Thursday, February 03, 2005

Thursday Watch

Late-Night News
Asian indices are mostly higher on strength in commodity-related stocks in the region. Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian invited China's top cross-strait negotiator to visit Taiwan to reopen political talks, the state-run China Daily reported. Citigroup's Citibank, Bank of America and other financial institutions are streamlining the application process to open accounts online, the Wall Street Journal reported. Time Warner and Comcast plan to merge Time Warner's cable unit into Adelphia Communications if their joint bid for the company's cable-television assets succeeds, the Wall Street Journal reported. Blockbuster today raised its offer to buy competitor Hollywood Entertainment to $14.50 a share, or about $883 million, topping a bid from Movie Gallery, Bloomberg reported. President Bush, pressing Congress to solve the coming Social Security crisis, offered some details of his plan to create private accounts and said he's open to "any good idea" for shoring up the system, Bloomberg reported. China won't be swayed into changing its currency policy by proposed US legislation that would impose tariffs on the nation's exports unless the yuan is allowed to appreciate, a Chinese government economist said.

Late Recommendations
Goldman Sachs: Reiterated Outperform on DVN, CBG and MUR. Reiterated Underperform on EQR and UNM.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are unch. to +.50% on average.
S&P 500 indicated -.12%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated -.16%.

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

FLIR 2-for-1

Economic Data
-Preliminary 4Q Non-farm Productivity is estimated to rise 1.5% versus a 1.8% gain in 3Q.
-Preliminary 4Q Unit Labor Costs are estimated to rise 2.0% versus a 1.8% increase in 3Q.
-Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated to rise to 330K versus 325K the prior week.
-Continuing Claims are estimated to fall to 2765K versus 280K prior.
-Factory Orders for December are estimated to rise .6% versus a 1.2% gain in November.
-ISM Non-Manufacturing for January is estimated to fall to 61.5 versus 63.9 in December.

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US equities to open modestly lower in the morning on weakness in technology and retail stocks. However, shares may move modestly higher later in the day on more optimism over US reforms, low long-term interest rates, short-covering and bargain hunting. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into tomorrow.

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