MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures drop on European worries

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Barbara Kollmeyer and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures pointed to a third day of losses for Wall Street Tuesday on worries that Portugal or Spain could be in need of financial help, as investors fear the spread of sovereign-debt troubles across Europe.

“If this is the reward for bailing out entire countries, why bother?” asked Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co., in emailed commentary.

“It should be the question that is asked by the [European Union] and [International Monetary Fund] as bond yields continue to move higher most disconcertingly now in Spain and Italy,” Boockvar added.

After a two-session string of losses, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 10,999, -40.00, -0.36%)  were off 88 points to 10,951, while those for the S&P 500 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,180, -6.50, -0.55%)  dropped 10.6 points to 1,175.9.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,119, -26.50, -1.24%)  slipped 22.25 points to 2,123.25.

Rex on Techs: It's Amazon's world

MarketWatch’s Rex Crum suggests renaming Cyber Monday as Amazon Day.

“What’s running in the market is a fear of a total meltdown within the euro-zone countries, and that also includes Italy now,” said Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg, chief equity strategist at Saxo Bank.

The premium demanded by investors to hold 10-year Spanish bonds over German bunds hit more than 3 full percentage points Tuesday â€" the largest since the launch of the euro â€" as peripheral bond yields soared. Read more about Spanish bond yields.

“Liquidity has dried up. It’s very, very scary,” said Blaabjerg. “What scares me also is the massive drop in the euro/dollar. It’s dropping one big figure a day. If it goes below $1.30, we’re going to visit $1.25 very soon.”

The euro dipped below $1.30 and was recently at $1.2993.

U.S. stocks closed moderately lower Monday, with Black Friday weekend sales failing to inspire overall markets, though Amazon.com Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 175.81, -3.68, -2.05%)  shares set a new high.

Blaabjerg said that the inability of U.S. markets to manage a positive close Monday bears testament to the weight of Europe’s woes.

“The nervousness on markets is so strong that it tears apart everything else in terms of good news,” he said.

“We’re going to see a strong U.S. jobs report on Friday, but I’m also pretty convinced that as long as this goes on in Europe, that’s not going to affect markets much,” he said, adding that he’d “go long the S&P 500 and go short on the German DAX 30 index” right now.

Economic data on Tuesday’s calendar include the Chicago PMI index on November business activity at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, the Conference Board will release November consumer-confidence data.

Shares of Merck & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!mrk/quotes/nls/mrk (MRK 34.49, -0.21, -0.59%)  edged lower in premarket trade after the drug maker said it appointed Kenneth Frazier to the post of chief executive officer, succeeding Richard Clark. Frazier will also serve as a member of the board.

Shares of Lowe’s Companies Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!low/quotes/nls/low (LOW 22.60, +0.24, +1.07%)  could be in focus after the retailer affirmed its 2010 forecast for earnings of $1.37 to $1.40 a share, same-store-sales growth of 1% to 2% and total sales growth of 3% to 4%.

On the deal front, Swiss power and automation group ABB Ltd. /quotes/comstock/13*!abb/quotes/nls/abb (ABB 19.51, -0.06, -0.31%)  said it will pay $63.50 a share for electric-motor manufacturer Baldor Electric Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!bez/quotes/nls/bez (BEZ 63.25, +18.14, +40.21%) . Shares of Baldor surged nearly 40% in premarket trading. Read about the ABB deal for Baldor.

Shares of Google Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 563.37, -18.74, -3.22%)  could be active after a report that the search giant is near a deal to buy closely held online discounter Groupon Inc. for about $6 billion. Citing people close to the situation, the New York Times said the deal could be hammered out as soon as this week, though unidentified people said talks were still at an early stage.

European stock markets traded mostly lower on debt worries, while fears of further monetary-policy tightening in China pushed the Shanghai Composite index to its lowest close in seven weeks.

December gold futures rose $17.30 to $1,383.8 an ounce.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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Indications: U.S. stock futures drop amid European worries

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower start for Wall Street, with sentiment fragile amid continued fears of sovereign-debt contagion in Europe, while health-care giant Merck & Co. announced a new chief executive officer.

Ramping up earlier losses, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 10,933, -106.00, -0.96%)  fell 37 points to 11,002, while those for the S&P 500 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,176, -10.60, -0.89%)  dropped 4.2 points at 1,182.30.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,123, -22.50, -1.05%)  slipped 11.25 points to 2,134.25.

Rex on Techs: It's Amazon's world

MarketWatch’s Rex Crum suggests renaming Cyber Monday as Amazon Day.

“What’s running in the market is a fear of a total meltdown within the euro-zone countries, and that also includes Italy now,” said Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg, chief equity strategist at Saxo Bank.

The premium demanded by investors to hold 10-year Spanish bonds over German bunds hit more than three full percentage points on Tuesday â€" the largest since the launch of the euro â€" as peripheral bond yields soared.

“Liquidity has dried up. It’s very, very scary,” said Blaabjerg. “What scares me also is the massive drop in the euro/dollar. It’s dropping one big figure a day. If it goes below $1.30, we’re going to visit $1.25 very soon.”

The euro dipped below $1.30 at one point in late morning European trade, though recently it was back above that level at $1.3021, a decline of 0.7%.

U.S. stocks closed moderately lower on Monday, with Black Friday weekend sales failing to inspire overall markets, though Amazon.com Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 179.49, +2.29, +1.29%)  shares set a new high.

Blaabjerg said the fact that U.S. markets were unable to manage a positive close on Monday bears testament to the weight of Europe’s woes.

“The nervousness on markets is so strong that it tears apart everything else in terms of good news,” he said.

“We’re going to see a strong U.S. jobs report on Friday, but I’m also pretty convinced that as long as this goes on in Europe, that’s not going to affect markets much,” he said, adding that he’d “go long the S&P 500 and go short on the German DAX 30 index” right now.

Economic data on the calendar for Tuesday include Case-Shiller home prices for September and the Chicago PMI index on November business activity, at 9:00 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, respectively.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, the Conference Board will release November consumer-confidence data.

Shares of Merck /quotes/comstock/13*!mrk/quotes/nls/mrk (MRK 34.69, -0.10, -0.29%)  tumbled 8% in very thin pre-open trade after the company said it has appointed Kenneth C. Frazier to be chief executive officer and president, succeeding Richard T. Clark. Frazier will also serve as a member of the board.

Shares of Lowe’s Companies Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!low/quotes/nls/low (LOW 22.36, +0.12, +0.54%)  could be in focus after the group affirmed its forecast for 2010 of earnings per share of $1.37 to $1.40, same-store sales growth of 1% to 2% and total sales growth of 3% to 4%.

On the deal front, Swiss power and automation group ABB Ltd. /quotes/comstock/13*!abb/quotes/nls/abb (ABB 19.57, -0.01, -0.05%)  said it will pay $4.2 billion, including $1.1 billion in debt, for electric-motor manufacturer Baldor Electric Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!bez/quotes/nls/bez (BEZ 45.11, -0.46, -1.01%)  in a deal agreed by both companies. Shares of Baldor Electric surged nearly 40% in premarket trading.

Shares of Google Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 582.11, -7.89, -1.34%)  could be active after a report it’s near a deal to buy closely held online discounter Groupon Inc. for around $6 billion. Citing people close the situation, the New York Times said the deal could be hammered out as soon as this week, though unidentified people said talks were still at an early stage.

European stock markets traded mostly lower on debt worries, while fears of further monetary-policy tightening in China pushed the Shanghai Composite index to its lowest close in seven weeks.

December gold futures rose $5.30 to $1,371.30 an ounce.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Monday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
BEZ $45.12 $63.29 40.3% 2,963,188


10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
SPY $350691607 $118.15 ( 0.9%) | C 5,879,445 $4.14 ( 0.5%)
BEZ $187375730 $63.29 40.3% | BEZ 2,963,188 $63.29 40.3%
QQQQ $88,391,881 $52.27 ( 0.9%) | SPY 2,957,150 $118.15 ( 0.9%)
IWM $40,291,807 $72.66 ( 0.9%) | QQQQ 1,684,665 $52.27 ( 0.9%)
C $24,299,887 $4.14 ( 0.5%) | IRE 797,952 $1.73 ( 6.0%)
GLD $19,469,207 $134.53 0.8% | IWM 553,212 $72.66 ( 0.9%)
BP $14,873,614 $39.76 ( 2.1%) | STX 510,047 $13.22 ( 4.6%)
AAPL $14,362,803 $314.58 ( 0.7%) | SDS 449,685 $27.32 1.7%
GOOG $12,929,880 $577.00 ( 0.9%) | BP 373,530 $39.76 ( 2.1%)
SDS $12,216,534 $27.32 1.7% | BAC 170,221 $11.24 ( 0.7%)


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
http://www.tradearca.com/data/volume/daily_update.asp

This material is for informational purposes only.
NYSE Euronext and its affiliates ("NYSE Arca") are not soliciting any action based upon it.
This material is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell any security in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation would be illegal.
Any opinions expressed in this material are NYSE Arca opinions only.
NYSE Arca undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this material in light of new information or future events.
THIS MATERIAL IS PROVIDED BY NYSE ARCA "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.
NYSE ARCA DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY, TITLE, AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AS TO THIS MATERIAL.
IN NO EVENT SHALL NYSE ARCA BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOST PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT MAY RESULT FROM THE USE
OF THIS MATERIAL, ANY DELAY OR INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE OR OMISSIONS OR INACCURACIES IN THE MATERIAL) WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL.

