Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday Watch

Late-Night Headlines

- Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh said the U.S. central bank may need to be as aggressive in reversing its actions to revive the economy and financial markets as policy makers were in starting them. “If ‘whatever it takes’ was appropriate to arrest the panic, the refrain might turn out to be equally necessary at a stage during the recovery to ensure the Federal Reserve’s institutional credibility,” Warsh said in an opinion piece posted late today on the Wall Street Journal’s Web site. The message from Warsh, 39, one of Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s top advisers during the financial crisis, stresses that the Fed may start to raise interest rates before it’s obvious that it is necessary. “Market participants and policy makers alike should steer clear of ironclad policy prescriptions,” Warsh said. “Nonetheless, I would hazard the view that prudent risk management indicates that policy likely will need to begin normalization before it is obvious that it is necessary, possibly with greater force than is customary, and taking proper account of the policies being instituted by other authorities.” The Fed has already begun cutting back some of its emergency aid to financial firms as part of its so-called exit strategy from a $1 trillion credit expansion. Warsh is scheduled to speak to a Chicago Fed-hosted banking conference tomorrow, where he will deliver a similar message. “Judgments made by policy makers in the current period are likely to be as consequential as any made in the depths of the panic,” Warsh said in the Journal. “That means policy makers should continue to communicate as clearly as possible the guideposts, conditions and means by which extraordinary monetary accommodation will be unwound, including the removal of excess bank reserves.”

- An Illinois man accused of planning to blow up a federal courthouse and kill government employees was arrested after trying to detonate what he thought was a car bomb, U.S. prosecutors said. Michael C. Finton, 29, of Decatur, Illinois, was charged today in a criminal complaint with plotting an attack on the U.S. courthouse in the state’s capital city, Springfield, prosecutors said in a statement. “This alleged plot drives home the stark reality that we must avoid complacency and remain ever vigilant to the threats that violent extremists may pose to public safety,” acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Lang of Springfield said in the statement. Finton is charged with one count of attempted murder of federal officials and with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He might face a life sentence in prison if convicted, according to the government. “The arrest is not in any way related to the ongoing terror investigation in New York and Colorado,” Lang said. Finton, who prosecutors say used the pseudonym Talib Islam, was ordered held without bail, following a court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron Cudmore in Springfield. In a 25-page affidavit filed with the U.S. criminal complaint, Decatur police detective Trevor Stalets, who is assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, said Finton’s interest in the Islamic faith and potential martyrdom came to the attention of law enforcement agencies in August 2007 when he was arrested for a parole violation. His possessions seized in that arrest included an undated letter in which Finton allegedly wrote, “We all dream of being the shahid,” which Stalets said was the Arabic term for a martyr. “Finton said it was his biggest dream to be the first domino to fall, to be the one who brought the whole thing crashing down,” Stalets wrote. Yesterday, Finton drove a vehicle containing what he thought was a bomb to the Paul Findley Federal Building and courthouse in Springfield and tried to detonate it using a mobile phone, prosecutors said. Finton was arrested immediately after the attempt.

- Research In Motion Ltd.(RIMM) forecast third-quarter sales that missed analysts’ estimates, signaling the BlackBerry maker may sell phones at lower prices to compete with Apple Inc.’s iPhone. The shares sank in late trading. Revenue in the period ending Nov. 28 will be $3.6 billion to $3.85 billion, Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said today in a statement. Analysts on average projected sales of $3.91 billion. RIM slid as much as 12 percent to $73 in late trading after dropping $2.71 to $83.06 at 4 p.m.

