Monday Pre-Market: Key News & Data

by: Between the Hedges

From Between the Hedges:

Weekend Headlines

- President Bush said the new Medicare prescription drug program will save the elderly an average of more than $1,000 a year each and urged them to sign up before a May 15 deadline.
- Barbaro ran to a seven-length victory at the 132nd Kentucky Derby, becoming the sixth undefeated winner of the most prestigious US horse race.
- The Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week for the last time until at least August as central bankers assess the impact of two years of increases, most of Wall Street’s biggest bond trading firms said.
- Wachovia Corp.(NASDAQ:WB), the no. 4 US bank, may offer to buy Golden West Financial(GDW) for more than $25 billion to gain about 280 branches in 10 states, said three people with knowledge of the talks.
- Warren Buffett, , the billionaire chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said his son, Howard Buffett, would be “a double-protector of the culture” as the company’s future chairman.

CBS News:
- The US may have enough ethanol fuel stations within three years, citing Daniel Kammen, head of the Renewable Energy Lab at the Univ. of Cal., Berkeley. Kammen estimates it takes $30,000-$40,000 to retrofit a gasoline station to sell E-85, which is 85% ethanol and 15% gas. The retrofitting can be done in “weeks.” Sun Microsystems founder Vinod Khosla, who is investing in ethanol, told Dateline NBC that within five years, the US can be on a path to petroleum independence.

NY Times:
- A study of a recent outbreak of infections among Bausch & Lomb’s(BOL) lens-cleaning solution users may not be caused directly by the product.
- Somme US states and governors are unhappy with the Real ID Act passed by the US Congress last year that requires them to check the legal status of driver’s license applicants.
- Business travelers have driven up prices in Las Vegas as their numbers increased by 5.7% to 6.2 million in 2005.
- The path of Democrats to regain control of the US Congress by winning House and Senate races in Ohio isn’t going to be an easy one, judging by early results in primary elections.
- Former CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose identity was compromised three years ago, has received $2.5 million for her memoir.
- Boeing co.(NYSE:BA) has received enough orders to fill out the first three years of production for its 787 Dreamliner, the lighter, larger and more efficient commercial airplane due out in 2008,
- New Orleans mayoral candidates Ray Nagin and Mitch Landrieu are courting white conservative voters who may cast the deciding votes in the May 20 runoff election for mayor.

Washington Post:
- Wachovia Corp.(WB) faces protest movements by Muslim activists over its decision in January to shut accounts held by the Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, a Muslim organization.
- Democrats plan to investigate the White House’s first-term energy task force and its use of intelligence before the war in Iraq should they take control of the US House in November elections, citing Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

NY Post:
- Nathan’s Famous(NASDAQ:NATH) plans to begin selling treats for dogs under its brand name in specialty pet stores later this month.

- Eastman Kodak(EK) may be able to pay off all its debts from a sale of its health-imaging division, which could fetch as much as $4 billion.
- America’s toll roads and bridges may be worth more than $200 billion if sold to private operators.

San Jose Mercury News:
- Apple Computer(NASDAQ:AAPL) applied for a patent for a wireless mobile device in December 2004, citing the US Patent and Trademark Office.

- We will all likely be communicating and being entertained with bandwidth-intensive video. In such a world, the data centers will be vast, many in number, and loaded with servers, storage and switches.

Financial Times:
- US venture capitalists increased investments in internet-based media companies this year, following the popularity of Web sites such as
- Yahoo!(NASDAQ:YHOO) may say it has overhauled its online advertising system and installed new technology designed to deal with ads targeted at specific consumers.

Sunday Telegraph:
- EMI Group is preparing to make a revised offer of $4.4 billion to buy rival Warner Music Group(NYSE:WMG) within the next few weeks.

Business Standard:
- Reliance Industries of India plans to spend as much as $444.9 million for a refining plant to produce bio-diesel.

Finanz und Wirtschaft:
- Alcon(NYSE:ACL) has gained customers who switched from using Bausch & Lomb(BOL) products that have been linked to eye infections.

Globe and Mail:
- EnCana Corp.(NYSE:ECA), Anadarko Petroleum(NYSE:APC), ConocoPhillips(NYSE:COP) and Royal Dutch Shell will invest $47 million over five years to explore Canada’s Beaufort Sea for oil and natural gas.

London-based Times:
- Airtricity, Ireland’s largest wind-park operator, and ABB AB plan to create Europe’s first cross-border wind power network.

Weekend Recommendations
- Had positive comments on (NYSE:PLT), (OTC:DGIN), (NYSE:PFE), (NYSE:KO), (NYSE:BUD) and (NYSE:UTX).
- Had negative comments on (EMC).

Night Trading
Asian indices are +.50% to +1.0% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.05%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated +.10%.

Morning Preview
US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Commentary
Before the Bell CNBC Video(bottom right)
Global Commentary
Asian Indices
European Indices
Top 20 Business Stories
In Play
Bond Ticker
Daily Stock Events
Macro Calls
Rasmussen Consumer/Investor Daily Indices
CNBC Guest Schedule

Earnings of Note
- (NYSE:AES)/.21
- (AQNT)/.06
- (BSG)/.17
- (NYSE:CMG)/.12
- (NYSE:FLR)/.65
- (GDP)/.34
- (NYSE:HW)/.44
- (NYSE:NBR)/.74
- (OSIP)/-.11
- (NASDAQ:SBAC)/-.12
- (SVM)/.04
- (VCLK)/.11

Upcoming Splits
- (LTR) 3-for-1

Economic Releases
- None of note

BOTTOM LINE: Asian Indices are higher, technology shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to maintain gains into the afternoon.