Wall Street Breakfast

by: SA Editors
SA Editors
Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It is published before 7:00 AM ET every market day and delivered to over 900,000 email subscribers.

MACRO AND HOUSING

Bernanke Mum on Possible Rate Cut

In a speech in Berlin Tuesday, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke gave no explicit hints about the Fed's inclination to lower short-term interest rates. The market is expecting the Fed to lower the benchmark fed-funds rate at its FOMC meeting next Tuesday. Bernanke did say the "global saving glut" is keeping a lid on interest rates. China has $1.3 trillion of foreign-exchange reserves and household savings, representing a fifth of its economy. Foreign investors hold half of Treasuries outstanding, which has helped push benchmark 10-year note yields down to an average 4.37% in the past five years. Bernanke said the U.S. current-account deficit -- what Bloomberg terms "the flip side of surplus savings abroad" -- can't go on forever. The risk is that "foreign investors would ultimately become satiated with dollar assets, and financing the deficit at a reasonable cost would become difficult." Bernanke said factors other than the savings-investment balance have an effect on long-term interest rates, including demand for long-term securities -- which varies according to concerns about their risks. In related news, the WSJ observed Tuesday that Fed officials are not expressing consistent views on the downside risks to the economy posed by the credit crunch.
Sources: Wall Street Journal I, II, Bloomberg, Reuters
Commentary: Gauging the Current Economic Scene a Week Before the Next FOMC MeetingWeak Jobs Report Cements Fed Rate CutIs There a Dark Clue Hidden in the Non-Farm Payroll Numbers?
Stocks/ETFs to watch: SPY, DIA, AGG, SHY, IEF, TLT
Related: Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's speech to the Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, September 11, 2007

U.S. Trade Deficit Shrinks in July

In an unexpected sign of growth, the U.S. July trade deficit dipped 0.3% to $59.2B from June's $59.4B as exports continued this year's trend of growing at a faster pace than imports, and foreigners snapped up big-ticket items such as aircraft, telecommunications equipment and electrical goods. The weak dollar, which makes U.S. goods cheaper for foreign buyers has helped boost exports this year. Economists' deficit forecasts had ranged from $57.5B to $61.5B. June's figure was revised upward from an originally reported $58.1B. One economist said that, if sustained, the improvement in the real deficit would add nearly one percentage point to real GDP growth in Q3. According to the data, released by the Commerce Department, exports logged their fifth straight monthly gain, increasing 2.7% to $137.7B, while imports jumped 1.8% to $196.9B. High oil prices were a major contributor to the import rise as imports from OPEC countries hit a record $14.8B. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit with China grew 12.5% to $23.8B, the second-highest on record, bringing the total through July to $141.3B, on track to exceed last year's record $233B. The gap with the eurozone grew to $10.39B from $7.43B, while the gap with Mexico fell to $5.62B from $6.39B and the deficit with Canada narrowed to $5.69B from $5.86B.
Sources: Press release, Reuters, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal
Commentary: U.S. Trade Deficit: Not as Ominous as it SoundsWhy The Dollar Hasn't Collapsed Amidst The Trade Deficit
Stocks/ETFs to watch: SPY, DIA, AGG

NAR Cuts Housing Forecasts Again

The National Association of Realtors [NAR] on Tuesday cut its home sales and construction guidance for 2007 and 2008. This is the ninth time the organization has cut its home sales forecast this year. Existing home sales are projected to drop 8.6% in 2007, exceeding the 6.8% drop forecast last month. New-home starts are seen declining 24% this year and another 8% next year to their lowest since 1992; new-home sales are projected to fall 24% this year and an additional 7.4% next year to their lowest since 1995. The group expects the median resale price to slide 1.7% to $218,200 this year, which would be the first national decline since the Depression. A month ago, the NAR said new home sales should hit bottom at the end of 2007; now it is saying sales should continue to fall into Q1 2008. The group sees existing-home sales rebounding 5.8% next year, albeit 2% less than its August forecast. Some analysts believe that revised view remains too positive. "The Realtors keep splicing a little more off their outlook to make it more gloomy, but they are still more optimistic than we are," said Lehman Brothers economist Michelle Meyer. "The data from the mortgage and credit markets is all pretty dismal." The S&P index of the 16 biggest homebuilders has lost half its value in 2007, led by Beazer Homes and Hovnanian.
Sources: NAR press release, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney.com, Houston Chronicle
Commentary: 'Near Perfect Storm' Brewing in Housing -- WaMuWhat's in Store For the Housing Market?Home Foreclosures Hit Yet Another Record
Stocks/ETFs to watch: LEN, PHM, CTX, DHI, BZH, HOV. ETFs: ITB, KBW, XHB, REZ

