Friday, April 30, 2010

Market Week in Review


S&P 500 1,186.69 -2.51%*

Photobucket

The Weekly Wrap by Briefing.com.

*5-Day Change

Weekly Scoreboard*


Indices

  • S&P 500 1,186.69 -2.51%
  • DJIA 11,008.61 -1.75%
  • NASDAQ 2,461.19 -2.73%
  • Russell 2000 716.60 -3.41%
  • Wilshire 5000 12,279.27 -2.60%
  • Russell 1000 Growth 526.84 -2.44%
  • Russell 1000 Value 616.06 -2.64%
  • Morgan Stanley Consumer 714.12 -2.25%
  • Morgan Stanley Cyclical 936.36 -3.17%
  • Morgan Stanley Technology 599.04 -3.93%
  • Transports 4,670.92 -1.69%
  • Utilities 387.95 -.15%
  • MSCI Emerging Markets 42.35 -1.08%
  • Lyxor L/S Equity Long Bias Index 1,011.85 -.74%
  • Lyxor L/S Equity Variable Bias Index 870.70 unch.
  • Lyxor L/S Equity Short Bias Index 849.95 +1.49%
Sentiment/Internals
  • NYSE Cumulative A/D Line +93,638 +1.16%
  • Bloomberg New Highs-Lows Index +512 -704
  • Bloomberg Crude Oil % Bulls 43.0 +22.86%
  • CFTC Oil Net Speculative Position +106,264 -10.05%
  • CFTC Oil Total Open Interest 1,395,964 +2.88%
  • Total Put/Call 1.0 +42.86%
  • OEX Put/Call 1.86 +313.33%
  • ISE Sentiment 95.0 -34.03%
  • NYSE Arms 2.16 +72.80%
  • Volatility(VIX) 22.05 +32.67%
  • G7 Currency Volatility (VXY) 11.24 +.18%
  • Smart Money Flow Index 9,769.05 -.63%
  • Money Mkt Mutual Fund Assets $2.872 Trillion -.2%
  • AAII % Bulls 41.36 +8.50%
  • AAII % Bears 28.64 -16.38%
Futures Spot Prices
  • CRB Index 277.71 -.48%
  • Crude Oil 86.15 +1.28%
  • Reformulated Gasoline 239.94 +1.72%
  • Natural Gas 3.92 -9.37%
  • Heating Oil 231.57 +1.68%
  • Gold 1,180.70 +1.86%
  • Bloomberg Base Metals 215.95 -3.81%
  • Copper 335.35 -5.18%
  • US No. 1 Heavy Melt Scrap Steel 373.33 USD/Ton unch.
  • China Hot Rolled Domestic Steel Sheet 4,599 Yuan/Ton -1.73%
  • S&P GSCI Agriculture 310.09 +.04%
Economy
  • ECRI Weekly Leading Economic Index 133.70 +.53%
  • Citi US Economic Surprise Index +20.30 -3.2 points
  • Fed Fund Futures imply 98.0% chance of no change, 2.0% chance of 25 basis point cut on 6/23
  • US Dollar Index 81.87 +.67%
  • Yield Curve 269.0 -5 basis points
  • 10-Year US Treasury Yield 3.65% -16 basis points
  • Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet $2.313 Trillion -.30%
  • U.S. Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap 36.0 -5.26%
  • Western Europe Sovereign Debt Credit Default Swap Index 116.0 +15.81%
  • 10-Year TIPS Spread 2.40% +3 basis points
  • TED Spread 19.0 +2 basis points
  • N. America Investment Grade Credit Default Swap Index 90.27 +1.68%
  • Euro Financial Sector Credit Default Swap Index 99.76 +3.33%
  • Emerging Markets Credit Default Swap Index 221.65 +4.83%
  • CMBS Super Senior AAA 10-Year Treasury Spread 234.0 +8 basis points
  • M1 Money Supply $1.691 Trillion +.30%
  • Business Loans 618.20 -.05%
  • 4-Week Moving Average of Jobless Claims 462,500 +.3%
  • Continuing Claims Unemployment Rate 3.6% unch.
  • Average 30-Year Mortgage Rate 5.06% -1 basis point
  • Weekly Mortgage Applications 534.60 -2.89%
  • ABC Consumer Confidence -49 +1 point
  • Weekly Retail Sales +2.7% -30 basis points
  • Nationwide Gas $2.88/gallon +.03/gallon
  • U.S. Cooling Demand Next 7 Days 53.0% above normal
  • Baltic Dry Index 3,359 +11.74%
  • Oil Tanker Rate(Arabian Gulf to U.S. Gulf Coast) 62.50 -7.41%
  • Rail Freight Carloads 212,347 +1.16%
  • Iraqi 2028 Government Bonds 83.25 -.12%
Best Performing Style
  • Large-Cap Growth -2.44%
Worst Performing Style
  • Small-Cap Value -3.64%
Leading Sectors
  • Gold +4.21%
  • Gaming +.36%
  • Biotech +.19%
  • Utilities -.15%
  • Telecom -.84%
Lagging Sectors
  • Semis -4.31%
  • Steel -5.07%
  • Oil Service -8.65%
  • Education -9.0%
  • Disk Drives -10.26%
One-Week High-Volume Gainers

One-Week High-Volume Losers

*5-Day Change

Stocks Sharply Lower into Final Hour on Rising Energy Prices, Increasing Financial Sector Pessimism, More Economic Fear and Profit-Taking


Broad Market Tone:

  • Advance/Decline Line: Substantially Lower
  • Sector Performance: Most Rising
  • Volume: Above Average
  • Market Leading Stocks: Underperforming
Equity Investor Angst:
  • VIX 21.21 +15.02%
  • ISE Sentiment Index 100.0 -20.63%
  • Total Put/Call .94 +30.56%
  • NYSE Arms 1.62 +104.06%
Credit Investor Angst:
  • North American Investment Grade CDS Index 90.27 bps +.4%
  • European Financial Sector CDS Index 99.58 bps -5.08%
  • Western Europe Sovereign Debt CDS Index 116.0 bps -5.18%
  • Emerging Market CDS Index 222.52 bps +1.14%
  • 2-Year Swap Spread 24.0 +6 bps
  • TED Spread 19.0 +1 bp
Economic Gauges:
  • 3-Month T-Bill Yield .16% unch.
  • Yield Curve 270.0 -3 bps
  • China Import Iron Ore Spot $172.90/Metric Tonne unch.
  • Citi US Economic Surprise Index +20.30 +2.0 points
  • 10-Year TIPS Spread 2.40% -4 bps
Overseas Futures:
  • Nikkei Futures: Indicating -77 open in Japan
  • DAX Futures: Indicating -27 open in Germany
Portfolio:
  • Lower: On losses in my Financial, Retail and Tech long positions
  • Disclosed Trades: Added (IWM), (QQQQ) hedges, added to my (EEM) short
  • Market Exposure: Moved to 75% Net Long
BOTTOM LINE: Today's overall market action is very bearish as equities trade near session lows on good volume. On the positive side, Gold, Ag, Oil Tanker and Utility stocks are relatively strong, posting gains for the day. The declines in the euro financial sector cds index and western europe sovereign debt cds index are positives. On the negative side, REIT, Construction, HMO, Disk Drive, Semi and Computer shares are under meaningful pressure, falling 2.5%+. (IYR) has been heavy throughout the day. The Greece sovereign debt cds is jumping 6.2% today to 729.50 bps, despite optimism over the prospects for an imminent bailout. The Shanghai Composite was unable to bounce last night with most of the rest of Asia and continues to hover near its 52-week low, which is a red flag for the global economy. The 10-year yield is down another 6 basis points. While a pullback from recent levels is welcome, investors are likely getting a bit worried that yields are falling too much. While much of the focus today is on (GS) and the rest of the financials, the technology sector(Morgan Stanley Tech Index: MSH) has been heavy for about 10 days and is close to breaking down through its 50-day moving average, which is another red flag. Finally, oil is now trading as if another spike higher is coming this summer, which could become another significant headwind for the global economy. I expect US stocks to trade modestly lower into the close from current levels on profit-taking, tax hike worries, increasing financial sector pessimism, rising economic fear and more shorting.