- Hewlett-Packard Co.(HPQ), the world’s biggest personal-computer maker, forecast sales for 2010 that may miss some analysts’ estimates, a sign the technology market is still taking time to recover. Sales in the fiscal year ending in October 2010 will rise to $117 billion to $118 billion, Hewlett-Packard said today at a meeting with analysts in San Francisco. Analysts had estimated revenue of $118 billion, according to a Bloomberg survey. Hewlett-Packard, based in Palo Alto, California, fell 69 cents to $46.18 in extended trading at 7:10 p.m. New York time after closing at $46.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

- The dollar and the yen rose against the euro amid speculation that Group of 20 leaders will agree to temper riskier investments, boosting demand for so-called safe- haven currencies. The dollar gained versus 15 of its 16 major counterparts as U.S. officials said they supported a plan to tighten capital requirements and force banks to tie compensation more closely to risk. The yen headed for a weekly advance versus the euro on prospects Japanese companies will keep bringing home earnings on overseas assets before the end of the half fiscal year. “Worries the G-20 may impose stricter financial market regulations are causing risk aversion,” said Toshihiko Sakai, head of trading for foreign exchange and financial products at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking Corp. in Tokyo. “There’s safe- haven buying of the dollar and the yen.”

- The euro may fall to a two-week low against the dollar by the end of next week, according to Tokai Tokyo Securities Co., citing trading patterns. The 16-nation currency is poised to enter a downtrend after having risen to $1.4844 on Sept. 23, the highest since Sept. 22, 2008, said Yoh Nihei, a trading group manager at Tokai Tokyo. Daily momentum indicators such as the moving average convergence/divergence chart are giving signals to sell euros for dollars, according to Nihei. “The euro failed to rise above $1.45 in July and August,” Nihei said yesterday. “This time, that level is likely to be a strong support level.”

- Oil in New York is poised for its biggest weekly drop since July after U.S. sales of existing homes unexpectedly slumped, bolstering skepticism about the pace of recovery in the biggest energy consuming nation. Oil has dropped 9 percent this week as an Energy Information Administration report showed a gain in U.S. fuel stockpiles, boosting speculation of a supply glut. Prices are also under pressure from a stronger dollar, which reduces the appeal of commodities as an inflation hedge. “The home sales data in the U.S. was a trigger that contributed to a tumble in the oil price,” said David Moore, a commodity strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “The oil data from the EIA is relatively bearish, and on top of that the U.S. dollar recovered a little bit of ground.”

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu challenged Iran’s denial of the Holocaust in front of the United Nations, unfolding a blueprint of the Auschwitz death camp and holding Nazi orders for killing Jews. “Yesterday the president of Iran stood at this very podium and spewed his anti-Semitic rants,” Netanyahu said today in an address to the General Assembly opening meeting in New York. “Have you no shame? Have you no decency?” Netanyahu said. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the Holocaust as a fabrication and said Israel should be wiped off the map. The possibility that Iran is developing nuclear weapons has added to Israeli concerns about the threat from Iran.

- An experimental vaccine prevented HIV infections for the first time, a breakthrough that eluded scientists for a quarter century. A U.S.-funded study involving more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand found that a combination of ALVAC, made by Paris- based Sanofi-Aventis SA, and AIDSVAX, from VaxGen Inc., of South San Francisco, cut infections by 31.2 percent in the people who received it compared with those on a placebo, scientists said today in Bangkok. Neither vaccine had stopped the virus that causes AIDS when tested separately in previous studies.

Wall Street Journal:

- A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000. The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla, like Fisker, is a California startup focusing on high-end hybrids, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns. The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers. "This is not for average Americans," said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. "This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It's status symbol thing." DOE officials spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine, Calif., and Pontiac, Mich., facilities and test-driving prototypes. Fisker's top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions. Other Fisker investors include Eco-Drive (Capital) Partners LLC, an investment consortium, and Qatar Investment Authority, a state-run investor based in Qatar.