TECHNOLOGY

Vista Underperforming XP

Retail sales of standalone versions of Microsoft's Vista operating system continue to lag predecessor XP, according to a forthcoming report by NPD Group, CNET reports. Unit sales are reportedly off 59.7% relative to XP's first six months on the market. The difference in revenue stands at 41.5%. An NPD analyst commented that Vista is "just not doing well," noting most customers get Vista with a new PC purchase. A Microsoft regulatory filing confirmed more than 80% of Windows revenue is from pre-installations on new PCs. NPD noted a steep decline in advertising compared to XP, despite Vista being feature-rich and potentially benefitting from "educating the masses." Conversely, Microsoft's office suite, Office 2007, is outselling Office 2003 by around double over its first six months. Office 2007 sales are getting a boost from switchers to Mac, as just over 20% of sales are reportedly for Office for Mac. NPD will release its report, "Windows Vista Still Underperforming in U.S. Retail," to clients on Friday. Shares of Microsoft gained 1.6% to $28.93 on Tuesday.
Sources: CNET
Commentary: Vista Service Pack 1: Damned If You Do...Microsoft Nearing Complete Dominance of the Server MarketWill Google Loosen Microsoft's Grip on Large Enterprise?
Stocks/ETFs to watch: MSFT, AAPL. ETFs: IGV, SWH, PSJ, QQQQ
Earnings call transcript: Microsoft F4Q07

Sony Ericsson Exploring PlayStation Phone - President

Handset maker Sony Ericsson is considering producing a high-end PlayStation phone, the Financial Times reported Wednesday. The company, which is 50%-owned by Sony Corp., already produces a Bravia-television-branded phone with mobile-TV capability in Japan, and said it is also exploring extending that line to the high-end. President Miles Flint stressed, however, that the technology for the PlayStation phone was yet unperfect: "We need to make sure that it is a credible phone, and be sure we are justified in putting that identity on it," he said. According to the TrustedReviews website, the PlayStation phone could be out as early as Q1 2008. Sony Ericsson has successfully used Sony's Walkman and CyberShot brands to create phones, a strategy that has helped it more than double margins in the last three years, and move from number-five to number-four in global handset sales, the Times said. Recent high-end handsets from Apple and Nokia have increased the pressure on Sony Ericsson to come out with something original of its own.
Sources: Financial Times, TrustedReviews
Commentary: The PlayStation Phone: Coming This February?Sony Ericsson PlayStation Revealed In Patent: New PSP Phone Coming Q1?
Stocks/ETFs to watch: ERIC, SNE, NOK, AAPL
Earnings call transcript: LM Ericsson Q2 2007

VMware buys Dunes Technologies

Virtualization company VMware Inc. announced at VMworld 2007 that it has acquired Lausanne, Switzerland-based Dunes Technologies, a provider of IT process orchestration software for virtual environments. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. "Dunes has developed a powerful orchestration platform that will allow us to automate the entire virtual machine lifecycle from requisition to de-commissioning, while complementing existing VMware management and automation solutions such as VMware Lab Manager and the recently announced VMware Virtual Desktop Manager," VMware said. VMworld 2007 provides more than 10,000 IT professionals and executives, technology providers and industry experts from around the world the opportunity to discuss and share ideas on virtualization. VMware shares closed Tuesday down 0.1% at $76.65.
Sources: Press release
Commentary: VMware Stakes Out New Ground Ahead of VMworld ConferenceDoes Citrix Stand A Chance Against VMware In Virtualization?
Stocks/ETFs to watch: VMW, EMC

Sony to Release Dual Layer Blu-Ray Models

Sony said Wednesday it will launch four new Blu-ray high-definition DVD recorders in Japan in November, in an effort to counter recent gains made by the rival HD DVD format. It's unclear if the new devices are slated to make their way to the U.S. HD DVD has trailed Blu-ray in disc sales this year, but it recently got a boost after movie studios Paramount and DreamWorks said they would back the format exclusively (full story). The new models will store up to 16 hours of high-definition programming on a dual-layer, 50-gigabyte Blu-ray disc; previous models were unable to record on a dual-layer disc. The priciest model is expected to come in at about $1,750. In June, video rental giant Blockbuster threw its support behind Blu-ray, saying it would no longer stock HD DVD movies (full story). Sony had hoped its PlayStation 3 game console, which comes with a Blu-ray player, would give its format an edge over HD DVD. But the PS3 has severely lagged rival Nintendo's Wii in sales since their launches late last year. Sony and Matsushita are Blu-ray's main backers, while HD DVD is backed by Toshiba and Microsoft.
Sources: Reuters, TVPredictions, AFX
Commentary: HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray SalesNVIDIA Discusses Blu-Ray and HD DVD
Stocks/ETFs to watch: SNE, MC, MSFT, OTCPK:TOSBF, VIA, BBI