Today's Headlines


Bloomberg:
  • Papandreou Says Greek 'Survival' at Stake in Talks. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said the country’s survival was at stake in talks to win a potential $159 billion European Union-led bailout in exchange for budget cuts denounced by unions as “savage.” “Now, today, immediately, what is at stake is the survival of the nation,” Papandreou said in parliament in Athens today. “This is the ‘red line.’” He said talks with the EU and International Monetary Fund were “tough,” with his government resisting “not in the street with rocks, but in negotiations.”
  • Goldman Sachs(GS) Falls on U.S. Prosecutors' Review, BofA Dowgrade.
  • Goldman(GS) Leads Credit Swap Rise on Criminal Probe as Banks Jump. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. led a jump in the cost to protect bank bonds as federal prosecutors investigate the firm to determine whether to pursue a criminal fraud case, according to two people familiar with the matter. Credit-default swaps on Goldman Sachs increased the most since the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil lawsuit filing on April 16, as a federal review begins by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said two people familiar with the matter, who weren’t authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity. Bank of America Corp. cut its rating on the shares to “neutral” from “buy,” citing the probe. Credit swaps on Goldman Sachs climbed 25.8 basis points to 157.4 basis points, according to CMA DataVision. Swaps on other banks, including Morgan Stanley to Bank of America, also rose. Swaps on Morgan Stanley rose 10.2 basis points to 162.7 basis points, CMA prices show. Contracts on Bank of America climbed 8.3 basis points to 135.7, and swaps on JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased 8 basis points to 82.6.
  • Oil Rises to Two-Week High Above $86 on Weaker Dollar, Recovery. U.S. Interior Department inspectors began boarding deep- water platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana asked for help from the National Guard, as an oil sheen reportedly washed ashore in the worst rig spill in four decades. The leak, five times bigger than previously estimated, prompted Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to declare a state of emergency, and led Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, to ask President Barack Obama to indefinitely suspend plans to expand offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.
  • Spain Pricks Solar Power Bubble as Greek Fate Looms. Spain is lancing an 18 billion-euro ($24 billion) investment bubble in solar energy that has boosted public liabilities, choking off new projects as it works to cut power prices and insulate itself from Greece’s debt crisis. Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian is negotiating reductions in subsidies for solar plants that would curb energy costs, a ministry spokesman said this week.
  • China Reports Third Attack on School Children in as Many Days. China reported its third attack on school children in as many days, as domestic media called for tightening of security for students. A man in the eastern province of Shandong injured five kindergarten children and a teacher today when he attacked a local school armed with an iron hammer, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The man then soaked himself in gasoline, grabbed two of the children and set himself on fire, according to the report. Teachers were able to pull the children away, while the attacker died at the scene, Xinhua reported. The incident follows an attack on a primary school in the southern province of Guangdong on April 28 that injured 18 students and a teacher, and an assault yesterday on a kindergarten in the eastern province of Jiangsu in which 29 children and three adults were hurt. Xu, who was detained by police, said the attacks were “his revenge on society” for business and personal humiliations, Xinhua reported today, citing Jiang Wenxiang, chief of the local security bureau. An initial police investigation found Xu was “reasonably well off” and owned eight apartments in downtown Taixing city, Xinhua reported. A day earlier, Chen Kangbing snuck into a primary school in Guangdong province’s Leizhou city armed with a knife and injured 16 children, five seriously, Xinhua reported. Chen, a 33-year- old art teacher, had been diagnosed as suffering from severe neurosis in 2008 and was undergoing an assessment of his metal state, Xinhua reported. A doctor in Fujian province convicted of killing eight students in a March 23 attack was executed on Aug. 28, China Daily reported today.
  • U.S. Economy: Consumer Spending Picks Up, Sustaining Expansion.

Wall Street Journal:
Bloomberg Businessweek:
  • Beijing to Limit How Many Homes Residents May Buy. The city of Beijing will issues policies today limiting how many homes residents of the Chinese capital are allowed to buy, the Shanghai Securities News reported today, citing an unidentified person. The city will also “basically” stop loans for the purchase of third homes, as well as loans for those originally from outside Beijing who haven’t paid a year’s tax in the Chinese capital, the Shanghai-based newspaper reported.
CNBC:
MarketWatch:
Business Insider:
Zero Hedge:
Detroit News:
  • GM 'Close to Commiting Fraud' in Ad, Lawmaker Says. A senior Republican criticized General Motors Co. decision to run television advertisements featuring the company's CEO that tout its repayment of $6.7 billion in government loans. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a letter obtained by The Detroit News today to GM chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. that the company "has come dangerously close to committing fraud and that you might have colluded with the U.S. Treasury to deceive the American public." GM's ads featured Whitacre touting that fact that GM "repaid our government loan in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule." Issa called on GM to stop running the television advertisements. But GM spokesman Dave Roman said the ads stopped running as scheduled on Tuesday night. At issue is the fact that GM received $50 billion in U.S. government bailout funds -- but about $43 billion of those were swapped by the government in exchange for a 61 percent majority stake in GM. GM had $17.4 billion of those funds in escrow -- and GM tapped unused funds from that account to repay the taxpayers for the loan portion. But it won't be clear for years whether taxpayers will be completely repaid until the government sells all of its shares in the company.
ETF Guide:
Intl. Copper Study Group:
The Hill:
  • Dems Spark Alarm With Call for National ID Card. A plan by Senate Democratic leaders to reform the nation’s immigration laws ran into strong opposition from civil liberties defenders before lawmakers even unveiled it Thursday. Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.
Rasmussen Reports:
  • 66% See Tax Cuts as Better Way to Create Jobs Than More Government Spending. Most U.S. voters favor a new government program designed to create jobs but still think ultimately tax cuts and decisions by private business leaders will do more good in terms of job creation. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds that 66% believe cutting taxes is a better way to create new jobs than increasing government spending. That’s up seven points from January. Just 18% think increasing government spending is the better way to go.
Reuters:
  • Discovery(DISCA) Profit Up 42%. Discovery Communications reported a 42 percent rise in quarterly profit, as the company's push to bring its hit cable TV programs abroad resulted in a sharp jump in international advertising sales.
Sky News:
  • British banks are to warn of the possibility of a "double dip" recession, citing a "secret report" the broadcaster said it obtained. The report will be circulated after the upcoming general election.
Handelsblatt:
  • The German government will ask the country's banks to increase investment in Greek bonds to help underpin aid for Greece. Banks' help will be voluntary.
Lidove Noviny:
  • A majority of Czechs oppose adoption of the euro, citing a survey by the CVVM polling unit of the Academy of Science in Prague. The poll, the first to indicate a negative stance nationwide toward the currency switch, showed 55% of Czechs don't want to adopt the euro, compared with 38% who wish to join Europe's common currency.

