Monday, February 14, 2005

Monday Watch

Weekend News
Copper prices may rise for a second week in London and New York as buyers in China, the world’s largest user of the metal, resume purchases after the Lunar New Year holidays, Bloomberg reported. The death toll from the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami in Asia reached 285,993, Agence France-Presse reported. Reuters Group Plc, the world’s largest investor owned provider of financial information, will next week start its first interactive television channel, as competition intensifies with rivals Bloomberg and CNBC, the Financial Times reported. London-based Reuters has agreed to a distribution contract with Microsoft, using its XP Media product, the newspaper said. AstraZeneca’s cholesterol reducing drug Crestor should be used only after alternatives have failed to work, the Independent reported, citing a US FDA official. Nortel Networks will file financial results for the second half of 2004 by the end of March, the Globe and Mail reported. Wal-Mart will pay $135,549 to settle federal charges that it violated child labor laws in three states, the NY Times reported. US colleges and universities are removing telephone land lines from dormitories because students use cell phones to keep in touch with families and friends, the Washington Post reported. A blood-sucking mite that has grown resistant to pesticide threatens the honeybee population across the US, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. As many as 50 CIA informants in Iran were put in jail or executed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the LA Times reported. The Chicago Police Department and the city are reconsidering the use of Taser International’s stun guns after a man died when a Taser was used to subdue him this week, the NY Times reported. Countries must put aside earlier differences over the US liberation of Iraq and work together to ensure that the Iraqis’ display of courage in voting leads to peace in that nation, UN Secretary General Annan wrote in the Washington Post. Leucadia National may have to acquire a business because the company’s WilTel Communications Group has lost its biggest customer, SBC Communications, Barron’s reported, citing Lehman Brothers analyst Robert Willens. Pepsico, Tyson Foods and closely held Slade Gorton are seeking to follow US government recommendations to winnow unhealthy trans fat from the products they sell, the NY Times reported. A more efficient tax system is central to President Bush’s vision of an “ownership society,” Barron’s said, and the president can count on support from Democrats in his effort to revamp the tax code by next year. Iraq will this month invite companies to bid for two licenses to install and operated a nationwide fixed-line telephone network to boost subscribers five-fold within 10 years, Middle East Economic Digest reported. The FDA may toughen testing on arthritic painkillers when its committee meets on Feb. 16, forcing Pfizer to add warning labels to its Celebrex drug, The Business reported. The former head of the UN/Iraq oil-for-food program obstructed an audit during the period he is alleged to have solicited oil purchases on behalf of friends, investigators told the AP. A $225 million shareholders’ restitution fund Computer Associates International set up under threat of prosecution by the US Justice Department hasn’t been disbursed because no stockholders have come forward, the NY Times reported. Iran rejected a proposal from European negotiators today to stop building a heavy-water nuclear reactor, which critics say will be used for weapons, and get a light-water one instead, the AP reported. Fund-raising in aid of the victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami has reached such levels that some lending charities are finding it difficult to distribute it, the London-based Times said. Motorola and the GSM Association have developed a low-cost $40 mobile handset to be initially marketed in Asia to kick-start economic development in the region, the Financial Times said. Carlyle Group, the world’s third-biggest buyout firm, may say it returned a record $5.3 billion to investors in 2004, compared with $2.1 billion in 2003, the Financial Times said. Wal-Mart said February sales at US stores open at least a year are rising within its forecast for a gain of as much as 4%, Bloomberg reported. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean became head of the Democratic Party, vowing a grassroots rebuilding effort after last year’s electoral defeat, Bloomberg said. Qwest Communications raised its takeover offer for MCI to more than $7 billion, topping a bid by Verizon Communications, Bloomberg reported. China will use “all channels” of communication to encourage N. Korea to return to six-nation talks on dismantling its nuclear-weapons program, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said. GM will pay Fiat SpA $2 billion to avoid having to take over the unprofitable auto unit of Italy’s biggest auto manufacturer, Bloomberg said. Gold prices may rise for a second week on expectations the US will veto proposed bullion sales by the IMF, owner of 2.1% of the world’s supply, Bloomberg reported. Iraq may be run by a coalition government formed around a secular leader such as interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi after a Shiite Muslim coalition failed to win a majority in the National Assembly election, Bloomberg reported. Teekay Shipping won’t match higher dividend payments announced by rivals Frontline and General Maritime, Lloyd’s List reported. MCI agreed to be bought by Verizon Communications for about $6.6 billion, rejecting a higher offer from Qwest Communications, Bloomberg reported.

Weekend Recommendations
-Bulls and Bears: Had guests that were positive on PWR, SYMC, SLM, CTV, mixed on AW, SOSA, HSY, FS, LTD, TIF, SYNA and negative on HPQ.
-Forbes on Fox: Had guests that were positive on APA, DQ and mixed on WFSI and MO.
-Cashin' In: Had guests that were positive on CZR, ERES, CPL and mixed on IACI, EBAY.
-Goldman Sachs: Reiterated Outperform on AMGN, DNA, BSX, EBAY, JTX, PFE, KO and WAG. Reiterated Underperform on HRB and CNA.
-Forbes: Ken Fisher made positive comments on the overall market and AAA, RANKY, CCH and WFSI.
-Fortune: Had a positive column on AAPL.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are higher, +1.0% to +1.75% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.04%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated +.16%.

Morning Preview
US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Commentary
Before the Bell 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
None of note.

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US stocks to open modestly higher in the morning on gains in Asia, rebounding tech shares, lower energy prices, short-covering and increasing fund inflows. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into the week. Between the Hedges currently has a VERY slim lead in The 2005 Business Blogging Awards for Best Financial Industry/Investment Blog. I greatly appreciate everyone’s support. To those that have yet to cast their ballot, please click here to vote. The poll closes on Wed. at 3pm EST. Again, thank you for your support.

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