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Halftime: Are Financials Back In Play?

Investors turned their backs on stocks Thursday with both the Dow and S&P 500 struggling to make any meaningful gains.

However, around lunchtime the financials pared losses despite the President’s impassioned speech for financial reform.

Speaking at Cooper Union college in New York City, President Obama called on Wall Street to abandon its opposition to financial reforms, warning that the United States was doomed to repeat the financial crisis if lawmakers failed to act.

Considering the President just scolded the Street for pushing the nation into recession, why are financials inching higher?

Instant Insights with the Fast Money traders

The President’s speech seemed to lack teeth, explains Karen Finerman. There wasn’t any bombshell that would cause a panic. I’d expect financials to tic higher as a result.

It seem that investors felt relief after the President’s speech and that’s why financials drifted higher in afternoon trade, adds Jim Iurio of TJM. If you’re a trader I think you have a little more time with them. But longer-term I don’t love the space.

As far as I can tell, investors are in wait and see mode. There are still plenty of chips that have to fall in the space, counters Steve Grasso of Stuart Frankel. I think rushing into financials would be premature.

I didn’t like the President’s comments because it signals more government intervention in the market and over the long-turn it’s probably not a good thing, says strategic investor Dennis Gartman.

Looking at Goldman, it seems the stock is heading down to $150, muses Guy Adami. But that’s more a technical call than anything else.

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TAKE YOUR POSITION: CREDIT CARDS

President Obama says his reform bill would put in place "the strongest consumer financial protections ever" -- which will no doubt have an impact on two companies reporting after the bell Thursday -- credit card giants American Express and Capital One.

What’s the trade?

I like transaction based credit card plays, such as Mastercard and Visa, says Steve Grasso. But that doesn’t mean these stocks won’t go lower in the short-term as investors take money off the table.

I expect to see a pretty good quarter for Amex but I don’t know if that translates into a rally for the stock, says Guy Adami.

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MOODY’S DOWNGRADES GREECE

Developments overseas did little to encourage buying. On Thursday Moody's cut Greece's sovereign rating and placed it on review for a further possible downgrade.

Also, the European Union said that Greece had much larger budget deficits last year than they anticipated.

What’s the trade?

The downgrade will likely push money into the dollar , says Jim Iuiro. And that knocks down the stock market a little bit. And if the dollar rallies, it drags down crude as well as names such as Schlumberger and Halliburton.

As for any sell-off generated by Greece, I’m a buyer. Any sell-off we’ve seen triggered by Greece has rallied right back.

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TOPPING THE TAPE: CONSUMER STOCKS

In a rather lackluster tape, consumer stocks were one of the few bright spots, Thursday.

What’s the trade?

I think it’s just rotation, says Karen Finerman. However, there’s no doubt the restaurant space has been on fire.

In this space, I like names such as Kohl’s and Target, says Jim Iurio. I don’t think the recovery will be straight up and these mid-level names will likely see an increase in business.

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TAKE YOUR POSITION: TECH

After Wednesday night's Silicon Valley slaughter, can earnings reports from Microsoft and Amazon turn things around for tech tonight?

What’s the trade?

As far as Microsoft is concerned, we could see a great number but not a great reaction in the stock, reminds Karen Finerman. But I’m hopeful. As for Amazon, I’m a value investor and I just can’t get on board with that valuation.




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Trader disclosure: On Apr 22, 2010, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami Owns (INTC), (GS), (C), (AGU), (MSFT), (NUE), (BTU); Iuorio Owns (C); Iuorio Owns (GOOG); Iuorio Owns (GLD); Iuorio Owns (FXC); Iuorio Is Long Volatility In S&P Futures; Finerman’s Firm Owns (TJX); Grasso Owns (DYN), (LPX), (ASTM), (ABK), (BAC), (BGP), (C), (CVGI), (JPM), (NEM), (PRST), (PFE), (BA), (T), (CSCO)

For Steve Grasso
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (MERC)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (NXST)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (PDE)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (PFE)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (RDC)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (TLM)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Are Short (QQQQ)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Are Short (CL)
Stuart Frankel And Its Partners Are Short (AAPL)

Dennis Gartman
Funds Managed By Dennis Gartman Are Short Crude Oil
Funds Managed By Dennis Gartman Are Short Euro, Sterling, Yen
Funds Managed By Dennis Gartman Are Long Gold



CNBC.com with wires

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GS
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HAL
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MA
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MSFT
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SLB
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TGT
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V
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SPDR CD SEL
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MCD
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