Bear Radar


Style Underperformer:

  • Small-Cap Value (-1.69%)
Sector Underperformers:
  • Disk Drives (-4.09%), Semis (-2.76%) and REITs (-2.25%)
Stocks Falling on Unusual Volume:
  • GS, ATPG, CEG, SGY, RTP, WFR, MSTR, IRF, OTEX, BCS, BBL, DB, ITT, COLB, POZN, ATHN, FULT, OTEX, VPRT, EXXI, DRIV, XXIA, FISV, MXIM, TRAK, NETL, ABAX, QLGC, VSEA, LANC, SCVL, RIG, DRQ, ME, MFE and OII
Stocks With Unusual Put Option Activity:
  • 1) ARO 2) WFR 3) URBN 4) COST 5) MMR

Bull Radar


Style Outperformer:

  • Large-Cap Value (-.15%)
Sector Outperformers:
  • Oil Tankers (+2.31%), Utilities (+1.38%) and Homebuilders (+1.21%)
Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume:
  • OXY, IAG, NWL, SUN, CHA, CDE, AEP, SWKS, PTEN, KLAC, KBW, JEF, TDW, CCJ, WFC, CSTR, COHR, DNDN, AMCC, APKT, SHOO, THOR, TTES, SWKS, JRCC, VLCM, MCRS, MXWL, NAFC, TRMB, SIAL, STMP, DISCA, UAUA, CKH, RMD, HOS, DLB, TDW and CYN
Stocks With Unusual Call Option Activity:
  • 1) ESV 2) RIG 3) PAYX 4) EXPE 5) BP

