Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wednesday Watch

Late-Night News
Asian indices are mostly lower as concerns over slowing growth and rising energy prices are pressuring the region's exporters. China will announce a bailout for Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, in the next few days, Hong-based Sing Tao Daily reported. Viacom, which is looking for ways to revive its Paramount Pictures movie studio, can turn to DVD sales of television and movie hits because former studio managers held back many titles, the Wall Street Journal reported. Dyson Appliances Ltd., the UK maker of bagless vacuum cleaners, sells the most floor cleaners in the US, beating competition from Maytag's Hoover, the Guardian said. Walt Disney's Miramax Films will release a number of previously shelved or delayed movies before co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein leave, the NY Times said. A computer virus is being distributed by e-mails that falsely claims to be from the FBI, Bloomberg reported. South Korea's central bank, which holds the world's fourth-largest foreign currency reserves, said it has no plan to sell dollars from those holdings and no plan to change the current portfolio of currencies in its reserves, Bloomberg reported. The yen dropped from near a three-week high against the dollar and weakened versus the euro after a government report showed Japan's exports grew at the slowest pace in more than a year, Bloomberg said. The US government called on North Korea to return to talks about scrapping its nuclear weapons program, saying it wasn't setting conditions for the discussions, Bloomberg said. Manhattan apartment prices in Uptown neighborhoods such as Harlem more than quadrupled over the last decade, outpacing the tripling of prices in the costlier Midtown and Downtown areas, Bloomberg reported. Toshiba Corp. will raise capital spending by as much as $210 million to increase output of displays used in mobile phones and car navigation systems, Bloomberg reported. Visa Intl., MasterCard Inc. and other credit-card companies have lowered the fees they charge high-volume merchants to woo business from purchases of less than $5, the Washington Post reported. McDonald's won't shift its emphasis on hamburgers and french fries in favor of the salads and fruit that it's introduced in recent years, the Wall Street Journal said. MCI Inc., which has agreed to be bought by Verizon Communications for $6.75 billion, is under pressure from hedge funds to look at any revised offer from Qwest Communications, the Wall Street Journal said.

Late Recommendations
- Goldman Sachs: Reiterated Outperform on TYC, MDT, GILD, CL and PXD. Reiterated Underperform on DE, CNH and AG.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are -1.0% to -.25% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.03%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated -.17%.

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

CHS 2-for-1

Economic Data
- Consumer Price Index for January is estimated to have risen .2% versus no change in December.
- CPI Ex Food & Energy for January is estimated to have risen .2% versus a .2% increase in December.
- Minutes of Feb. 2 FOMC Meeting

BOTTOM LINE: I expect US equities to open mixed and weaken later in the day on a continuation of today's sell-off related to higher commodity prices, rising interest rates and slowing global growth. The Portfolio is market neutral heading into tomorrow.

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