Updated from 12:34 p.m. EDTEditor's note: Welcome to our newest feature. This week, we're starting a column that will contain stock and economic news, analysis and maybe a little wit. The first version will be published before the market opens, and updates will follow throughout the trading day. Writer Robert Holmes will be the primary author, but the rest of us might pitch in from time to time. (At 4 p.m. EDT)
Looking Ahead to TuesdayTuesday looks to be more exciting than Monday's ho-hum session, if only marginally. The unofficial start of earnings season comes after the next close, when Alcoa ( AA) will post its quarterly numbers.
Winners & LosersDefense contractors were the leaders Monday after Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled a plan that would overhaul the U.S. security program. Lockheed Martin ( LMT) jumped nearly 9% after Gates said funding for the F-35 Lightning jet will be increased in 2010 to $11.2 billion in order to buy 30 jets, up from 14 previously.
Financials Crumbling on Bearish ResearchWell, the stock market continues to live and die with the financial sector, and that trend doesn't look to change any time soon. The three major U.S. indices were down between 1.4% and 2.1%, pressured Monday by the slide in banks. Looks like traders aren't going to get that quiet, holiday-shortened week as a reprieve to the roller-coaster ride that appears will never stop. After enjoying a 60% rally over the last month, the KBW Bank Index was giving back more than 4% and has fallen under the 30 level. The financial sector is reeling from a bearish report from Calyon Securities analyst Mike Mayo, who jumped to the firm recently from Deutsche Bank. Mayo initiated coverage of Bank of America ( BAC), Citigroup ( C), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), Wells Fargo ( WFC), Comerica ( CMA) and PNC Financial Services ( PNC) with underperform ratings. Meanwhile, Mayo initiated sell ratings on U.S. Bancorp ( USB), BB&T ( BBT), Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB), KeyCorp ( KEY) and SunTrust Banks ( STI). In his report, Mayo said a key implication is that loan losses should increase to levels that exceed the Great Depression. "While certain mortgage problems are farther along, other areas are likely to accelerate, reflecting a rolling recession by asset class," he wrote. When Mayo left Deutsche Bank late last month, The Wall Street Journal said it was because he blamed the German bank for restricting his ability to speak freely about bank stocks.
Schumer Tries to Delay the InevitableIn response to the uproar over ticket reselling practices by Ticketmaster ( TKTM) and its potential merger mate Live Nation ( LYV), legislation will be introduced that will force ticket resellers into a waiting period before they can offer tickets at a higher cost. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) will introduce a bill that would ban the resale of event tickets until two days after they first go on sale to the public. The move is meant to combat brokers who sell tickets through Ticketmaster's reselling site, TicketsNow. TicketsNow recently came under fire from Bruce Springsteen when some fans attempted to purchase tickets to a Springsteen concert through Ticketmaster, they were automatically redirected to TicketsNow, which offered seats well above face value, even though tickets were still available through Ticketmaster's main Web site. But what's more puzzling is Schumer's softening of his stance on the issue. In February, he called the reselling practice "a classic bait-and-switch. We don't have the tickets at $75, but maybe this site has them at $200. That means that something is rotten in the state of Denmark when it comes to how concert tickets are sold online." The jaded consumer in me -- who was shut out of tickets to see the Red Sox play the Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium, as well as tickets to see U2 in September -- doesn't see how a two-day delay will benefit or protect consumers looking to pay face value to tickets. It seems more likely the bill will only delay the inevitable -- tickets to popular events will always quickly sell out and tickets will always be scalped at a higher price.
Top Financial HeadlinesTreasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said over the weekend that the U.S. government may oust executives at banks requiring "exceptional assistance" in the future. Geithner also said that board members could also be forced out if needed. Geithner cited Fannie Mae ( FNM), Freddie Mac ( FRE) and AIG ( AIG) as examples of the government removing CEOs after intervention to save each company. Shares of HSBC Holdings ( HBC) buoyed markets overseas after the bank said that it raised 12.5 billion British pounds, or about $17.7 billion, over the weekend in a rights offering, which is a sale of discounted shares to existing stockholders. The FTSE 100, the Xetra Dax and the Paris CAC 40 were all trading higher. HSBC Holdings was up 3% in premarket trading in New York. In what is increasingly looking like the failed Microsoft ( MSFT) and Yahoo! ( YHOO) tie-up, talks between IBM ( IBM) and Sun Microsystems ( JAVA) seem to have fallen apart over price, although neither company has commented publicly. Still, the market doesn't appear very confident the deal will go through, as Sun shares were tumbling 27% in early trading. MGM Mirage ( MGM) is considering a sale of its casinos is Detroit and Biloxi, Miss., as it continues to struggle with debt. The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that the casino operator has hired Morgan Stanley to help shop its assets. Shares of MGM were down 1% in premarket trading.
Earnings & Economic NewsThe economic release docket is empty Monday, and the calendar is light for the rest of the holiday-shortened week. Reports on wholesale inventories, import and export prices, weekly jobless claims and the trade deficit will come later in the week. The earnings calendar is also light, although traders are bracing for the unofficial start of earnings season Tuesday, when Alcoa ( AA) will post its quarterly numbers.
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