Copyright [2010] by NYSE Euronext. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited without prior express consent.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Indications: Futures flat with focus on Ireland, retail sales

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures traded little changed on Monday, as most European markets sunk into the red after a $113 billion aid package for Ireland failed to convince investors that the euro-zone debt crisis will be contained.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,031, +1.00, +0.01%)  were unchanged at 11,030 and those for the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,182, -1.00, -0.08%)  rose 1.8 points, or 0.2%, to 1,185.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,144, -2.25, -0.10%)  fell 5 points at 2,141.

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European financial leaders on Sunday approved the bailout deal for Ireland, but speculation persisted that debt issues are still at risk of spreading.

Banks, which led the early gains, fell, though Bank of Ireland /quotes/comstock/13*!ire/quotes/nls/ire (IRE 1.44, -0.14, -8.86%)  shares were up nearly 19% in Dublin.

European finance ministers agreed to water down a German-backed proposal to force private bond holders to take writedowns in the event of future bailouts. The plan, which will create a new fund to replace in 2013 the 440-billion euro bailout fund put in place in May, would still require countries found to be insolvent to negotiate a restructuring with private-sector creditors.

“The Irish thing is so important and I think that they may have put more uncertainty into the markets than they would like to by, on the same day they announced a deal, announcing a restructuring policy that begins in 2013,” said Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland.

“What do you do if a sovereign can’t refinance? It raises a lot of questions,” he said. He added that U.S. stocks are just not going to view this positively, hence he sees losses for Monday.

The kickoff of holiday shopping over the Black Friday weekend is also expected to be a focus for U.S. investors, returning from last week’s Thanksgiving-shortened trading schedule.

Shares of retailers such as Target Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!tgt/quotes/nls/tgt (TGT 56.85, -0.40, -0.70%)  and Macy’s Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!m/quotes/nls/m (M 26.00, +0.11, +0.42%)  could see early action.

Amazon.com Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 177.20, -0.05, -0.03%)  shares may also be active Monday, which is known as Cyber Monday because many consumers shop online when they return to the office after the holiday.

Citing results of a survey conducted by BIGresearch, the National Retail Federation said 212 million shoppers visited stores and web sites over the weekend, up from 195 million last year, with the average shopper spending 6.4% more than a year ago.

Still, some observers said the sale figures do not look so positive. “Sales for the ‘Black Friday’ retail extravaganza were higher than last year but only by 0.3% â€" with little reason to inspire much volatility today, we could be in for something of a sideways week ahead of Friday’s latest U.S. unemployment numbers,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index, in emailed comments.

Analysts said ISCS Chain Store Sale data for November will give a more accurate picture when it is released on Thursday. There are no data on the calendar for Monday, though the week is full of data, ending with the key November nonfarm payroll report on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,092, -95.28, -0.85%)  fell 1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,535, -8.56, -0.34%)  rose less than that last week.

In Europe, stocks traded mostly lower. Most major European banks were in the red as investors fretted that Ireland is not the end of the sovereign-debt crisis.

In Asia, the Nikkei index reached a five-month closing high on an upbeat outlook for exporters, while South Korean stocks were under pressure as concerns over South Korea and North Korean tensions continued.

December gold futures were trading down $1.50 to $1,360.90 an ounce.

In the currency markets, the euro was once again under selling pressure. It fell 0.7% to $1.3142.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Monday, Nov 29, 2010 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Friday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
No symbols with at least a 15% price change today

10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
QQQQ $13,199,415 $52.74 ( 0.1%) | QQQQ 250,375 $52.74 ( 0.1%)
IWM $7,611,945 $73.06 ( 0.2%) | IWM 104,332 $73.06 ( 0.2%)
USO $1,022,034 $36.30 0.9% | USO 28,192 $36.30 0.9%
SLV $539,811 $26.25 0.4% | SLV 20,633 $26.25 0.4%
DNN $64,037 $3.27 3.2% | DNN 19,900 $3.27 3.2%
PGH $39,804 $12.84 0.9% | PGH 3,100 $12.84 0.9%


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
http://www.tradearca.com/data/volume/daily_update.asp

This material is for informational purposes only.
NYSE Euronext and its affiliates ("NYSE Arca") are not soliciting any action based upon it.
This material is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell any security in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation would be illegal.
Any opinions expressed in this material are NYSE Arca opinions only.
NYSE Arca undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this material in light of new information or future events.
THIS MATERIAL IS PROVIDED BY NYSE ARCA "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.
NYSE ARCA DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY, TITLE, AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AS TO THIS MATERIAL.
IN NO EVENT SHALL NYSE ARCA BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOST PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT MAY RESULT FROM THE USE
OF THIS MATERIAL, ANY DELAY OR INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE OR OMISSIONS OR INACCURACIES IN THE MATERIAL) WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL.

Copyright [2010] by NYSE Euronext. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited without prior express consent.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

World At A Boil With War And Economic Crisis

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

There is no question that the world is at a boil. Germany is drawing anger; N. Korea has attacked S. Korea; flaying about the FED’s Mr. Bernanke blames China for America’s sad economic and financial dilemma; five suits, class action and RICO, have been filed against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for having manipulated silver prices and class actions are rumored to be in process for naked shorting, which has been rampant in the market for years, a felony hedge fund investigation of insider trading, which the SEC has absolutely refused to pursue. The US is still occupying Iraq and has a war raging in Afghanistan to protect the opium and marijuana crops, the largest in the world, which generate $300 billion in profits a year. Socialists, having recently relinquished power in the US House of Representatives are calling Republicans an axis of depression. The socialist, what they cannot control, they attempt to destroy. It reminds us of Italy’s communists.

;

The New Fed policy of QE2 is considered by US detractors to be a step too far. The Fed has entered the inner sanctum of realm of no return. If QE 2 and a hidden QE3 don’t work, then the monetary game is over. The Fed is in a desperate position and instead of letting depression take its course, the groundwork of which was caused by the Fed, Wall Street and banking, it is again rolling the dice intent on extending and buying time. If the Fed and its owners refuse to bite the bullet great inflation will ensue dependent on the size of QE2. If it were to stay at $600 billion inflation would increase. If the Fed is forced to increase the injection to more than $2 trillion there will be far more inflation. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on government statistics because government has a track record and propensity for masking the truth. There are those that believe that this is a monetary experiment and that it is not. What we are seeing has been tried in different forms for centuries, quite unsuccessfully. As a result, to thinking people, the Fed and Mr. Bernanke have lost most of their credibility, and that view is justified. Mr. Bernanke’s recent reference to “rebalancing the global economy” is just another effort to justify current monetary policy. What Mr. Bernanke is really advocating is a world balancing where countries with surpluses use those funds to assist those with deficits. He wants a global village where interests of individual countries must reflect the interests of the global economy as a whole. Of course, nowhere to be found is sovereignty in this planned redistribution of assets.

This is the same goop Treasury Secretary Mr. Geithner fed us at the G-20 meeting. The concept of lets all of us go bankrupt together, utopianism at its finest. Fortunately in both cases the concept of global rebalancing went over like a lead balloon. Any honest economist knows this is a rehash of flawed policy. When government and the Fed abandoned the gold reserve standard on august 15, 1971, they knew where this would all end up, but they did it anyway in their march toward a world financial order and world government. After that historic date there would be no return to sound money until the system was totally purged. We have heard the call for almost 40 years of the amalgamation of nations for the interest of all. Individual countries must sacrifice their interests for the entire global economy. this is why the Fed has deliberately accommodated monetary excesses since then.

We have written about this embarrassment of planned destruction for 45 years and until recently our thoughts were ignored. Thanks to talk radio and the Internet, that reaches the entire world, we are finding that more and more people are waking up to the truth. Since the 1980s we have had one fiscal and monetary crisis â€" one after another. Now that the world is beginning to discover what Europe and the US have been up to for years these internationalists now find themselves in deep trouble. Their real problem is too many people now know what they are up to.

