"Sometimes the light is all shining on me. Other times I can barely see." - Jerry Garcia
Morning News of Note:
- VZ: Getting Your MTV From the Phone Company Verizon Takes on Cable, Offering Cheaper TV Service; 140 Channels for $36.90 Firing the first volley in a long-anticipated war, Verizon Communications Inc. is about to become the first major phone company to begin offering consumers TV service. The service will be cheaper than cable TV, raising the prospect of the sort of price war that has brought down phone rates and, more recently, the cost of high-speed Internet access. (Full Story) WSJ
- NOK: Nokia aims new phone at emerging markets Mobile phone giant Nokia said on Wednesday it was expanding its range with a new handset to sell cheaply in rapidly growing emerging markets. The Finnish group said the folding 2652 model would have an estimated retail price of 100 euros and be sold from next month in China, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. (Full Story) Washington Post
- WMT: Less Holiday Retail Growth Is Forecast High Prices for Gasoline, Hurricane Katrina Effects, Job Market Play Roles With the back-to-school season over, and retailers turning attention to Christmas, two early forecasts predict weaker growth in holiday retail sales this year, as spending could be hurt by high gasoline prices, lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina and a lackluster job market. The National Retail Federation, a trade group based in Washington, plans to announce today that it expects retail sales for November and December to increase only 5%, the smallest growth rate since 2002. According to the association, which looks at retail sales excluding car dealers, gas stations and restaurants, holiday sales last year grew 6.7% to $414.7 billion, the largest increase since 1999. In 2003, those sales increased 5.2%. (Full Story) WSJ
- FRO: Oil-Tanker Firms Defy Valuation Projections for Frontline Diverge as Analysts Find Consensus Slippery to Reach The future price of oil isn't the only perplexing piece of the petrochemical puzzle. Analysts are sharply divided over the value of tanker companies that transport black gold around the world. Consider Frontline Ltd. The world's largest tanker company by number of ships is based in Norway, incorporated in Bermuda and listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Oslo Stock Exchange. (Full Story) WSJ
Market Comments: The market experienced a big selloff yesterday, and is under further pressure this morning. All eyes are focused on Hurrican Rita and whether or not it will wreak further havoc on the Gulf and its oil infrastructure. Already several experts have been on CNBC with gloomy forecasts for the prices of gas and what that will mean for consumers, in terms of the winter heating season. This has potential to keep sentiment regarding retailers (consumer spending) quite negative.
Retailers are being sold across the board, while energy stocks are the only group bucking the downtrend in any major way. The big Internet stocks are also hanging tough, and QCOM raised guidance this morning.
The put/call has been running fairly high, so a bounce could come, but I would use it to lighten up a little until the technical picture improves.