- A grand jury indicted a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant on a charge of conspiring to carry out bombings in the U.S., alleging he and unnamed others planned to make explosives from hair products and household cleaners in what officials say may be the first al Qaeda cell disrupted on American soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

- The Group of 20 mustn’t over-regulate the financial system to the point where it impedes investment, a large German industrial-engineering lobby warned Thursday. The VDMA, which represents the plant and electrical engineering sectors that are the backbone of Germany’s export-oriented economy, said that putting too great a burden on the financial system would make it hard to realize large-scale, long-term investments that are needed to underpin growth. “The heavy engineering sector welcomes the political will to make the world financial system more resilient against crises. But at the same time .. in the current situation, it is crucial to strengthen confidence in the capital markets and the ability to refinance, and thus to ensure the long-term ability to finance large projects,” Dieter Rosenthal, head of the VDMA’s heavy engineering committee, said in a statement.

- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped up her push for a publicly run health plan that has divided congressional Democrats, saying it could "save enormous amounts of money." Congressional aides said including a government-run plan for people under 65 in the health overhaul could save as much as $100 billion, if such a plan were to pay health-care providers the low rates used by Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly. The resulting savings would allow Democrats to keep robust subsidies and other provisions intended to help lower-income people buy health insurance. "It saves the most money," Ms. Pelosi said. "If we don't take the full benefit of the savings, then what are our opportunity costs? Where else would we pay for the legislation?" Ms. Pelosi is accelerating efforts to develop a consensus House bill that would meld committee versions passed during the summer, and has hopes of nailing down details late next week, aides said. The speaker plans to convene a closed-door gathering of top Democrats and committee chairmen Friday to begin hashing out details. Key issues to be decided: how to squeeze the cost of the bill and ensure the legislation doesn't drive up the deficit over the long term, aides said. Under the speaker's timetable, the bill could be on the House floor in mid-October.

- Not so long ago, Democrats were thrilled by the long length of Barack Obama's coattails. Creigh Deeds would be a lot more thrilled today if he could just step off. Mr. Deeds is the Democratic state senator running for governor of Virginia, and while he's at it, running away from his commander in chief. It ought to worry Democrats that their top recruit for the year already views their Washington agenda as a liability. It ought to worry Mr. Deeds that there seems no escape.

- Silicon Valley has been talking for 15 years or so about marrying TV and the Internet. For the most part, it’s still just talk; most people still use their PCs when they want interactivity, and rely on their TVs when they want to be passive content-watchers. But Intel(INTC) is not giving up. The chip giant, having run along with partners down most of the blind alleys of interactive television, gave an update this week about a reformulated TV strategy that might be paraphrased as follows: it’s the software, stupid. In other words, people don’t want to visit Web sites or engage in other PC-like activities while relaxing in front of their big-screen TV. They want new experiences that exploit the combined possibilities of TV, the Internet and computers. That means Intel needs to get lots of smart programmers to write new applications that make TVs more fun and useful.

- The board of Chrysler Group LLC on Friday will review new models Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne is proposing as part of his turnaround plan, but the company faces pushback from suppliers that worry about making money on the cars' parts, said people familiar with the situation. One of the biggest hurdles is persuading suppliers to spend money up front to develop and make parts for the new models, these people said. Some smaller suppliers that are under financial strain themselves are hesitating because they are unsure whether the vehicles will sell in high enough volumes for them to make money, they said. In most cases, these people said, Chrysler is declining to guarantee certain production volumes, a change from what it and other car makers have typically done.

- At the UN, Terrorism Pays by Ehud Barak. It was my duty as defense minister to stop Hamas rockets.

- The U.S. Treasury Department is discussing ways to keep in reserve some emergency bailout funds even if the Troubled Asset Relief Program isn't extended beyond the end of the year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may opt to extend the program, which expires on Dec. 31. But even if the program isn't extended, officials want to keep at least some of the money that has yet to be committed to any particular program on hand in case financial conditions worsen and the government is forced to step in. The decision of whether to extend TARP has become embroiled in a debate over the unpopularity of the $700 billion bailout and the nation's mounting fiscal woes.

