On this final day of what has been a banner year for stocks, the market is looking set for a lower open. European markets are mostly lower. Tokyo closed the year with the Nikkei up 6.9 percent, its fourth up year and its longest winning streak since the late 1980s. Oil is weaker this morning.
Apple Computer revealed that CEO Steve Jobs did not financially benefit or receive options grants though he apparently was aware or recommended the selection of some favorable stock-option grant dates, according to the company's SEC filing released this morning. The filing also said Jobs did not appreciate the accounting implications, and that Apple found no misconduct by current management. The special committee also found the investigation raised serious concerns about the actions of two former company officers. Apple is restating earnings for three years.
GOING OUT WITH A BANG: the year that was in record shattering merger deals could go out with a big one if AT&T succeeds in breaking the deadlock at the FCC on its $86 billion merger with Bellsouth . AT&T offered in a letter to the commission certain concessions including price controls and unobstructed internet connection in an effort to get approval by year end. In another deal announced today, Marsh and McLennan agreed to sell Putnam to Canada's Power Corp for $3.9 billion.
GOOD NEWS TURNS BAD: U.S. stocks took stronger than expected economic news in stride yesterday but the specter of rising rates was like a damp blanket on prices as investors watched the 10-year cross above 4.7 percent to trade at its highest yield in nine weeks. This is a trend to watch. Our Steve Liesman says the economy may not be as weak as some think, and the soft landing/hard landing debate may have moved to the question of whether we will see a "landing" at all. He will look forward to next week's data on "Morning Call."
If stocks were to finish the year at current levels, the Dow would finish 2006 up 17 percent, the Nasdaq up 10 percent and the S&P up 14 percent. As of now, we do not expect normal stock trading to resume until Wednesday due to the National Day of Mourning next Tuesday for President Gerald Ford. NASDAQ has said it will be closed Tuesday and we await word from the NYSE on its plans.
Have a very Happy New Year.