Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wednesday Watch

Late-Night Headlines

- Blackstone Group LP(BX), the world’s largest private-equity firm, plans to combine its distressed securities hedge funds and spin off a stock fund to cut costs as the credit shortage makes buyouts almost impossible to finance.

- California single-family home sales rose 83 percent in November and the median price fell below $300,000 for the first time since 2002 as buyers bought properties in foreclosure, the California Association of Realtors said.

- Online spending rose to $677 million in the U.S. last weekend, almost twice the total spent last year on the final weekend before Christmas, ComScore Inc. reported.

- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, formed by the merger of the NASD and the New York Stock Exchange’s oversight unit, was accused in a lawsuit of misleading NASD members over $35,000 payments to each of them.

Wall Street Journal:

- After 18 tempestuous months with Citigroup Inc., the managers of hedge fund Old Lane Partners LP are looking for a fresh start.

- Vice President-elect Joe Biden released new details on the incoming administration's planned stimulus package, saying 85% of the three million jobs to be generated would be in the private sector and that no pet projects of lawmakers would be accepted.

- Clinton’s Donor List Raises Lots of Questions. Can’t the United Way find better uses for its money?

- Rep. Pete Stark, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's health panel, will be an important player as Washington tackles health care next year. But his blunt criticism of opponents and his positions to the left of many other Democrats promise to make the process bumpier.

South Florida Business Journal:

- In contrast to the national trend, Florida's existing home sales rose in November – the third month in a row. Statewide sales rose by 4 percent over last year, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors.

Financial Times:
- GAM, one of the biggest investors in hedge funds, will allow clients to withdraw from most of its funds of hedge funds only once a quarter rather than once a month, as the industry tightens redemption terms. GAM, which is owned by Swiss bank Julius Baer, has been hit by redemptions and losses, leading assets under management to fall about a third this year, according to people familiar with the group. GAM’s assets fell 20 per cent in the first six months to $63bn.

People’s Daily:

- China won’t weaken the yuan to spur exports, citing Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

Late Buy/Sell Recommendations
- None of note

Night Trading
Asian Indices are -1.0% to +.50% on average.
S&P 500 futures -.02%.
NASDAQ 100 futures -.04%.

Morning Preview
US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Commentary
Pre-market Stock Quote/Chart
Before the Bell CNBC Video(bottom right)
Global Commentary
WSJ Intl Markets Performance
Commodity Movers
Top 25 Stories
Top 20 Business Stories
Today in IBD
In Play
Bond Ticker
Economic Preview/Calendar
Daily Stock Events
Rasmussen Business/Economy Polling

Earnings of Note
Company/EPS Estimate
- None of note

Economic Releases
8:30 am EST

- Personal Income for November is estimated unch. versus a .3% gain in October.

- Personal Spending for November is estimated to fall .7% versus a 1.0% decline in October.

- The PCE Core for November is estimated unch. versus unch. in October.

- Durable Goods Orders for November are estimated to fall 3.0% versus a 6.2% decline in October.

- Durables Ex Transports for November are estimated to fall 3.0% versus a 5.4% decline in October.

- Initial Jobless Claims for last week are estimated to rise to 558K versus 554K the prior week.

- Continuing Claims are estimated to rise to 4410K versus 4384K prior.

Upcoming Splits
- None of note

Other Potential Market Movers
- The weekly MBA mortgage applications report and weekly EIA energy inventory report could also impact trading today.

BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly lower, weighed down by automaker and shipping stocks in the region. I expect US equities to open modestly lower and to rally into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into the day.

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