Stimulus Package, Rate Cut: Good Week For Markets

This has been a good week, with the stimulus package on its way, a 75 bp cut in rates from the Fed, and some hope that bond insurers may be getting some help from insurance regulators. S&P 500 up 2 percent.

Today Ambac is up 10 percent on word that Wilbur Ross is in talks to acquire them, according to a British newspaper.

On top of that, we have a better tone to earnings than earlier in the week from two key Dow components:

1) Caterpillar met expectations; while guidance for 2008 was kept, it is still below Street consensus. Strong sales in Europe. Up 3 percent pre-open.

Caterpillar's conference call this morning will certainly emphasize recession probabilities. This is not a trivial issue. As traders have noted, because the degree of slowdown is a moving target, future guidance now, bullish or bearish, has less predictive value than usual and investors must keep this in mind.

2) Honeywell in line, forecasting double digit earnings growth, up 4 percent pre open.


3) You think we have problems? Gold Fields and Harmony Gold both down about 10 percent after announcing they are suspending all South African mining operations after the state power utility asked that all major customers reduce electricity consumption to the minimum possible. The utility claims that the economy has grown too fast to cope with new energy demands and the entire nation must cut power use by 10 to 15 percent. Ouch.

4) Asian economies may be humming along, but there are signs that the IPO business is slowing down. Maoye International, a Chinese department store chain, has shelved its $905 million IPO listing in Hong Kong due to adverse market conditions. The deal was supposed to be priced last night.

It is one of several IPOs that have been postponed in Asia, including Changhseng China Property, a commercial real estate developer. Other IPOs have been delayed in Singapore, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

Questions? Comments?