Gosh, it's good to be home: after a 9-day jaunt through Palm Beach, Miami and the Florida Keys (more on that later), I've returned to a snow storm and the lowest levels for stocks in more than a decade. One wag in Key West summed it up: "If I were you, I'd just stay down here."
Hope that the TALF will finally get launched is the main story this morning. $200 Billion in initial financing from the Fed for private entities to purchase asset backed securities like credit card, auto, and student and small business loans. Will it help with credit creation for consumers? That's what's not clear. Remember, this is for new securitizations, and before you get that, people need to buy things.
Geithner and Bernanke are both speaking about the budget; Bernanke in the Senate Budget Committee and Geithner in the House Ways and Means Committee.
1) Autozone up 8 percent, earnings of $2.03 above expectations of $1.85, revenues above expectations. Bottom line is the Do It Yourself end of the business is a standout: DIY sales increased 4.5 percent. Advance Auto Parts also had strong results a couple weeks ago.
Autozone will open at a HISTORIC HIGH today.
2) International Game Technology, the world's largest gaming machine manufacturer, down 4 percent pre-open as it joined many companies in cutting its quarterly dividend cut 56% to $0.06 from $0.14. Again, not a surprise: the dividend yield was north of 7 percent.
3) Copper is up 5 percent this morning, perhaps on a remark from the deputy head of the People's Bank of China that the economy will grow 8 percent this year.
Say that again? Another deputy governor of China's central bank put out this comment: "The overall economic conditions are currently normal and we could possibly see a recovery in the first half." Uh, if conditions are "normal," why do we need a "recovery?"
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