Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pandit Resigns from CITI; IBM Revenue Miss; Greece Talks Stall; Farm Notes

It was a busy day on Wall Street, with stocks closing at or very near their highs of the day, the two-day rally this week nearly recouping the losses from the prior week on the Dow and S&P, though the NASDAQ, hardest hit last week, has recovered only about 1/2 of its losses.

Stocks got an early boost when Coca-Cola (KO) matched earnings estimates of 50 cents per share and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) reported third quarter earnings, excluding special items, of $1.25 per share. Analysts, on average, expected $1.21 per share. Both companies are components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Goldman Sachs (GS), the nation's fifth largest bank by assets (though even though hastily granted a commercial bank charter in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, has yet to open a single retail branch), also beat lowered estimates, citing debt investments and underwriting fees as the main profit drivers.

Industrial production grew by 0.4%, capacity utilization increased slightly from 78.2% to 78.3% in September and the CPI ratcheted up 0.6% in September, due mostly to higher food and fuel costs, which explains why the "official" core rate of an 0.1% increase excludes those necessities. On an annual basis, the September CPI translates into 7.2% inflation, which is probably less than it actually is in the new, Fed-funded world of bizarro-finance.

The big news was the abrupt departure of Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit and COO John P. Havens, just a day after the company reported third quarter earnings. According to published reports, Citi's board of directors had been plotting Pandit's retirement for months, though Pandit himself said it was soley his decision.

Pandit's departure sent shock waves through executive offices at Fortune 500 companies and elsewhere, as apparently, there are still some BODs that are not rubber-stamping mechanisms.

Stocks got off to a fast start with most of the gains made in the morning, with small additions in the afternoon.

After the bell, IBM reported earnings in line with expectations, but missed on revenue of $24.7 billion, down from $25.8 billion in Q2, setting up for a testy open on Wednesday. Shares of Big Blue were down five points in after hours trading.

The Euro gained sharply against the dollar, boosting US shares even more as the dollar cheapened, but, in news generally sealed off from the US, Greece's talks with the troika fell apart over further austerity measures with negotiators walking out of meetings.

That late-breaking news, combined with the results from IBM and the scoring of tonight's presidential debate will set the tone for the open on Wednesday.

Farm Notes: Did you know that the agribusiness model that the large corporate farms employ (row planting and harvesting) wastes land, water and valuable resources, besides putting harmful chemicals - through the use of pesticides and fertilizers - to produce crops that are significantly less-protein rich than vegetables grown in the average backyard garden?

Also, using intensive gardening methods such as those used for centuries in France and elsewhere, the same amount of vegetables that an agribusiness farm can produce on one acre can be produced on 1/10th or less of an acre with less fertilizer, water and no pesticides.

Gardening, in America and elsewhere, isn't just about a pasttime or a hobby. It's about reclaiming the economy and moral high ground from corporations and the wasteful practices promoted by the Department of Agriculture.

Dow 13,551.78, +127.55 (0.95%)
NASDAQ 3,101.17, +36.99 (1.21%)
S&P 500 1,454.92, +14.79 (1.03%)
NYSE Composite 8,386.47, +92.97 (1.12%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,735,765,375.00
NYSE Volume 3,539,692,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3861-1630
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 278-40
WTI crude oil: 92.09, +0.24
Gold: 1,746.30, +8.70
Silver: 32.96, +0.216

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