JOBS DATA, BERNANKE TESTIMONY WEIGH ON STOCKS
The headline: Stocks Post Only Slight Gains
On Wall Street, the Dowsettled slightly higher, explains Dylan Ratigan. There's some caution ahead of the monthly employment report, due Friday morning, which is expected to show another decline in non-farm payrolls.
Meanwhile Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Bush administration on Thursday defended the decision to rescue Bear Stearns amid questions by lawmakers about why the government was helping Wall Street investment houses but not people on Main Street.
Also appearing before the committee were Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan and Alan Schwartz, the head of Bear Stearns who told the lawmakers, “One of the things we were trying to do was get facts out that discounted the rumors… It looked like there were people that wanted to induce a panic…”
I think investors wanted to create a panic so they could collect money on the puts, speculates Jeff Macke.
Market manipulation is illegal, adds Dylan Ratigan, however starting rumors about investment banks is not.
MERRILL HAS 'PLENTY OF MONEY'
The headline: CEO John Thain Says Merrill Lynch Doesn't Need To Raise More Money.
Word that Merrill Lynch is not planning to raise more capital sent shares higher on optimism that Wall Street's write-downs for bad assets may have peaked, explains Dylan Ratigan.
I like Merrill, says Guy Adami, just expect big moves up and down.
I also think it’s okay to own at current levels, adds Karen Finerman.
Also look at Ameriprise , adds Adami, as a boomer play.
SWEET SURGE IN APPLE, BLACKBERRY
The headline: Apple, Research In Motion Post Sharp Gains Thursday.
Technology shares rose after strong results from Research in Motion , the maker of the BlackBerry defied expectations of a slowdown in business and consumer spending, explains Dylan Ratigan. Meanwhile Apple says a new consumer study shows its iTunes online music store vaulted past Wal-Mart Stores in February to become the top overall music retailer in the U.S.
Apple continues to impress, observes Pete Najarian.