NY Times:

- Though the huge expansion of global trade has been at the heart of “global imbalances” that Obama officials say they want to address, European and Asian officials gathering here say they cannot tell whether Mr. Obama really wants to push for more open trade. He and his economic advisers have repeatedly warned against responding to the economic crisis by erecting barriers to imports. But global leaders, noting that Mr. Obama’s words are not always in sync with his actions, wonder if the president is a free trader or a protectionist. Less than two weeks ago, he set off a dispute with China when he approved hefty new tariffs on imports of Chinese automobile and truck tires. Chinese leaders denounced the move and threatened to retaliate with barriers against American chicken exports. European officials are quietly grumbling that the United States has yet to become engaged in an effort to revive work on a new global agreement to knock down barriers in areas like agriculture and business services. That effort is also a top priority for fast-growing countries like Brazil, whose leaders have become important new players on the world stage. “With Obama’s move on the tire tariffs, the hypocrisy on trade pledges is really quite apparent,” said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “I would expect the other countries to beat up on the U.S., and they deserve it.”


- The G-20 will announce Friday that "the G-20 will be the permanent council for international economic cooperation," replacing the G-8, a senior Obama administration official said. "It's a reflection of the world economy today and the players that make it up," the official said. President Obama took the lead in initiating this after the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. The G-8 nations are the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Russia and Japan. The G-20 nations are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.


- A $4 billion bailout for the Postal Service? The House voted Thursday to freeze Medicare Part B premiums for most elderly next year, even as Democrats moved to exempt the Postal Service from having to make $4 billion in payments due next week to cover retirement health benefits for its employees. The back-to-back actions reflect a flurry of last minute multi-billion-dollar fixes, often without warning, as the government approaches the new fiscal year beginning next Thursday, Oct. 1.

- Twenty Republican senators are requesting a federal inquiry of ACORN and the Treasury Department has opened an investigation of ACORN, adding more woes to the community organization at the center of a widening scandal. "Current voter fraud investigations in several states, prior fraud convictions, and new videos showing apparent illegal activity by ACORN employees suggest that at the very least the organization warrants a top to bottom investigation," the GOP senators wrote in requesting a Government Accountability Office investigation. "Taxpayers deserve nothing less than a through and transparent accounting of ACORN's activities."

Dallas Morning News:

- Federal authorities arrested a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen whom they said placed an inactive car bomb today at Fountain Place, a 60-story skyscraper in downtown Dallas. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi has repeatedly voiced his intent to serve Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and commit “violent Jihad,” authorities said in a prepared statement. “Today’s arrest of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi underscores the FBI’s unwavering commitment to bring to justice persons who attempt to bring harm to citizens of this country and significant danger to this community,” special FBI agent in charge Robert E. Casey, Jr. said in the statement. “Smadi made a decision to act to commit a significant conspicuous act of violence under his banner of ‘self Jihad.’” Authorities said that Smadi was under continuous FBI surveillance. Federal agents posed as members of an al-Qa’ida sleeper cell. Smadi, who was in the U.S. illegally, allegedly told them that he came to the country specifically to commit “Jihad for the sake of God.” According to authorities, Smadi identified potential Dallas targets in June and allegedly scoped out Fountain Place in July. Leppert mentioned that there was another terrorism arrest in Springfield today. Regarding the arrests in Dallas, Denver, New York City and Springfield, he said, “It’s a comment on the world we live in. All of us need to be vigilant.” According to an arrest warrant affidavit, an undercover FBI agent first came across Smadi in an online group of extremists. Smadi stood out to authorities because of an alleged “vehement intention to actually conduct terror attacks in the United States.” Undercover agents communicated with Smadi more than 60 times, according to the affidavit. All conversations were in Arabic, which the affidavit says is Smadi’s native language. “In the named of God, the Gracious and the Merciful, this is my vow to you, my brother, that I am ready,” Smadi allegedly told undercover FBI agents. “And if you were a lover of Jihad as I am, then, by God, I am ready for the Jihadi life.” The affidavit says that Smadi repeatedly voiced an intent to attack those whom he deemed to be Islamic enemies, including Christians and Jews. “We shall attack them in their very own homes,” Smadi said, according to the affidavit. “Brother, by God, we shall attack them in a manner that hurts, an attack that shakes the world.” The affidavit also says that undercover agents attempted to persuade Smadi that the Jihad obligations of a Muslim can be satisfied in different ways. Smadi allegedly responded each time that he planned to commit “significant, conspicuous violence.” FBI agents say in the affidavit that Smadi indicated a desire to attack buildings housing credit card companies in a “strike to the economy.” The agents also said that Smadi considered attacking military recruitment centers, including a National Guard Armory in Dallas. And he also mentioned bombing a Dallas airport and financial institution within 10 to 15 minutes of each other, the affidavit says. “It will shake the currently weak economy in the State and the Amercian nation because this bank is one of the largest banks in this city,” he allegedly said speaking of Wells Fargo in Dallas.


