1) Word on the Street is GE, our parent company, is pricing the common stock offering at $22.25; waiting on final size.
2) Fertilizer stocks are down notably this morning, as Mosaic reported earnings well below expectations. Mosaic down 20 percent, Potash down 12 percent, Terra Industries and CF Industries down 10 percent, Agrium down 9 percent.
Mosaic appears to have cut phosphate production on lower demand and lower prices. Another factor in the decline in demand is lower corn prices; corn is a more fertilizer-intensive crop than, say, soybeans.
Last week, we pointed out a Citi report that noted urea prices were down. This note was widely passed around on the Street, and many traders felt the drop was largely due to difficult obtaining credit for fertilizer.
2) After the close, two companies came out with comments on the slowing economy:
--Cooper Tire said they were "adjusting" their production schedule due to softer demand and raw material shortages;
--Trucking giant Con-Wayslashed its guidance. Douglas Stotlar, Con-Way's CEO, said the economy had been "battered by an unprecedented confluence of macroeconomic crises, curtailing demand for freight transportation services." He also said that the traditional peak seasonal uptick has been "muted."
The bottom line: there is global DEFLATION, not INFLATION.
3) Financials: UBSsaid it will post a small profit in the third quarter, and will be profitable in 2009. Up 1 percent, most banks are trading up fractionally.
4) Autos awful: after yesterday's awful U.S. car sales numbers, several European car companies were cautious: Volkswagen said it would consider cutting production if the current market trends continue, and BMW's CEO said it was unlikely there would be a recovery in the auto market before mid-2009.
The dollar is rallying again, as the euro is under pressure.
5) The SEC extended its ban on short selling in financials to October 17th, but may end sooner if Congress passes the rescue package.
Still, there was some disappointment that there was no further clarification on what if anything would happen after that. There has been widespread speculation that some kind of "circuit breaker" rules would replace the ban.
- Jobless Claims Highest in 7 Years
6) No free lunch: Increasing the the FDIC coverage limit from $100,000 per individual account to $250,000 may be good policy, but it will cost banks a pretty penny.
In a note this morning, Bernstein estimates the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will need to increase by roughly $25 billion (56%), which would equate to a one-time hit of roughly 1.3 percentage points of ROE for U.S. commercial banks and thrifts. It is unlikely the FDIC will require the DIF to be replenished in as little as one year.
7) Freeport-McMoran removed from Goldman's conviction buy list.
- Sweetened Bailout Faces Uncertain Future in House
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