped earlier this year to participate in the Public-Private Investment Program have raised at least $500 million -- a precursor to obtaining government financing.
- The Department of the Interior expects to approve seven major, renewable-energy transmission projects on western federal lands by the end of next year, part of the administration's effort to step up use of wind and solar power. Finding sites for new grid infrastructure has been a major obstacle to the Obama administration's plans to expand renewable-energy production. Many people and local governments oppose placing transmission projects, which help channel electricity generated by renewable-energy sources to consumers, in their backyards, citing environmental, safety and other concerns. The Interior Department is accelerating the construction of transmission projects on federal lands in an effort to streamline the permitting process, through there are still state, local and other federal regulatory hurdles that companies have to overcome.
- A new wave of financial alchemy is emerging on Wall Street as banks and insurers seek to make soured securities look better. Regulators are pushing back, saying the transactions don't have enough substance and stand to benefit bankers and ratings firms. The deals come as Wall Street firms, buoyed by surging markets, are seeking to profit from the unwinding of the complicated securities that helped fuel the credit crisis. Regulators, meanwhile, are struggling to prevent a recurrence of the crisis. The popular deals are known as "re-remic," which stands for resecuritization of real-estate mortgage investment conduits.
- So our top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has told CBS's "60 Minutes" that he has spoken with President Barack Obama only once since June. This is a troubling revelation. Right now, our commander in chief is preparing to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency—whether to commit additional troops to win the war in
- Two Senate Democrats Wednesday unveiled climate legislation that aims to drastically cut greenhouse-gas emissions beginning in 2012, starting an effort that threatens to divide the party amid opposition from coal, manufacturing and oil interests. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry outlined the measure, which would cut emissions from 2005 levels 20% by 2020 and more than 80% by 2050. Republicans took issue with the Boxer-Kerry bill, calling it a new national energy tax. "The last thing American families need right now is to be hit with a new energy tax every time they flip on a light switch, or fill up their car -- but that's exactly what this bill would do," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the legislation a "strong foundation" to work on, while Republican Leader John Boehner said the measure was a "dangerous proposal."
- Nvidia Corp.(NVDA) announced its next major leap in technology, vowing to deliver chips that speed up an array of computing chores as well as advancing its traditional stronghold in graphics.
- A government effort to get badly needed cash into the hands of struggling small business owners is slowly gaining momentum, but entrepreneurs seeking the scarce loans are still in for a frustrating ride.
- Most people think they pay too much to Uncle Sam, but for some people it simply is not true. In 2009, roughly 47% of households, or 71 million, will not owe any federal income tax, according to estimates by the nonpartisan
- Comcast(CMCSA), the nation’s leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services, is in talks to buy the entertainment giant NBC-Universal from General Electric(GE), according to knowledgeable individuals. Deal points were hammered out at a meeting among bankers for both sides in
- Sugar is the new crude oil for investment-hungry hedge funds, which are pushing sugar prices near 30-year highs and ushering new global shortages. After their infamous and massive bets on crude oil sent prices doubling and brought $5-a-gallon gasoline a year ago, hedge funds are now pouring their billions into raw sugar. Sugar prices have doubled since springtime, causing US officials to consider lifting tariff barriers so that more imported sugar can reach food and candy makers. Analysts say hedge funds are in search of high profits on commodity gambles, since returns on stocks and bonds are meager and less certain. In trading here yesterday, raw sugar surged as much as 4.4 percent to 25.15 cents a pound before settling at 25 cents, up 3.5 percent, the highest close since 1981. Betting by hedge funds and large speculators that sugar futures will jump has soared 77 percent this year, said the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
- House Minority Leader John Boehner torched President Barack Obama Wednesday for his European trip to pitch the Chicago Olympics bid, criticizing the president for "going to go off to Copenhagen when we've got serious issues here at home that need to be debated." Obama's trip has been maligned by most Republicans as the health care overhaul remains in a continued state of flux in Congress and the top general in
- Two days after the release date of Sarah Palin’s book was announced, it's already become the top seller at both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Palin’s publisher announced Monday that the former governor of
- For the second straight week, just 33% of likely voters say the United States is heading in the right direction, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
The Business Insider:
- Steve Jobs said people don't read any more. But Apple (AAPL) is in talks with several media companies rooted in print, negotiating content for a "new device." And they're not just going for e-books and mags. They're aiming to redefine print.