RETAIL

McDonald’s Surges on Strong Same-Store Sales

McDonald's surprised investors with stronger-than-expected same-store sales in August. Sales at restaurants in the Asia-Pacific/Mideast/Africa region areas jumped 12.4%, Europe was up 6.1%, while U.S. stores enjoyed a 7.4% gain. Goldman Sachs had projected U.S. same-store sales to be up only 4%. Globally, same-store sales were up 8.1%; Bear Stearns had estimated a 5% increase. McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said, "Our worldwide sales momentum continues, thanks to our customer-focused emphasis on menu variety and value, convenient service, innovative marketing and contemporary restaurants." McDonald's can also thank its late-night hours, premium coffee, and new version of the well-liked Snack Wrap for the strong performance. After the numbers were released, UBS increased its full year earnings estimate by a penny to $2.81/share. Morningstar, however, did not adjust its Fair Value estimate of $54.00. "Clearly, the company's performance over the last four-plus years has been nothing short of amazing, which begs the question: How much longer can the fast food chain keep this up?" it said in a research note. The company's stock was up 3.2% to $51.76 Tuesday.
Sources: Press Release, Wall Street Journal, CNN
Commentary: McDonald's Posts Q2 Loss on Store Sales, Adjusted EPS In-LineWake Up and Smell the Coffee: Starbucks Still Doesn't Get It
Stocks/ETFs to watch: MCD. Competitors: BKC, YUM. ETFs: PBJ, VCR
Earnings call transcript: McDonald's Q2 2007

TRANSPORT AND AEROSPACE

GM Climbs on Executive Optimism

Several GM top executives made statements over the past few days concerning the health of the company and its stock. GM CEO Rick Wagoner said during an auto show in Frankfurt he believes his company's share price does not yet reflect investor optimism regarding a potential resolution of health-care negotiations with the United Auto Workers union. GM Europe Chief Carl-Peter Forster, speaking at the same event, said the company has a "good chance" of selling 300,000 vehicles in Russia in 2008, which would be a 20% increase over 2007 estimates. GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, speaking Monday, said the company is spending less than expected on incentives for new crossover vehicles like the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia thanks to "underlying demand." GM, which has relied excessively on incentives in the past, cut its average incentive spending per vehicle in the U.S. by 6% from July, according to AutoData. Against last August, spending fell 9.2%. GM shares gained 4.5% to close at $30.54 Tuesday, their first positive close in a week.
Sources: Dow Jones I, II, III, Bloomberg
Commentary: Wagoner is King in GM/UAW TalksU.S. Auto Sales Decline Slows in August, GM Posts Surprising GainGM's Weak Arguments Against Fuel Efficiency
Stocks/ETFs to watch: GM. Competitors: F, TM, DAI. ETFs: PRFG, RPV, PRF
Earnings call transcript: General Motors Q2 2007

Boeing Gets $1.1B Contract, Says 787 on Track

Aerospace giant Boeing said it received a $1.1B deal from the U.S. Air Force to continue providing programmed depot maintenance for the nation's KC-135 Stratotanker fleet. The 10-year deal will cover 200 aerial refueling aircraft at facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Since the initial KC-135 PDM contract award in October 1998, Boeing said it has completed scheduled (conducted every five years) and unscheduled maintenance on more than 160 aircraft. Boeing beat out a division of Pemco Aviation Group for the contract, and also is competing against Northrop Grumman for a $40B deal to replace some 179 aerial refueling tankers (full story). Separately, at an investor conference, Boeing CEO James McNerney said the new 787 remains on track for May delivery despite the recently announced delay in the first test flights. He admitted, however, that there was no space for error. "Is there room for major glitches at this stage? The answer is no. We're tight ... We're down to the program having to go by the book." McNerney also said the case for an extended strong order cycle for commercial aircraft is "very good" and that the number of new aircraft orders should continue to exceed annual deliveries for the foreseeable future. Boeing shares closed up 2.2% to $97.44.
Sources: Press release, TheStreet.com, Wall Street Journal, AP
Commentary: Defense Sector Continues to RunBoeing's 'iPlane': Two Suppliers That Stand To Benefit
Stocks/ETFs to watch: BA, NOC, PAGI
Earnings call transcript: Boeing Q2 2007