- Japan's Nikkei stock average slid 2.9 percent on Friday, as financial shares were hit hard after Nomura Holdings said it plans to issue up to $5.6 billion in shares, raising fears other banks could follow suit. Nomura shares were untraded due to a glut of sell orders after the announcement by Japan's largest broker, with investors appearing to focus on the negative technical impact of the step on Nomura's shares instead of the positive implications for the company's business operations.

- U.S. tax authorities have advised staff in New York to pursue legal cases against hedge funds and companies that avoided taxes through loans that originated in the United States but are approved offshore. The Internal Revenue Service, in a directive from associate chief counsel for international Steven Musher, advised New York IRS field director Kathy Robbins to pursue cases against companies that are making loans in the United States through an agent outside the country. "We understand that foreign corporations and nonresident aliens may have used other strategies to originate loans in the United States giving rise to effectively connected income," the September 22 memo said. "We encourage you to develop these cases, and we stand ready to assist you in the legal analysis." The directive constitutes a break from past policy, according to a prominent tax attorney. "Historically, people took the position (that) the interest income was not effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. business and therefore the interest income isn't taxed in the U.S.," according to Robert Willens, a New York attorney with his own firm, who advises investors on tax issues.

- World leaders at the G20 meeting on Thursday closed in on a statement urging new restraints on bankers' pay, a flashpoint for outrage in the global financial crisis.

- Short interest in U.S. stocks fell in early September, the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange said on Thursday, suggesting a decrease in bearish sentiment

among equities investors.

Financial Times:

- Rising confidence among the world’s top chief executives and a rally in equity markets failed to lift deal activity during the first nine months of the year. The global value of deals fell 37 per cent to just $1,620bn (£1,010bn) in the nine months from the same period last year, according to Dealogic, the financial data provider. That was the lowest level since 2004 in spite of activity such as Walt Disney’s $4bn acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and Kraft’s unsolicited approach for Cadbury. Third-quarter deal volume of $412.4bn was down 34 per cent from the second quarter.

- European differences with the Obama administration threaten to overshadow Friday’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh, with Britain and France resisting US plans to overhaul the International Monetary Fund. UK and French officials were exasperated on Thursday by US proposals that could threaten both countries’ seats on the IMF board of directors, the Financial Times has learnt. Under the US plans, the IMF board would be cut from 24 seats to 20 with fewer European representatives. The sweep of the US proposal took Britain and France by surprise. They have argued in response that all issues about reform of the institution should be on the table, including whether the US should retain its de facto veto at the IMF. One European official said the US had decided not to press the matter further in Pittsburgh. But the dispute added to the growing sense of irritation between the major European countries and the Obama administration. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, who faces a general election on Sunday, said the fight against global economic imbalances should not become the central issue at the summit – in contradiction of Barack Obama’s stated objectives. Speaking in Berlin before boarding her flight, Ms Merkel came close to accusing the US and Britain of backtracking on financial market regulation and global limits on bankers’ bonuses by shining the spotlight on the export-oriented economic policies of Germany and China: “We should not start looking for ersatz issues and forget the topic of financial market regulation. We cannot afford to neglect this issue now.”