Friday Watch


Evening Headlines

Bloomberg:
  • Greece May See 'Multi-Notch' Moody's Cut Depending on Aid Pact. Greece’s credit rating may be hit by a “multi-notch” downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service if the government doesn’t cut the budget deficit enough or the European Union fails to agree a united response to its crisis. Moody’s, which has an A3 rating on Greece, will make a decision after the government announces the budget steps agreed on with the International Monetary Fund and the EU. An accord may be announced in coming days. “‘Should, however, the mobilization of external support continue to be fractious and/or should the Greek government and people fail to fully deliver on and acquiesce to ambitious policy adjustments, Moody’s indicates that this would inflict significant damage to Greece’s creditworthiness,” the rating company said in a statement. The country’s largest union has already denounced some measures, which may include three-year wage freezes, as “unjust.” Greece’s NET Radio said cuts may amount to 10 percentage points of gross domestic product, equivalent to around 24 billion euros. The deficit was 13.6 percent of GDP in 2009.
  • Goldman(GS) Scrutinized by U.S. Prosecutors Examining SEC Case. Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating transactions by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., accused of misleading investors by U.S. securities regulators, to determine whether to pursue a criminal fraud case, according to two people familiar with the matter. The federal review, which lawyers say is common in such a high-profile case, is being done by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said the people, who weren’t authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity.
  • Senate Bill's Word Change May Save Swaps Phone Trades. A one-word deletion in the 1,565- page Senate financial reform bill may help banks and inter- dealer brokers maintain how they trade swaps in the unregulated $605 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market. The change is in the definition of so-called swap execution facilities, a way for banks, hedge funds and asset managers to trade private derivatives that are to be sent to clearinghouses under legislation written by Senator Blanche Lincoln, chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee. The latest version deletes the word “trading” from the term “trading facility,” according to a copy of the revised bill obtained by Bloomberg News. A “trading facility,” as defined under the U.S. Commodity Exchange Act, prohibits phone transactions, which is how swaps have been traded for three decades. The banks that dominate the market profit by relying on telephone-based trading because it’s less transparent than electronic-trading systems, said Darrell Duffie, a finance professor at Stanford University in California. “Dealer profits depend on the ability to limit the amount of competition for a trade,” Duffie said today in a telephone interview. “The policy objective behind this legislation is to go the other way -- to increase the amount of competition for a trade.” At stake is trading revenue in unregulated markets that last year generated an estimated $28 billion for five U.S. dealers including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, according to reports from the New York-based banks collected by the Federal Reserve and people familiar with banks’ income.
  • Moore Capital Fined in Platinum Manipulation Case. Moore Capital Management LP agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges that a former portfolio manager attempted to manipulate platinum and palladium futures during a surge in prices two years ago, U.S. regulators said.
  • Natural Gas Drops Most in Seven Months on Stockpiles, Output. Natural gas futures fell the most in seven months in New York after government reports showed bulging U.S. inventories and rising production. Supplies gained 83 billion cubic feet in the week ended April 23 to 1.912 trillion cubic feet, the Energy Department said. Analysts forecast an increase of 70 billion. Losses accelerated after a separate department report showed that gas output in February rose 1.6 percent to the highest monthly level since at least January 2005. “Supply is there and demand is not,” said Kyle Cooper, a managing director at energy consultant IAF Advisors in Houston. “It just implies you’ve got to change something because we can’t keep putting gas in storage at this pace.” Natural gas for June delivery fell 36.8 cents, or 8.5 percent, to settle at $3.98 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest one-day decline since Sept. 11. Gas has dropped 29 percent this year. Inventories were 18.8 percent above the five-year average, little changed from 18.5 percent in last week’s supply report.
  • Wells Fargo(WFC) Builds Team to Bundle, Trade Mortgages. Wells Fargo & Co., aiming to translate home-lending clout into bigger profits, is building a team to package and trade mortgage-backed securities and curb reliance on Wall Street competitors.
  • Japan Consumer Prices Fall 1.2%, 13th Straight Drop.
  • Asian Stocks May Fall 17% on Greek Crisis, BNP Says. Asian stocks outside of Japan may fall 17 percent in the short term as the Greek fiscal crisis prompts a drop in fund flows, BNP Paribas said. The MSCI Asia excluding Japan Index may decline to around 410 ahead of a May 10 meeting of leaders from the euro region, BNP analysts Clive McDonnell and Ryan Tsai said in a report today, citing their Portfolio Flows model.
  • North Korea's Denials on Ship Sinking May Cloud Lee-Hu Meeting. North Korea’s possible involvement in the sinking of a South Korean warship last month is likely to overshadow today’s meeting in Shanghai between the South’s president, Lee Myung Bak, and Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. Hu’s summit with Lee, in China to celebrate the opening of the $44 billion World Expo, will help shape any international response should an investigation indicate that North Korea caused the March 26 sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors. China is North Korea’s principal trading partner and political ally as well as the host for stalled negotiations on the reclusive regime’s nuclear weapons program. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the sinking, off its west coast close to the disputed border with North Korea, was most likely caused by a torpedo. South Korea may take the incident to the UN Security Council if North Korea’s role is confirmed, Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan said on April 20.
  • Cameron Bolsters Bid to Oust Brown With Win in Debate. Conservative leader David Cameron won the final debate of the U.K. election campaign, three instant-reaction polls showed, gaining momentum in his bid to oust Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the May 6 vote. Cameron’s central message in the 90-minute debate in Birmingham, central England, was that 13 years of Labour Party rule had left Britain struggling to recover from its longest recession and the highest unemployment in 16 years. “If you vote Labour, you’re going to get more of the same,” Cameron said. “If you vote Conservative on Thursday, you can have a new fresh government, making a clean break.”
  • Steel Futures in Shanghai Head for Biggest Drop in Three Months. Steel futures in Shanghai are poised for the largest monthly decline in three months on concern demand may ebb in China, the largest consumer and producer, as the government moved to cool its real-estate market. The government has in the past two weeks raised mortgage rates and down-payment ratios, barred lending for third-home purchases and ordered tighter scrutiny of developers’ financing to restrain property prices that surged at a record 11.7 percent in March. “The short-term outlook for steel has been hurt by the measures the government has taken to curb property speculation,” Xie Shuguang, an analyst Dongguan Hualian Futures Co., said from Guangdong. “Stockpiles have fallen but considering we’re in the peak demand season now, they are not falling as fast as expected.”
Wall Street Journal:
  • Google(GOOG) to Show TV Software in May. Google Inc. is planning to introduce Android-based television software to developers at an event in May, according to people familiar with the matter. The technology—designed to open set-top boxes, TVs and other devices to more content from the Internet—is attracting interest from partners that include Sony Corp., Intel Corp. and Logitech International SA, which are expected to offer products that support the software, these people said.
  • Starbucks(SBUX) Mounts Major Grocery Push. In the days ahead, a clue to the long-range growth strategy of Starbucks Corp. will become apparent, though not at its vast chain of coffee shops. Instead look down the coffee aisle of your local grocer. Starbucks is rolling out Via instant coffee—so far sold only in its own shops and a couple of retail chains—to tens of thousands of supermarkets, mass merchandisers and other outlets in coming weeks.
  • Buffett Is Expected to Fire at Will. Soon after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(GS) alleging fraud, Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein asked Warren Buffett for tips on how to handle the explosive situation, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. invested $5 billion in Goldman at the height of the financial crisis, told Mr. Blankfein he would let him know if he came up with any good ideas. Berkshire shareholders heading to Omaha, Neb., this weekend may soon get a view into Mr. Buffett's thinking. "I expect to get multiple questions about Goldman and I'll give extensive and complete replies," he said in an interview Thursday.
  • Airlines Approach Final Deal to Merge. Continental Airlines Inc.(CAL) and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines(UAUA) are expected to announce Monday that they are merging to form the world's largest airline, people familiar with the matter said.
  • Warning Signal on U.K. Debt? As investors scramble to protect themselves from the next credit flare-up in Europe, their worries are spreading to the U.K. Investors bought a net $443 million of credit-default swaps to insure against a U.K. default last week, according to data compiled by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., taking the total outstanding to $8.2 billion. That was easily the biggest gain among sovereign borrowers. The size of protection on the U.K. has roughly doubled since the year began, a move that far outpaces the run-up in Greek CDS last fall.
Bloomberg Businessweek:
  • European Options at Highest Versus U.S. on Debt Fear. Investors are paying the most in seven years for options to protect against losses in European stocks relative to U.S. contracts, speculating Greece’s debt crisis will spread to other nations. Europe’s VStoxx Index, a gauge of options on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index, closed at 29.52 yesterday. That’s 60 percent higher than the VIX, the biggest premium versus the benchmark index for U.S. equity options since May 2003. “Contagion risk is high,” said Justin Golden, a strategist at New York-based Macro Risk Advisors LLC, which advises institutions on equity derivatives. “The market is more fearful of European stocks than they are of U.S. stocks.”
  • Chinese, Indonesian Glossy Paper to Face U.S. Import Duties. Glossy paper imported from China and Indonesia will face antidumping duties, the U.S. Commerce Department said in adding to a record number of trade complaints against the Chinese. Duties on $260 million of paper used for magazines will average 60.27 percent for China and 10.62 percent for Indonesia, the Commerce Department announced yesterday. U.S. Customs will start collecting deposits of the duties while the case proceeds to a conclusion this year, the statement said.
Marketwatch.com:
  • Samsung Profit Jumps on Higher Chip, Panel Prices. Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday its first-quarter net profit grew more than sixfold from a year earlier, largely thanks to brisk sales of chips and flat panels as demand for personal computers and flat-screen televisions improved on the back of the global economic recovery. Sales rose 21% to KRW34.64 trillion in the first quarter from KRW28.67 trillion a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.
IBD:
NY Times:
  • Berkshire Hathaway's(BRK/A) Derivatives Exposure. For someone who once called these instruments “financial weapons of mass destruction,” the Oracle of Omaha has accumulated quite a portfolio. He has sold “put” options on various equity indexes and some credit default protection too, with an exposure of up to $63 billion.
Business Insider:
Forbes:
Chicago Tribune:
  • Chicago-Area Foreclosure Auctions Hit New High. More than 9,300 homeowners lost properties last quarter. More Chicago-area homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in the first three months of the year than in any quarter in the past five years. This disturbing statistic raises doubts about the effectiveness of mortgage loan modification efforts and could put more downward pressure on property values.
Time:
  • Maybe It's Time to Break Up the Banks. As the Senate takes up debate on financial industry overhaul, there is one issue above all others that is imperative to work out: how to deal with institutions that are Too Big To Fail. The reason the government stepped in with taxpayer money at firms like Citigroup and AIG is still alive and well. Our financial giants are so behemoth and interconnected that should one quickly go out of business, the entire system could be at risk. Unfortunately, as an increasing number of commentators are pointing out, the solution Congress is currently contemplating will likely do little to change that. Now that the bill is being debating in the Senate, other ideas are being put on the table, most visibly from Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Democrat-controlled banking committee that signed off on the original bill. Shelby wants to do away with the $50 billion fund and gain assurances that companies' shareholders and bondholders take a real hit when their company collapses. This is a noble effort to remove a government-mediated safety net and let financial players know that if they take big risks and fail, they will be the ones to suffer. Other good ideas, like forcing banks to issue debt that would be converted to equity in the event of a crisis, have a similar goal. Increasingly, though, I'm coming around on the idea that even these efforts don't go far enough. These ideas are all still about how to deal with the aftermath of a massive financial institution bringing the system to the brink, not preventing that from happening in the first place. Is there anything that would keep too much power and importance from building up inside of any single financial institution? It's tough to say for sure, but what is starting to be clear to me is that only one course of action has a real shot: breaking up the big banks.
Reuters:
  • Florida Democrat Seeks Halt to Offshore Exploration. Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, citing the risk of a potential "environmental and economic disaster" from the Gulf oil spill, said on Thursday he was filing legislation to temporarily prohibit the Obama administration from expanding U.S. offshore drilling.
  • Pakistan to Get $600 Mln Under U.S. Program - Pentagon. The United States plans to quickly transfer $600 million to Pakistan to reimburse the government for military operations over the last year, the Pentagon said on Thursday. "There has been some concern on the Pakistani's part about the rate at which they are reimbursed for Coalition Support Funds for their efforts in the war on terror on our behalf within their borders," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said at a news conference.
Financial Times:
  • Greece agrees €24bn austerity package. Greece has agreed the outline of a €24bn austerity package, including a three-year wage freeze for public sector workers, in return for a multibillion-euro loan from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund, according to people familiar with the talks. Final details of the measures, which are intended to slash the budget deficit by 10-11 percentage points of gross domestic product over the next three years, were still being worked out, a senior government official said. Negotiations with officials from the IMF, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank are due to be completed at the weekend and the measures will be presented for approval by the Greek parliament next week. The package also includes an increase in value-added tax, the second this year. Greece faces exceptionally strict monitoring by the EU and IMF because of its poor record of implementing previous economic reform programmes. On top of the wage freeze, public sector workers will lose their “13th and 14th month” salaries, paid at Christmas and Easter, and see further cuts in allowances. Andreas Loverdos, social affairs minister, told the Financial Times pensioners would also lose seasonal bonuses as part of an overhaul of the underfunded state pension system. The average retirement age will be raised from 53 at present to 67, he said. “The timetable for the pension measures is still being debated, but there isn’t much room for manoeuvre – this is about saving the country from collapse,” Mr Loverdos said.
citywire:
  • RAB Capital Warns on Commodity Prices. Leading commodity hedge fund RAB Capital has warned that the ever stronger dollar and Asian tightening will ultimately push down metal prices. The group's RAB Special Situations fund managed by Philip Richard told investors this week that while metals performed well in March with copper rising 8.3% and returning to autumn 2008 levels and aluminum up 11% there could be trouble ahead. ‘Some concerns are being raised about commodity prices in the near term,’ the company said today, in its latest update. ‘A strengthening US dollar naturally feeds through to weaker commodity prices and during March fears raised about Greek debt at times impacted positively on the US dollar against the euro. ‘The manager of the fund believes uncertainty relating to the PIGS economies will continue to affect the market for some time. Further, there have been increasing fears Chinese and Indian tightening may negatively impact industrial metals later in the year.’ Over the past 15 years, the global economic cycle has been almost perfectly predicted by the aggregate credit cycle of America and China, and it is this trend, RAB believes, that suggests prices could face a downdraft later this year.
Asahi:
  • North Korea may be preparing to test-fire missiles over the Sea of Japan in May, citing defense officials.
China Securities Journal:
  • China's introduction of a property tax now may be viable because of strong economic growth, citing Jia Kang, head of the Ministry of Finance's research arm.
Evening Recommendations
Citigroup:
  • Reiterated Buy on (CME), target $380.
  • Reiterated Buy on (HOT), raised target to $65.
  • Reiterated Buy on (HGSI), target $38.
  • Reiterated Buy on (OI), raised estimates, boosted target to $44.
  • Reiterated Buy on (OMX), target $22.
  • Reiterated Buy on (VPRT), target $64.
Night Trading
  • Asian indices are -.25% to +1.0% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 99.0 -5.5 basis points.
  • S&P 500 futures -.08%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures +.01%.
Morning Preview Links