Citi Ups GMAC's Credit Line

GMAC LLC, the financing arm of General Motors, has received an asset-backed loan facility of up to $21.4 billion from Citigroup. The credit line will be used "to provide funding for U.S. automobile related assets, mortgage assets and other assets across GMAC and its subsidiaries," GMAC said in a federal filing. The credit line's one-year term is shorter than that of the $10 billion line it is replacing, but it is renewable. As of June 30, GMAC had $6.5 billion in asset-backed commercial paper secured in part by mortgages. "With the current global credit market, the company decided this funding was prudent," said GMAC spokeswoman Gina Proia. "This gives us additional liquidity. It bolsters our financial flexibility." GMAC's profits were hit this year when its Residential Capital LLC unit (ResCap), faced with high default levels among subprime borrowers, posted an H1 loss of $1.15 billion. The company will be able to use $14.4 billion once the line is finalized and another $7 billion under certain conditions. Last year, GM sold a 51% stake in GMAC to a private equity group led by Cerberus Capital Management, which is also buying Chrysler.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg
Commentary: GM Restructuring Positives May Outweigh Rescap RisksResCap Mortgage Unit Coming Back to Haunt GMGM and the GMAC Sale: Devil's In the Details
Stocks/ETFs to watch: GM, GKM, GMA, GJM, GOM, C.
Earnings call transcript: General Motors Q4 2006

ENERGY AND MATERIALS

OPEC Ups Production Ceiling

Looking to ease concerns about record oil prices, OPEC agreed to increase its production ceiling by 1.4 million barrels/day to 27.2 million. The move is not as dramatic as the number initially indicates; OPEC was already producing an estimated 1 million barrels/day over the limit, but it is the first time the number had been upped in more than a year. Kuwait's Oil Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Aleem said the decision was intended to "look after the concern of consumers" and "support the stability of the market." It will take pressure off the world economy, which is currently being dragged down by the stumbling U.S. housing industry. The decision was a welcomed surprise, as most analysts and traders did not see OPEC increasing their production, and shows the cartel's recognition that high energy prices during the colder months in the U.S., Europe, and Asia could seriously damage the world economy. However during November, United Arab of Emirates is planning maintenance on its three largest oil fields, subtracting 810,000 barrels/day. The work should start in early November and last two to three weeks. The work is needed to expand capacity, but could give oil prices support despite the increase in the production ceiling. Front-month crude finished Tuesday $0.74 higher to $78.23.
Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal
Commentary: Gas Prices Up, Crude Down, Refinery Problems CitedAre Oil Prices Increasing at a Rapid Rate?OPEC Members at Odds Over Output Hike
ETFs: USO, OIL

FINANCIAL

Countrywide Seeks More Capital - NY Post

U.S. mortgage lender Countrywide Financial is working to attract another investment similar to Bank of America's $2 billion preferred stock purchase last month, the New York Post reported Tuesday. Potential investors are unknown, but the Post's sources say JP Morgan, Citigroup, and a couple hedge funds have shown interest. "Countrywide is in desperate need of cash right now to continue funding mortgages and the credit markets are still largely closed to them," said a source, who is familiar with Countrywide. The deal could be done by the end of the month, and Goldman and Wachtell Lipton are helping to structure the deal, it said. In a research note, Standard & Poors said it believes the report "makes sense, based on our view that CFC will likely need additional funding while it works to pare down loans, lower expenses and switch origination to its thrift operation." Countrywide stock dropped on the news; shares fell 1.9% to $16.88 Tuesday, trading through its four-year low. The stock is down about 60% this year.
Sources: New York Post, Bloomberg, Reuters
Commentary: Countrywide Financial: Old vs. New Foreclosure MethodsCountrywide Takes Steps to Survive Credit Crunch
Stocks/ETFs to watch: CFC, JPM, C. Competitors: NDE, WFC. ETFs: PGF, IYF
Earnings call transcript: Countrywide Financial Q2 2007

