***Economic Data*** - (CA) Canada Mar Housing Starts: 197.3K v 205.0Ke - (MX) Mexico Jan Gross Fixed Investment: -4.8% v -4.0%e - (MX) Mexico Feb Industrial Production Y/Y: 4.4% v 4.4%e - CA) Canada Q1 Business Outlook Future Sales: 44.0 v 49.0 prior; BOC Senior Loan Officer Survey: -18.7 v -8.7 prior
- The DJIA nosed above the 11,000 level in pre-market action this morning and has managed to keep above this key level in early trading. The S&P is trading near its highest levels since before Lehman imploded in September 2008, around 1200. With no US economic data or earnings releases on the docket, the disclosure of firmer details of Europe's standby Greece bailout package is propping up sentiment, along with a whole raft of merger related news. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao will meet today to discuss a variety of issues, including currency, trade and Iran. China's policy of pegging the value of its currency to the dollar will be a key issue. Alcoa reports its Q1 results after the close today, officially kicking off earnings season. Analysts note that expectations are high for many companies, which would pose a downside risk for stocks. With the Dow is already up more than 8% in the past two months there are concerns that stocks could sell off on good earnings news, which occurred during last earnings season. Front-month crude opened up right in the middle of its range from Friday, just short of $85, although trading is mostly flat this morning. Gold opened slightly lower.
- News flows have been dominated by acquisition stories and merger rumors. The most significant news is DynCorp International, which is being acquired by private equity firm Cerberus Capital for $17.55/shr in cash, in a deal valued at $1.5B. Shares of DCP rose nearly 50% to the level of the offer in early trading. Oil services names are being moved by news that Halliburton is acquiring oil well services firm Boots & Coots for $3/shr in cash and stock, in a $240M deal. WEL is up 25%. In other energy related stocks Mirant entered an agreement to merge with Reliant energy over the weekend. SunTrust is up on news it is negotiating with private firm Henderson Group to sell off portions of its investment management business. As of December 31, 2009, SunTrust had more than $205 billion in assets under advisement. There has been widespread speculation about Palm in recent weeks, and reports over the weekend indicated the firm is negotiating to sell itself to Asian firms HTC or Lenovo. Shares of PALM are up 16%. The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that California Pizza Kitchen was looking at various acquisition offers, including offers from private equity firms. CPKI spiked up as much as 10% in the early going, before giving up nearly all the gains after confirming a review of strategic alternatives failed to announce a definitive deal. Double-Take Software disclosed that it has received unsolicited acquisition offers but also trimmed guidance. Numerous other takeover rumors are making the rounds.
- The risk appetite that characterized the early part of the European session FX trading drained away as dealers rethought the weekend news regarding the Greek rescue package. All in all market participants are beginning to believe that nothing has really changed, apart from the fact that we know how big the safety net is. The activation of the package would be the next area of interest. A German government spokesperson commented that a meeting of Euro Zone (rather than EU Leaders) would be necessary to activate the Greek aid package
***Looking Ahead*** - (US) Mar Monthly Budget Statement: -$65Be v -$191.6B prior
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