Earnings of Note
Company/Estimate
  • (AGN)/.60
  • (AXL)/.22
  • (AVP)/.32
  • (B)/.19
  • (CVX)/1.94
  • (CEG)/1.06
  • (DHI)/-.01
  • (ITT)/.75
  • (DISCA)/.34
Economic Releases
8:30 am EST
  • Advance 1Q GDP is estimated to rise +3.3% versus a +5.6% gain in 4Q.
  • Advance 1Q Personal Consumption is estimated to rise +3.3% versus a +1.6% gain in 4Q.
  • Advance 1Q GDP Price Index is estimated to rise +.9% versus a +.5% gain in 4Q.
  • Advance 1Q Core PCE is estimated to rise+.5% versus a +1.8% gain in 4Q.
  • 1Q Employment Cost Index is estimated to rise +.5% versus a +.5% gain in 4Q.
9:45 am EST
  • Chicago Purchasing Manager for April is estimated to rise to 60.0 versus 58.8 in March.
9:55 am EST
  • Final Univ. of Mich. Consumer Confidence for April is estimated at 71.0 versus 69.5 in March.
Upcoming Splits
  • None of note
Other Potential Market Movers
  • None of note
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly higher, boosted by technology and automaker shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly lower and to rally into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 100% net long heading into the day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stocks Sharply Higher into Final Hour on Earnings Optimism, Short-Covering, Less Economic Fear, Less Greece Contagion Fear


Broad Market Tone:

  • Advance/Decline Line: Substantially Higher
  • Sector Performance: Most Rising
  • Volume: Heavy
  • Market Leading Stocks: Outperforming
Equity Investor Angst:
  • VIX 18.79 -10.86%
  • ISE Sentiment Index 132.0 +1.54%
  • Total Put/Call .69 -14.81%
  • NYSE Arms 1.23 +122.89%
Credit Investor Angst:
  • North American Investment Grade CDS Index 89.91 bps -6.16%
  • European Financial Sector CDS Index 104.32 bps -9.41%
  • Western Europe Sovereign Debt CDS Index 122.33 bps +5.61%
  • Emerging Market CDS Index 219.88 bps -3.33%
  • 2-Year Swap Spread 18.0 +2 bps
  • TED Spread 18.0 -1 bp
Economic Gauges:
  • 3-Month T-Bill Yield .16% +1 bp
  • Yield Curve 273.0 +1 bp
  • China Import Iron Ore Spot $172.90/Metric Tonne -2.54%
  • Citi US Economic Surprise Index +18.30 -.9 point
  • 10-Year TIPS Spread 2.44% +5 bps
Overseas Futures:
  • Nikkei Futures: Indicating +155 open in Japan
  • DAX Futures: Indicating +10 open in Germany
Portfolio:
  • Higher: On gains in my Financial, Medical, Tech, Retail and Biotech long positions
  • Disclosed Trades: Covered all of my (IWM)/(QQQQ) hedges and some of my (EEM) short, added to my (HGSI) long
  • Market Exposure: Moved to 100% Net Long
BOTTOM LINE: Today's overall market action is very bullish as equities trade near session highs on volume. On the positive side, REIT, Gaming, HMO, Hospital, Biotech and Networking stocks are especially strong, rising 2.5%+. The large decline in most cds indices is a large positive. The 10-year yield is down another 3 bps, despite today's equity rally and rise in inflation expectations. There are massive gains in some individual growth stocks today(FSLR, BIDU, AKAM, ILMN, DNDN, etc.), which should give the bears pause. On the negative side, Education and Oil Service shares are under meaningful pressure, falling 3.2%+. The AAII % Bulls rose to 41.4 this week, while the % Bears fell to 28.6. China spot iron ore prices are under meaningful pressure for the second day in a row and the Shanghai Composite continues to trade poorly, falling another -1.1% last night to a new 52-week low. This index is now down -12.5% YTD. The ongoing rise in the Western Europe Sovereign Debt CDS Index is a large negative. Until European sovereign debt problems intensify further and begin to impacting the main economies in that region in a significantly negative way, investors will likely continue to perceive the situation as a net positive for U.S. equities. I expect US stocks to trade modestly higher into the close from current levels on short-covering, less Greece contagion fear, diminishing economic fear, falling long-term rates and earnings optimism.

