Bears lost the Super Bowl but they might make some gains on Wall Street today. Stocks look set to start the week on a soft footing with focus on some key earnings reports and a light calendar of economic data. Merger news dominates Monday headlines.
President Bush sends his $2.9 trillion budget to Congress today, and bond traders will start to focus on the Treasury's February refunding which takes place Tuesday through Thursday.
European markets are mostly weaker. China's stock market continued its descent over night, and the Nikkei took a tumble on disappointing results from Nissan. Japanese stocks were also hit by a strengthening yen, which is rising on expectations the G7 will make the weakness of the currency an agenda item when it meets Friday in Germany.
Oil is weaker though some oil traders expect it to move up above $60 a barrel in the near future. Last week, oil gained 6.5% to $59.02 a barrel. Natural gas was also on the move, gaining 4.4% on the week, while heating oil rose 5.2%.
Vornado struck back with the promise of an upfront cash payout in its $23 billion bid for Equity Office Properties. EOP Friday said it favored bidder Blackstone. Triad agreed to a $4.7 billion buyout from CCMP and Goldman Sachs private equity arm.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
GE is reportedly expected to name Jeff Zucker CEO of NBC Universal, succeeding GE Vice Chairman Robert Wright in the role. NBC Universal is parent of CNBC. Our Jane Wells is covering the story today.
More news from Dell this weekend after the surprise return of Michael Dell as CEO last week. A memo Dell wrote to employees leaked out over the weekend, and spelled out his plan to stay with the company for the next several years. Dell is also getting rid of bonuses and plans to cut the number of managers at the company. Detroit newspapers report that Daimler Chrysler will announce plans to cut as many as 10,000 jobs at Chrysler.
Wal-mart's January sales, reported Saturday, are a bright spot. The company reported a gain of 2.2% in same store sales beating its weaker forecast of a 1 to 2% rise.
DOW THEORISTS DEBATE
The Dow Transports Friday set a new record after a 6.2% run up last week. According to Dow theorists, the move in the energy sensitive transports confirmed the Dow's record run, and flashes a bull signal. Our Bob Pisani is not big on the theory. "It has not had much credence in the last couple of years. It's faded away as the markets have become more diversified," Pisani says. The Dow finished last week up 166 points, or up 1.3%. The Nasdaq was up 1.7%, and the S&P 500 finished the week up 1.8% at a fresh six year high. The Russell 2000 was up 2.7%, closing out the week at a record.
AROUND THE WORLD
A bird flu outbreak in Britain resulted in destruction of tens of thousands of turkeys over the weekend.