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Halftime: Hidden Weakness In The Financials?

Financials landed in the spotlight again Wednesday with investors worried that profit reports may be weaker than expected in the next earnings seasons.

The chatter was largely triggered by two negative analyst calls; Goldman Sachs slashed its estimates on Morgan Stanley and Nomura took down both Morgan and Goldman.

The cuts are largely attributed to weak volumes in FICC, explains Fast Money host Melissa Lee. (That stands for fixed income, currencies, and commodities.)

While investment-banking and equity-trading activity have fared "reasonably well" over the past three months, revenue from credit and interest-rate trading has experienced "some headaches," wrote Nomura analyst Glenn Schorr in a note to clients according to the WSJ.

What does this mean for the bank trade? What should you be watching?

Instant Insights with the Fast Money traders

Brian Kelly remains bullish banks. “I thought the analyst cuts were surprising, he says, "because there's been a lot of volatility in fixed income and commodities." But what’s more surprising is that the stocks are not reacting that badly.” Kelly thinks that’s a tell. The price action suggests ‘something else is going on’ – something Kelly considers positive.

Jon Najarian is also constructive. He’s watching the price action in Morgan Stanley which was negative, but was able to fight it’s way back into the green. “Good price action in the wake of bad news seems positive to me as well,” he says. “When the market turns on bad news – I like it.”

Todd Gordon of Forex.com is also bullish, largely due to technicals. “Charts of the XLF look constructive,” he says. I’m on board.

Steve Cortes is skeptical. “I’d caution the desk not to look at financials as a monolith,” he says. Although he’s constructive on brokers, he’s cautious banks, and says. “I’m short BAC, again. I’m a buyer around $11 and a seller of this stock near $13.”

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IS MICROSOFT GOING 'COOL'?

The traders are keeping a close eye on Microsoft which traded at 6 month highs Wednesday after a bullish call out of Jefferies cited strong sales of Kinect. (Kinect brings video games to life without using a controller.)

The brokerage maintained its 'buy' rating with a price target of $33.

What’s the trade?

Chatter on the Street suggest Kinect could be a turning point for Microsoft’s consumer division, explains Jon Najarian. If the Kinect becomes the hot tech gadget it could give the company an aura of ‘cool’. Considering the cash on the balance sheet, a potential upswing in the corporate refresh recycle are now the popularity of Kinect ; I’m a buyer.

Looking at the charts, I'd watch $28.25, says Todd Gordon. That’s been a huge area of resistance.



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Trader disclosure: On December 15, 2010, following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders; Jon Najarian owns (YHOO), is short (YHOO) calls; Jon Najarian owns (IBM), is short (IBM) calls; Jon Najarian owns (C), is short (C) calls; Jon Najarian owns (CSCO), is short (CSCO) calls; Jon Najarian owns (AMZN), is short (AMZN) calls; Jon Najarian owns (F), is short (F) calls; Jon Najarian owns (MSFT), is short (MSFT) calls; Jon Najarian owns (HK) call spreads; Jon Najarian owns (JOE) call spreads; Cortes owns (TSN); Cortes owns (SFD); Cortes owns (TM); Cortes is short (LVS); Cortes is short (MOS); Cortes is short (XRT) vs. S&P; Cortes is long USD vs. Mexican Peso; Cortes is long U.S. Treasuries; Cortes is short Corn; Cortes is short Nat Gas; Cortes is short Gold; Cortes is short (BAC)

For Brian Kelly
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (GLD)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (GDXJ)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (WMT)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (JJC)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (JJG)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (ANDE)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (MCP)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (DE)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (TBT)
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own USD
Accounts Managed By Kanundrum Capital Own (FXY) puts

For Todd Gordon
Accounts Managed by Aspen Trading Group are short the Euro against the Swiss Franc

For Emily French
No disclosures

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