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Even Pro Stock Pickers Are Miserable

Even professional stock pickers are miserable. At an informal gathering of about a dozen hedge fundtraders and analysts last night, trader after trader expressed frustration with the fact that the correlation between stocks has been near all-time highs—for months. This means that stock picking has been useless.

This is a big problem for people—such as those at this gathering—who get paid for their stock-picking skils. Most of them manage long/short equity portfolios with a sector bias: energy, financials, transports, etc. They can give you every reason why Home Depot, for example, should outperform Lowe's in the next year.

And none of it matters. Most have reduced their overall exposure, and have certainly reduced their long bias.

Meantime, European banks are not only prone to short-sellingattacks, they are also prone to unsourced comments from executives. The latest is an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal today by Nicolas Lecaussin which starts out with the phrase "We can no longer borrow dollars," citing an unnamed BNP Paribas executive.

Still, most European banks are trading up—Barclays, UBS, Deutsche Bank, ING and others up 2 percent to 4 percent , as Germany's Merkel is trying to sound resolute on keeping Greek debtdefault talk at bay.

A Greek government official has told CNBC that Greek Prime Minister Papandreou will hold a conference call Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Elsewhere:

1. The Italian bond auctions did happen, though demand was weak and there were no signs of Chinese buyers. Yield was a high 5.6 percent on nearly 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) of five-year paper. The lower house of the Italian parliament is set to approve an austerity bill Tuesday.

2. Best Buy up more than 2 percent before the opening bell after releasing its second-quarter earnings. The popular electronic store reporting a lower quarterly profit on weak demand for televisions and video gaming products. Second-quarter earnings per share of 47 cents a share vs. 53 cents a share estimate, second-quarter revenue of $11.3 billion vs. an $11.47 billion estimate.

3. Swift Transportation raised to "market outperform" from "market perform" by Avondale...stock trading upwards of 5.5 percent before the opening bell.

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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