China just injected $2.3 trillion into their economy to spur domestic demand and create jobs. The result has been funds flowing into the stock market, real estate and the general financial sector, which has created a misallocation of funds and leaping inflation. Bank set asides were just raised, but that has happened a little too late to escape some major damage. Chinese are traveling to Hong Kong from the mainland to shop because the cost of goods is 10% to 95% cheaper. The Chinese obviously went along with US ideas to inflate domestic demand by stimulating their economy, so that consumption and imports would rise. Thus, we see China is having some of the same problems the US is having.

Leaving china behind for a moment we have to deal with corporate fascist Keynesianism, which believe it or not is being called radicalism even in mainstream circles of economic and monetary management. They are finally realizing that the Fed has inflated markets worldwide. In addition, it has long been a government and Fed policy to manipulate securities markets worldwide and provide finance as well. The insider trading the Justice Department is pursing is an example, as well as the JPMorgan Chase/HSBC silver manipulation cases. As we said, next comes naked shorting and front running. Let’s hope somehow we can bring these sociopath criminals to justice and at least for a time have an honest system.

As a result the financial world has turned to gold, which is up 24% and silver up 65% this year.

Investors believe that the rescue of Ireland is a done deal â€" not so fast. The Irish are really irate at having to bail out the bondholders. As we said before this is all about the banks being bailed out by the taxpayer.

In the US aggregate household net worth is $12.2 trillion lower today than it was three years ago at its pre-depression peak, a horrible decline of 18.5%, all in order to bring about the conditions to implement world government. That is about $100,000 per household. That money is never coming back nor is what was once known as the American dream and way of life. Baby boomers see it coming and denial is grudgingly becoming acceptance. The ratio of household net worth to disposable personal income has gone from 639% to 472% and it is still plunging. The savings rate, out of fear has risen from minus 0.5% to 5.5%, but still has to double from here to help get the economy going again. At the same time the Fed and Treasury are telling Americans to take on more debt. Homeowners equity has collapsed below $7 trillion from $13.5 trillion, making the situation worse â€" employment is off 7.5 million and full-time jobs are off 10 million, the worst numbers in 11 years. Real un employment is 22-5/8%.

If QE2 is terminated at $600 billion watch out, because the economy will head straight into a great dark pit. All the numbers we see are signaling a strong need for more than $600 billion.

Ireland’s government has collapsed as front page headlines in Dublin blare we were lied too. We saw the same thing come out of Greece and next is Portugal and then Spain. Debt is being restructured and it won’t last. Who wants to live in depression for 30 to 50 years, while bankers get richer and more powerful?

America’s capacity utilization is 72.7%, up from 68.7% a year ago, but still in recession. Small business hiring is at a virtual standstill and part-time employment doesn’t cut it in feeding the family. Two million workers are about to lose extended employment benefits. YTD three million already lost their benefits and are losing their homes and they cannot feed their families. Already 42.4 million Americans are on food stamps. That is up 550,000 in three months. We peg inflation at 6-1/2 to 7 percent, officially YOY it is 1.2%. The plight of a once great country betrayed by Wall Street and banking, is a sordid mess with little hope of a quick recovery.

The US has spent two years sliding precipitously downhill. The socialists who have had the run of the country have brought two disastrous pieces of legislation, medical reform and financial reform. The former will bring euthanasia and the latter financial dictatorial government. This all in the guise of saving America, when in reality the legislation was passed with the assistance of financial payoffs.

As we predicted there would be QE2 this past May and that has since been verified by the Fed. QE2 is, as we said in May, a stepping-stone to QE3 and perhaps QE4 and more. You might call these stages of an ongoing heightening depression. One I might add that guarantees higher unemployment and the funding of sovereign debt. This policy will not produce wealth, but it will create inflation. This is a temporary lifesaver being thrown to a drowning economy. This is what corporatist fascism, also known as crony capitalism is all about. The EU is the same, the euro zone, G7 and G20 all under the same concept grounded in one form of socialism or another. We no longer have democracy; we have a kleptocracy from the top down. This is the reality of America today.

This is the reality that is America. This means you have to act in your own self-interest to preserve your wealth. You have to think outside the box. That means you have to be in gold and silver related assets. You have to leave the herd. You have to think for yourself. That means you do not listen to Wall Street, CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg, nor our politicians and bureaucrats. These are the same group of elitists that would have you believe they will have economic recovery by creating massive amounts of money and credit. Monetization does not solve anything in the long run. It is simply another Ponzi scheme, or just good old fashioned debasement. This is a make believe world where the Fed ends up with almost all of the US Treasuries and Agencies, after having spent QE1 bailing out the financial sector. That in turn via trillions of dollars has kept the bond and stock markets from falling. How is it intelligent and good planning for the Fed to own more Treasuries and A gencies than China or Japan?

The façade that has protected government regulators is coming apart. Time after time we have seen non-pursuit by the SEC and CFTC. Wall Street and the banks have owned our government for almost 100 years via the Federal Reserve. It is simple they buy almost everyone in sight. Look at the packaging, and syndication of mortgages. The rating system was total fabrication yet no charges civil or criminal for anyone involved. A new massive investigation by the US Attorney of insider trading by hedge funds, class action and RICO lawsuits against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for manipulating the silver market. Then, of course, was the Madoff Ponzi scheme that the SEC was aware of for ten years.

Next on the horizon will be investigations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which should have taken place ten years ago. We have little or no protection from the crooks on Wall Street and in the banking establishment.

Unfortunately, we are very skeptical regarding the outcome of ForeclosureGate. The attorney generals are already buckling and a deal is being put together to let the bankers off the hook, and stick the taxpayers with the bills. As we wrote eight years ago the government wants to nationalize all housing and that is where this is all headed.

Housing starts have fallen 11.7% month-on-month, as existing home sales fell 2.2%. How can any sane person be building homes with a three-year inventory overhang. They must have a death wish or the government has found ways to subsidize homebuilders.

75% of the nation saw declines in home sales, only the South’s home sales rose 3.2%. The Northeast fell 12.1% reversing most of the 17.9% increase in September. The Midwest fell 20.4% reversing half of 53.1% increase in December. The West fell 23.4% versus 3.1% in September.

Inventory of homes for sale rose from 7.9-months in September to 8.6-months in October. That does not count the shadow inventory held by lenders that could push inventory up to three years.

Median sales prices fell 13.9%, which was the largest monthly decline on record since 1963 to $194,900. The YOY rate is at minus 9.4%, the fastest deflation since July 2009. Average sales prices fell in October to $248,200.

In the rooms in Manhattan federal court, the Justice Department is having more success establishing that many of the same banks fleeced taxpayers by investing, at below-market rates, some of the $400 billion of bond proceeds raised each year. Details of the scope and depth of this nationwide financial conspiracy are coming to light almost without notice, as one defendant after another appears to face justice.

It was see no evil and hear no evil by everybody involved. It was a conspiracy of silver. That money, instead of going to citizens, goes to Wall Street banks. Some of the top derivatives traders at the world’s largest banks stood to gain because their bonuses grew larger as they won more bids.

UBS AG was sued and accused of fraud by the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff’s investment firm, who is seeking to recover at least $2 billion for victims of the con man’s Ponzi scheme.

Irving H. Picard, trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, said today he aims to recoup redemptions and fees from Zurich-based UBS as well as damages and disgorgement.

“Madoff’s scheme could not have been accomplished unless UBS had agreed not only to look the other way, but also to pretend that they were truly ensuring the existence of assets and trades when in fact they were not and never did,” David J. Sheehan, a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP and counsel for Picard, said in an e-mailed statement. The complaint, filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, alleges 23 counts of financial fraud and misconduct against UBS “and related entities and individuals.” The full complaint was filed under seal, followed by a redacted version blanking out information deemed confidential by UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank.

“We have battled with UBS regarding disclosure of information about the bank’s knowledge of Madoff,” Picard said in today’s statement. “We intend to move to have that designation removed and the complaint made public as soon as possible.”

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell more than forecast last week to the lowest level since July 2008, reinforcing evidence the labor market is healing. Jobless claims declined by 34,000 to 407,000 in the week ended Nov. 20, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median projection of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop to 435,000. The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance decreased to the lowest in two years, and those on extended payments also fell.

Fewer firings lay the groundwork for a pickup in job creation that will generate incomes and spur consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy. Even with companies firing fewer workers, unemployment will be slow to decline, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest forecast in which policy makers also lowered their growth projections.

