Friday, March 05, 2004

Friday Watch

Earnings Announcements

TRMB 3-for-2

Economic Data
Unemployment Rate for Feb. estimated at 5.6% vs. 5.6% in Jan.
Change in Non-farm Payrolls estimated at 130K in Feb. vs. 112K in Jan.
Change in Manufacturing Payrolls estimated at -2K in Feb. vs. -11K in Jan.
Average Weekly Hours worked in Feb. estimated at 33.8 vs. 33.7 in Jan.

Goldman Sachs reiterates Outperform on BSX and $52 target after Taxus stent approval. GS also reiterating Outperform on INTC, saying it is attractive at its current price with conservative 04 estimates. Rush Enterprises Inc. shares are likely to rise as demand for the dealer's Peterbilt 18-wheeler truck grows, Business Week Reported. Finally, shares of Lifetime Hoan may reach $30 in the next 18 months, Business Week reported.

Late-Night News
In another sign that the tech recovery is continuing, IDC and Gartner/Dataquest reported that the market for external storage systems was growing strongly by the end of 03. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated the government's determination to oppose any moves toward independence by Taiwan, as the island prepares to go to the polls on March 20. China plans to boost its military capabilities, including developing high-tech weaponry, as it modernizes its armed forces, Premier Wen Jiabao said. He also predicted China's economy would grow 7% in 04. Bellsouth is close to an agreement to sell its Latin American operations to Telefonica SA for $5.8B, the Wall Street Journal reported. Russian engineers provided assistance for an Iraqi program to develop long-range ballistic missiles in the years just before the U.S. invasion, the NY Times reported. The U.S. current-account deficit and the falling dollar pose little risk to the economy because inflation isn't accelerating, said Paul McCulley of PIMCO.

Late-Night Trading
Asian markets are mostly higher with the exception of Taiwan(-1.29%), ranging from .5% to +1.0%.
S&P 500 indicated -.03%.
NASDAQ indicated -.07%.

BOTTOM LINE: The jobs report tomorrow has generated much anxiety among both bulls and bears. The uncertainty of the outcome is very high. I hear very few people talking about it meeting expectations. Most investors think it will either be much weaker-than-expected or much better-than-expected. Both of these outcomes would likely be negative for U.S. stocks in the short-term. I am expecting it to come in around expectations, which would likely result in a moderate fall in interest rates and the dollar. This result would also be the best for stocks and should provide the catalyst for a good rally. A much-weaker-than expected report would likely result in an initial sell-off and a rally in interest rate sensitive sectors later in the day, leaving the indices up moderately on the day. A much better-than-expected jobs report would be the worst for U.S. stocks, as interest rates and the dollar could spike dramatically. Under this scenario, I expect a fairly sharp decline for U.S. stocks. I also believe that the Intel conference call did not disappoint investors, thus barring a bad sell-off in the broad market, I expect semis to outperform tomorrow. The Portfolio is 75% net long and I will be looking to add exposure early on any weakness with an employment number that comes in around expectations.

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