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Ahead of Wall Street

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stocks will likely take a sigh of relief today, reversing Friday’s losses, following the weekend ratification of last week’s austerity deal by the Greek parliament. Political leaders overlooked the violent protests on the street and nationwide elections in the coming days to endorse the fresh dose of tough medicine for Greece, whose economy is deeply in recessionary territory.

This paves the way for Greece getting a fresh bailout from the troika of EU, ECB, and the IMF. A meeting of Euro-zone finance ministers this Wednesday will need to sign off on the measure before the bailout measure could proceed. That said, it is hard to believe that this latest deal represents the end of the Greek problem as we have known it over the last two years. But that line of thinking would represent looking ahead and that’s not how the markets have been behaving lately. When it comes to Europe, the market’s horizon lately has seldom been longer than a single day.  Based on that track record, today’s market sentiment should broadly be favorable.

European dark clouds aside, the picture on the home front has lately been getting clearer and sunnier. We don’t have much on the economic calendar, but the rest of this week brings a number important economic readings. The improving U.S. economic picture has lowered the odds of fresh monetary easing from the Federal Reserve, but we will first hand look at the behind-the-scene discussions in the last FOMC meeting following the release of the minutes of that meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Inflation readings will be in focus this week, as we get the January PPI and CPI reports on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The market will also take a pulse of the nation’s manufacturing sector through the January Industrial Production report and the Empire State and Philly Fed regional surveys for February. Importantly, investors will be looking for continued strength in the January Retail Sales numbers on Tuesday and evidence of green shoots on the housing front in Thursday’s Housing Starts numbers.

The fourth quarter reporting season is winding down, but we still have about 50 S&P 500 companies coming out with results this week. Of the major releases this morning, Diebold (DBD - Snapshot Report) came out with better than expected. In other corporate news, Vodafone (VOD - Analyst Report) is reportedly contemplating making an offer for U.K’s Cable & Wireless, with the indicated price in the $1 billion vicinity.

Sheraz Mian
Director of Research

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