Nikkei, Hang Seng, European Markets Down

by: Dealing Floor

From DealingFloor at 3:30 AM EDT:

** ASIAN MARKETS **

Nikkei -1.71%; Kospi -2.37%; HSI -1.16%; Taiwan -1.92%; China 0.33%; India -4.48%; Thailand -2%; Australia -1.49%

** EUROPEAN MARKETS **

DJ Euro STOXX50 -1.26%; FTSE Eurotop -1.18%; FTSE-100 -0.93%; FTSE-Techmark -0.20%; FTSE-All Shares -0.88%; DAX -1.39%

S&P future -0.01%; Bund future 0.21%; Crude future 68.1; €/$ 1.2724; Gold $644.2

** US HEADLINES **

- NYSE to Submit $21 Billion Euronext Merger Proposal Today, Telegraph Says
- Bush Bond Market Favors Companies, Homeowners; Clinton Rewarded Traders
- Dollar Posts Gain Against Euro on Speculation of Increase in Interest Rate
- U.S. Stocks Rebound, Trimming Worst 2-Week Drop Since 2003; Goldman Gains
- Sony’s `Da Vinci Code’ Makes $77 Million in Debut, Exceeding Estimates
- Commodities, Led by Metals, Post Their Biggest Weekly Decline in 25 Years
- Crude Oil Drops After Iran Signals More Access for UN Nuclear Inspectors

** US: IN PLAY TODAY **

Today’s macro calendar is empty and only two notable names are reporting earnings: Lowe’s Cos (NYSE:LOW) and Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB).

** ASIAN HEADLINES **

- Asian Stocks Fall; PetroChina, BHP Billiton Fall on Cheaper Oil, Metals
- Yen May Advance as Japanese Growth, Inflation Push Interest Rates Higher
- China May Raise Banks’ Reserve Ratio as Part of Effort to Curb Loan Growth
- Jollibee Says China Expansion Is Held Back by Higher Rents and Redesign
- State Bank of India to Raise $400 Million in Debt Sale to Expand Overseas
- Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho to Post Fourth-Quarter Profit as Bad Loans Decline
- Thailand Posts Biggest Trade Deficit in 10 Months on Costlier Oil Imports
- Hong Kong’s Economic Growth Probably Accelerated in First Quarter on Trade
- Japan Stocks May Trail Asia as Commodity Costs, Stronger Yen Hurt Profit

** EUROPE: IN PLAY TODAY **

- DaimlerChrysler AG: The carmaker may face a $640 million fine to settle a U.S. government investigation of alleged bribery, the magazine Der Spiegel said, citing unidentified people at the company.

- Xstrata Plc: The company’s hostile C$16.1 billion ($14.3 billion) for Falconbridge Ltd. “undervalues'’ the Canadian miner, whose profit is soaring on higher metal prices, Falconbridge Chief Executive Officer Derek Pannell said.

- NYSE Group Inc. is close to making a bid to merge with Euronext NV, Europe’s second-largest stock exchange, to create a transatlantic securities market, three people with direct knowledge of the situation said.Just now NYSE announced its offer to buy Euronext for 0.98 new shares and EUR 21.32 in cash.

- Credit Agricole SA is considering making a bid for Alliance & Leicester Plc, the U.K.’s eighth- largest bank, French daily Le Figaro reported, without citing anyone.

** EUROPE: UPS & DOWNS **

+ LUKOIL RAISED TO `BUY’ FROM `HOLD’ AT CITIGROUP
+ QIAGEN PRICE EST. RAISED TO $16.25 VS $14.90 AT MORGAN STANLEY
+ ERSTE RAISED TO `OVERWEIGHT’ FROM `NEUTRAL’ AT HSBC
+ BNP PRICE ESTIMATE RAISED TO EU88 FROM EU83 AT CITIGROUP

- BELGACOM PRICE ESTIMATE CUT TO EU27 FROM EU28 AT HSBC
- ZURICH FINANCIAL PRICE EST. CUT TO SF330 VS SF345 AT CITIGROUP
- SABMILLER PRICE EST. CUT TO 1,130P FROM 1,220P AT UBS