Mr. Trichet's early return from a meeting in Australia has fueled speculation that some kind of assistance to Greece is coming (even though the Greek Prime Minister says he doesn't want any assistance).
EU heads of state will be meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a special summit on the economy. The big question is, will Germany endorse some kind of rescue package? How can the citizens of one country be asked to back the profligate policies of another country through a body (the EU) that, while important, has no real claims to democratic legitimacy? This will be a tough sell to the German electorate.
The Greek finance minister said they had collected more taxes in January and that spending was below expectations.
European banks — Credit Suisse , ING , and Deutsch Bank — are having one of their best mornings in a month, with gains of 4 to 7 percent.
Elsewhere, two big U.S. multinationals report similar results: strong growth in Asia, declines in the U.S.
1) Coca-Cola up 2 percent pre-open, reported earnings in line with expectations, but top line of $7.51 billion was well above consensus of $7.25 billion.
Good news: emerging markets are a monster. China volumes up 29 percent, India up 20 percent, Brazil up 8 percent.
Bad news: still no growth in North America, with volume declines of 1 percent.
2) McDonald's is up fractionally after reporting a 2.6 percent rise in January same-store sales worldwide. Just like Coca-Cola and other multinational firms, the fast food giant saw weakness in the U.S. (comps DOWN 0.7 percent) offset by strength overseas (both Europe and Asia up 4.3 percent).
3) Pulte Homes is up 3 percent in pre-market trading. While it still turned in a Q4 loss, the loss was only a third of the builder's losses last year.
Revenues topped Street expectations ($1.7 billion vs. $1.5 billion consensus) as closings rose 13 percent and new orders doubled from last year's levels — helped too by its recent acquisition of homebuilder Centex. The not-so-good: prices still fell about 7 percent.
4) Fertilizer giant Agrium is up 2 percent after Q4 earnings more than doubled estimates ($0.53 vs. $0.24 consensus) — even though revenues fell short of Street expectations.
While cost cuts helped its bottom line, the fertilizer producer also saw strong volumes (nitrogen up 35 percent, phosphate up 69 percent, potash up 25 percent). However, poor pricing "more than offset" the increased demand (phosphate prices down 65 percent, potash prices down 44 percent).
5) Toyota rises 3 percent, despite a new recall of 437,000 hybrid vehicles in Japan on concerns over the cars' anti-lock brakes. Still, the automaker's stock has lost nearly 20 percent of its value over the past month, as concerns over the accelerators for several of its models led to recalls and productions stoppages.
6) Hard Assets R Us: The Chinese government's investment arm, China Investment Corp., bought 2 million shares ($78.6 m) of the U.S. Oil Fund , immediately becoming the fourth largest holder. They also bought a $155.6 million stake in the SPDR Gold Trust .
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