Housing Starts, PPI: Tuesday's Headlines

Tuesday's early headlines include the April readings on the producer price index and housing starts.
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) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

Tuesday's Early Headlines

  • Core PPI, Housing Starts Rise in April -- The Commerce Department said the producer price index fell 0.1% in April, compared with estimates for a 0.1% increase. The core number, which excludes food and energy, climbed 0.2% last month, above the consensus for a 0.1% rise. Meanwhile, housing starts rose a better-than-expected 5.8% to 672,000 in April, above economists' forecasts of 655,000. However, building permit plunged 11.5% to 606,000, well below the 680,000 target.
  • Regulators, Exchanges Mull Tight Circuit Breakers: Report -- The Securities and Exchange Commission and major exchanges are considering market-wide circuit breakers that would temporarily stop trading after the broad market falls 5% or greater, two sources familiar with the talks told Reuters on Monday. The report said the proposal being considered would halt trading for various time frames when the broader market falls 5%, 10% and 20%, according to those same sources. There are currently circuit breakers in place, but they were not tripped during the so-called "flash crash" that occurred on May 6. The proposed changes could be detailed Tuesday, the sources told Reuters.
  • JPMorgan to Hold Shareholder Meeting Tuesday -- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report will hold its annual shareholder meeting later Tuesday. TheStreet will be blogging live from the event. Already, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, has voted for a shareholder proposal to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive at the bank, Reuters reports. Jamie Dimon currently holds both positions at JPMorgan. "Calpers believes if the chairman is not the CEO the board may be able to exercise stronger oversight of management," said the pension fund, which has voted 12.7 million shares for the proposal, according to the report.
  • Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Reduce Stake in Kraft and P&G -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) - Get Report disclosed changes in its holdings for the first quarter. The company cut its stakes in Kraft Foods (KFT) , Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Report, ConocoPhillips (COP) - Get Report, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report, Costco Wholesale (COST) - Get Report and Gannett (GCI) - Get Report. Berkshire increased its holdings in Republic Services (RSG) - Get Report, Becton Dickinson (BDX) - Get Report and Iron Mountain (IRM) - Get Report, the filing with the SEC shows.
  • Macarthur Rejects $3.3 Billion Bid from Peabody -- Australia's Macarthur Coal has rejected Peabody Energy's (BTU) - Get Report reduced proposal to acquire a controlling interest in the company for $3.3 billion. Last week, Peabody reduced its bid from $3.4 billion partly because of a new tax in Australia on mining profits. In rejecting the bid, Macarthur said the revised takeover offer was unlikely to win support from its two largest shareholders.

Tuesday's Earnings Roundup

  • Wal-Mart (WMT) - Get Report reported first-quarter earnings of $3.32 billion, or 88 cents a share, better than the Thomson Reuters average estimate of 84 cents a share. Sales climbed 6% to $99.1 billion from $93.47 billion, while U.S. same-store sales dropped 1.4%. Looking ahead, Wal-Mart forecasts second-quarter earnings in the range of 93 cents to 98 cents a share. Analysts are calling for a profit of 98 cents a share.
  • Home Depot (HD) - Get Report posted first-quarter adjusted earnings of 45 cents a share on sales totaling $16.9 billion. Analysts were looking for a profit of 40 cents a share on revenue of $16.4 billion. Home Depot said it now expects sales to be up about 3.5% for the year and earnings from continuing operations of $1.88 a share. Analysts are forecasting fiscal-year earnings of $1.87 a share on revenue of $68.14 billion.
  • Ambac Financial (ABK) posted a first-quarter net loss of $690 million, or $2.39 a share, widening from a year-ago loss of $392 million, or $1.36 a share.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) - Get Report reported a first-quarter loss of $11.8 million, or 13 cents a share, matching the Thomson Reuters average estimate. Revenue jumped 14% from a year ago to $687.8 million, as same-store sales were up 1%.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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