Opening Bell: 10.17.08

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Editor's Note: I'll be on CNN International on Sunday night at 8.30 p.m. EST, talking about global markets in the week ahead. Tune in!
Stocks Advance in Europe, Led by RBS; U.S. Index Futures Drop (Bloomberg)
Just because it was a good night overseas, doesn't mean we'll see an up day today. To be honest, in this market it's anyone's guess right now where the U.S. trading day ends. On the upside, there's a more upbeat feeling on Wall Street lately, but equally, Thursday's rally came very late. There's still lots of speculation on the dealer notes overseas that the late U.S. rally was down to options expirations.
Asia stock markets mixed after Wall Street rebound (AP)
A weird day in Asia, with Japan jumping on the overnight gains in the Dow, while Hong Kong slumped. In typical wet-T-shirt-competition-reporter AP fashion, the data is wrong in the above article. The Nikkei rose 2.8%, while the Hang Seng fell 4.4%. China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.1%. Gains on the mainland were mainly down to officials pondering whether to let Citic, Haitong, and Guotai offer margin on securities trading.
CIC to increase stake in Blackstone to 12.5% (Financial Times)
Finally, China is getting in on the act of buying up cheap U.S. securities. CIC, China's sovereign wealth fund, said it's planning to buy Blackstone shares on the open market in a bid to increase its shareholding in the private equity giant to 12.5%, from 9.9%. It's about time CIC made a move, with the Japanese snapping up everything else in recent weeks.

Oil Rises From 13-Month Low as Stocks Gain, OPEC May Cut Output (Bloomberg)

With global markets on the way up again, oil is also rising. The black liquid was gaining around $3 in early European trading, to $73.02 a barrel. That's probably too big a swing from yesterday's $69.85 a barrel, given markets are up, but not that sharply.
Overnight interbank dollar rates continue to inch lower (Reuters)
Short term rates are on the way down, but long term rates still have some way to go. Interbank rates for overnight dollar deposits were dramatically down, to 1% - 1.5%, from 1% - 2.5% the day before.



Two Banks May Face Sanctions in Hong Kong Lehman Probe (WSJ)

There are two banks in trouble. The trouble is, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority won't say which ones. The HKMA has referred 24 cases of alleged mis-selling of mini-bonds to the Hong Kong Securities & Futures Commission. It's worth noting that as things go, Hong Kong is highly regulated but rarely prosecutes. The referral here by the HKMA looks ominous, and there's likely to be a price to pay for the banks involved.

Google's Profit and Sales Leap, Firing a Rally (Business Week)

Unsurprisingly, tech is beating the street at every turn this quarter. That's because, as I pointed out in a recent post, a lot of these business models are built on a more recession-proof basis than their industrial predecessors. Google said that it earned $1.35 billion, or 26% more than in the same quarter last year. The stock rose as much as 10% after the announcement yesterday.
Nasdaq battles back to black as Yahoo jumps (Marketwatch)
It's hard to tell what Microsoft is thinking about a tie-up with Yahoo! right now. While chief exec Steve Ballmer said the deal would "make sense economically", the software leader said that its "position hasn't changed. Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo." Regardless, these rumors are great news for Alibaba, in which Yahoo! owns a 39% stake: the stock rose 2.8% in Hong Kong, despite the Hang Seng's big decline on the day.

GM, Chrysler Merger Talks Accelerating (CNBC.com)

Chrysler CEO Robert Nardellli has hinted that both sides of the struggling automobile makers are warming up to the idea of getting in bed together. According to CNBC, the two companies have agreed to reach a decision on the merger within 2 weeks, or else abandon the plans.

Use Dividends Against the Crazy Hedgies (TheStreet.com)

"The market right now is being overwhelmed by hedge funds using instruments that are way too powerful for the market when used in the size they are being employed," writes Jim Cramer. Cramer's now suggesting that investors get some dividend exposure as defense against the volatility of this market. On that note, if you truly believe that the U.S. is headed for recession this quarter, you may want to consider getting into Johnson & Johnson. It's about as recession proof as you can get, and its earnings were spectacular. (No, I don't own it, or any stocks for that matter).

Related