“The labor market is clearly improving,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We’re seeing consistent job gains in the private sector. This suggests we’ll have a good holiday spending season.”

Consumer spending rose in October for a fifth month as a rebound in incomes lifted the biggest part of the U.S. economy at the start of the final quarter of 2010, Commerce Department figures showed today.

Americans increased spending for a fifth month in October and filed the fewest unemployment claims in more than two years last week, pointing to strength in the largest part of the economy as the fourth quarter began.

Household purchases advanced 0.4 percent after a 0.3 percent gain in September that was larger than previously estimated, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. Incomes climbed 0.5 percent. Jobless claims fell by 34,000 to 407,000 in the week ended Nov. 20, Labor Department figures showed.

Orders for U.S. goods meant to last several years unexpectedly decreased in October, raising the risk that companies will scale back on investments in new equipment.

Demand for so-called durable goods dropped 3.3 percent, the biggest plunge since January 2009, after a revised 5 percent jump in September that was larger than previously estimated, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. A slowdown in capital spending would deprive the world’s largest economy of a source of strength just as household purchases are starting to accelerate. While overseas demand is helping companies like Rockwell Automation Inc., there may be less of a contribution to growth from inventory rebuilding in coming months.

Citigroup Inc. agreed to buy back $869 million of auction-rate securities it had sold to Hawaii and repay the state for losses on securities it had previously liquidated, Hawaii’s Attorney General Mark Bennett said.

The settlement means Hawaiian taxpayers will lose no principal on their investments in the securities, Bennett said in a statement posted on his official website. Citigroup admits no wrongdoing and Hawaii won’t pursue claims against the bank, according to the statement.

Hawaii has liquidated $200 million of the securities, which are backed by pools of federally guaranteed student loans, since February 2008.

Alexander Samuelson, a Citigroup spokesman, said in a statement that the bank was “pleased to provide this liquidity solution to the state.”

The securities get their name from the weekly, bank-run auctions where the interest rate they pay investors is determined. The market, which once stood at $330 billion, collapsed in 2008 as banks stopped using their own cash to prop up the auctions. That left investors with bonds they couldn’t sell and forced borrowers such as hospitals to pay a premium. Bloomberg News reported in March that the securities were sold to Hawaii as low-risk substitutes for U.S. Treasury bills by Citigroup broker Pete Thompson in Honolulu.

Mortgage-backed securities holders are pushing for a resolution of a 50-state probe of foreclosure practices, attorneys general in Iowa and Arizona said as talks with lenders and servicers expand to include investors.

“The mortgage backed securities are worth pennies on the dollar, so any kind of recovery would be better,” Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said in an interview. Owners of mortgage-backed securities are “one of the players urging a resolution,” he said. State officials have begun informal talks with some investors, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said. All 50 U.S. states are investigating whether banks and loan servicers used false documents and signatures to justify hundreds of thousands of foreclosures. The probe, announced Oct. 13, came after JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC mortgage unit said they would stop repossessions in 23 states where courts supervise home seizures and Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. lender, froze foreclosures nationwide.

The probe has since widened to include other mortgage practices, with attorneys general suggesting any potential resolution should include improving the loan modification process, barring foreclosures when people are modifying loans and creating a general fund to compensate homeowners who may have been victims of wrongful foreclosures. “Robosigning was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Goddard said, referring to the practice of loan servicer employees signing thousands of documents without determining if they were accurate. “It was proof positive that it wasn’t just in one state and virtually every financial institution was complicit.”

An Obama administration official says a preliminary investigation into the foreclosure process has found inexcusable breakdowns in the basic controls mortgage lenders should have been using.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr said yesterday that a foreclosure task force composed of 11 federal agencies had found serious problems in the way home foreclosures were being handled. Barr told a new financial stability council headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that the task force hoped to have a set of recommended improvements ready by late January.

Barr said the goal of the task force was to hold banks accountable for fixing the problems that have been found and making sure that individuals who have been harmed are given a way to seek redress. Bar said the investigation had found “widespread and, in our judgment, inexcusable breakdowns in basic controls. The problems must be fixed.’’ Barr delivered his comments before the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The group of top federal officials, including Geithner and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, was holding its second meeting.

The panel was created by the Dodd-Frank legislation passed by Congress last summer in an effort to fix flaws in current government regulation that were exposed by the financial crisis that struck with force two years ago.

Barr said that the federal agencies were coordinating their investigation with state regulators. He said the federal task force hoped to report back to the stability council at its January meeting. “Major financial institutions are being reviewed for problems across a wide range of issues in foreclosure processing,’’ Barr said.

Members of the stability council heard Barr’s presentation but made no comments during the portion of the group’s meeting that was open to the public.

U.S. home prices fell 3.2 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier as demand weakened without federal tax credits, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said. The Atlanta area led declines among the 25 largest metropolitan regions, with a 10 percent slump, the FHFA said in a statement. Prices rose 4.6 percent in the San Diego area for the biggest gain, according to the agency, which measures sales of homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Home sales fell to record-low levels after the April 30 expiration of a tax credit of as much as $8,000 for buyers. An overhang of distressed properties and an unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent will likely cause more price declines, according to Celia Chen, an analyst with Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“Our overall expectations for home prices is that they’ll drop by another 8 percent by the third quarter of next year,” she said in a telephone interview before the FHFA report.

Measured from June 30, prices fell 1.6 percent, the Washington-based FHFA said. Economists had projected prices would decrease 1.1 percent, according to the average of 15 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

The number of mortgage applications in the U.S. rose last week as purchases increased by the most in two years.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index rose 2.1 percent in the week ended Nov. 19 after dropping 14 percent the prior week, the biggest drop of the year, figures from the Washington- based group showed today. The gauge of purchases surged 14.4 percent, the biggest gain since November 2008, while the refinancing measure fell 1 percent.

Borrowing costs near a record low and reduced home prices are helping to stabilize a market struggling to recover after the April expiration of a government tax credit. A sustained improvement in housing may take longer as unemployment hovers close to 10 percent and foreclosures persist.

“The housing market takes one step forward but then one half step back,” Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “The level of sales remains quite pathetic.”

The share of applicants seeking to refinance a loan fell to 78.6 percent last week from 80.3 percent the prior week, today’s figures showed.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage loan increased to 4.50 percent from 4.46 percent the prior week. The 4.21 percent rate reported for the week ended Oct. 8 was the lowest in records going back to 1990.

At the current 30-year rate, monthly payments for each $100,000 of a loan would be about $506, or $20 less than a year ago when the rate was 4.83 percent.

Mortgage Rates. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.83 percent from 3.87 percent, and the rate on a one-year adjustable mortgage dropped to 7.09 percent from 7.11 percent.

Foreclosure moratoria at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other banks, along with government investigations into faulty paperwork, threaten to further delay the housing recovery as residential properties slated for repossession take longer to come to market.

Sales of existing homes fell 2.2 percent in October, more than forecast, to a 4.43 million annual rate, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed yesterday. The median price dropped 0.9 percent from a year earlier.

Homebuilders are echoing concern about the lack of a pickup in demand. D.R. Horton Inc., the second-largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, expects 2011 to be “challenging” for the industry as consumer confidence and employment remain weak, Chief Executive Officer Donald Tomnitz said on a Nov. 12 earnings conference call. The spring selling season, the strongest for builders, may fail to bring the traditional boost in demand, he said.

The number of banks on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s "problem" list grew over the summer, even as the industry posted solid net income and fewer loans soured. The number of troubled banks rose to 860 in the July-September quarter from 829 in the previous quarter. That's the most since 1993, during the savings and loan crisis. The FDIC also said banks earned $14.5 billion during the third quarter. That was a decrease from the previous quarter's result of $21.4 billion.

The FDIC said earnings fell because Bank of America Corp took a one-time hit of $10.4 billion. That was because of new limits on debit card swipe fees that retailers pay to banks.

The industry's third-quarter results were well above the $2 billion that banks earned a year earlier. The troubled banks were smaller, on average, holding $379.2 billion in assets. That's down from $403.2 billion in the April-June quarter.

Federal agents arrested an executive of a research firm yesterday on charges that he helped hedge funds obtain improper information about publicly traded companies, the first of what is expected to be a new round of cases related to insider trading.

The arrest came on the same day that prosecutors won a major victory in their pursuit of insider trading, as a federal judge ruled that wiretapped conversations may be used in the trial of former hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. The wiretapped communications form the linchpin of the government’s case against Rajaratnam and about two dozen traders and executives implicated in the investigation.

Together, the two developments appeared to increase the momentum in the government’s rapidly moving investigation.

