Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday Watch

Late-Night News
Asian indices are mostly higher, led by the region's retailing stocks. China FAW Group, Shanghai Automotive Industry and 11 other Chinese automakers posted a 16% drop in combines 2004 profit as price cuts on passenger cars eroded earnings, Chinanews reported. The US and China share the same view on the N.Korean nuclear issue and will work together to persuade N.Korea to return to talks to dismantle its weapons program, Yonhap News said. Marsh & McLennan may be planning as many as 7,000 job cuts worldwide after profit plunged to a seven-year low, the Independent reported. Yahoo! is in talks with Bennett, Coleman to buy a minority stake in India's biggest media group's Internet service, Indiatimes, the Financial Times reported. Europe has become a recruiting ground for Iraqi insurgents, the Washington Post reported. The SEC is asking oil companies to disclose more about exploratory drilling and other operation in their accounting, the Wall Street Journal reported. Japan on Saturday will join the US in identifying security in the Taiwan Strait as a "common strategic objective," a move that may anger China, the Washington Post said. China's industrial production rose in January at the slowest pace in three years, reflecting a government clampdown on investment by state-owned companies, Bloomberg reported. Australia's central bank Governor Macfarlane said economic growth has slowed to around 2%, almost half the pace he earlier forecast, Bloomberg reported.

Late Recommendations
-Goldman Sachs: Reiterated Outperform on JNPR, PFE, TMK, BHI and TRI. Reiterated Underperform on CVC, AEIS and THC.
-Business Week: Shares of May Department Stores(MAY) may fall as much as 20% because Federated Department Stores reported talks to buy the owner of Lord & Taylor and Marshall Field's have stopped. Ikon Office Solutions(IKN), which distributes copiers and printers, has had a 5.4% take acquired by Steel Partners, which has a history of buying big stakes in companies. Animas Corp.(PUMP), which make glucose pumps for diabetics, may get a buyout offer from Johnson & Johnson before the end of the year.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are unch. to +.75% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.07%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated +.13%.

Morning Preview
US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Commentary
Before the Bell CNBC Video(bottom right)
Asian Indices
European Indices
Top 20 Business Stories
In Play
Bond Ticker
Analyst Actions
Macro Calls
CNBC Guest Schedule

Earnings of Note

None of note.

Economic Data
-Producer Price Index for January is estimated to rise .3% versus a .3% decline in December.
-PPI Ex Food & Energy for January is estimated to rise .2% versus a .2% increase in December.
-Preliminary Univ. of Mich. Consumer Confidence for February is estimated at 95.5 versus a reading of 95.5 in January.

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US equities to open modestly higher in the morning on a bounce in tech shares, good economic reports and increasing fund inflows. Consumer Confidence should exceed expectations as stocks rebounded from January lows, mortgage rates declined, Iraqi elections were successful and Unemployment fell to a 4-year low. The Portfolio is 50% net long heading into tomorrow.

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