Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Morning Market Comment

Stock futures little changed this morning as the market awaits the latest Housing Starts data. The numbers are due at 8:30 et and will give ammo for either the bulls or bears to work with. A rise of 3% is expected. Yesterday's NAHB housing sentiment numbers remained in the 'ugly' catagory: Home builder sentiment sinks to 15-year low. Meantime, the latest Mortgage Bankers Association numbers are soft: US home loan demand falls first time in four weeks.

What are billionaires investing in these days?

In additional to new stakes in Union Pacific (UNP) and Norfolk Southern (NSC), Berkshire Hatahway's (BRK-A) Warren Buffet has upped his stakes in Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) and Wells Fargo (WFC). He has reduced stakes in Ameriprise (AMP) and H&R Block (HRB).

Lampert buys into Citigroup, Motorola
Investor Soros more than doubles stake in Microsoft
Gates discloses Tractor Supply, PF Chang's stakes

On the tech front...

Following the weak orders outlook given by Applied Materials (AMAT) late yesterday, Citi's Smith Barney maintains a Hold on Applied saying they would be buyers at $17. Cowen downgraded AMAT to Neutral citing the weak orders.

Harpertown and Barcelona are two key destinations in the chip world as Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) continue to duke it out.

Crocs (CROX) is a big mover this morning, up nearly $2. JP Morgan has initiated CROX with an Overweight rating citing the company's strong growth.

Crude oil showing a dip of about 20-cents at just under $63.
The Nikkei 225 creeped higher with a 0.1% gain and the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% in London.
Two day Bank of Japan policy meeting underway - Yen Declines to Record Low Against Euro; Yield Spread to Widen.

... More after the housing starts data is released.

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