On Monday, the FBI raided three hedge funds, including two Connecticut funds in which the Massachusetts state pension fund has a combined $65.6 million in holdings, as well as the Boston-based technology fund Loch Capital.

The government has also sent subpoenas to investment firms overseeing billions of dollars and has reportedly contacted the Boston investment firm Wellington Management Co. about the matter.

But the inquiry entered a new phase yesterday with the arrest of Don Chu, an executive at Primary Global Research, a so-called expert-network firm that provides “market intelligence’’ to hedge funds.

Federal agents arrested Chu at his home in Franklin Township, N.J., an FBI spokesman said. Prosecutors said Chu, 56, had been scheduled to fly to Taiwan on Sunday. A magistrate released him on a $1 million bond.

Chu’s lawyer, Jeffrey Plotkin, declined to comment. A spokesman for Primary Global, said it had severed its relationship with Chu “based upon recent events.’’

The government accused Chu of participating in an insider-trading conspiracy by arranging for his hedge fund clients to get illegal tips on technology companies, including Broadcom, Sierra Wireless, and Atheros Communications.

Primary Global, where Chu worked, is one of a band of expert-network firms that have filled a small but lucrative niche on Wall Street over the past decade as investment banks have scaled back their research departments and the number of information-hungry hedge funds has grown. The firms are essentially matchmakers, connecting hedge funds with employees at public companies and others who are paid to provide the funds with insight into their businesses.

The expert-network business has come under scrutiny through the years from regulators who have examined whether consultants have inappropriately disclosed nonpublic information about the companies with which they work.

Prosecutors said Chu helped provide illegal tips about companies to Richard Choo Beng Lee, a former money manager at Spherix Capital, a California hedge fund. Among other events, the criminal complaint describes a meeting between Lee and an unnamed employee of Broadcom in Taiwan during which the employee gave Lee the company’s financial results before they were made public

Don Ching Trang Chu, the “expert- network” executive arrested yesterday on insider-trading charges, had a roster of Asia-based employees of North American technology companies to feed information to clients, according to court documents.

Chu, who worked for Primary Global Research LLC of Mountain View, California, offered to set up hedge-fund manager Richard Choo-Beng Lee with employees of Sierra Wireless Inc., Broadcom Corp. and Atheros Communications Inc. when he planned to travel to Taiwan in 2009, U.S. prosecutors said in a criminal complaint yesterday in Manhattan. Lee, co-founder of Spherix Capital LLC, was secretly cooperating with the government after bein g ensnared in the Galleon Group insider-trading probe.

Primary Global billed Chu on its website as the firm’s “bridge to Asia experts and data sources.” In e-mails and recorded conversations, Chu, 56, said he liked arranging investor meetings in Asia because regulators weren’t too aggressive.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is “too strong,” Chu told Lee in a conversation recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in August 2009, according to the complaint. “In Asia, there, nobody cares.”

Primary Global is one of about 40 firms that connect investors with research and experts in a range of sectors, countries and thousands of individual companies. The detailed information they provide on product development, sales and company strategy complements, and sometimes supplant, conventional research provided by Wall Street firms.

Zogby Interactive: 61% Oppose Full Body Scans and TSA Pat Downs; 48% Will Seek Alternative to Flying Frequent Fliers: 59% Oppose Enhancements and 43% Will Seek Alternative to Flying -

The implementation of full body scans and pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of security enhancements at our nation's airports will cause 48% of Americans and 42% of more frequent fliers to choose a different mode of transportation when possible, a recent Zogby International Poll finds. 

Overall, 61% of the 2,032 likely voters polled from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, oppose the use of full body scans and TSA pat downs.  Republicans (69%) and Independents (65%) oppose in greater numbers than Democrats (50%).

Of those polled, 52% believe the enhanced security measures will not prevent terrorist activity, almost half (48%) say it is a violation of privacy rights, 33% say they should not have to go through enhanced security methods to get on an airplane, and 32% believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs to be sexual harassment.  This is in line with frequent fliers (fly more than once every 3 months), as 53% say the enhanced measures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48% believe it's a violation of their privacy rights, 41% say they should not have to go through it to get on an airplane, and 35% believe it is sexual harassment. 

While roughly the same amount believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs are necessary to keep the country safe and prevent terrorist activities on airplanes (34% of frequent fliers vs. 29% overall), frequent fliers are more likely to feel that the enhanced methods are not needed because metal detectors and bag screenings are working fine (33% to 26%). Just 16% of frequent fliers say no one has an absolute right to fly and if people don't like the security measures, then just don't fly compared to 20% of everyone polled. 

The Zogby poll also finds when given a choice, likely voters will choose full body scan over the TSA pat downs (48% to 7%), but 42% would rather have neither.  Frequent fliers feel about the same.

Pollster John Zogby: "It's clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted. The airlines should not be happy with 42% of frequent fliers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements. It seems the airlines and TSA need to come together to find a solution before the American flying public abandons both."

The interactive poll consisted of 2,032 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/-2.2%.  A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate.  Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population.

North Korea operates 40,000 special forces troops, including the 11th or "Storm" Corps whose mission is to infiltrate South Korea and create havoc in case of war. It also has around 10,000 naval special forces and around 5,000 air force soldiers who can cross the border if a war breaks out.

The figures were revealed in a speech by former South Korean commander of special operations Kim Yun-suk to fellow veterans at the War Memorial in Seoul. Kim said the Storm Corps, which has been trained to stir up confusion behind enemy lines, is composed of four light infantry, seven airborne and three sniper brigades. And the 4th Corps special forces, stationed on the Ongjin Peninsula close to South Korea's Baeknyeong Islands in the West Sea, consists of 600 scout troops, 600 naval reconnaissance soldiers and around 1,800 naval forces. The North also operates a large amphibious landing force in the region similar to South Korea's Marines. Totaling 180,000 troops, North Korea has the largest number of special ops forces in the world. The 11th Corps accounts for 22 percent with 40,000 special forces troops, and 120,000 light infantry brigades make up 66 percent of the special forces. The reconnaissance brigade, which has been fingered in the sinking of the South Kor ean Navy corvette Cheonan, accounts for around 6 percent of special forces, and the Navy and Air Force each have around 5,000 crack troops, which make up 3 percent.

"Ten thousand North Korean special forces are capable of infiltrating simultaneously through underground tunnels or aboard 260 hovercraft or submarines, while 175 AN-2 transport planes and 310 helicopters can transport another 10,000 troops," Kim said.

The former officer said the South needs to come up with measures to deal with the so-called asymmetric threat by creating a powerful special forces brigade, operating a special military branch that handles North Korea's irregular forces and boosting the number of anti-terrorism units and training.

 

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Indications: U.S. futures fall sharply after holiday break

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Simon Kennedy and Nick Godt, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures dropped Friday following the Thanksgiving holiday, as worries over sovereign debt in Europe and tensions between North and South Korea persist while investors awaited news on retailers’ Black Friday sales.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,070, -85.00, -0.76%)  fell 90 points to 11,065 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,187, -9.30, -0.78%)  dropped 10.80 points to 1,185.70 ahead of the holiday-shortened trading session.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,153, -5.00, -0.23%)  slumped 17.50 points at 2,140.50.

The decline for stock futures came as European stock markets posted another day of losses. Spanish stocks in particular fell heavily, with the IBEX 35 index dropping 2.6% as investors continued to worry about the possibility of sovereign-debt contagion to Portugal and Spain.

Shares in Spanish bank BBVA SA /quotes/comstock/13*!bbva/quotes/nls/bbva (BBVA 10.34, -0.32, -3.00%)  dropped 4.5% and Banco Santander SA /quotes/comstock/13*!std/quotes/nls/std (STD 10.03, -0.46, -4.39%)  fell 5.5% in pre-opening trade.

“Europe is a big part of the fall [for futures] because it’s rattling the bank sector, which is where the risk lies to the global economy,” said Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin. Also, concerns over tension between North and South Korea are growing again, he noted.

“If the market wants to focus on the downside, there’s plenty to keep them going,” Lenhoff said.

Among U.S. banking stocks, shares in Citigroup Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!c/quotes/nls/c (C 4.12, -0.05, -1.15%)  dropped 1% in premarket trading.

Black Friday survival checklist

Crowded stores, long lines and increased online traffic make Black Friday one of the most challenging shopping days of the year.

Friday’s decline came after U.S. markets rallied Wednesday, with the Dow index /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,103, -84.35, -0.75%)  closing up 1.4% in thin pre-holiday trading following data that showed falling jobless claims and rising consumer confidence.

With no economic data due Friday, retail stocks are likely to be closely watched as investors look for any early snippets of news on retailers’ Black Friday sales.

