Stocks are searching for direction after a 7-session winning streak for the Dow 30. European stocks are moving higher after yesterday's holiday there, and Asian stocks were mixed overnight.
SO FAR, HE'S RIGHT Remember D.R. Horton's CEO Don Tomnitz made headlines last month when he said: "'07 is going to suck, all 12 months of it." Well, take a look at the home builder's results for its second quarter ended March 31. Net orders fell 37%; the value of orders fell 41%, and the cancellation rate was 32%. The company also says the spring season is not off to its usual strong start and conditions are challenging in most of its markets.
TIME TO BUY? Speaking of the housing hangover and its accompanying mortgage mess, we will look all day at the obvious pitfalls but also the opportunities that are starting to emerge in the current housing market. Diana Olick reports from Bethesda, Md. Scott Cohn is in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Jim Goldman reports from Silicon Valley. Our Steve Liesman will tell us what's going on in the mortgage market where he sees a growing number of delinquencies, and Margaret Brennan will tell us what's keeping New York City real estate aloft. Liesman tells us in fact that delinquencies are up in 44 states.
DEAL OR NO DEAL? Our David Faber reported yesterday that it is unlikely a deal is in the offing for Dow Chemical as reported in a U.K. tabloid. Today, we'll have the opportunity to ask Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris about that report during Squawk on the Street.
OIL CHANGE Crude is a little firmer after six days of losses and yesterday's 4.3% decline to $61.51 per barrel. One of the reasons for the fall is that the cost between making gasoline and selling has gotten totally out of whack, and the market is repricing itself, according to Fimat's John Kilduff. "It's impossible not to sell at these levels," said Kilduff of yesterday's trading. "You saw a good deal of profit taking."
Kilduff says not since the post Katrina environment has the market experienced such historic highs for "crack spread," the amount of profit generated from turning crude into gasoline and selling it into the open market. Typically, the price is $5 to $8 a barrel, but it's risen to a point where it was $26.46 per barrel at yesterday's close. Gasoline slid 1.6% yesterday, but it has moved sharply higher in recent weeks because of refinery issues and is up 30% year to date. "Some of the refinery issues have been alleviated. They were acute by their very nature so as quickly as they came they should be alleviated," said Kilduff.
"The Iranian story got the dominant coverage and was cited as the dominant reason for crude's runup, but it was as much to do with refining issues around the world," he said. "The less sexy story behind the runup in oil was the myriad of refinery outages."
CHINA TRADE China reports its trade surplus nearly doubled in the first quarter to $46.4 billion from a year earlier but less than economists expected. This follows an announcement yesterday that the U.S. will file two cases against China at the World Trade Organization.
EARNINGS CENTRAL Today is the official start of the earnings season with the first Dow component, Alcoa, reporting after the bell.
BIG DEAL The New York Times reports that the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is in talks to form a consortium to buy Bell Canada. The Times quotes people briefed on the discussions on the possible $45 billion takeover bid.
RINGING UP MORE MOTOROLA Investor Carl Icahn raised his stake in Motorola 2.9% to 2.7%. Icahn is angling for a board seat and wants the company to do a big stock buyback.
TRIMMING GROWTH FORECAST The Blue Chip Economic Indicators panel of forecasters reported today that they expect U.S. GDP to expand at a rate of 2.3% this year, the slowest growth since 2002. The group had forecast growth of 2002.
Bank of New York and Morgan Stanley hold annual meetings today. Our Mary Thompson will report on them. And we will also continue to follow Citigroup's restructuring plans, expected to be announced tomorrow.