Stocks are up modestly in the U.S. and Europe on word that EU members were crafting a support program for Greece (Greece has rallied some 13 percent since bottoming on February 25), and that Dubai World is (finally) in discussions on restructuring $22 billion of debt. They could put the restructuring plan to creditors this week. They've been waiting...since November.
Everyone's on the austerity bandwagon: even Portugal unveiled plans to cut its deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2013 (it's 8.3 percent this year).
Lucky seven? On the eve of the 1-year anniversary of the market's 12.5 month lows, stocks are attempting to string together their longest winning streak in nearly 3.5 years. With a gain today, the S&P would be up 7 days in a row, something it hasn't done since October 2006.
The S&P 500 is 68 percent above its March 2009 lows.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) closed Friday at its lowest levels in more than a year. The last time it was this low, in the middle of January, was the present market top for the S&P 500.
1) McDonald's is up 1 percent after its international restaurants gave a greater-than-expected boost its February sales (global comps rose 4.8 percent vs. expected 3.9 percent growth). Continuing a recent trend of stronger overseas sales, a 10.5 percent in Asian same-store sales offset a meager 0.6 percent rise in the U.S.
2) AIG, as expected, is selling its foreign life insurance unit (Alico) to MetLife for $15.5 billion, its second major sale this week, after selling its American International Assurance division to Britain's Prudential for $35.5 billion.
3) Tata Motors falls 7 percent on reports that German automaker Daimler (DAI) is selling its $429 million stake in the Indian car manufacturer. Daimler currently holds a 5.34 percent stake in Tata.
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