GM (Strike Settlement) Giving Boost To Stocks

A relatively swift resolution to the United Auto Workers strike against General Motors is giving some lift to stocks this morning. The U.S. dollar is defying gravity and is bouncing off its lows against the eurobut that move looks like it will be short lived. Markets also look ahead to durable goods, always important but increasingly so as investors attempt to read any and all signals about the health of the economy.

Asian stock markets closed mostly higher, and Europe's markets steam higher ahead of the Wall Street open. Oil regained some of its footing and is moving higher ahead of inventory data this morning, after a quick decline from last week's new highs.

Precedent Setting
GM reached a historic four-year deal with the UAW in the wee hours of the morning. The agreement is historic in that GM has basically passed off the future responsibility of healthcare to the union. GM is to set up a $35 billion health care fund that will be managed by the union.

GM stock is indicated higher ahead of the opening. The deal sets the framework for the union's negotiations with the other automakers. In the age of debate about universal health care, this deal is another catalyst pushing workers towards management of their own medical care and other benefits.

GM plants will resume production today and ratification of the contract is to begin this week. The accord also introduces a new two-tier wage scale, with future non-manufacturing workers joining the company at a lower wage scale.

Lots of Explaining to Do
Moody's and S&P executives go before Congress today to defend their handling of mortgage products ratings. The hearings are before two separate committees today and tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Brookings Institute hosts a roundtable discussion with experts from business, government and academia to help define the challenges facing housing and financial markets. CNBC senior economic correspondent Steve Liesman is covering the event.

Fantasy Land
In this crippled housing market, everyone is looking for a new idea. KB Homes seems to think it's onto something with a new deal withWalt Disney Co to offer "Disney-inspired" flooring, window covers and carpeting which would feature Disney characters. The Wall Street Journal noted that the new offerings are being launched in "one of the worst housing markets in decades."

Questions? Comments?