"I'm still in the soft-landing camp," Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial, tells Aaron Task on Monday's "The Real Story" podcast.

Housing and a slowing consumer are "going to temper the rate of growth but the economy is going to hang in, and that means less inflation and maybe make the Fed a little happier."

Hoffman foresees no recession this year and the possibility of rate cuts later in this year, which should mean a continued favorable environment for equities; PNC maintains an overweight recommendation for stocks, he says.

Looking ahead to Tuesday's CPI report, the economist forecasts a 0.2% rise in core CPI. "If we get 0.3% with rounding, that might hurt a little bit, but if it's 0.1%, it's going to be great for the stock and bond markets," Hoffman says. "That could put a real fire to the stock market."

Task's second guest, TheStreet.com's Nat Worden, discussed the day's big corporate news: DaimlerChrysler's ( DCX) agreement to sell an 80% stake in its Chrysler Group unit to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

The deal is the beginning of a breaking down of barriers that have kept the U.S. auto industry from a major restructuring, Worden says, offering insights on what the deal means for GM ( GM) and Ford ( F).

In the remainder of the podcast, Task reviewed the day's other deals, including:
  • Merck KGaA's selling its generic-drug business to Mylan Laboratories (MYL) for 4.9 billion euros ($6.63 billion);
  • Cardinal Health (CAH) agreeing to buy Viasys Healthcare (VAS) for about $1.42 billion;
  • Primedia (PRM) selling its portfolio of enthusiast magazines and Web sites to Source Interlink (SORC)$1.2 billion in cash.
  • Task also discussed the day's other winners, including Nokia ( NOK), Applied Materials ( AMAT) and Critical Therapeutics ( CRTX), as well as losers such as Massey Energy ( MEE) and Bear Stearns ( BSC).

    Click here to listen to the entire podcast.

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