Psst, Wanna Buy Rhodes? Have I Got a Deal for You...
Pssst ... wanna buy Rhodes? Headline of the morning: "Greece May Sell Islands as Juncker Urges Asset Sales." Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is on a charm offensive this week as he is meeting with German and French leaders. He is now suggesting the government may sell or lease some of the country's islands to raise money.
OK, he's not talking about selling Santorini. Not yet. He seems to be talking about uninhabited islands.
Greece, of course, needs to keep up the terms of its bailout agreement, which means speeding up asset sales. But sales have gone slowly.
Even selling an uninhabited island is tough. Greece and Turkey almost went to war 16 years ago over an uninhabited island in the Aegean.
Still, Greece has them over the barrel. They will get an extension on the terms of the bailout agreement.
There is a Spanish cabinet meeting tomorrow, and we may get more insight into how close the Spanish are to "formally" asking for aid. This is the necessary prerequisite before any money is forthcoming from the two euro zone bailout funds, or from the European Central Bank (explain this). (Read More: Why a Spanish Bailout Would Be Good for Stocks.)
There is an article in Die Welt saying ECB is indeed looking at yield caps for sovereign bonds, but may not tell anyone what those caps are (sounds like the Fed in the 1980s).
1) Thank you Federal Reserve (explain this): Miners up again as gold is up 2.8 percent this week, silver up 7.2 percent, helped by a weaker dollar, down 1.2 percent this week. The euro is at a seven-week high against the dollar. Much of the gains came yesterday afternoon as gold and silver jumped on the Fed minutes indicating greater sympathy for more easing; weaker China data also helped.
2) Speaking of the Fed: Not so fast. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told CNBC that it is not inevitable the Fed will embark on additional easing, noting that the Fed minutes released yesterday "are a bit stale because we have some data since then that has been somewhat stronger" — like retail sales. (Read More: Producer Prices, Retail Sales Both Post Strong July Gains.)
3) A PC slowdown? More like shifting market share. Dell said business was lousy, now Hewlett-Packard said so too, blaming the poor economy. HP's revenue was light as PC sales (nearly one-third of revenue) were down 10 percent year-over-year (Dell's PC sales were down 14 percent), servers down four percent, services up only 1 percent? Ugh!
HP is now trading near a seven-year low, but global PC sales appear to be somewhat flat; Dell and HP appear to be losing some market share to lower margin operations like Lenovo and Acer.
Bottom line: Pricing pressures are emerging everywhere, but particularly in PCs and servers. Is HP and Dell willing to play in this new low-margin universe? Will HP even be in the PC business in two years? Do you really think Windows 8 is going to save them from low margins?
4) I was out yesterday working on my diamond special for Monday night, but I was struck by the fact that median existing home prices were up 9.4 percent year-over-year. That is a real improvement, and will be a big help to consumer net worth.
—By CNBC’s Bob Pisani
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