Shares in Amazon.com Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 177.54, +0.29, +0.16%) , eBay Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!ebay/quotes/nls/ebay (EBAY 31.24, +0.03, +0.10%)  and Target Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!tgt/quotes/nls/tgt (TGT 56.93, -0.32, -0.56%)  could all be in focus after rising strongly on Wednesday.

Analysts at Jefferies & Co. gave one early indication on the sales after a midnight trip to an outlet center to asses demand.

“Midnight madness checks showed consumers have come to shop yet again following last year’s strength. Traffic was strong and promos contained for the second year in a row,” the broker said.

Other stocks in focus could include New York Times Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!nyt/quotes/nls/nyt (NYT 9.06, -0.04, -0.44%)  after hedge fund Harbinger Capital cuts its stake in the publisher to 2.6%. In October the fund had said it held 7.4% of the company.

The dollar also rose against the euro as sovereign worries remained. The euro dropped 1% to $1.3213.

Oil and gold futures were also lower as the dollar strengthened.

Asian markets closed lower. Korea’s KOSPI index dropped 1.3% after North Korea reportedly warned that further naval exercises by the U.S. and South Korea will bring the region closer to war.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London. Nick Godt is MarketWatch's markets editor, based in New York.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Friday, Nov 26, 2010 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Wednesday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
CPII $14.45 $19.40 34.3% 700
CHTR $34.99 $23.99 (31.4%) 6,000


10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
SPY $240208561 $119.06 ( 0.9%) | SPY 2,018,051 $119.06 ( 0.9%)
DLM $33,298,713 $18.77 4.3% | DLM 1,776,471 $18.77 4.3%
AAPL $19,058,369 $313.13 ( 0.6%) | C 1,065,314 $4.13 ( 1.0%)
QQQQ $12,258,143 $52.63 ( 1.0%) | IRE 1,021,789 $1.43 ( 9.5%)
IWM $7,908,016 $73.11 ( 0.9%) | AIB 309,324 $0.89 (12.7%)
GLD $6,956,800 $132.79 ( 1.0%) | QQQQ 232,899 $52.63 ( 1.0%)
BHP $6,049,768 $83.20 ( 2.2%) | SDS 199,598 $26.94 1.9%
SDS $5,363,054 $26.94 1.9% | BAC 123,649 $11.19 ( 0.7%)
EWZ $5,280,467 $74.28 ( 2.3%) | TZA 117,520 $19.64 2.4%
C $4,390,295 $4.13 ( 1.0%) | IWM 108,189 $73.11 ( 0.9%)


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
http://www.tradearca.com/data/volume/daily_update.asp

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Indications: Stock futures gain as jobless claims fall

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Kate Gibson and Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures pointed broadly higher Wednesday as the number of filings for jobless benefits declined sharply last week and as results from upscale jewelry maker Tiffany & Co. beat estimates.

Already on the rise, stock-index futures climbed further after the Labor Department reported first-time unemployment claims fell by 34,000 last week to 407,000 â€" a drop that came as “a huge positive surprise,” Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, wrote in a note. See more on the improvement in unemployment claims.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,150, 0.00, 0.00%)  gained 67 points to 11,081 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,196, -0.60, -0.05%)  rose 8.4 points to 1,186.7.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/13*!ndz/quotes/nls/ndz (NDZ 10.77, +0.10, +0.94%)  advanced 15.25 to 2,134.25.

SAP hit with penalty in Oracle suit

A jury's verdict that SAP must pay Oracle $1.3 billion over stolen intellectual property looks certain to be appealed.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported orders for U.S. durable goods declined in October, while consumer spending climbed for a fifth month as personal incomes also rose.

In addition, year-over-year core inflation rose 0.9% in October, a record low for data going back to 1960, according to the government.

The blue-chip Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,187, +150.91, +1.37%)  slumped 142.21 points, or 1.3%, on Tuesday, falling for two consecutive trading days, as global markets were rattled by news that North Korea had launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island.

“Geopolitical concerns are usually not long lasting,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners.

“It happened two days before the holiday and it’s going to be a long weekend, and that exaggerated the move on the downside,” Cardillo added.

Shortly after the U.S. stock market opens, the University of Michigan consumer-sentiment index for November is due out, to be followed by housing-market data.

Shares of Oracle Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 27.74, +0.55, +2.02%)  gained after a jury ruled Tuesday that German software group SAP AG /quotes/comstock/13*!sap/quotes/nls/sap (SAP 48.15, -0.54, -1.11%)   /quotes/comstock/11e!fsap (DE:SAP 36.07, -0.20, -0.54%)  must pay $1.3 billion over intellectual-property theft.

And, Tiffany /quotes/comstock/13*!tif/quotes/nls/tif (TIF 61.33, +3.06, +5.25%)   reported a 27% rise in net income in the third quarter, with the jewelry maker known for its trademark turquoise box also hiking its yearly forecast above Wall Street’s expectations. See more on Tiffany raising fiscal-year forecast.

In Asia overnight, South Korea’s Kospi Composite ended down 0.2%, paring most of its intraday losses.

Tuesday’s move by North Korea “reflects its long-standing pattern of provocations,” said Evan Feigenbaum, strategist at Eurasia Group, in a note. “But other countries, including South Korea, are unlikely to undertake a major escalation.”

In Europe, most stock markets gained, buoyed by news that Germany’s Ifo business-sentiment index surged to its highest levels since the nation was reunified. See story on German business confidence

Sovereign-debt worries, however, continued to simmer. Portugal was hit by a general strike over austerity measures, while the Irish government presented a four-year budget plan. See story on Portugal’s strike

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 79.74, +0.06, +0.08%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, was little changed at 79.58.

In commodities, crude-oil futures for January delivery gained 52 cents to $81.77 a barrel, while gold futures moved down $1.70 to stand at $1,375.90 an ounce.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau.

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Currency Warfare, Trade Barriers, The People it Hurts

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

The social net has become a bit more frayed. Soon extended unemployment benefits will cease and 2 million Americans will have to dip into their savings, if they have any. This is an outgrowth of the effects of free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing. We have lost 8.5 million jobs over the last ten years to this destructive process. We have seen more than 42,000 manufacturing plants leave the country as well. There are now more than 17 million Americans unemployed and the U6 official government unemployment figures 17%. If you remove the bogus birth/death ration, the real figure is 22-5/8%. Over that ten-year period we have lost about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs or about 1/3rd of that labor force. As recent as 1985, 25% of output was in manufacturing, now it is close to 11%. America’s physical infrastructure is in a shambles, so that transnational conglomerates can bring us cheap goods to suppress inflation and bring these companies mega-profits, which th ey keep stored offshore to bypass taxation. They presently have $1.7 trillion in such profits.

 

This in part has been caused by deficit spending and the creation of money and credit since August 15,1971, when the US left the gold standard.  It is not surprising as a result that 81% of the US economy is considered in poor shape and that the IMF fears a social explosion. You could call this a financial death spiral. There is no question the economy is moribund and the next stage could be dead in the water and that is after QE1 which saw $2.5 trillion enter the economy. The first installment of QE2 is in process and that $600 billion will grow to another $2.5 trillion, to be followed by Q3 and a further injection of another $2.5 trillion. There are those who say QE2 should be eliminated. We wonder if they realize that if it is, that the American economy, and most of the world’s economy will collapse. If we had allowed a severe recession to play itself out in the early 1990s all this would have never happened, but that is not what Wall Street and banking wanted. We should have bitten the bullet three years ago, but the elitists wanted to take the problem at least one step further to be sure the final result would bring about one-world government. Readers, that is what this is really all about.

Video: Nixon on August 15. 1971 discussing amongst other things the decoupling of the US dollar from gold.

We have a foreclosure crisis in real estate of epic proportions caused by the criminal behavior of banks. The use of food stamps reaches an all-time high each and every day. Soon unemployment will be more than 23%. If you want to see where we are headed look at the unemployed figures projected from the 1930s. U3 was 25.2% and U6 was 37.6%. In addition if you use the 1990 methodology the CPI inflation figure is about 4.5%. If you use the 1980 basis real inflation is 8.5%. We have ceased looking at official government figures because very simply, they are bogus and have no connection to reality. The unemployment situation is so bad that millions are filing for disability. That comes after extended unemployment benefits end.