- Michael Vick is back with Nike(NKE) two years after the company severed ties over the quarterback's involvement in a dogfighting ring. "Mike has a long-standing, great relationship with Nike, and he looks forward to continuing that relationship," his agent, Joel Segal, said Wednesday. Segal would not reveal terms of the agreement. Nike declined a request for comment.
- Higher margins, the ability to collect and use information about customers, more revenue and greater willingness to share content with Internet operators is prompting Hollywood to join forces with the likes of Google's (GOOG) YouTube or set up its own Internet portals. Online video streaming and digital downloads should nearly triple to a $753 million North American market in 5 years, still a 5 percent sliver of DVD sales in 2008. But, analysts said, with disc sales dwindling and online viewing exploding, that gap will shrink.
- Unemployment rates rose in all cities across the United States in August from a year earlier, with 16 recording jobless rates of 15 percent or higher, according to the Labor Department. At the same time, only 11 metropolitan areas said they had gained jobs in August, while 356 had lost positions. For the eighth consecutive month, all 372 cities that the department surveys had year-on-year increases in jobless rates. The largest rise was in
- China has issued a stark warning about the risk from rising overcapacity in the economy, saying it could hamper recovery and lead to a surge in non-performing bank loans. The State Council, the country’s cabinet, issued a new plan to combat overcapacity in seven industries, barring new aluminum smelters for three years and criticizing “blind expansion” in parts of the steel and cement industries. The cabinet statement, which came late on Tuesday evening in
- Carphone is understood to be close to agreeing terms with Vodafone over the sale of Apple's hugely popular device. At present Carphone has exclusive retailer rights to sell the iPhone through an agreement with Apple and O2, which until this week held the sole network rights to the iPhone. Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, has credited the iPhone with enabling the company to increase its market presence at the expense of rival Phones4U.
Late Buy/Sell Recommendations
- Rated (CHK) Outperform, target $35.
- Rated (FDX), (UNP), (CSX), (HTLD), (NMM), (CPLP), (DSX), (NSC), (ODFL), (GWR), (KNX) and (JBHT) Buy.
- Rated (FRO) and (EGLE) Sell.
Asian Indices are -1.0% to +.50% on average.
S&P 500 futures -.22%.
NASDAQ 100 futures -.28%.
Earnings of Note
8:30 am EST
- Personal Income for August is estimated to rise +.1% versus unch. in July.
- Personal Spending for August is estimated to rise +1.1% versus a +.2% gain in July.
- The PCE Core for August is estimated to rise +.1% versus a +.1% gain in July.
- Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated to rise to 535K versus 530K the prior week.
- Continuing Claims are estimated to rise to 6170K versus 6138K prior.
10:00 am EST
- ISM Manufacturing for September is estimated to rise to 54.0 versus a reading of 52.9 in August.
- ISM Prices Paid for September is estimated to rise to 66.0 versus 65.0 in August.
- Construction Spending for August is estimated to fall -.1% versus a -.2% decline in July.
- Pending Home Sales for August are estimated to rise +1.0% versus a +3.2% gain in July.
- Total Vehicle Sales for September are estimated to fall to 9.5M versus 14.09M in August.
- None of note
Other Potential Market Movers
- The Fed’s Bernanke speaking, Fed’s Lockhart speaking, Fed’s Pianalto speaking, Challenger Job Cuts report, weekly EIA natural gas inventory report, Bank of America Global Real Estate Conference, Thomas Weisel Consumer Conference, Deutsche Bank Leveraged Finance Conference, (OC) analyst meeting and the (TRI) analyst meeting could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly lower, weighed down by technology and automaker shares in the region. I expect US equities to open modestly lower and to rally into the afternoon, finishing modestly higher. The Portfolio is 100% net long heading into the day.