Mergers and would be-mergers, housing starts and producer prices could all influence the market today. Stocks look a bit weak on the opening after clinging to small gains yesterday that put the Dow at another record. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer late yesterday surprised analysts by telling them their horizons were too high for Vista and BusinessWeek stirred up takeover talk in the airline industry with a report British Airways is teaming with Goldman Sachs to make a bid for AMR, but Reuters reported Friday morning that no deal was planned.
European markets are lower this morning and Asian trading was mixed, with the Japanese market slightly lower. Oil is slightly weaker. Housing starts are being watched closely, and inflation data, producer prices are expected to be down 0.6%. Our Steve Liesman and Rick Santelli will look at those numbers today and tell us why the markets are beginning to go back to thinking that the Fed could cut rates.
British Airways has eyed U.S. carriers in the past. Business Week's report quotes people familiar with the matter. The usually dead silent Goldman Sachs said nothing, and the airlines would not comment on the report of what would be a more than $10 billion deal. But sources told Reuters that there are no current plans for a bid. We'll look today at airline industry consolidation and whether a cross-border deal makes sense. Separately, a real cross-border deal was announced overnight. Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Arengtaria agreed to buy Compass Bancshares for about $9.6 billion.
Ballmer's comments on Vista late yesterday are unlikely to be cheered on Wall Street this morning. At a strategy presentation to analysts, Microsoft's CEO said forecasts for revenue from Windows Vista for full-year 2008 are "overly aggressive." The price of Microsoft stock was immediately seen as overly aggressive in after-hours trading, and it lost more than 1%.
Wall Street's research departments are active today ahead of the three day weekend. At Goldman Sachs, Coke and Pepsi were upgraded to buy from neutral. UBS cut Applebees to neutral, and Credit Suisse cut Baker Hughes to neutral.
Late Day Apology
Jet Blue's CEO apologized to the hundreds of passengers trapped for hours on its grounded planes Wednesday. "We didn't handle it well," said CEO David Neeleman, during an interview with our Maria Bartiromo on "Closing Bell" yesterday. If you missed it, check out the video on our website. Analyst Ray Neidl says on "Squawk Box" today that he thought the incident was a one time event and Neeleman handled it well with an upfront apology.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting investigations are heating up in the options backdating scandal, and that the government is considering charges against former executives from Apple, KLA Tencor and McAfee.