It is not that people do not want to work but that there are simply few jobs available. 8.5 million of our jobs have gone to foreign nations with cheap abundant labor and they won’t return until we erect tariffs on goods and services. As a result 14.3% of adult Americans live in poverty. That is cash income before taxation of $22,000, or less, for a family of five. This does not include existing assets or food stamps or unemployment benefits. This situation is similar to the early 1960s, which was solved by the Keynesian “War on Poverty” and another no-win war. As we recall, the last time fewer Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941, when unemployment was 16.2% and we had another war. Incidentally, we do not believe in coincidence. It should be noted that we not only face labor differentials of 90%, but America’s regulatory environment is purely anti-business and anti-growth, as our competitors face no such handicaps. These factors began the exodus an d that will continue until there are no jobs and the American economy collapses. The World Trade Organization, WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA and all the other sweetheart deals with other countries have to be eliminated, and they will be purely because soon the US will be strictly in a survival mode. America is left with a service economy and that does not produce wealth. Then there is the declining dollar that has put the US on sale. It has gotten so bad that states, cities and counties are selling off ports, parking meters, bridges and highways. Foreigners are happy to comply in their effort to dump depreciating dollars. In addition unfunded US liabilities are about $90 trillion, plus the current short-term liability of $14 trillion. This is debt that cannot possibly be repaid.

Consumers in great part are living off credit cards, as they try to pay them down. Recently consumer debt fell 1.4%. That means in the intermediate and longer term consumers cannot consume enough to maintain consumption at 70% of GDP. The flip side of that is that 13% of the economy is deficit spending. If government spending was eliminated GDP would fall at a 10% rate.

As a result governments, corporations and individuals are dumping the depreciating dollar. That is what QE2 is all about and that is monetizing US debt, because fewer and fewer people will buy it. The Fed will end buying all the US debt and the dollar will collapse. In February, almost two years ago, we declared an inflationary depression. It’s still going on. There is no growth in America. What is spent is debt by the US Treasury augmented by the Fed. Purchasing power is dropping off a cliff and that means America’s standard of living is falling and will continue to fall. What will America do when the music stops? When no one will no longer buy US bonds? The Fed will buy them all eventually and that process is already under way. What happens if the Congress cuts back spending and austerity begins? That means cuts in many areas and higher unemployment and less consumption. That means a deepening depression. This shows you what few options the government and the Fed rea lly have. They rescued Wall Street and banking and left the economy to shift for itself. If the Fed does not inject over $2 trillion into the economy GDP could shrink by some 18%. This is a consequence the Fed doesn’t dare tell you and the Congress about. That also means the dollar could fall 20% to 50% from current levels. Living standards would then fall a like amount, as government cuts extended unemployment, food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. At the same time persistent inflation will be a drain on purchasing power. This is where this is all headed and Wall Street, banking, the Fed and government are well aware of where this is headed. Where will the welfare come from? As a result there will be social unrest and dislocation. We are already seeing families moving together from one state to another and an exodus of inhabitants from high tax states to states with low or no state taxes and warmer climate. Major changes are already taking place. All kinds of big changes are coming. What can government do when they are committed to $105 trillion in debt and foreigners refuse to any longer fund its debt? Those who own gold and silver related investments will protect their wealth and those who have put food; a water filter and weapons away will have a good chance of survival.

Americans are not alone in this dilemma; many other nations are as well. Even Canada has a debt to GDP ratio of 150% and 60% would be in trouble with just the loss of one paycheck. Like in the US savings are miniscule. There is no incentive to save with 1% interest rates. The funds are either spent or invested in more speculative vehicles as they are in the US and in other countries. Do not forget savings are the lifeblood of the economy.

Open currency warfare is out in the open after having been under cover for many years. It isn’t just the Chinese; it is everyone including the US, and this will eventually lead to trade wars, which is a battle exporters cannot win. Exporters with large US dollar positions are getting rid of them by buying bonds in other currencies, commodities, gold and silver. Many other nations are following their lead, as we explained earlier in reference to SOC, the Shanghai group. You also have Japan making its biggest currency intervention in years. Needless to say, the US blames everyone else when they have been manipulating the dollar for years. Just stop for a minute and think of what the Treasury’s, Exchange Stabilization Fund is all about. It is about currency manipulation. No one is blameless, and if the US had not eliminated tariffs on goods and services we wouldn’t have the problems we are having today. Lack of tariff protection has definitely driven Am erica to the end - not to speak of the loss of 42,000 businesses and 8.5 million good paying jobs, which has resulted in 22-5/8% unemployment. Americans are still not paying attention. They still think the good things in life grow on trees and all they have to do is pluck them off free of charge. They still do not get it. We made gains in the last election from the socialists, but a paltry 100 seats in the Senate and House changed hands. They still are too dumb to understand that the crooks have to be thrown out, not re-elected.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough we have a European debt crisis to make things even more difficult. The euro hit about $1.19 in June and has since traded up to $1.40 and back to about $1.35 as the odyssey of debts hangs over Europe. The low euro made euro exports inexpensive over the months when it was down. That break has ended. We see the euro reversing from $1.40 to $1.30, but that fall won’t be enough to push exports up again. That means no exit strategy, no higher interest rates and back to stimulus again. Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain will leave the euro zone and if Germany, France, Holland and Austria want to bail them out, they now know the price tag will be $5 trillion.

Even the IMF is releasing warnings of falling world GDP, no recoveries and dire warnings of social crisis worldwide and massive world unemployment. What the elitist leadership behind the scenes in the US and Europe do not understand is when you have austerity economies slow down. They do not grow, they stagnate ad have recessions and depressions. Why do you think you are seeing massive demonstrations all over Europe, soon to come to the US as extended unemployment ends? Britain can appropriately be called a dog’s breakfast. In both France and Germany financial institutions are warning their clients that a global collapse could occur over the next two years. Serving high debt is no longer possible and that governments have reached the point of no return. The debt picture has so deteriorated that defense spending has to be cut in a major way.

This is probably your last opportunity to sell stocks and bonds. The only exception is gold and silver shares. Interest rates cannot go any lower and legislatures are unwilling to pass legislation for more stimulus. That job has been laid at the feet of the Fed. There is no one left to save the US or the world economy. The Fed cannot, because it is too busy buying US Treasury and Agency debt. People are getting savvy fast on the secrets of the Federal Reserve. Before long everyone will be aware that the Fed makes money out of thin air. It won’t be long and the Fed will be out of business and rightly so, because it is a criminal enterprise and the public is discovering that via the Internet and talk radio. The free ride for the insiders is coming to an end.

The conclusion of the failure of the Fed is about to be sound money, currency backed by gold. The struggle to suppress gold and silver are about to come to an end and they are about to again find their true place in the monetary establishments of the world. Gold will again become the ultimate world currency and it is proving that now and has proved that over the past 18 months.

Load up now when you can because there may come a time when you cannot easily find gold and silver and their prices will be substantially higher. We have been correct 98% of the time for twenty years and we see no reason for that success to change.

Last week the Dow rose 0.1%, S&P was unchanged, Nasdaq fell 0.1% and the Russell 2000 rose 0.7%. Banks fell 2.3%; broker/dealers were unchanged; cyclicals rose 0.4% and transports rose 1.4%. Consumers were unchanged; utilities fell 0.7%; high tech gained 1.9%; semis rose 1.2%; Internets fell 0.5% and biotechs gained 1.4%. Gold bullion fell $16.00, the HUI gold index fell 1.1% and the USDX rose 0.5% to 78.50.

The 2-year Treasury yield was 0.51%, the 10-year notes rose 9 bps to 2.88% and the 10-year German bund surged 19 bps to 2.70%.

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates jumped 22 bps to 4.39%, the 15’s rose 19 bps to 3.75%; the one-year ARMs were unchanged at 3.26% and the 30-year fixed jumbos rose 9 bps to 5.25%.

Fed credit rose $4 billion, up 4.6% YOY. Fed foreign holdings of Treasury, Agency debt rose $4.9 billion. Fed foreign holdings of debt rose 4.6%. Custody holdings for foreign central banks are up $386 billion YTD, or by 14.8%.

M2 narrow money supply jumped $16 billion to $8.802 trillion, it is up $277 billion, or 3.6% annualized. YOY it is up0 3.3%.

Total Money Market Fund assets fell $4 billion to $2.798 trillion. YTD assets have fallen $496 billion and YOY $541 billion, or 15.2%.

Total commercial paper outstanding sank $50.6 billion to $1.08 trillion. CP has fallen $87 billion YTD, and $184 billion YOY.

America's strapped states and cities took another hit Wednesday, with California seeing tepid demand for its latest bond sale and other governments pulling about $700 million worth of borrowing deals this week as investors continued stepping away from the municipal bond market.  The normally staid market has grown volatile the past week, posting its sharpest selloff in nearly two years, as investors demand higher interest rates to buy paper issued by states, cities and counties to finance their operations.

