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Hot Stock Minute: Markets Poised For Lower Open

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

We start the trading week with a sharp sell-off in Chinese markets. Stocks there posted their biggest losses today in two years. Property stocks took the biggest drop, and there's good reason why. They're reacting to the government, which is trying to curb exuberance in the housing market.

Here at home, today will be the first day markets are open since the sequester deadline passed without a deal. But PIMCO'S Bill Gross says don't worry. He tweeted "Sequester is small stuff. Don't sweat it. Big stuff is the "continuing resolution."

Is it the "Sands of Crime?" Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is now disputing reports that it bribed officials in China. The claims surfaced after Sands filed paperwork with the SEC saying it probably broke U-S laws on corruption overseas. That led to reports the company was admitting wrongdoing in Macau. But now Sands says the violations may be nothing more than a single accounting error.

It may not pay to be an executive anymore in Switzerland. Voters there have passed a referendum dubbed "The Rip Off Initiative" by a margin of 68% to 32%. What exactly is it? A plan to let a company's investors vote on the pay for its top brass. The idea gained momentum after it was revealed that the outgoing board chairman of Novartis, was getting a severence package of $77 million.


Europe's biggest bank, HSBC (HBC), is reporting that its net profits dropped 17% for the year. The company is pinning part of the blame on a $2 billion dollar payment to settle a money-laundering case brought by U.S. officials. HSBC says its underlying profit is actually up because it has gotten rid of many bad loans. The stock has been been climbing for the past 6 months, but is down more than 2.5% in premarket trading.

Next we have Icahn Enterprises (IEP), which reports its quarterly earnings today. This is the investment firm led by Carl Icahn. Shares were down an ego-bruising 16% on Friday after the company issued more than 3 million new shares. Of course Icahn has been in the headlines quite a bit lately as he and Bill Ackman take opposing views on Herbalife. Icahn is upping his stake in that company and just won the right to pick some of the company's board members.

Newscorp (NWSA) is down more than 2.5% in premarket trading. The company announced today that it will sell its entire stake New Zealand’s "Sky Network Television." That's the country's biggest pay-television operator. The move is part of Newscorp's push to reshape its balance sheet before separating its publishing and entertainment holdings. Newscorp plans to complete the split by June. Prior to today's drop, the stock has been flirting with its 52-week high.

And finally we have Metro PCS (PCS). This company has been incredibly flat lately. A major investor is demanding the company update documents relating to its merger with Deutsche Telekom's (DTE.DE) T-Mobile. Metro PCS reported a 65% fall in its quarterly net profit last week. Revenue growth has slowed for eight straight quarters.