Stocks are heading for a lower opening as snow falls on Wall Street and investors await consumer inflation data and consumer confidence numbers. Today is the quadruple witching day for the expiration of stock futures and options, but the resulting volatility may have already been played out when we saw the market take a roller coaster ride earlier this week. Asian markets were weaker overnight, and European stock markets are trading lower ahead of the New York open.
A late winter storm is blanketing the northeast with mushy snow, and a chastened Jet Blue, joining other airlines, was quick to cancel flights this morning.
OIL SLICKOil is slightly higher this morning. In case you haven't been watching, oil is nearing $57 a barrel, below the $60 traders say OPEC expects. Phil Flynn of Alaron Trading told Squawk Box, the dip in prices "shows oil traders are very concerned about what's going on in the rest of the economy."
GHOSN GONE from the U.S. operations of Nissan that is. Nissan's Carlos Ghosn remains head of the companies, and gives up control of U.S. operations as the company struggles with an earnings slump. Our Phil Lebeau will tell us more about this story today.
MORTGAGE MESS More news from the submerged mortgage front. Accredited Home Lenders is selling $2.7 billion in loans at a steep discount to raise cash to pay its bankers. The firm did not identify the buyer. We will look at this today, and also why Wall Street firms this week said they were looking for opportunities in the rubble around the subprime market. After cautious words from former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan yesterday on the potential for subprime's problems to fan out, the Wall Street Journal released a poll of economists this morning who say they expect the turmoil to spread to the broader mortgage market. The economists though predicted the U.S. will avoid a recession.
A BRIGHT SPOT Speaking of Greenspan, we weren't the only ones who noticed something different about the former Fed chairman this week. But then again, we watched the size of his brief case for years in an effort to predict monetary policy. Miller Tabak's Tony Crescenzi, in a note mentioning Greenspan's market moving comments, also defended the former Fed Chairman's right to speak publicly. And then he noted a subtle change in the non Fed Greenspan during his appearance at the Treasury's competitiveness compettiveness summit this week.
Greenspan was sporting "a very snazzy tie, a bright red tie with large polka dots made of rich-looking silk. The tie looked uncharacteristic of the normally conservative-looking Greenspan and I have never seen a snazzier looking tie on him," Crescenzi writes. "It's about time he had a chance to spend a few extra dollars on himself."
"Greenspan is no longer involved in policymaking and he has no special responsibility to stay quiet except when his views reflect information that the public cannot obtain on its own. As Fed Chairman, Greenspan was privy to intelligence from the field, obtained through the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve's twelve District Banks. Greenspan no longer has this access, so when he delivers an opinion it is "clean," and more his own than ever before," he wrote.