QE3 Coming?

The second estimate for Q1 GDP remained at 1.8 percent growth—that is a disappointment. Almost everyone was expecting the revision to be at least north of 2 percent. Initial jobless claims, at 424,000, was above expectations, another disappointment.

No growth, high debt. That is a lethal mixture. Wall Street is increasingly believing that QE3 is coming.


1) IPO market gets tougher:

Spirit Airlines finally did price its IPO, 15.6 million shares at $12, low end of price talk of $12-$13

Freescale Semiconductor priced 43.5 million shares at $18, well below the $22 to $24 price talk. Freescale is one of the oldest semiconductor companies in the world (founded in 1949 as a Motorola division) but was taken private in 2006 in a massive $17.6 billion LBO led by Blackstone and Carlyle Group.

I will have the CEO of Freescale, Rich Beyer, first on CNBC at about 9:45 AM ET this morning.

2) Tiffany reported earnings of $0.67, a dime above consensus, on much stronger revenues of $761 million. FY guidance was raised, but only by the 10 cents they beat on this quarter: $3.45-$3.55 (consensus $3.34). Sales were strong--worldwide comp store sales were up 15 percent, 17 percent in the U.S. Japan was better than expected.

3) Even as high-end retail did well with Tiffany and Signet, there were continued strains at lower-end retail. Discounter Big Lots beat by a penny, but comps dropped 4 percent, and shares are falling 3 percent. More troublesome is the guidance where current quarter earnings are seen $0.38-$0.48 (vs. $0.52 consensus) amid expected comps of flat to down 3 percent.

Guess jumps 13 percent after topping estimates ($0.46 vs. $0.44 consensus). Comps grew 5 percent in North America and overall sales in Europe and Asia soared 12 percent and 24 percent, respectively. The apparel maker and retailer's CEO Paul Marciano did note that the "entire industry is experience rising commodity and input costs and there remains uncertainty in many economies." The firm's Q2 outlook of $0.77-$0.83 is inline with $0.79 consensus.

Heinz misses Q4 estimates by a penny on lagging North American sales. Offsetting that weakness was strong growth from emerging markets, which saw organic sales grew 12 percent. Guidance for the current year of $3.29-$3.39 is inline with Street expectations of $3.33 as it also plans to close 5 factories and cut 1,000 jobs. The food company also raises its quarterly dividend by 7 percent to $0.48 per share.

4) Trading activity continue to slow. Call a sell-side trading desk, and they will tell you the same thing: business stinks. It's not high frequency traders who have slowed trading as volatility has dropped (and they have arbed themselves out of profits in the U.S. cash equities business), even active retail traders have been slowing trading. Sandler O'Neill noted this morning that daily average revenue trades (DARTS) for eBrokers might be down 10 to 15 percent in the second half of May compared to April. April was weaker than March.

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