Friday's Early Headlines
- Quadruple Witching to End the Week -- Friday marks the final options expiration of the first quarter, with investors expecting increased volatility and a bumpy road due to "quadruple witching." By definition, quadruple witching occurs when contracts for stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures all expire. This can lead to dramatic moves in the equity markets due to increased volatility.
- Health Care Bill Will Pass Sunday: House Democrats -- The Associated Press reports that the House of Representatives is planning to vote Sunday on the landmark, $940 billion health care overhaul bill. President Obama once again delayed his planned trip to Asia; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Obama "wants to be here for the history." The 10-year plan would provide coverage to 32 million people now uninsured through a combination of tax credits for middle class households and an expansion of the Medicaid program for low income people, the AP reports.
- Google May Reveal China Plans on Monday -- Google (GOOG) may make an announcement Monday about whether it will pull out of China, according to a report. China Business News said a local authorized agent received unconfirmed information that Google would leave China on April 10. "I have received information saying that Google will leave China on April 10, but this information has not at present been confirmed by Google," the agent was quoted as saying.
- JPMorgan Used Same Accounting Gimmick as Lehman: Report -- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) recorded some repurchase trades as sales, which suggests that Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ.PK) wasn't alone in using the same accounting gimmick, which is now infamously known as "Repo 105s," The Financial Times reports. JPMorgan detailed the year-end values of its repo sales and purchases in annual reports beginning in 2001, after a new accounting rule was introduced, the report said. Lehman never disclosed the effects of its repo deals on its balance sheet. The FT, citing people familiar with the matter, also reports that Merrill Lynch warned the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve that Lehman was incorrectly calculating its liquidity position months before its collapse.
- Palm Drops on Earnings Report -- Palm (PALM) posted an adjusted third-quarter loss of 61 cents a share, which is worse than the loss of 42 cents a share that analysts had predicted. Palm estimated fourth-quarter revenue of less than $150 million, below the estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters of almost $306 million. Kaufman and Morgan Joseph analysts separately downgraded the stock to sell from hold and slashed price targets.
- Apple Racing to Reach iPad Deals: Report -- Apple (AAPL) is still trying to secure media content for the iPad with just weeks to go before the tablet computer's release, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Lining up TV programming and other content ahead of the April 3 release of the iPad has proven difficult for Apple as producers fear it could jeopardize the tens of billions of dollars in subscription fees they are paid by cable and satellite companies for their traditional TV networks, sources told the Journal.