The quadruple witching hour rings in market volatility, but BP can manage that on its own these days. BP headlines today's wire, as its CEO faces criticism for his dead man talking testimony of Thursday. Meanwhile, a Swiss Parliament action might have tax evaders looking for somewhere to hide from US inspectors.
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Quadruple Witching Hour Rings
It's the Quadruple Witching hour, the day on which contracts for stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures (SSF) all expire. Days like these can be volatile for markets, but companies like BP (NYSE: BP) are making enough news for that on their own.
BP Under Pressure
A day after the circus on the Hill, where the latest monkey to walk the tight rope was BP's CEO Tony Hayward, BP just cannot escape its PR beating. This morning, British newspapers are not painting the day's events sympathetically in favor of the "tired" and "savaged" Hayward. In fact, British commentators are referring to Hayward's personality yesterday akin to that of an undertaker. Times reporter Giles Whittell wrote, "Americans say he looks like Mr Bean. Make that Mr Has-been." Just when BP thought things could get no worse, Moody's (NYSE: MCO) downgraded BP's senior unsecured ratings and long-term debt securities to A2. The action followed S&P's (NYSE: MHP) cut from Thursday. Moody's said, "This assessment reflects a substantial upward revision of the estimated size of the leak, the continued failure to bring the leaking Macondo well under control, and the mounting costs and claims for damages." BP shares started the morning sharply higher, and were still up over 1% after the downgrade.
Swiss Parliament Acts Against Account Holders
The Swiss parliament passed legislation today that will allow Swiss banks like UBS (NYSE: UBS), Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS) and others to reveal the names of US and international tax evaders.
Internet Capital Group (Nasdaq: ICGE) is holding its annual shareholders meeting today. Share splits include several reverse splits: Aegena Earth & Marine (OTC: AEGZF.OB), Extreme Mobile Coatings (OTC: EMWW.OB), FOREX365 (OTC: FRXT.OB), Geneva Resources (OTC: GVRS.OB). Share offering lockup restrictions expire for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (NYSE: KMP). Alloy (Nasdaq: ALOY) reports earnings today. International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT) has its dividend ex-date today (pays $0.06).
Biggest Early Gainers
Cowlitz Bancorporation (Nasdaq: CWLZ), Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MIPI), Astea Int'l (Nasdaq: ATEA), Amylin Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: AMLN), Quaterra Resources (AMEX: QMM), Jacksonville Bancorp (Nasdaq: JAXB), Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB), Pro-Dex (Nasdaq: PDEXD), GrayMark Healthcare (Nasdaq: GRMH), Bridgeline Digital (Nasdaq: BLIN), Lucas Energy (AMEX: LEI), Gramercy Capital (NYSE: GKK), Perma-Fix Environmental (Nasdaq: PESI), Goldcorp (NYSE: GG), Entropic Communications (Nasdaq: ENTR), Gulf Island Fabrication (Nasdaq: GIFI), Veeco (Nasdaq: VECO), VisionChina Media (Nasdaq: VISN), Research Frontiers (Nasdaq: REFR), EnviroStar (AMEX: EVI), support.com (Nasdaq: SPRT), Covanta Holding (NYSE: CVA), Rubicon Tech (Nasdaq: RBCN).
Worst Early Losers
Adolor (Nasdaq: ADLR), Valpey Fisher (Nasdaq: VPF), WVS Financial (Nasdaq: WVFC), Banner Corp. (Nasdaq: BANR), GameTech International (Nasdaq: GMTC), Cascade Financial (Nasdaq: CASB), First PacTrust Bancorp (Nasdaq: FPTB), USA Technologies (Nasdaq: USATP), MTR Gaming (Nasdaq: MNTG), Onstream Media (Nasdaq: ONSM), IFM Investments (NYSE: CTC), Wimm Bill Dann Foods (NYSE: WBD).
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