Monday Pre-Market: Key News & Data

by: Between the Hedges

From Between the Hedges:

Weekend Headlines

- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki won parliamentary approval for his new cross-party government after five months of negotiations, seeking to end sectarian violence.
- President Bush today called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to congratulate him on the formation of a new government and said Iraq’s transformation would be a “devastating defeat” for terrorists.
- President Bush said the Senate should at by the end of the month on “comprehensive” immigration legislation that tightens the US-Mexico border and create an immigrant guest worker program.
- Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said Iran is “months” away from being able to make a nuclear weapon.
- Embattled New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin turned back a re-election challenge from Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Landrieu and will be sworn in for a second term on May 31, the day before the hurricane season begins.
- Chilean President Bachelet said that high prices for copper, Chile’s top export, will be “temporary” and reiterated that the government will save its windfall from the metal.
- Seven of the ten worst performers out of 80 stock indexes tracked globally by Bloomberg this year are Arab indexes.
- US Treasuries surged this week, with the 10-year note posing its biggest gain since September, as comments by Fed officials spurred confidence that the central bank will maintain its focus on containing inflation.
- Schlumberger(NYSE:SLB), America’s largest oil service company, registered to sell 4.6 million shares for insiders after the close on Friday.
- Marc Faber, who told investors to bail out of US stocks a week before the 1987 Black Monday Crash, is telling clients that commodity prices may plunge as much as 30% in three to six months.
- The Australian dollar weakened as last week’s biggest drop in commodities prices in 25 years raised concern the rally in metals that has helped the currency gain 3.4% this year has gone too far.
- Copper and aluminum futures in Shanghai fell by the maximum 4% after the Shanghai futures exchange said copper stockpiles rose 18% and aluminum inventories gained 1.6% last week.

Wall Street Journal:
- Bill Ford Jr., CEO of Ford Motor(NYSE:F), supports the idea of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration overhauling fuel economy standards.
- US tax receipts from investments and dividends soared 17% in April from a year earlier, citing US Treasury statistics.

NY Times:
- Venezuelan President Chavez has angered Latin American neighbors such as Peru, Nicaragua, Argentina and Brazil, who are resentful of what they see as interference in their affairs.
- Geek squad founder Robert Stephens said service industries are moving toward charging flat fees rather than hourly rates.
- The chief UN aid coordinator told the UN Security Council that the international assistance effort in the Sudan region of Darfur may collapse in weeks.
- The global e-mail security industry is expected to expand to $2.6 billion by 2009 compared with $675 million in 2004, citing research firm IDC.

Business Week:
- With high gas prices making alternate fuels increasingly attractive, no alternative fuel has received as much attention as ethanol.

- US Democratic Representative William Jefferson’s office was searched by FBI agents late today in connection with a bribery investigation.

LA Times:
- The US is talking with Arab Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar about military plans to contain Iran’s influence in the region.

- Joe Rosenberg, Chief Investment Strategist at Loews Corp.(LTR), said the recent increase in commodity prices in “overdone.” “The sudden shift in the demand side is not a consequence of a sudden boom in China and India,” Rosenberg said. “More likely it’s caused by a bunch of hedge funds just pilling in.” Rosenberg also said emerging market debt is overpriced.

- Symantec Corp.(NASDAQ:SYMC) raised the alert level for a cyberattack on a security hole in Microsoft’s(NASDAQ:MSFT) Word program.

Crain’s Chicago Business:
- Motorola Inc.(MOT) plans to open its first cell-phone store on June 5, a retail outlet on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, to counter a Nokia Oyj(NYSE:NOK) store that will open nearby.

Sunday Times:
- Royal Mail Group Plc, Britain’s postal service, is in negotiations to forge a European strategic alliance with either FedEx Corp.(NYSE:FDX) or United Parcel Service(NYSE:UPS).

Sunday Telegraph:
- NYSE Group(NYSE:NYX) will today submit a proposal outlining a $21 billion merger of equals with Euronext NV.
- Google’s(NASDAQ:GOOG) European head said Europe’s businesses trail their US rivals in exploiting the commercial power of the Internet, citing an interview with Google’s Nikesh Arora.

Globe and Mail:
- Canada won’t support efforts by other countries to set deeper emission-reduction targets for the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

China Securities Journal:
- China’s central bank said it will control the pace of lending growth and increase flexibility in the yuan this year.

Folha de S. Paulo:
- Brazilian Economy Ministry officials said higher US interest rates would weaken the country’s currency as reais-denominated assets become less attractive.

Weekend Recommendations
- Had positive comments on (NASDAQ:YHOO), (MSFT), (NYSE:JNJ), (NYSE:PFE), (NYSE:WMT) and (CTAC).

Night Trading
Asian indices are -.75% to +.25% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.19%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated +.30%.

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:CPB)/.35
- (NYSE:LOW)/.94
- (MNT)/.39

Upcoming Splits
- (ZVXI) 3-for-2
- (NYSE:CMC) 2-for-1
- (NYSE:TTI) 2-for-1
- (NYSE:TOT) 2-for-1

Economic Releases
- None of note

BOTTOM LINE: Asian Indices are mostly lower, weighed down by commodity shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to build on gains into the afternoon.