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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning reading

Paddy Hirsch May 1, 2009

Looks like the stock market is set to tick higher this morning, following both Europe and Asia. We’re waiting for manufacturing data from the Institute for Supply Management, as well as data on factory orders, consumer sentiment and vehicle sales. Economists have high hopes for the ISM number – manufacturing has been contracting steadily as the recession has gathered pace, but economists reckon this latest month will show that contraction is slowing down. Fingers crossed.

Still lots of chatter about Chrysler and how its bankruptcy might shape up. Dealbook at The New York Times has a neat primer on the filing, as well as a short history of the company.

Reuters notes Fiat also wants to to pursue an alliance with General Motors European unit Opel, but says that could be a bridge too far.

Citigroup announced it is selling its Japanese brokerage business to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. Bloomberg says Sumi’s paying $5.5 billion; the Financial Times says its $7.9 billion, but it’s including a payment for Japanese-listed securities held by Citi.

On the earnings front, insurance companies continue to take a beating. Both The Hartford Financial Services Group and MetLife posted first quarter losses today. But MasterCard’s numbers weren’t as bad as analysts had expected, and McAfee posted a 77 percent jump in first-quarter profit. McAfee makes security software, which has me wondering if I should draw some kind of conclusion from its success right now.

Chevron reported a 64 percent decline in quarterly profit, thanks to slumping oil prices.
Real estate lender Corus Bankshares reported a loss and said actions taken by regulators could make it difficult for the company to operate. Reuters reports the company said it hired an investment bank to seek all strategic alternatives. Which means anything goes for Corus, from restructuring to sale.

Delinquent loans at small and medium-sized U.S. businesses showed tentative signs of having peaked in March. This according to PayNet, which tracks trends in the commercial lending market.

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