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German and French Biz Confidence Soars; Irish Debt Cut

A German business confidence survey rose to a record high, as did a survey of French business confidence. Moody's downgraded Ireland's debt rating by 5 notches (!). Irish 10-year debt now yields 8.25 percent.


1) Bank of Montreal buys Marshall & Ilsley in United Stated for U.S. $4.1B in shares… Marshall and Ilsley up 26% in pre market, but some regional banks like Regions Financial also up 6 percent pre-open on speculation they too could be takeout targets.

2) International Coal Group (controlled by Wilbur Ross) up 7 percent pre-open on a Bloomberg report that Massey is considering making a run at it. But Massey itself may also be a potential target, since CEO don Blankenship is retiring December 31. JPMorgan and Alpha Natural Resources mentioned as possible acquirers.

3) Debit card fees: worse than expected, but don't panic. The Street is flooded with overnight commentary from analysts and strategists regarding the Fed's meeting on debit card interchange fees. While worse than most expected--The Fed proposed a $0.12 transaction cap on debit card fees, and a safe harbor minimum of $0.07 per transaction (well below the average of $0.44 they currently receive), most cautioned that it was not a disaster.

RBC Capital Markets comment was typical: "...for most banks the exposure is less than 10% of earnings and through the combination of credit improvement, new product pricing and loan growth, banks will more than offset the lost revenues, in our view."

The banks with the most exposure include Fifth Third , JPMorgan, KeyCorp , TCF Capital , and First Horizon . Banks with less than $10B in assets are exempted.

MasterCard saying the Fed's proposal on debit cards would result in shifting merchant cost to consumers…MA up 2 pre-open.

4) Accenture raised to buy from hold by Jefferies. stock up 4%... also reporting its first quarter earnings. Posting a profit of $534.7m from $444.8m or 67 cents a share a year earlier. Rev. came in at $6b up from $5.4B one year ago.

5) State Street naming CEO Joseph Hooley as chairman effective Jan. 1. Stock is down 0.33%

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