Today's Headlines


Bloomberg:
  • Papandreou Makes Austerity Pitch as Unions Slam 'Unjust' Cuts. “We find ourselves before the most savage, unprovoked and unjust attack,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou is starting his sales pitch to the Greek people as unions denounce as “unjust” budget cuts linked to a potential $159 billion European Union bailout.Spyros Papaspyros, head of the ADEDY civil servants union, after meeting Papandreou in Athens today. “The answer will be given in the street.” Greek officials will conclude talks with the EU and the International Monetary Fund in the next days as signs of agreement ended a bond market selloff that cascaded through the euro region this week.
  • Europe Shouldn't Bail Out 'Rich' Greece, Mobius Says. A default by “rich” Greece on its debt would be the best way to ease the European fiscal crisis and help allay fears of a contagion, Templeton Asset Management Ltd.’s Mark Mobius said. Greece should consider restructuring its debt to pay 25 cents to 50 cents for every dollar owed, cutting its borrowing to a more sustainable level, said Mobius, who oversees about $34 billion in emerging-market assets as executive chairman of Templeton Asset. Lending aid to Greece may drag down the European Union as other indebted nations seek a bailout in turn, he said. “A default will help to plug the leak,” Mobius said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Singapore today. “A bailout at this stage does not make sense to me.”
  • Euro Sales Extend as Morgan Stanley Mulls EU Breakup. Investors are abandoning the euro at a rate not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. as Europe’s worsening fiscal crisis threatens to splinter the 16-nation currency union. Pension funds and banks sold euros this month at the fastest pace since the second half of 2008, when the currency tumbled more than 25 percent against the dollar between mid-July and the end of October, according to Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the world’s biggest custodian of financial assets with $23 trillion. Demand for options giving the right to sell the euro against the dollar versus those allowing for purchases rose yesterday to the highest level since November 2008. “The assumptions that went into the makeup of the euro- zone, and hence the euro, are now being brought into question and revalued,” said Eric Busay, a manager of currencies and international bonds in Sacramento at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension, with $202 billion under management. “Central bankers and institutional investors have spent 10 years pricing out the likelihood of a euro-zone break-up, and now they have to price it in again,” said Emma Lawson, a currency strategist in London at Morgan Stanley. “The euro will no longer have this additional support going forward.” “Euro weakness is driven by a broad shift in investor attitudes, a shift which goes well beyond shorter-term foreign- exchange position changes within hedge funds,” Nomura foreign- exchange analysts Jennifer Hau in London and Jens Nordvig in New York wrote in an April 20 report to clients. “The problem with Europe, and people had forgotten about this over the past decade, is that the experiment of monetary union without political union, and without any sort of federalism across the euro-zone, puts them in a very vulnerable spot,” Scott Mather, head of global portfolio management at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Munich, said in a Bloomberg radio interview on April 26. “So when push comes to shove and you have these large imbalances that develop between countries, it is very likely that they go back to the old world of being more nationalistic,” said Mather, whose Newport Beach, California- based firm runs the $220 billion Total Return Fund, the world’s biggest bond fund.
  • Mortgage Rates on 30-Year U.S. Loans Fall to 5.06%.
  • Number of U.S. Jobless Claims Falls to One-Month Low. Fewer Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the economic rebound is lifting the labor market. Initial jobless claims fell by 11,000 to 448,000 in the week ended April 24, in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the lowest level in a month, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, rose to 462,500 last week from 461,000.

