Monday Pre-Market US: Key News & Data

by: Between the Hedges

From Between the Hedges:

Weekend Headlines

- Wal-Mart Stores said April same-store sales in the US increased about 6.8% on sales of Easter food and clothing. The company had projected an April sales gain of 4% to 6%.
- Iran, whose nuclear program is being reviewed by the UN Security Council, is keen to negotiate a solution on “large-scale” uranium enrichment, said Hamid Reza Asefi, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Iran is “playing games” in its latest offer to negotiate on uranium enrichment, and the US will continue pressing for possible sactions at the UN.
- Shares of Toshiba Corp., Japan’s second-largest chipmaker, rose after the company forecast profit would gain and reported record annual sales on demand for chips used in mobile phones and music players such as Apple Computer’s(NASDAQ:AAPL) iPod Nano.

Wall Street Journal:
- Higher prices for crude oil and gasoline may help change US energy policy meaningfully for the first time since the 1970s.

NY Times:
- New York officials have revived a plan to develop a fourth major airport for the NYC region amid predictions its three airports will reach maximum capacity in 15 years.
- Mexico passed a law early yesterday that permits legal possession of small amounts of drugs such as heroin, marijuana and cocaine and mandates treatment for addicts.
- The US government may seek to use espionage laws to put more pressure on reporters to disclose their sources for stories on classified information.
- Most US charities collected as much or more money last year than in 2004, citing a survey by the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals.

San Francisco Chronicle:
- Leaders in California’s Silicon Valley issued a formal request yesterday for proposals to build a wireless Internet network that will encompass cities in four counties stretching from Daly City to Santa Cruz.
- Among its latest record-busting yardsticks was Goldman Sachs’(NYSE:GS) 40% quarterly return on equity.

- The Dow Jones Industrial Average will climb another 5% to almost 12,000 by the end, institutional investors told Barron’s.

San Jose Mercury News:
- Intel Corp.(NASDAQ:INTC), which on Thursday announced plans to restructure, has turned to marketing chief Eric Kim to remake the company’s image as a cutting-edge supplier of microprocessors.

Nikkei Financial Daily:
- Japanese assets held by hedge funds rose 38% last year as pensions and other institutions broadened investments amid a recovery in the nation’s shares.

Financial Times:
- Hedge fund managers are increasingly avoiding risky investments to retain customers and fees, citing Julius Baer Holding AG’s GAM hedge fund unit. It is difficult to find managers willing to take the level of risk required to generate returns demanded by wealthy investors, citing GAM.
- The Kremlin signed a multi-million dollar contract with a US-based PR firm to improve communications with western press while Russia heads the Group of Eight industrial nations.
- US television broadcasters and networks are concentrating on digital component in pitches for advertising dollars.

- C. Boyden Gray, the US ambassador to the European Union, said US regulations may have to be eased to stop an exodus of companies from New York to London to list their shares.

El Universal:
- Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, approved a plan to build 15 plants to produce ethanol.

Shanghai Securities News:
- China may stop approving new steel plants to curb excess capacity in the country, citing Luo Bingsheng, vice chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association.

- Iranian troops shelled positions held by Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq’s northern Arbil province, the second attack of its kind in the last 10 days.
- Iraq’s government is close to reaching an agreement with seven insurgent groups on ending violence, citing a statement from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The Business:
- Dow Jones(DJ) and China’s Xinhua News Agency may bid for AFX News Ltd., the financial unit of AFP, rivaling an offer from Thomson Corp.

Weekend Recommendations
- Had positive comments on (NYSE:XRX).
- Had negative comments on (NYSE:UNM).

Night Trading
Asian indices are unch. to +.75% on average.
S&P 500 indicated +.22%.
NASDAQ 100 indicated +.23%.

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:AG)/.11
- (ARG)/.43
- (NYSE:CHK)/.98
- (FSH)/.83
- (NYSE:HUM)/.43
- (NYSE:SWN)/.30
- (NYSE:SYY)/.32
- (NYSE:TSN)/-.25

Upcoming Splits
- (LEH) 2-for-1
- (NASDAQ:SONC) 3-for-2

Economic Releases
8:30 am EST:
- Personal Income for March is estimated to rise .4% versus a .3% gain in February.
- Personal Spending for March is estimated to rise .4% versus a .1% gain in February.
- PCE Core for March is estimated to rise .2% versus a .1% gain in February.

10:00 am EST:
- Construction Spending for March is estimated to rise .4% versus a .8% gain in February.
- ISM Manufacturing for April is estimated to fall to 55.0 versus a reading of 55.2 in March.
- ISM Prices Paid for April is estimated to rise to 70.0 versus a reading of 66.5 in March.

BOTTOM LINE: Asian Indices are mostly higher, boosted by commodity shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to trade modestly lower into the afternoon, finishing mixed.

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