Capital One to Lure Deposits with Air Miles

Capital One Financial launched a product this week that looks to lure savings deposits using an old favorite in a new venue: a money-market account that offers air miles based on average monthly balances. The Rewards Money Market account, the first savings account to offer air miles, yields 4.65% annually and offers one mile for every $20 of average monthly balance. The move as some banks with large mortgage operations, such as Countrywide and IndyMac, struggle to raise money to fund new loans, and have sweetened the terms of deposit accounts in an effort to attract money. But Capital One says its new account is unrelated to the credit crisis: "The development of this preceded by a long shot the noise we've seen in the last six weeks," said spokeswoman Pam Girardo. Aside from more cash, banks may experience an added benefit from the resultant larger deposit accounts: "If your balance is maintained at higher levels, they're less likely to lose you as a customer," says Kelly Hlavinka, director of loyalty-marketing firm Colloquy.
Sources: Wall Street Journal
Commentary: Credit Card Companies Target Subprime BorrowersCapital One 0.75 FinancialDykstra: Get Capital One In Your Wallet [TheStreet.com]
Stocks/ETFs to watch: COF. Competitors: AXP, MS, JPM, BAC, C

HEALTHCARE/BIOTECH

New Studies: Actos Lowers Heart Risk; Avandia Increases It

GlaxoSmithKline's diabetes drug Avandia took more hits this week when the Journal of the American Medical Association published results of two studies that implied a rival drug is safer. Avandia was Glaxo's second-biggest drug last year, with sales of $3.35 billion. In July, an FDA advisory committee found Avandia to pose a cardiovascular risk. The committee did not recommend that the drug be pulled from the market, but its findings prompted more doctors to prescribe Avandia's only direct rival, Takeda Pharmaceuticals' Actos -- a pattern the WSJ believes the JAMA studies will likely accelerate. Though neither of the JAMA papers directly compares the drugs, one says Actos seems to reduce patients' risk of heart attack, stroke and death while the other confirms prior studies that indicate that Avandia increases heart attack risk. In a statement, Glaxo said the papers "do not yield data robust enough to guide doctors in selecting appropriate diabetes treatments for patients." The Actos paper was a meta-analysis of 19 prior trials of the drug; the Avandia paper was a meta-analysis of four prior trials.
Sources: Glaxo response, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, Forbes
Commentary: FDA Panel: Glaxo's Avandia Can Stay on the MarketGlaxoSmithKline Wins The Latest Round on AvandiaMerck, Amilyn Should Profit From Avandia's and Actos' Problems
Stocks/ETFs to watch: GSK, OTCPK:TKPHF. Competitors: MRK, AMLN, SNY. ETFs: DBR, DPN, FEU, EKH
Earnings call transcript: GlaxoSmithKline Q2 2007

FDA Panel Refuses to Set Restriction on J&J/Amgen Anemia Drugs

A decision Tuesday by an FDA panel was seen as a win for Johnson & Johnson and Amgen, as it voted 14-5 against setting a new restriction for the use of anemia drugs in kidney failure patients. Marketed as Epogen/Aranesp by Amgen and Procrit by J&J, the drugs have been the target of safety concerns when given in high doses, and already carry the agency's strictest "black label" (full story). A determined ceiling would have led to a decrease in the amount of medication doctors could give to their patients. Nevertheless, doses are unlikely to return to levels seen before the safety concerns emerged. Despite the vote, however, several members of the panel said they supported small trims or adjustments that might effectively reduce the recommended dosage by at least a slight amount. An FDA official said the agency hopes to finalize changes, that would include the committee vote and an earlier one by the agency's cancer-drug advisers, to the drugs' labels in "weeks, not months."
Sources: Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Commentary: Johnson & Johnson's Suit Against Amgen: An Act of DesperationAmgen Takes Hit on Storm Clouds
Stocks/ETFs to watch: JNJ, AMGN

ImClone Jumps on Lung Cancer Results

ImClone shares surged in pre-market trading after it announced that the drug Erbitux increased the survival rate of lung cancer patients in a Phase III study. Erbitux was developed by Bristol-Myers and ImClone, and has been used primarily to treat colon and head-to-neck cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., with about 160,000 deaths forecasted in 2007. It is a lucrative market that until now had been dominated by Genentech's Avastin. The study showed that the drug along with chemotherapy increased survival when compared to chemotherapy alone in all subtypes of non-small-cell lung cancer. Avastin cannot be used for some types of non-small-cell cancer because of health concerns. Eric K. Rowinsky, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of ImClone said, "these are important results for lung cancer patients and health care professionals treating this devastating disease, since there have been very few treatment advances for lung cancer in recent years." The results of the study and details are yet to be released, but if they do hold up, Erbitux could be a significant player in the lung cancer market. ImClone shares closed up 18.4% to $44.90, Bristol-Myers was up 0.8% to $28.28, while Genentech shares fell 1.1% to $78.30 Tuesday.
Sources: Press release, TheStreet.com, Forbes
Commentary: ImClone's Erbitux Fails Pancreatic Cancer StudyThe "Naked" Truth About Antibodies For Cancer Therapy
Stocks/ETFs to watch: OTCPK:IMCL, BMY, DNA. ETFs: HHK

