Leading the business headlines this Thursday morning was news that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as chief of the International Monetary Fund following his arrest on sexual assault charges in New York.
While his legal fate is far from being determined, his decision to step down, which had been urged by many leading observers for several days, now requires the IMF to figure out who's going to replace him. The Associated Press notes that the Europeans want a European, while nations such as Brazil and China would like the lender to look elsewhere. Then again, maybe who takes over isn't really the point. See what Brett Arends had to say on MarketWatch in Strauss-Kahn? Here's the Real IMF Scandal. He argues that "the IMF's arrogance, complacency and political intrigue helped lead to the greatest financial crisis in three generations." Read on for more.
Back to what's moving markets: The weekly jobless claims figure -- expected to show that 400,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week -- is sharing the stage with two very buzzy IPOs, commodities heavyweight Glencore and networking site LinkedIn. U.S. futures are pointing toward a higher open, but those data and debuts could still set the course for the day in either direction. World stocks were mostly higher except for in Japan, where the Nikkei lost ground after data showed the country fell into a recession in the first quarter as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
ON THE BLOGS
* The End Is Near! Buy These Stocks! - WSJ's MarketBeat
* 7 Impossible Trading Rules to Follow - Pragmatic Capitalism
* Where Have All the Bulls Gone? - Bespoke
* Savings Are Being Destroyed - Jim Rogers Blog
* bespokeinvest - $LNKD indicated range $75 - $80...yikes.
* ToddSullivan - by alphatrends - For $LNKD to trade at 70PE, it only has to grow best ever earnings 380% OR its market cap has to shrink 75% ...my bet is on the latter
* tradefast - varying estimates for $INTC 2012 EPS - $GS says $1.50, $JPM says $2.35, Bloomberg consensus is $2.28 - JPM tgt $25, GS tgt $20
* ex_wirehouse - I do not think I have time to repent before the rapture...going to cash just to be safe
IN THE HEADLINES
* Glencore's Record IPO Makes Muted Debut - Reuters
* The Most Expensive Stock in America - SmartMoney
* The Trend Is Gold Bullion's Friend - Barrons.com
* China's Coal Demand Spurs Opportunity for Investment - Bloomberg TV
* Effect of QE2's End May Be Greatly Exaggerated - Barrons.com
STOCKS TO WATCH
* LinkedIn had its initial public offering price at $45 a share, the high end of the range that was expected. The online professional network has a market value above $4 billion. The stock will start trading Thursday with the symbol LNKD.
* Sears Holdings (SHLD) lost $170 million, or $1.58 a share, in the most recent quarter, down from a profit of $16 million, or 14 cents a share, in the same period last year.
* Macy's (M) had its investment grade rating returned by Standard & Poor's, which lifted the debt to BBB- from BB+.
* Baidu (BIDU) is facing a lawsuit from a group of U.S. residents alleging the company took part in a freedom-of-speech blocking plan.
* Williams-Sonoma (WSM) said first-quarter revenue was up 7.4% to $771 million, while adjusted earnings per share rose 30% to 30 cents. The retailer reiterated its second-quarter outlook and raised its full-year forecast.
UPGRADES & DOWNGRADES
* Intel (INTC) was downgraded to sell from neutral at Goldman and its price target was cut by $1 to $20.
* Applied Materials (AMAT) was downgraded from buy to neutral at Goldman, and its target price was dropped by $2 to $14.
* Deere (DE) was downgraded from buy to hold at Jefferies, and the stock's price target was lowered by $18 to $92.
* United Continental (UAL) had its price target lifted at Soleil by $4 to $36. The stock had its buy rating affirmed.
Compiled by Elizabeth Trotta and Chris Nichols.
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