9:00am (EST)

The bears were looking to turn the tables following Tuesday’s rally and started off strong on Wednesday before giving up slight gains to the bulls.  Things stayed in a tight range as neither side wanted to bet the house ahead of this morning’s unemployment numbers.

The Dow was down 75 points at the start of the session and at one point was up nearly 70 points before settling with a 10 point gain to close at 10,415.  The S&P 500 added 2 points to finish at 1,094 while the Nasdaq chipped in with a touchdown to close at 2,215.  Although the bulls showed a little muscle, the S&P 500 still had trouble with the 1,100 level (once again) and volume was absolutely terrible. 

Of course, the big news this morning is the weekly jobless claims number which has moved higher for the past two weeks.  Check that.  Make it the past three weeks.

Wall Street was expecting to see 478,000 claims, down from last week’s 484,000 but the number came in at 500,000.  Not good.

Futures were pointing towards a decent open for the bulls as they were higher before the 8:30am (EST) release but turned a dime and headed south once Wall Street got the news.  Dow futures were up nearly 50 points before the news and are now down 26 points to 10,326.  S&P 500 futures are down 4 points to 1,083 while the Nasdaq 100 futures are off by 3 points to 1,834.

In other economic news due out this morning, watch for the Philadelphia Fed survey and leading indicators, which are due out at 10am (EST).   

As far as our featured Blog title this morning, two words we love hearing together are “Hostile” and “Takeover”.

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BHP Billiton’s (BHP, $68.18, down $2.03) has gone hostile over Potash (POT, $147.93, up $4.76) after the company’s big wigs rejected a $40 billion takeover offer on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, BHP fired back and took their $130 a share offer directly to the shareholders despite the stock trading near $150.  Ah, yeah.  We doubt the “little guys” will take $130 from the corporate dudes when they could sell their shares on Wall Street at the current market price, or 15% more.

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Potash’s board said the offer, which was submitted on August 12, “substantially undervalues” the company and its prospects.  And now that shares are pushing $150, a bid north of $200 will probably have to be put on the table.  After all, Potash will tell you at one point their stock was trading at $230 a couple of years ago.

Potash will have two months to accept the deal but also went on the offensive and announced a shareholder-rights plan.  The “shield” would limit any one shareholder from owning 20% of the company.  However, since Potash is based in Canada, BHP could lobby to have the plan tossed.  Stay tuned.

The other big story this morning is Intel (INTC, $19.59, up $0.06), who has agreed to buy McAfee (MFE, $29.93, up $0.01) for nearly $8 billion, or a 60% premium from Wednesday’s closing price.  Shares of McAfee are up $17 to $47 in pre-market action.

As usual, we have a lot to cover in our Members Area so let’s get to it.

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