Stocks are edging higher ahead of the opening. Existing home sales data at 10 am New York time could influence direction but for now investors face a flurry of Friday morning corporate news headlines.
Some Citigroup executives are pushing the big bank to take a run atABN Amro, which is in merger talks with Barclays, according to The Wall Street Journal.
DaimlerChrysler stock is on the move amid speculation the carmaker is near a sale of its U.S. unit. A source tells Reuters this morning Daimler will not have news on the Chrysler before its shareholder meeting April 4.
Amgen stock is slumping after it surprised Wall Street with the disclosure that it is dropping a key trial for its colon cancer drug. That news is boosting Imclone, which makes a rival drug.
Genentech meanwhile reaffirms its earnings guidance and says it expects first-quarter revenue to be flat with fourth quarter. It also says it doubled the number of new drugs in its pipeline. Our Mike Huckman covers Genentech's analyst meeting today, where plenty of talk should focus on its cancer drug, Avastin and what it has in its pipeline. He will interview Genentech President of Product Development Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann on "Power Lunch" today.
Deal or no Deal?
We still await word on whether Palm is nearing a deal with any one of a number of suitors. Sources close to the company told our Jim Goldman earlier this week that Motorola was a leading contender for Palm though Palm management preferred private equity buyers. A major Palm shareholder also told him Motorola was in the lead but then Motorola rocked the street with a surprisingly bad forecast, making it seem an unlikely buyer.
Palm management hosted a conference call with analysts on its earnings late yesterday and was mum on the idea of a merger. "We're just not going to comment on the rumors and speculation," CEO Ed Colligan told analysts and reporters listening in to the company's after-earnings conference call. "We're focused on running our company and driving our standalone plan."
Chief Financial Officer Andrew Brown also said on the call: "There's a lot of rumors and speculation out there. We're just not going to comment on that stuff."
As if Motorola doesn't have enough headaches this week, Carl Icahn this morning said he was adding to his position in the company to 2.7% from 2.48%. Icahn angles for a board seat at Motorola and so far says in the filing his intention is to be a stakeholder in the company.
Not So Private Equity
Printers up and down Wall Street were working overtime after the bell yesterday, as investors started to chew over the 400-plus page filing from Blackstone Group on its public offering of units in its master limited partnership. We'll look at what that filling is showing about the secretive private equity group's businesses. It was just a week ago when our David Faber broke the story on the offer.