- The US financial sector’s losses on large loans exploded over the past year, exceeding the combined losses since 2001, with hedge funds and other members of the “shadow banking system” hit the hardest, official figures revealed on Thursday. Regulators’ annual review of “shared national credits” – loans larger than $20m shared by three or more federally regulated institutions – highlighted the toll taken by the crisis on financial groups outside the traditional banking sector. More than one in three dollars lent by non-bank institutions such as hedge funds, securitisation vehicles and pension funds, went sour, according to the figures, compared with 11.5 per cent for US banks.The results will increase fears that, in spite of a recovery in the shares and balance sheets of many banks, the epicentre of the crisis has moved to the hedge funds and investors that gorged on cheap credit in the run-up to the turmoil. The importance of these non-bank institutions was underlined by the review’s finding that they held 47 per cent of problem loans, in spite of accounting for only 21.2 per cent of the total loan pool. Overall, the US financial sector’s losses on loans in early 2009 reached a record of $53bn, almost triple the previous high in 2002.The number of loans edging into the danger zone has also surged. Some 15 per cent of the $2,900bn SNC portfolio was classified as “substandard” – the second of the four categories used by regulators – and worse, up from 5.8 per cent in 2008. The pace at which loans got into serious trouble accelerated significantly. The dollar volume classed as “doubtful” or loss-making increased 14-fold over the past year to $110bn. “Doubtful” loans are so weak that collection or liquidation is highly improbable.

Late Buy/Sell Recommendations

- REIT Short Interest fell 17 bps to 7.5% of shares outstanding in early September, the lowest level seen since the “Great Recession” began in December ’07.


- Raised (AMR) to Buy.

Thomas Weisel:

- Rated (WAT) Overweight, target $63.

- Rated (TRGL) Overweight, target $9.75.

- Rated (ADTN) Overweight, target $32.

Night Trading
Asian Indices are -1.75% to -.25% on average.

Asia Ex-Japan Inv Grade CDS Index 110.0 +5.0 basis points.
S&P 500 futures +.14%.
NASDAQ 100 futures -.03%.

Morning Preview

BNO Breaking Global News of Note

Google Top Stories

Bloomberg Breaking News

Yahoo Most Popular Biz Stories

MarketWatch News Viewer

Asian Financial News

European Financial News

Latin American Financial News

MarketWatch Pre-market Commentary

U.S. Equity Preview

TradeTheNews Morning Report In Play

SeekingAlpha Market Currents Bond Ticker

US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Stock Quote/Chart
WSJ Intl Markets Performance
Commodity Futures
IBD New America
Economic Preview/Calendar
Earnings Calendar

Conference Calendar

Who’s Speaking?

Politico Headlines
Rasmussen Reports Polling

Earnings of Note
Company/EPS Estimate
- (AZZ)/.69

- (KBH)/-.58

Economic Releases

8:30 am EST

- Durable Goods Orders for August are estimated to rise .4% versus a 5.1% gain in July.

- Durables Ex Transports for August are estimated to rise 1.0% versus a 1.1% gain in July.

10:00 am EST

- The Final Univ. of Mich. Consumer Confidence reading for September is estimated to rise to 70.5 versus 70.2 in August.

- New Home Sales for August are estimated to rise to 440K versus 433K in July.

Upcoming Splits
- None of note

Other Potential Market Movers
The Fed’s Warsh speaking, Fed’s Alvarez speaking, (CAG) annual meeting, (ATR) analyst meeting, (NSM) shareholders meeting and the (UFI) investor meeting could also impact trading today.

BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are lower, weighed down by financial and commodity shares in the region. I expect US equities to open modestly lower and to maintain losses into the afternoon. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into the day.

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