Wall Street Journal:
NY Times:
  • Will E.U. Ruling Herald Hedge Fund Exodus? Christopher Fawcett, a member of the hedge fund industry’s largest trade group, told Bloomberg News that a crack down by regulators in Europe has hedge-fund managers across the zone mulling the idea of putting offices in such areas as Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland.
NY Post:
  • Settlement Day. Goldman Sachs(GS) may soon settle its fraud case with the Securities and Exchange Commission, opting to end the legal fight rather than endure a repeat of the public flogging it received Tuesday in Washington, sources familiar with the matter told The Post. After 11 hours of accusations by members of the Senate Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations, people close to the bank said Goldman is mulling closing the SEC fraud-case chapter on the belief the firm's reputation, already damaged, might not endure a street fight with the Wall Street watchdog. "It's almost a certainty that there will be a settlement," said a source. As another person put it, the SEC has an "unlimited supply of ammunition" in the form of e-mails and records that it could release, and Goldman officials would like to avoid having those documents fired back at them the way they were on Tuesday. Meanwhile, according to reports late yesterday, Goldman is in talks over a possible settlement involving a hedge fund investor that claims it went bust after it took a $100 million investment in Timberwolf, an overnight sensation for being dubbed by a senior Goldman exec as a "shi- -y deal." Basis Yield Alpha Fund claims losses of $56 million, reports said, citing sources.
Business Insider:
CNNMoney.com:
The Hill:
  • Major Source of Money for Big Banks May Get Exemption From Regs. A major source of revenue for big banks may ultimately be exempt from new regulations under financial reform legislation in Congress. Lawmakers are looking to crack down on the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market that some blame for worsening the financial crisis. But they appear on the verge of handing power to the Treasury Department to decide whether to exempt foreign exchange derivatives from tougher governmental oversight. If approved, the language would be a win for the banking industry, which has argued the foreign exchange derivatives had no role in the financial crisis and therefore should not be subject to new regulations. An earlier version of financial reform legislation in the Senate had more stringent regulations of those derivatives.
Detroit News:
  • House Republicans Want Investigation of Rattner's Handling of Delphi. Two Republican members of Congress want an investigation into the conduct of former Obama auto czar Steve Rattner. In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, and Christopher Lee, R-N.Y., urged the committee to investigate Rattner's conduct. Rattner, who headed the Obama auto task force from February until July 2009, "has been implicated in an alleged 2005 kickback scheme involving New York State pension funds through his role as a co-founder of the Quadrangle Group investment firm." The letter quotes reports as saying Rattner was involved in the "scheme" to steer payments in exchange for a state investment contract. Earlier this month, Quadrangle agreed to pay $12 million to federal and state authorities to settle the matter. Quadrangle issued a statement criticizing Rattner. "We wholly disavow the conduct engaged in by Steve Rattner. ... That conduct was inappropriate, wrong and unethical," the company said. The investigation calls "into question the integrity and objectivity of Mr. Rattner's panel, particularly the decision to allow some Delphi Corp. retirees, including many salaried retirees, to lose their pension benefits through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation while simultaneously protecting the benefits of other Delphi retirees." Dozens of Congress members have sharply criticized the disparate treatment of Delphi's hourly and salaried retirees. Earlier this month, 12 members of the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. questioning whether the company was being unduly influenced by its government owners -- and cited Delphi as an example.
Project Syndicate:
  • Why Greece Will Default by Martin Feldstein. Greece will default on its national debt. That default will be due in large part to its membership in the European Monetary Union. If it were not part of the euro system, Greece might not have gotten into its current predicament and, even if it had gotten into its current predicament, it could have avoided the need to default. Greece’s default on its national debt need not mean an explicit refusal to make principal and interest payments when they come due. More likely would be an IMF-organized restructuring of the existing debt, swapping new bonds with lower principal and interest for existing bonds. Or it could be a “soft default” in which Greece unilaterally services its existing debt with new debt rather than paying in cash. But, whatever form the default takes, the current owners of Greek debt will get less than the full amount that they are now owed. The only way that Greece could avoid a default would be by cutting its future annual budget deficits to a level that foreign and domestic investors would be willing to finance on a voluntary basis.
L.A. Times:
  • Al Gore, Tipper Gore Snap up Montecito-Area Villa. The Italian-style home has an ocean view, fountains, six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Former Vice President and his wife, Tipper, have added a Montecito-area property to their real estate holdings, reports the Montecito Journal. The couple spent $8,875,000 on an ocean-view villa on 1.5 acres with a swimming pool, spa and fountains, a real estate source familiar with the deal confirms.
Politico:
  • Poll: Most Americans Think the Stimulus Didn't Help. Nearly two-thirds of Americans do not believe the $787 billion stimulus package the president passed last year has helped create jobs, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. Sixty-two percent of those polled said the stimulus hasn’t contributed to job creation, while 33 percent said the package has. Only a slight majority, 51 percent, of Democrats think the stimulus helped create jobs; 42 percent said it has not. Seventy-nine percent of self-identified Republicans said the stimulus didn’t aid job growth, while 18 percent thought it did. The survey also showed that voters are mixed on whether the Troubled Asset Relief Program was effective in staving off a deeper financial crisis. Forty-nine percent said TARP did not prevent a more severe crisis, compared to 42 percent who said it did.
  • Democrats Head to New York for Wall Street Dough. While Democrats push Wall Street regulations on the Senate floor, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will head to Manhattan Monday for a fundraiser with deep-pocketed donors who have ties to the financial industry. According to an invitation obtained by POLITICO, the fundraiser is billed as a “political discussion” for those who want to contribute up to $10,000 for Gillibrand’s reelection campaign and spend Monday evening with the two Democratic senators. The event will be held at the Park Avenue home of Ralph Schlosstein, a former Carter administration official who is the CEO of the investment firm Evercore and used to work at Lehman Bros. Holdings. Schlosstein’s wife Jane Hartley, the event co-host, is seen as a leading New York Democratic donor, has given more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates in recent years, but is not employed in the financial industry. Also attending the event is Roger Altman, a former Clinton administration Treasury Department official and founder of Evercore; Leo Hindery, managing partner of a New York-based private equity fund; David Topper, vice chairman of JPMorgan’s investment banking outfit; Wiltold Balaban, an attorney who has represented Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Bank of America; hedge fund investor James Torrey and Richard Beattie, a New York-based attorney who participated in the $58 billion acquisition of Bank One Corp. by JPMorgan. Altman co-hosted a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Sunday night in New York.
Rheinische Post:
  • German states led by the Social Democrats, the country's leading opposition party, may oppose legislation on financial support for Greece, citing Kurt Beck, premier of Rhineland-Palatinate. The SPD will refuse to support aid in the upper house of the German parliament if banks aren't involved in the rescue and measures aren't taken to limit currency speculation. Beck said the current proposal doesn't fulfill these criteria.
TVN CNBC Biznes Television:
  • Poland's government recognizes that it faces a "serious risk" of contagion from Greece's fiscal crisis, Deputy Finance Minister Ludwik Kotecki was quoted as saying.

Bear Radar


Style Underperformer:

  • Mid-Cap Growth (+1.25%)
Sector Underperformers:
  • Education (-4.84%), Oil Service (-2.04%) and Coal (-1.21%)
Stocks Falling on Unusual Volume:
  • CAM, CECO, BP, HLX, ESI, LGCY, CATY, CMO, FIRE, RNOW, POWI, AIXG, GMCR, RDWR, MANT, GTLS, COCO, LOGI, WRLD, SFLY, IMAX, HAR, CVD, STC, RIG, HSC and HAL
Stocks With Unusual Put Option Activity:
  • 1) BP 2) APC 3) HAL 4) AKAM 5) COCO

Bull Radar


Style Outperformer:

  • Large-Cap Value (+1.27%)
Sector Outperformers:
  • Gaming (+2.97%), Homebuilders (+2.94%) and HMOs (+2.85%)
Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume:
  • BOFI, TWC, BMY, CMCSK, OFG, IRBT, ILMN, CPNO, FSLR, AKAM, BIDU, UTHR, CELG, EVVV, PRGO, ORLY, KSU, IHG, GTI, ROC, REP, KMT, BC and BEC
Stocks With Unusual Call Option Activity:
  • 1) HPQ 2) JEF 3) LOGI 4) NBG 5) DSX

