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Try squeezing these 2 Twitter questions into 140 characters

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1) I've been asked two things about the Twitter initial public offering in the last 15 hours:

a) will it list on the NYSE or NASDAQ? The NYSE won't comment, but it's a confidential filing, so the chances are the NYSE itself doesn't know yet.

b) how much of the company will Twitter float? I have no idea, but the trend recently has been for companies to file small pieces -10 percent or less of the company. Hilton last night said it would float an IPO of $1.25 billion. It's not clear how much of the company that is because we don't know how many shares are outstanding, yet it's likely a tiny part of the company. Blackstone paid $26 billion when they bought the company in 2007.

Still, Blackstone intends to continue to own a majority of the voting shares, allowing it to control the makeup of the board.

My point: companies have been floating small pieces because they perceive there is more price support, and it makes it easier for follow-on offerings.

Speaking of follow-on offerings: secondaries are on fire. There were 18 secondaries priced last night, according to IPOfinancial.com.

So far this year, there have been over 500 secondaries, compared to only 350 for the same period last year, which was also a strong year. I commented on this yesterday in Trader Talk.

Elsewhere

1) Monday is the fifth anniversary of the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers. In the prior week, September 8-12, 2008, Lehman had dropped 77 percent (!). AIG was down 46 percent, while Merrill Lynch plunged 36 percent.

It was an ugly Monday. On that morning five years ago, AIG was down almost 50 percent pre-open, and Bank of America announced it was buying Merrill.

REITS like Vornado, Brookfield and SL Green were down 11 to 20 percent midday on concerns Lehman might dump significant amounts of commercial real estate on the market. General Electric (GE), then CNBC's parent company, was down 6 percent, partly on concerns about its real estate exposure.

By the end of the day, the S&P 500 was down 4.7 percent, its worst day since September 17, 2001 (the opening after 9/11). It was only slightly better the following day, the 16th. Big cap financials attempted a rally, but UBS was down on concerns it had enormous exposure to U.S. mortgage backed securities (which it did).

My Trader Talk that week was full of discussions on how to provide a rescue plan for the banks, including an RTC-type plan to buy toxic debt. In the middle of the week the Reserve Primary Fund, a money market fund, "broke the bank" (the net asset value of the fund fell below $1) because it owned Lehman paper.

On Friday, September 19 of that year, the SEC banned short selling in financial stocks. Traders on the NYSE floor joked that if that plan didn't work, then SEC-chief Christopher Cox would ban long buying as well.

On Thursday the 19th of September, the UK also banned short selling in financial stocks. It was the beginning of a long debate on how to contain the crisis.

It's all rather painful to remember. Here's one good piece of news (I think): mutual funds five year returns are about to look a lot better. Once you get past this fall, the returns start to improve--dramatically. Marketwatch.com, citing Lipper, noted that if the fall of 2008 is taken off the books, the cumulative return of the average large-cap core fund goes from 37.82 percent going into September to 94.14 percent by the end of the year.

2) August retail sales were disappointing....expect strategists to lower third quarter growth estimates. Barclays already lowered their estimate, from 1.5 percent from 1.6 percent.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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