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Kass: 10 Rumors That Could Rock Stocks

This column was originally published on Street Insight on Jan. 5 at 8 a.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for and readers. For more information about subscribing to Street Insight, please click here .

The following are 10 rumors I've picked up from trading desks and other industry sources this morning.

1. Apple (AAPL - Get Report) will announce that Steve Jobs will be taking a leave of absence from the company.

2. The low-end cellular-phone market has been jammed with inventory as demand erodes. Guidance will be lowered by the leading manufacturers as margins erode and average selling prices continue to fall. ( Motorola (MOT) is just the tip of the iceberg.) The high end is no better, as an all-out post-holiday price war seems to be developing.

Internet distributor Wirefly will announce an offering of a free Motorola Razr, Nokia's (NOK - Get Report) E62 and other high-end handsets with a T-Mobile, Sprint (S) or Cingular one-year contract.

3. Personal computer retail sales have fallen off dramatically in Japan during the month of December. Dell (DELL - Get Report) will shortly guide down earnings expectations for the first quarter of 2007, in part because Vista (the release of the business version of Vista has come and gone) has started out slowly. (Note: I am short Dell at time of publication.)

4. Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) is coming under scrutiny for sending out free AMD-equipped Acer laptops preloaded with Vista to prominent technology bloggers in an apparent effort to get press. APC magazine journalist Dan Warne writes that "whatever the subtleties of the offer were, it comes across as nothing more than a bribe, and that is a very bad look for Microsoft." (Note: I am short Microsoft at time of publication.)

5. More signs of an imbalance in the residential real estate market are appearing. For example, there's been a surge in vacant homes because of foreclosures, owners who bought another home and await sale of their first home, and homes that are for rent because they can't be sold. In certain regions of the country, such as California, vacant homes represent nearly 50% of annualized sales (triple the levels of four years ago).

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