FBI Visit Exposes Trade-Probe Tactics The FBI's attempt to pressure an independent analyst to record his calls with a client offers a window into how the government is trying to build what could become one of the most far-reaching insider-trading cases ever.

The client that the FBI agents wanted Mr. Kinnucan to tape his calls with is hedge-fund giant SAC Capital Advisors. Last year, a cooperating witness in a separate insider-trading case against Raj Rajaratnam, founder of hedge fund Galleon Group, and 22 others agreed to provide information about SAC.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703567304575629061523575940.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

"Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter.

One focus of the criminal investigation is examining whether nonpublic information was passed along by independent analysts and consultants who work for companies that provide "expert network" services to hedge funds and mutual funds. These companies set up meetings and calls with current and former managers from hundreds of companies for traders seeking an investing edge…prosecutors and regulators are examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers leaked information about transactions, including health-care mergers.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704170404575624831742191288.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLETopStories

Andy Kessler op-ed in WSJ echoes our view: What's Really Behind Bernanke's Easing? My guess is that the Fed chairman knows that we still have too many banks overstuffed with toxic real estate loans and derivatives.

Like it or not, banks are still weak, and another panic may be on its way. Bank of America is the best example. As of Sept. 30, its balance sheet claimed a book value (assets minus liabilities) of $230 billion. But the stock market values the company at just $118 billion. Who's right? Usually the stock market is ahead of bad news and write-offs. Citibank is selling at 20% below its book value.

This suggests central bankers are nervous about real-estate loans and derivatives on bank balance sheets. In 2009, even with TARP money injected directly into their balance sheets, banks faced a $75 billion capital shortfall. Mr. Bernanke orchestrated a stock market rally so they could sell equity for much needed capital. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704648604575621093223928682.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

US banks face $100bn Basel III shortfall - Barclays says the top 35 US banks need $100B to $150B in equity capital to comply with the new Basel III global bank regulations; and 90% capital shortfall concentrated in the six largest banks.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/42d42de2-f593-11df-99d6-00144feab49a.html#axzz15yUlT500

 

Few Businesses Sprout, With Even Fewer Jobs

Fewer new businesses are getting off the ground in the U.S., available data suggest, a development that could cloud the prospects for job growth and innovation.

In the early months of the economic recovery, start-ups of job-creating companies have failed to keep pace with closings, and even those concerns that do get launched are hiring less than in the past. The number of companies with at least one employee fell by 100,000, or 2%, in the year that ended March 31, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

 

Home ownership may be falling out of reach for more Americans as lenders toughen their standards for Federal Housing Administration-insured loans beyond what the agency itself requires. Mortgage lenders have raised the minimum credit score on FHA-insured loans that they will buy to 640 from 620. About 6.3 million people fall within that range, according to FICO, which created the formula for the ratings.

Gap Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and other U.S. retailers may have to pay Chinese suppliers as much as 30% more for clothes as surging cotton prices boost costs.  ‘It’s a little terrifying to deal with cotton suppliers now,’ said Vicky Wu, a sales manager at Suzhou Unitedtex Enterprise Ltd., a closely held, Jiangsu province-based clothes maker that counts Gap and J.C. Penney among its clients.   Cotton futures in China have surged more than 70% this year.

The nation’s Republican governors and governors-to-be met for the first time since the Nov. 2 election that gave their party control of 29 statehouses, promising to address budget deficits by chopping the size of government.  ‘Why do you exist?’ Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Corbett said that he would ask every state agency… New Mexico Governor-elect Susana Martinez said she would reduce the public payroll by 5% through attrition to deal with a deficit she said recently nearly doubled to $452 million.

Foreclosures on prime fixed-rate mortgages in the U.S. jumped to a record in the third quarter. The inventory of homes in foreclosure financed by prime fixed-rate loans rose to 2.45% from 2.36% in the previous three months.

Washington state may collect $1.2 billion less in taxes than forecast over the next 31 months because of a sluggish economy, a state council said.

New York City, facing a $3.3 billion deficit in next year’s budget, will cut its workforce by more than 10,000 over the next year-and-a-half, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget office reported.

 

A bill to extend federally-funded benefits for long-term jobless workers failed to pass in the House of Representatives Thursday. To pass the House, the bill needed to capture two-thirds of the votes 258 lawmakers voted in favor of the extension, while 154 voting against it. The bill would have extended special federal unemployment insurance benefits through February, calling for $12.5 billion in emergency spending. Without an extension, long-term jobless workers will start losing benefits in coming weeks, with about two million cut off by the end of the year.

 

An Illinois sheriff who halted foreclosure evictions last month because some bank employees weren't following the proper procedures said Friday he's been forced to order his deputies to carry them out, but he will continue investigating the matter and could charge banks and their employees with crimes.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he is only ordering evictions to resume because county prosecutors told him that he was legally bound to carry out foreclosure eviction orders signed by a judge.

"For the people who have been involved with this and think now that because the (Cook County) State's Attorney's office has ordered me to go ahead with the evictions that everything's fine. No, we are going to be looking at you for criminal violations," Dart said. "You may have got through one storm now, the other one is coming."

Dart singled out Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC/Ally Financial last month for problems with eviction notices. He said Friday that investigators continue to find problems with bank employees signing off on foreclosure documents they haven't read, although he did not single out individual companies.

"When we asked a month ago send me an affidavit to say that everything was done legally, not one organization, law firm handling these cases, not one of them sent in one document," Dart said. "Not one, and they had over a month to do it."

The sheriff said that if anything, his office's investigation has shown the problems that prompted the moratorium were even more widespread than he first thought.

"We are being overwhelmed with abundant evidence that there are irregularities," he said, adding that just a cursory investigation by his financial crimes unit has shown problems in eviction order after eviction order. "Irregularities are going on all over the place here. It's the norm."

Tom Kelly, a spokesman for Chase, said that steps have been taken to ensure that foreclosure documents don't have any problems in anticipation for the resumption of evictions later this month.

Gina Proia, a spokeswoman for Ally Financial, said her company has been examining foreclosure documents carefully and has not found any cases of inappropriate notices being sent.

Taxpayers will pay the bulk of a $55 million settlement with Cook County Jail inmates who won a federal lawsuit over illegal strip-searching practices.            Cook County commissioners approved the settlement Tuesday morning. It includes $45 million from the county’s coffers and another $10 million covered by the county’s insurance. According to county records, as many as 400,000 inmates could step forward to claim a piece of the settlement. County officials said payouts for each individual could hover around the $1,000 mark. While the $55 million is expected to be approved by a federal court judge, a hearing is expected to determine the fairness of the settlement standard procedure in such cases, according to Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Pat Driscoll.

 In August 2009, a federal jury ruled that Cook County Jail employees broke the law in the way they conducted strip-searches of inmates between 2004 and 2009. The jury found that the strip-searches were unconstitutional because they were discriminatory against men, that the strip-searches were used as a form of sexual degradation and that they constituted an unreasonable search. That includes the discontinued practice of strip-searching men side by side in groups. Body-scanning machines are now at the jail, which houses 10,000 inmates.            Strip-searches are now used only when there’s “significant probable cause’’ that contraband was found, a sheriff’s spokesman said. 

 

BOCA RATON - Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's consulting firm and the company that decontaminated anthrax-infested buildings in Washington will team up.

Sabre Technical Services, which decontaminated two post offices and the Hart Senate Building after other anthrax attacks in 2001, will join Giuliani Partners to create Bio-ONE.

The building was owned by American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer and other tabloids, when it became the site of the nation's first anthrax attack in October 2001. Anthrax spores sickened and killed Sun photo editor Robert Stevens, the first of five Americans to die of anthrax from spore-tainted letters. No arrests have been made.

FBI investigators believe the anthrax came into the building with a letter and spread when anthrax-laden papers passed through photocopy machines.

The building has been quarantined ever since.

Mayor of London Warns George W Bush-War Criminal: Bring Book Tour to Britain and Never See Texas Again --George W. Bush can’t fight for freedom and authorize torture By Boris Johnson 15 Nov 2010 It is not yet clear whether George W Bush is planning to cross the Atlantic to flog us his memoirs, but if I were his PR people I would urge caution. As book tours go, this one would be an absolute corker. It is not just that every European capital would be brought to a standstill, as book-signings turned into anti-war riots. The real trouble from the Bush point of view is that he might never see Texas again. One moment he might be holding forth to a great perspiring tent at Hay-on-Wye. The next moment, click, some embarrassed member of the Welsh constabulary could walk on stage, place some handcuffs on the former leader of the Free World, and take him away to be charged. Of course, we are told this scenario is unlikely... But that is what torture-authorizing Augusto Pinochet thought. And unlike Pinochet, Mr. Bush is making no bones about what he has done.

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