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China, Greece: Friday's Headlines

Friday's early headlines include China's decision to hike bank reserve requirements and Greece's weak economic reading for the fourth quarter.

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.

Friday's Early Headlines

  • China Increases Reserve Requirements For Second Time -- The People's Bank of China surprised markets with another increase in banks' reserve requirements as the country attempts to fight rising inflation. The 50-basis-point increase will take effect Feb. 25. The reserve requirement increase puts a damper on banks' ability to lend by putting a greater amount of deposits with the central bank.
  • Euro Hammered by Weak GDP Data, Greece Debt Worries -- The euro fell to its worst level against the dollar since May 2009 after Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.8% in the fourth quarter, which was worse that economists had predicted. The decline was worse than the revised 0.5% slide in the third quarter, indicating that Greece's troubles are worsening and putting its debt plan at risk. In related news, the International Monetary Fund joined the European Union and European Central Bank in pledging support to aid Greece with its debt crisis.
  • Economic Data in Focus -- Investors will get a handful of economic data ahead of the three-day weekend. At 8:30 a.m. EST, the Commerce Department will release a report on retail sales for January, which should increase 0.3% or 0.5% when auto sales are excluded. At 9:55 a.m. EST, the University of Michigan will post the February read on its consumer sentiment index, which should rise to 75 from 74.4 in January. The December read on business inventories will follow shortly after at 10 a.m. EST, followed by the Energy Department's delayed report on weekly inventory levels at 11 a.m. EST.
  • Toyota Reportedly to Expand Disclosures -- Toyota (TM) - Get Report is planning a new level of disclosure about car problems beyond what it is currently required to reveal, according to The Associated Press. Earlier this week the world's largest automaker announced plans to recall about 437,000 hybrid cars worldwide, including the popular Prius, to fix braking problems. Toyota now plans to voluntarily disclose problems that are below recall-level seriousness, the AP reports, in an attempt to boost its flagging reputation.
  • Motorola Announces Split into Two Units -- Motorola (MOT) updated its separation plans lat Thursday, confirming a Wall Street Journal reports that its mobile devices business would be grouped with its home businesses and that enterprise mobility solutions and networking would be combined into a separate unit. Motorola's plan will see both separate units operating as two independent, publicly traded companies. The company targeted a deadline of the first quarter of 2011 for the split.
  • Video-Game Sales Drop in January -- Sales of video-game software in the U.S. fell by 12% last month, according to data released by research firm NPD Group, which was a larger decline than analysts had expected. Hardware sales were down a whopping 21%, mostly due to declining sales of Nintendo's Wii console. Sony's (SNE) - Get Report PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Report Xbox 360 consoles both saw sales increases in January, according to the data.

Friday's Earnings Roundup

  • Agilent (A) - Get Report reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, which was above the Thomson Reuters average estimate of 32 cents a share. Revenue of $1.22 billion also exceeded forecasts. Looking ahead, Agilent offered better-than-expected revenue and earnings guidance for both the fiscal second quarter and full year.
  • Ingersoll-Rand (IR) - Get Report notched a fourth-quarter adjusted profit of 48 cents a share, which was a nickel below the Thomson Reuters average estimate. Revenue fell 10% to $3.31 billion, which was also below analysts' forecasts. Ingersoll-Rand offered mixed guidance for the first quarter and in-line earnings and revenue guidance for the full year.

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-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston

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