INTERNATIONAL

Dollar Falls to All-Time Low vs. Euro

The U.S. dollar declined for the sixth day in a row Wednesday, hitting a new record low against the euro, as investors continue to assume the U.S. interest-rate advantage over Europe will narrow when the Fed meets Sept. 18 to decide on the fed funds target rate. Analysts said a large fund was selling the dollar against a number of currencies, including the euro and the yen, in late Asian trade. "The fundamentals for the dollar remain poor because the Fed's the only major central bank that's likely to cut interest rates," RBC Capital Market's global currency head Adam Cole told Bloomberg. The dollar fell to $1.3861 per euro by 10:52 a.m., after hitting an all-time low of $1.3878 earlier in the day. The U.S. currency slid to 113.96 yen from 114.27 yen, as markets speculated Japanese investors may trim riskier overseas bond holdings. The dollar has lost 9% vs. the euro over the past year, including more than 4% in the past three months, as the ECB raised lending rates to 4% while the Fed left its rate unchanged. Interest rate futures foretell a 72% chance the Fed will drop its target rate by a half-point to 4.75% next week. The dollar's decline may slow after the meeting, according to Commerzbank's currency strategist Gavin Friend: "I don't think the pieces are all there for a concerted dive in the dollar. It might take a couple of months for data to confirm more easing is required beyond next week."
Sources: Bloomberg, AP
Commentary: Euro/Yen Strength To Continue Versus the U.S. DollarIn Euros We TrustDollar Falls to Lowest in 15 Years
Stocks/ETFs to watch: UUP, UDN, FXE

China's Retail Sales Hit Three Year High

China's retail sales for the month of August jumped 17.1% year-over-year to 711.7 billion yuan ($95B), easily topping economist expectations of +16.5%. Sales rose 16.4% in July. The strong increase in sales is credited to higher prices and rising incomes. A 6.5% increase in August CPI, the most in a decade, sent Chinese stocks tumbling on Tuesday. However, consumers have benefited from sizable stock market gains and a 14.2% first-half increase in disposable income among urban households. The chief economist at Citic Ka Wah Bank in Hong Kong commented, "After stripping out inflation, the number (disposable income) is still accelerating and pretty strong." Beijing has also lifted minimum wages, expanded welfare coverage and lowered a tax on interest from savings accounts. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.15% to 5,172.63 on Wednesday, recouping some of Tuesday's decline of 4.5%.
Sources: Bloomberg
Commentary: China's August CPI Hits Decade High, Surplus Widens; Stocks DropInvesting in China, The Non-ETF WayThe 'Made in China' Sale is Over: Ways To Profit
Stocks/ETFs to watch: CAF, FXI, PGJ

MUST-READS ON SEEKING ALPHA TODAY

U.S. Market: No Mr. Greenspan, Conditions Aren't Like 1998
Housing: Housing Bubble and Real Estate Market Tracker
Long Idea: Why I'm Long Brown-Foreman
Short Idea: Five Sectors To Consider Shorting
Internet: Yahoo: Paid Search Looks Good, Banner Ads Weak
Hardware: Sun Micro Ticker Symbol Change Stimulates Shares
Software: Take-Two Software: Risky But Worth It
Gadgets: A Million iPhones in 74 Days: Better Than You Think
Media: The Most Credible Financial Blogs
Healthcare: Consumer Demand Driving the Aesthetic Market
Retail: What's Causing Coach's Downward Trend?
Transport: GM's Weak Arguments Against Fuel Efficiency
Gold: Gold and Stocks Call It Quits
Energy: Canadian Natural Reaps Benefits of Rising Oil Prices
Financial: What do Schwab and Bernanke Have in Common?
ETFs: In Euros We Trust
Sound Money: Generate Customers
Jim Cramer: Latest stock picks
Transcripts: Shanda Q2 2007The9 Q2 2007SourceForge F4Q07
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