Dow -60 S&P -5 NASDAQ -13 - Equities opened lower this morning despite news Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway was undertaking the largest buyout in the company's history. That along with the modest rise in factory orders was not enough to offset jitters from Europe, where leading UK banks Lloyds and RBS outlined ongoing restructuring plans and UBS reported disappointing results. In addition, Johnson & Johnson said it would cut up to 7% of its global workforce in an effort to dig up more cost savings. Gold pushed out to fresh all-time highs after India bought $6.7B of the yellow metal from the IMF. Indian officials insisted the move did not signal less confidence in the greenback. Front-month crude dipped below $77 after the opening bell in New York, although the contract is back above $78 in mid morning trade helped by the surge in gold. Treasury prices opened higher in Chicago, but yields have rebounded higher sending prices lower as on the approach of . The 10-year not is down more than a quarter lifting the yield above 3.45%.
- The big news of the morning comes out of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway said it would acquire the 77% of Burlington Northern it did not already own for $100/shr in cash and stock, in a deal valued at $44B. Warren Buffet noted that the stock component was a sweetener to BNI holders "for tax purposes" and called the deal a "bet on America." Shares of BNI are up nearly 29%. Also not that Berkshire's board approved a 50-1 split of its class B stock in order to accommodate smaller holders of BNI.
- In earnings, MasterCard's bottom-line results beat expectations and revenue was slightly stronger than expected. Executives said headwinds continue to keep top line results from outperforming, but said in the long term the company would continue to benefit from the secular shift toward electronic payments. Shares of MA fell as much as 5% after the open, before recovering to around -3%; competitors AXP, DFS and V are all in negative territory.
- Ag giant Archer-Daniels Midland offered very mixed results: the firm crushed earnings expectations but missed revenue targets by a very wide margin. Many commentators said the mixed results stemmed from skewed y/y comparisons, given last year's extraordinary run ups in commodity prices. ADM executives were upbeat on the conference call, noting that the ethanol business is seeing positive margins and overall conditions are becoming more favorable for the firm. Shares of ADM are up 4-5% in early trading.
- Pharmacy services companies AmerisourceBergen and Medco Health Solutions both modestly beat top- and bottom line expectations and offered strong forecasts for FY10. Shares of both firms are up 3%, although it's worth noting that ABC is well off earlier highs around +6%. Generic pharmaceuticals name Teva reported in line with consensus forecasts, and guided slightly higher than expected for FY10.
- Shares of heavy truck manufacturer Oshkosh are up 8% after the firm destroyed low ball earnings estimates and the CEO made bullish comments about FY10, when it expects to be "solidly profitable." Manufacturer Emerson Electric did modestly better than expected in the quarter, and its shares are up a few percent.
- Royal Caribbean's Q3 was a bit mixed, but its comment on the conference call that there has been no recovery in booking volumes on a sequential basis and guided net yields for next quarter lower. RCL is making fresh lows around -6%. Rental car name Avis Budget Group missed revenue targets in its Q3, and warned that rental volumes are falling on a y/y basis in its Q4. Shares of CAR are up 7% after topping out above +8%. Apparel firm Ralph Lauren may have exceeded expectations in its Q2, but shares of RL have given up gains on the day after the CFO said sales are still depressed.
- The USD and JPY pairs held on to the bulk of their European session gains during the New York morning, although they did fall back somewhat after equity markets stabilized and fixed-income futures moved into negative territory. EUR/USD tested its March uptrend line at the 1.4630 level but dealers noted that the implied volatility of the pair rose once the 1.4680 was breeched. EU growth forecasts released earlier today highlighted some of the fiscal constraints on its respective members budgets over the next few years. Afterward Greece announced a one-off charge on its 300 biggest companies to raise just under â‚¬900M in funds. Sterling was Europe's weakest currencies ahead of the BOE policy meeting on Thursday. The focus will be on the quantitative easing measures and exactly how much (if at all) the special measures ceiling would be raised from the current Â£175B level.
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