Bernanke Has Tough Job Today

Humphrey-Hawkins testimony will be the key story today. Mr. Bernanke's job is to walk the fine line between acknowledging--and defending--the Fed's expanding role in the regulation of investment banking, and not appearing to be coddling excessive risk-takers.

The dollar is at a new low against the euro this morning, even though the German confidence index fell to the lowest level since the survey began in 1991. Oil and gold have both advanced this morning, gold stocks up 2-4 percent.

Producer Price Index hotter than expected, though core (ex-food and energy) was lighter than expected; retail sales were disappointing.

GM suspending dividend, cutting salaried employment costs 20percent, and will sell up to $4 billion in assets. No surprise on suspending the dividend of $1 per share. Laying off some white collar workers, and suspending bonuses.

US Bancorpreported earnings that includes increased provisions for credit losses and securities losses. CEO Richard Davis said the additional net charge-offs and credit losses was "prudent." Down 7 percent pre-open.

Kimberly Clark is pre-announcing earnings below expectations, due largely to a "significant" increase in cost inflation; they are assuming that raw material and energy costs will remain at elevated levels and will continue to pressure their margins.

JNJbeat estimates ($1.18 vs. $1.12 consensus estimate), and raised guidance by a nickel: to $4.45-$4.50, from $4.40-$4.45. Consumer produce sales up 13 percent, medical device sales up 12 percent, pharmaceuticals up 3 percent. International sales up 17 percent, beat domestic sales up 8.5 percent.

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