Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Thursday Watch

Late-Night News
Asian indices are mostly higher as exporters in the region gain on a report showing US consumer prices remained tame. The number of US companies with debt rated at the lowest end of the junk bond scale is reaching record levels, suggesting companies may default on their payments and bankruptcies will rise, the London-based Times said, citing S&P. AIDS patients taking a cocktail of antiviral drugs to control the disease may have an increased risk of a heart attack, the Wall Street Journal reported. Policy makers from Japan, China, South Korea and the Association of South East Asian Nations met in Bangkok two days ago to discuss ways to stem the weak dollar, the Korea Times reported. Benon Sevan, the former head of the UN/Iraq oil-for-food program, has asked the UN for more time to answer charges against him, Reuters reported. Russia offered India's state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. stakes in 11 oil and gas projects, the Press Trust of India reported. Taiwan is close to allowing Chinese financial institutions to set up representative offices on the island of 23 million people for the first time since both sides split 55 years ago, Bloomberg reported. Google added a feature for searching movie showtimes and reviews, Bloomberg said. SAC Capital raised its stake in Google from 539,300 to 1.32 million shares, Bloomberg reported. Clear Channel Communications and Howard Stern agreed to dismiss their lawsuits over the company's decision to drop the disc jockey's show last year, Bloomberg said. The world economy is becoming too dependent on the US and China to carry its momentum, said Rodrigo de Rato, head of the IMF. JetBlue Airways plans to expand further into the Los Angeles area with flights between New York and Burbank, California, the NY Times reported. The US government is preparing to test an Asian bird flu vaccine in an effort to reduce the damage of a potential outbreak, the AP reported. President Bush and Russian President Putin plan to announce measures today to counter nuclear terrorism, the Washington Post reported. Boston Scientific will probably pay $70 million to settle a US Justice Department investigation over the recall of defective stents, the Wall Street Journal said.

Late Recommendations
- Goldman Sachs: Reiterated Outperform on DO, RIG, BHI, SLB, CEN and SII. Reiterated Underperform on ELX.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are -.25% to +.75% on average.
S&P 500 indicated -.02%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated -.07%.

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
- Durable Goods Orders for January are estimated unch. versus a 1.1% rise in December.
- Durables Ex Transportation for January are estimated to increase .3% versus a 2.4% gain in December.
- Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated to rise to 309K versus 302K the prior week.
- Continuing Claims are estimated to fall to 2693K versus 2717K prior.

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US equities to open mixed as higher commodity prices and interest rates offset good earnings and economic reports. The Portfolio is 25% net long heading into tomorrow.

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