Thursday Watch


Evening Headlines

Bloomberg:
  • Asia Risks Overheating, Bubbles on Capital Inflows, IMF Says. Asia’s economic recovery that’s outpacing the rest of the world is attracting capital inflows that may cause the region to overheat and lead to the formation of asset bubbles, the International Monetary Fund said. Expectations of Asian exchange-rate appreciation may be boosting carry trade flows, where investors borrow cheaply in one currency and use the funds to invest in others, the Washington-based lender said in a report today. More flexible currencies and some capital controls can help limit the impact of investment flows, it said.
  • Junking Greece May Be Beginning of End for Euro: Mark Gilbert. Greece cheated its way into the single-currency club, lied about its deficit for years, and now brings the shame of becoming the first junk-rated member after losing investment-grade status at Standard & Poor’s this week.
  • Democratic National Committee to Spend $50 Million on Midterms. The Democratic National Committee plans to spend $50 million on November’s midterm elections, Chairman Tim Kaine said today. “We are very committed to holding on to strong majorities” in both the U.S. House and Senate, Kaine told reporters in Washington.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Apple(AAPL) to Charge a Premium to Put Ads in Mobile Apps. Setting a high bar for its debut in the advertising business, Apple Inc. aims to charge close to $1 million for ads on its mobile devices this year and perhaps even more to be among the first, ad executives say.
  • Goldman(GS) Shows It Can Still Lobby Hard. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is lobbying hard to kill a provision in financial industry overhaul legislation requiring big banks to sell off their derivatives-trading businesses, and rival banks are welcoming the help, shrugging off attacks on the firm by lawmakers and securities regulators. Goldman's lobbying could put Democrats and the White House, which is lukewarm on the provision, in a difficult position. With congressional elections looming in November, lawmakers don't want to appear supportive of Goldman or Wall Street. But Goldman's leadership is less concerned about politics than the provision itself, known as "section 106."
  • Senate Ends Financial-Bill Standoff.
  • The Insurance Mandate in Peril. First Congress said it was a regulation of commerce. Now it's supposed to be a tax. Neither claim will survive Supreme Court scrutiny.
Bloomberg Businessweek:
CNBC.com:
Business Insider:
Zero Hedge:
Politico:
  • Republican Party Demands Health Cost Probe. House Republicans on Wednesday demanded an investigation into whether the health care overhaul plan would increase national health spending, following a recent report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that showed cost increases, at least in the first decade. They asked the Democratic chairmen of four committees to hold hearings before Memorial Day to allow Richard Foster, CMS’s chief actuary, to testify about the analysis. “Throughout the health care debate, the president promised Americans that his policies for reform would bend the health care cost curve down and decrease the deficit. Recent analysis from the administration’s own chief actuary, Richard Foster, suggests otherwise,” Republicans on the Budget Committee said in a letter to Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) The report was released by the nonpartisan experts at CMS last week. It found that the overhaul would cover more people than anticipated, but also cost more.
Reuters:
Financial Times:
  • Goldman(GS) Pressed for CDO Loss Settlement. Goldman Sachs is in talks over a potential settlement with an investor that claims that it lost money and went out of business after buying into a $1bn (€760,000) mortgage-backed security that was later privately criticised by a senior executive at the bank. Basis Yield Alpha Fund, a hedge fund, is seeking compensation over its $100m investment in Timberwolf, a complex security, say several people familiar with the matter. Timberwolf plummeted in value months after it was launched in March 2007, at a time when Goldman had already decided to cut its exposure to the housing market. The talks are at a preliminary stage and there is no certainty they will lead to a settlement.
  • CDO Fees Flow to Ratings Agencies. Credit rating agencies are still being paid millions of dollars a year to report on the performance of collateralised debt obligations that have lost most of their value despite having been issued in many cases with triple A stamps of approval. The fees, known as “ratings surveillance” payments, are paid to the agencies ahead of any payments to investors under the terms of the CDO contracts – and without regard to how accurate the original ratings were.
Telegraph:
  • Business Leaders Warn Next Government: Either Shrink the State or Risk Economic Ruin. One of Britain's most powerful trade bodies has warned that the winner of the next election must be prepared to reduce the size of the Government immediately or risk economic problems for a decade. The Institute of Directors used its annual conference in London to criticise all of the political parties for failing to produce policies that will adequately tackle Britain's economic problems. Speaking ahead of Thursday's crucial televised debate on the economy, Miles Templeman, director general, said: "We're a week from the General Election but we're still years from bringing the deficit and the size of the Government under control. If the truth be told, no political party is advocating the scale of spending and deficit reduction we need, not just for the next few years, but for the next decade.
  • EMU Domino Fears as Spain Downgraded, Germany Drags Feet on Rescue. German leaders have agreed in principle to a rescue package of up to €135bn for Greece in emergency talks with EU and IMF officials, but failed to offer any clarity on the conditions for such aid. Hopes for a respite for Southern Europe's battered bond markets were quickly dashed as Standard & Poor’s downgraded Spain. Rainer BrĂ¼derle, Germany’s economy minister, said the Greek bail-out would be much larger than first thought, acknowledging that Greece cannot hope to tap the private debt markets for three years. The heads of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund made a joint pilgrimage to Berlin, pleading with lawmakers in the Bundestag to throw their full weight behind rescue efforts before the chain-reaction spreads to Portugal and the rest of the EMU periphery. Their presence as supplicants in Berlin marks the symbolic moment when Germany appears the undisputed master of Europe. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF’s chief, said the stability of the eurozone itself is in danger. "We need to act swiftly and strongly,” he said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel once again refused to give concrete assurances, leaving the markets as wary as ever over the real intentions of Berlin. "This is about the stability of the euro overall, and we won't avoid this responsibility. But the challenge is for Greece to accept an ambitious program," she said. “Europe risks the biggest coordination failure in modern history,” said David Simmonds, research chief at RBS. The Berlin talks are as vague as ever. “We believe that markets will remain very sceptical.” UBS said it was disturbed by signs of counterparty fears among European banks that replicate events in credit derivatives before the financial crisis in late 2008. “Investors will need to be on their guard,” it said.
Die Welt:
  • Greece won't be in a position to service its debt, and restructuring the debt would "make sense," Michael Fuchs, the Christian Democratic Union's deputy leader in the German parliament, said in an interview. Fuchs "fears" that Greece will need aid "for years," citing the interview.
Xinhua:
  • 28 Kindergarten Children Stabbed in East China. Twenty-eight children and three adults were injured when a man with a knife attacked them at a kindergarten in east China Thursday. Five of the children are critically ill in hospital after the attack in Taixing City, Jiangsu Province, said city government and police sources.
Evening Recommendations
Citigroup:
  • Upgraded (AKAM) to Buy, target $44.
  • Reiterated Buy on (S), target $6.
Night Trading
  • Asian indices are -.50% to +.25% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 104.50 -6.0 basis points.
  • S&P 500 futures -.07%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures -.02%.
Morning Preview Links

Earnings of Note
Company/Estimate
  • (HOT)/.02
  • (WM).43
  • (WY)/-.21
  • (IP)/.03
  • (CME)/3.60
  • (BG)/.75
  • (BKC)/.29
  • (STRA)/2.58
  • (TBL)/.28
  • (EK)/.90
  • (AET)/.72
  • (MOT)/.00
  • (COP)/1.36
  • (K)/.94
  • (APA)/2.20
  • (MXIM)/.24
  • (IRF)/.18
  • (KLAC)/.35
  • (MWW)/-.15
  • (MET)/.98
  • (DLB)/.63
  • (OSK)/2.54
  • (BDX)/1.23
  • (BWA)/.41
  • (PG)/.82
  • (FO)/.39
  • (BMY)/.51
  • (SWY)/.30
  • (XOM)/1.41
  • (WYNN)/.17
  • (MHK)/.18
  • (CL)/1.15
  • (REV)/.24
  • (EXPE)/.22
  • (OXY)/1.37
  • (MFE)/.63
  • (NBL)/.72
  • (HGSI)/-.20
  • (CELG)/.61
  • (VIA/B)/.37
Economic Releases
8:30 am EST
  • The Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index for March is estimated to rise to -.20 versus -.64 in February.
  • Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated to fall to 445K versus 456K the prior week.
  • Continuing Claims are estimated to fall to 4618K versus 4646K prior.
Upcoming Splits
  • (SHOO) 3-for-2
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The Barclays Retail and Restaurant Conference could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly lower, weighed down by technology and financial shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to weaken into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into the day.