U.S. Stock Futures Point to Mixed Open (TheStreet.com)
It's probably another turbulent day with earnings underway now. S&P futures are 13 points ahead, at 916, while Nasdaq futures are ahead 18 points, at 1247. Dow futures are also up. Reporting before the bell: Citigroup, Merrill, Bank of New York Mellon (Citi and Merrill results within this Opening Bell edition).
Japan's Nikkei bleeds as recession fears loom (Marketwatch)
Volatile as always, Asian markets sank overnight. The headline above mistakenly implies that the tumble in stock prices was something to do with economic worries: it was, in fact, simply because the Dow plunged nearly 8% yesterday. Either way, the scene in Asia was ugly: the Nikkei dropped 11.4%, to 8,458.45, the Hang Seng tumbled 4.8%, while China fell 4.3%. At one point, Osaka actually halted futures trading in the Nikkei. India held up better after wholesale inflation eased "more than expected" to "just" 11.44%.
Citadel Dispels Rumors But Can't Mask a Bad Year (WSJ)
According to the Journal, yesterday's giant selloff is our fault, sort of. It looks like Ken Griffin got fed up with everyone speculating his hedge fund's demise, and in characteristically aggressive fashion, decided to set the record straight to his investors. Apparently, according to the Journal, those Citadel rumors were "published on a financial website" Tuesday and helped drag down the market yesterday. Anyway, no smoke without fire. The fund is off 26% to 30% after its "worst month ever" in September, but it's far from going under.
Merrill Lynch Posts Fifth Straight Quarterly Loss on Writedowns (Bloomberg)
And things aren't looking up for Merrill either. The bank lost $5.15 billion, or $5.58 a share in the most recent quarter, Bloomberg reports, with its writedowns now totaling $9.5 billion, or double the amount of debt needed to shore up Iceland's banking system.
Switzerland Gives UBS a Bailout; Credit Suisse Raises Funds (Bloomberg)
Now Europe's most invulnerable hub is finding it's having to lend a helping hand to its banks in distress. UBS got a $59.2 billion bailout, while the Swiss National Bank has set up a a fund to absorb UBS's "toxic debt". Credit Suisse gets 10 billion Swiss Francs from Quatari investors and Israeli Koor Industries. You have to hand it to Credit Suisse, raising money from Arabs and Israelis alike. Typically, the investments are in the form of convertible notes.
Weak Conditions Seen Across U.S., Fed Report Shows (WSJ)
Another classic doom and gloom Journal forecast. The beige book report shows consumer spending easing, although it also shows agriculture, mining and energy holding up well. The report implies recession across the country, coinciding with the Commerce Department's findings of a 1.2% drop in retail sales. The beige book report is a colloquial term for the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, and comprises the views of economists and bank chiefs from around the U.S. It is published eight times a year.
Oil price hits 15-month low under $68 (AFP)
Crude oil has fallen more than 50% from its high early this summer. Given that demand should be on the increase with the cooler season underway in many parts of the world now, demand quotas are obviously spiraling. This thing will most likely bottom out at $45 a barrel.
Way To Go, Wells Fargo (Forbes.com)
You just know things aren't good when headlines begin congratulating banks for a 27% tumble in profits. But, to be fair, Wells Fargo made $1.6 billion, or 49 cents a share, beating the street's estimates by around 50%, which is pretty outstanding. It increased its loan base by 3% over the second quarter. Morningstar analyst Jamie Peters says that "writing loans in this type of market with Wells' underwriting discipline is likely to turn out to be very profitable for shareholders in the long run." You bet it is.
Coca-Cola Profit Rises 14% on International Sales (Bloomberg)
Amazingly, given the relative strengthening of the dollar recently, Coke is having a ball overseas. Then again, a Coca Cola is perhaps the most recession-proof product there is out there. Sales in China and India accounted for much of the $1.89 billion, or 81 cents a share profit, Coke said. The company beat the street's estimates by 6 cents a share.
Airlines Set To Take Off If Oil Continues Retreat (Forbes.com)
It's hard to know for sure whether spiraling oil prices will be a boon for earnings of airlines, or that given that recessionary conditions are reportedly underfoot, Forbes isn't being a little typically overoptimistic about the prospects for U.S. carriers. Probably budget carriers such as Jet Blue stand the best chance in these conditions. Curiously, American Airlines saw a 9.4% jump in sales during the third quarter. JP Morgan says that because of recent fuel costs, third quarter earnings should be regarded as "irrelevant".
Citigroup Posts Fourth Consecutive Loss on Mortgage Writedowns (Bloomberg)
Citi lost $2.8 billion, or 60 cents a share, last quarter, taking the bank's credit losses to $13.2 billion. There's understandably a little bit of disappointment over Citi's failure to nab Wachovia's deposit base here, too.
Transactions in Decline, eBay Cuts Its Forecast (New York Times)
eBay's supposedly "recession proof" business model may not be quite as resilient to an economic downturn as it previously thought. The company reported third quarter earnings of $492.2 million, or 38 cents a share, but said that it may fall short of the street's revenue expectations for the year by around $300 million.