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8/20/10 Midevening Report: Market keeps going down, investors worry it may develop lockjaw

|Includes:CRM, DELL, HP, Kirkland's, Inc. (KIRK)

The market continued to stumble today as if it were Heather Mills on an inclined treadmill.  With a dearth of macro news, the sell off was still a result of yesterday's craptacular economic data where new claims for unemployment jumped, productivity in Philly shrank, and as always, Hannah Hilton remained retired (and please Hannah, come back to us and if not for yourself, do it for the kids).  That said, there was one kind of interesting piece of data today which seems about as good for the economy as downloading pictures of Cameron Diaz is for your computer (and interestingly they say the fact that she causes so many viruses has nothing to do with her acne) and that is that a record number of people with Fidelity accounts are taking early withdrawals on their 401Ks.  So with social security already likely to be insufficient in the coming years (and perhaps the years would stop coming if we took away their privileges), with unemployment about to start spiking up again, with the government deficit approaching a billionty trillion dollars (give or take a billionty), and with 401Ks already depleted due to the stock market sell off, it's nice to know that the safety net for Americans is slimmer than Ben Stein's chances of winning economist of the decade, and getting slimmer by the day.

Internationally, economic news was pretty quiet on the day as well as it has likely gone hoarse from yelling its safe word so frequently over the past several days due to the pounding it has been taking (and for the record, its safe word is "Hasselhoff").  France cut its GDP target from 2.5% to 2% and said something about a budget squeeze but most of it was in French and as the only French Money McBags' understands is "menage-a-trois" and "Non, non, retrait obligatoire sur la plaque, puis la boire dans la paille," he missed the details.  Also Greece is putting in new austerity measures as their unemployment rates moves ever closer to 20% leaving even Poseidon out of work as he's too qualified to be just a longshoreman and companies are not adding to senior management.

In the market, the news is transactions, transactions, transactions as M&A is firing up bankers more than T&A or getting to kick the homeless.   Swelling cash balances on company balance sheets are causing the acquisition market to heat up as this week BHP tried to buy some POT and INTC announced a deal for McAfee.  This flurry of deals is making bankers nostalgic for the bloated 2007 M&A market which was highlighted by solid deal flow and the great merger of Chick's with Dick's.

As for earnings, HP put up a sold Q but traded down as investors worry...READ MUCH MORE....ANALYSIS OF KIRK.....

Disclosure: No Positions